This is a synopsis of the discussion we will have with you to help determine which type of pergola will best suit your needs. We are happy to answer any questions you may have in researching your pergola structure.
Function: Determine what functions the pergola is to fulfill. Outdoor dining or a shade structure for around the pool or fulfill both requirements? Will you be growing vines on the structure and what types of plants are being considered? Or is the structure to be used simply as an architectural accent for your home or garden?
To Determine Size: Measure from the center of posts to the center of the opposite posts in determining the size: by both length and width. Additionally, the overhangs (depending on style) are anywhere between 12" and 42" beyond the post measurement, in two directions length and width.
Shade Requirements: What will the orientation of the structure and its rafters be in relation to the sun at mid-day or late afternoon? This is important in determining the amount of shade required. Shade can be achieved in several ways: through the density of the top layers, by introducing a shade cloth, by the employment of vines to eventually produce a living sun screen or any combination of the above.
Foundation: What kind of surface will the pergola be installed on? Virtually any type of surface can accommodate the installation of a pergola. A short discussion in advance about existing conditions will aide us in pricing your project.
Aesthetics and Style: The design of your structure should complement your home by either accenting or functioning as a continuation of the home's architecture. Since what is good design can be subjective, these choices are fairly open-ended and can be the most enjoyable part of the process. The style choices are numerous! The classical look of white Tuscan columns with a softly graying upper wood structure or a contemporary design with stainless steel rods. It is important that no matter what style or details are chosen, the scale of the project and proportion within the structure be appropriate. This is what makes the final design look "right". Overhangs that are not truncated, curves that are not flattened and many other visual details are critical in creating an attractive structure.
The proper attention to detailing is paramount to a successful outcome. We are committed to working with you to ensure this success.
Restrictions: Before starting the design process it is important to ascertain whether restrictions will impact the design. Typically, these could be issues of height, i.e. are windows, doors or steps going to impact the design? Are neighbors going to object because of the structure being too close to property lines? Are there building codes that need to be considered if a pool is involved or the structure is attached to a house? In some states, for instance California and Florida, there are requirements for seismic and wind loads respectively. We help walk you through these questions.
Engineering: A few technical issues need to be considered:
1. What are the optimal spans of main beams for the site? How many posts are required and how do they impact the visual sight lines?
2. What are the ground conditions that may impact the foundation size and depth? For example, pool aprons, decks, frost depth, etc.
3. What weather conditions are possible? Wind, snow loads, very wet ground or seismic issues?
Quality and Type of Material:We use only western red cedar in our pergola structures. As with any recipe, success hinges on the material used and this directly affects the final outcome. There are a half dozen materials to create garden structures with, from cement and steel to vinyl and other man-made materials. Each material can have positive and negative aspects, however the most cost effective and environmentally friendly material is wood. In addition, the design possibilities with wood are infinitely greater than with man-made materials such as vinyl.
The higher the quality of wood, the better it will look and the longer it will last. We use only the highest grade of western red cedar available: clear, A and Better, vertical grain, kiln dried western red cedar. This wood has no knots or any imperfections so your eye is not drawn to any knots, splits, or discoloration when viewing the overall design.
With this quality of cedar you can expect a garden pergola to easily last in excess of thirty or forty years. We've worked on projects where an added pergola was placed next to a cedar structure that was over 80 years old. Please view the Details/Materials section of this website for more information on western red cedar or visit www.wrcla.org.
No matter what material is used, a certain amount of maintenance is necessary. Vinyl needs to be cleaned regularly, Azak and other man-made materials need to be painted and cleaned, steel rusts and stains.
The Environmental Factor: from its birth to its reuse and final return to the environment western red cedar is harvested as a crop from managed forests. More information on this is available in the Details/Materials section of this website or visit www.wrcla.org.
To Finish with Treatment or Not: This discussion is more fully explained in the Treating section of our website however, in brief:
Using western red cedar of the highest quality enables you to do nothing as far as treatment goes. If you decide to go the maintenance-free route, simply let the wood weather to a beautiful silvery gray. The wood may need to be cleaned every several years with a weak bleach and water solution to remove any dirt that has accumulated from the atmosphere. No scrubbing or brushing is necessary, simply rinse off with the garden hose. This will brighten the wood and to return the wood fiber to a clean, bright gray tone.
If you decide to stain your structure, this wood, since it is kiln dried, holds the stain extremely well. See the Treating section of our website for more information.
The wood is blemish free, so lends itself to a translucent stain quite well. Translucent stains have varying amounts of pigment, which is the UV filter. Consequently, the wood will eventually turn grey as the pigment is broken down from the sun. The structure will periodically need to be re-stained to maintain its translucent color. This can become difficult if the structure is covered in perennial vines, such as wisteria or hydrangea.
A distinct advantage of using wood is the ability to stain. This creates numerous design possibilities using color. Combinations of natural grey wood and stained support posts can be quite attractive and practical, as far as maintenance is concerned. A solid body stain can be applied, offering the most protection from the UV rays. However, after seven to ten years, the wood may need to be re-stained.
Directions and Support for the Installation of our Garden Structures: It is important to be provided with detailed step-by-step installation instructions. The pergola kit arrives with a full complement of hardware, specifically marked as to placement of the various screws and plugs, and drawings with exploded views. Please see the Installation link in the pergola section to view drawings of a basic post and bracket pergola and examples of various installation attachment mechanisms.
We've taken care to make sure the installation will be a successful and easy process. We are always available to walk you through the steps and welcome your call if you have any questions and comments.
These are all important items to consider when determining the design, size and orientation of the pergola structure. Several of these points are discussed in more complete detail in other sections of our website. Our design team will guide you through this process to insure that your pergola will function optimally for your needs.