Hey everyone!! Since I’ve spent a lot of time researching for my pergola build, I thought I’d layout exactly what I did and what I used for you all!
Skill Level: Easy-Intermediate
Cost: Around 2100$ as shown
Time: 2 weekends
- Miter Saw
- Hacksaw (for cement forms)
- Hex Socket Wrench
- Measuring Tape
- Water Level (explained later)
- Milescraft Drillmate (explained later)
- 3/4” drill bit
Materials and Cost Breakdown
*** substitute this for a smaller 9×9 or 10×10 pergola
- 13- 87$ quikrete 5000
- 4- 18$ bags gravel
- 4- 17$ rebar
- 4- 8$ threaded rod and nuts
- 4- 40$ 10”x48” tube form
- Ozco Hardware – 754$ (6×6 and 2×8)
- ***Ozco Hardware – 500$ (4×4 and 2×6)
- 4- 400$ 6x6x8 cedar post
- ***4 – 120$ 4x4x8 cedar post
- 4- 220$ 2x8x14 cedar lumber
- ***4– 144$ 2x6x14 instead of 2×8
- 10- 360$ 2x6x14 cedar lumber
- 10- 190$ 2x4x14 cedar lumber
- 10$ Screws for 2×4 attachment
I wanted the pergola to be useable this summer so didn’t want to spend the time notching out all the posts and rafters. I found hardware that makes the pergola build as easy as building Lincoln Logs! However, you’d save a pretty penny, or rather 70K pennies if you notch out the posts and rafters and use regular bolts/screws! If you are not making concrete footings and just use an adequate wood substitute, you may also save on the footing costs. The post hardware can be attached to either concrete or wood! Here is a video describing the post base hardware.
Here are the exact products I used. If you make a smaller pergola, you can reduce your cost significantly as shown above by using 4×4 posts and 2×6 ledger boards and associated hardware.
4 – 6×6 Ironwood Post Base Kits
4 – Ironwood High-Velocity Rafter clips (Set of 10)
4 – 3/4” 8”-10” Timber Bolts
In Michigan, holes are supposed to be 42” deep to prevent shifting during the freeze-thaw cycle. I bought 48” long 10” diameter forms and used a hacksaw to trim to the necessary height.
Pro Tip: Always start digging your footings closest to your building or other surrounding structures as there may be surprises that require you to adjust your plan/design. My deck had its own footing and I also needed to clear my gutters. I had to adjust the hole placement to meet these restrictions.
I added a bag of gravel to each hole and tamped it down before adding the concrete. I added a threaded “J” rod where I needed the post base to be. I suspended mine with string to make sure it wouldn’t sink or tilt.
Pro Tip: In order for your threaded rods to make a square or rectangle, you will need to measure a lot! They may not be in the direct center of your footing if you are a bit off with your hole. Measure diagonals to ensure you have right angles!!
Putting up Sticks
After I received the Post Base hardware, my husband used his grinder/cutoff wheel to cut the threaded rod down to size. But if you have the hardware beforehand, you can just sink it down to where it needs to be!
You need to square your 4 post bases to one another. I used a string. Install the base over the threaded rod. Add a washer and tighten (not too tight) the nut.
My 6 year old held a level against the 6×6 post as I clamped the side plates into place. Then just pre-drill holes and screw down the plates with included hex screws/washers using the socket wrench.
Pro Tip #1: Make sure not to overtighten your screws. You do NOT want them to strip!
Pro Tip #2: I clamped 3 posts in place before adding any screws. This was to make sure the bases were square by using a 2×8 and putting against posts to verify it laid flat. If it didn’t, there is still time to adjust your post base! So take your time here! Luckily, mine where all square!
These were by far the trickiest to install as I chose the In-line bolt hardware instead of the screw hardware. Bolts are more robust and I knew it was the better way to go, but it wasn’t easy. The steel plates give you little room for error, so your 8.5” long, 3/4” diameter holes need to be perfectly straight through each 2×8 and the 6×6! Here is how we did it (I did get my husband to help with this part!)
First you have to find a level point on all 4 posts where you want the bottom of your ledger beam to go! I tried using a 5’ level but there is WAY too much error over 12’. My husband taught me how to use a water level which was super accurate! Take a long clear tube (I’m not sure why we had one, but we did), fill completely with water (remove bubbles), and the meniscus on both ends will always be level to one another (that’s Physics!). So hold up the meniscus to the line on one post and then mark where the other meniscus is on the opposite post. Do this for all four posts!
Install the bottom plate of the Post to Beam Hardware at the line you marked with the hex screws/washers included in the hardware, being sure to center the plate exactly on the 6×6! After installing the bottom plates, I cut my ledger boards to length and used a 45 degree angle on the ends to make a neat profile. Then I put the ledgers in place on top of the hardware, and screwed them to the 6×6 for a temporary “clamp”. (Put screw between where the bolts will go so you don’t have to remove it later!). At this point, you can put your top plates on to mark where your bolt holes need to go, then remove plates.
I bought the Milescraft Drillmate and a 6.5” long, 3/4” auger bit to drill the bolt holes. I mounted the Drillmate to a piece of 3/4” scrap wood and drilled through it with my 3/4” bit. After aligning the hole with the marked bolt holes, I temporarily clamp the jig in place, then screw the jig into the post! Clamps are not enough! My husband then drilled while I was on the opposite side holding the Drillmate in place as there is a lot of shaking!! You need to do this on both sides of the post to go through the entire 8.5”! If you did everything correctly, the holes meet perfectly in the middle! If you didn’t, then you will regret it! I was millimeters off for 3 holes. Luckily my husband drilled out the steel plate holes a bit bigger so it all worked out for me! The 2” heavy-duty washers cover everything so it’s not a big deal, but you literally have no wiggle room, so make sure you marked everything right and aligned your jig perfectly!!
This was the easy part! After cutting the rafters to length and cutting a 45 degree angle on both sides, I put them in place and screwed them to the ledger boards using the High Velocity Rafter clips! 4 clips per rafter.
Pro Tip #1: Clamp a stop-block to your miter saw to get the same profile for every cut!
Pro Tip #2: The rafter clips have a recess for screw head on one side, don’t install them backwards!
The Very Top Layer
I cut a 45 degree angle on each 2×4, put into place, then screwed down from the top into the rafter using 1 screw per intersection with 2.5” exterior screws! That’s it!
I hope you found this helpful! Be sure to email me photos if you try your own!! I love to see people do their own DIY projects!