How to Make a Pergola Deck Cover


Pergolas are popular options for decks, because they help define this area or your outdoor space without confining it. A pergola offers no protection from the sun, rain or snow, but it adds dimension to your space, giving your deck a comfortable, intimate feel. A pergola can also be used for trailing vines and hanging planters. Building a pergola is a time-consuming task, but if you have a helper, you can likely finish this project in one or two weekends.

Step 1

Lay out a pair of 4-by-4-inch posts the width of your pergola. Nail or screw together a pair of 2-by-10-inch boards to achieve a double thickness. Place the double 2-by-10 between the 4-by-4 posts, flush with the top edges of the post. Use a carpenter's level to make sure the corners are square. Using nails or wood screws, connect the corners with toenail joints (driving the screws or nails in at a 45-degree angle). This will form one support post section of your pergola. Repeat this process to create the support section for the other end. If your pergola will be longer than 8 feet create additional support sections to place between the ends.

Step 2

Attach post brackets large enough to accommodate 4-by-4 posts to the surface of your deck. The brackets should be placed directly over the support posts and piers that anchor your deck to the ground.

Step 3

Erect the support sections of the pergola, attaching them to the post brackets installed on your deck. Nail or screw together two sections of 2-by-10 lumber to run the length of your pergola on each side. Attach these double-width sections to your support posts, flush with the tops of the posts. Check again to make sure the corners are square, and place a level on each of the top support beams to ensure that the structure is level.

Step 4

Cut sections of 2-by-10 lumber 4 to 8 inches longer than the length between your outer support posts. Using a jigsaw, cut 2-inch-deep-by-4-inch-wide notches in these boards where they will meet the support beams. Lay the notched boards lengthwise across the top of your pergola's supports at 8-inch intervals. Attach these crossboards to the support beams with wood screws.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never attach a pergola's posts to a deck element that is not structurally sound, such as a railing. If the railing comes loose, the pergola can collapse. If possible, avoid designing your pergola so that it extends to the side of the house. If the pergola touches the house, remove siding and install flashing just as you would for a deck's ledger board. This will significantly complicate your project and make it take much longer to complete.

Things You'll Need

  • 2-by-10-inch lumber
  • 4-by-4-inch lumber
  • Wood screws or nails
  • Screwdriver
  • Hammer
  • Carpenter's square
  • Carpenter's level
  • 4-inch post brackets
  • Circular saw
  • Jigsaw


  • Popular Mechanics: How to Build a Pergola - FAQ
  • HGTV: Build a Pergola for a Deck or Patio
Keywords: build a deck pergola, construct a deck pergola, make a deck pergola

About this Author

Owen Pearson is a copywriter who began writing professionally in 2001, and focuses on nutritional and health topics. He has been a vegetarian since 1995. Pearson obtained a bachelor's degree in art from the University of Rio Grande in 1997.

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