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How to Build a Pergola | Ask This Old House

In this video, bring shade and style to any backyard with a pergola kit. Here’s how to assemble it.

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House One editor Jenn Largesse continues her backyard renovation project. After installing beautiful composite decking and handrails around her shipping container pool, Jenn works with a contractor to install a vinyl pergola with aluminum reinforcement on her pool deck.

Difficulty: ⅗
Time: 8 hours
Cost: $1,700 to $3,000, depending on size

How to Build a Pergola
1. Start by laying all of the individual parts to the pergola kit out and take inventory of what’s there. Be sure all of the parts and hardware are included. Also, if the weather was chilly overnight, allow the vinyl to warm a bit in the sun to prevent possible cracking.
2. Slide the aluminum rafters and support beams inside the PVC sleeves and use the PVC glue to attach the end caps.
3. Place the two support beams together so they’re perfectly even on the ends. Starting in the center, measure and mark the beams at 16-inch intervals and attach brackets at these points.
4. If the pergola will integrate into an existing railing, detach the railing from the existing post. Pad the existing wood post with 2×6 lumber to build it out to the width of a 6×6 (this will require trimming one 2×6 to width).
5. For new decks, plan ahead and attach extra 4×4 blocking between the joists at the locations of the posts before installing the decking. For existing decks, it may be necessary to remove the decking boards or access the deck from underneath to add support. In either case, use lag screws driven through the joists and into the blocking to hold them in place.
6. Place the aluminum posts in place on the decking and lag them into the blocking using the impact driver and the lag screws included in the kit. Slide the collars over the posts followed by the vinyl sleeves.
7. Clamp scrap pieces of lumber to the posts at the correct height for the support beams. Place the support beams on the scrap lumber and attach them to the posts using the hardware in the kit.
8. Lay the rafters across the support beams and situate one at every set of support brackets. Screw through the bracket and into the rafters to hold them in place.
9. Lay the shade slats on top of the rafters and space them evenly. Screw through the top of each shade slat and into the rafters to hold them in place.

Where to find it?
Jenn and Luke from Dream Decks ( tour her deck built from Trex Decking ( in Havana Gold with universal hidden fasteners and Trex Transcend railings in Classic White with square white balusters, post cap lighting, and stair riser lights. Together they install a steel-reinforced vinyl pergola manufactured by Superior Plastic Products ( and sold by Plastic Lumber Yard (

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2×6 lumber []
4×4 lumber []
5- or 6-inch lag screws []
Pergola kit []
PVC glue []

Prybar []
Screwgun []
Impact driver []
Circular saw []
Clamps []

About Ask This Old House TV:
From the makers of This Old House, America’s first and most trusted home improvement show, Ask This Old House answers the steady stream of home improvement questions asked by viewers across the United States. Covering topics from landscaping to electrical to HVAC and plumbing to painting and more. Ask This Old House features the experts from This Old House, including general contractor Tom Silva, plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey, landscape contractor Jenn Nawada, master carpenter Norm Abram, and host Kevin O’Connor. ASK This Old House helps you protect and preserve your greatest investment—your home.

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How to Build a Pergola | Ask This Old House

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