10 Steps to Building a Freestanding Pergola

In this 10-step guide, you’ll learn the basics of building your own freestanding pergola using cedar wood and basic construction materials. You’ll learn how to draw up plans, cut the wood, create joints and erect it on your property; everything you need to know to build your own freestanding pergola right in your backyard!

10 Steps to Building a freestanding pergola, like any project, can seem overwhelming at first glance. Luckily, we’re here to help you take things one step at a time to help you build your own beautiful pergola in your backyard or patio. Here’s how you can do it, and have fun in the process!

How Much Does a Wood Pergola Cost To Build?

Building a freestanding pergola can be a great way to enhance the beauty of your outdoor space while also providing valuable shade and protection from the elements. But how much does it cost to build a wood pergola? The answer can vary significantly depending on the size and complexity of your project.

When it comes to calculating the cost of building a wood pergola, there are several factors to consider. Materials are one of the biggest costs, as you’ll need to purchase lumber, nails, screws, and other hardware to complete the project. You’ll also need to factor in any additional tools or equipment you’ll need to rent or purchase, as well as labor costs for professional installation if you’re not doing the work yourself.

Once you’ve taken these factors into consideration, you can start to estimate the total cost of your wood pergola project. Generally speaking, smaller projects can start around $500 while larger projects can range up to several thousand dollars. It’s important to remember that materials are just one part of the equation – the size and complexity of your project can have a major impact on the overall cost.

Before you get started with your project, it’s important to have a clear understanding of how much it’s going to cost to build a wood pergola. With careful planning and budgeting, you can create an outdoor living space that will be both beautiful and affordable.

How To Build a Freestanding Wood Pergola:

1) Decide on the location of your pergola

Decide on the location of your pergola

When you are thinking about building a freestanding pergola, the first thing you need to do is decide on where to locate it. This is an important decision as it will determine the size and shape of your pergola as well as its overall aesthetic.

If your yard has an existing patio or deck, it’s often the best spot for your pergola. A pergola can act as a great transition between a patio or deck and other areas in the yard. For example, if you have a pool, putting a pergola between the pool and the patio or deck can provide a beautiful focal point.

The size and shape of your pergola will also be determined by the space available in your yard. If you have an expansive yard, you can create a larger and more elaborate pergola. On the other hand, if you have a smaller yard, you can still create a stylish pergola that fits the area.

Once you’ve decided on the location, it’s time to think about the size and shape of the pergola. Consider the type of materials you want to use and how they will fit in with your existing landscape design. This will help you come up with an attractive and functional pergola that will add beauty and value to your home.

2) Choose the size and shape of your pergola

Choose the size and shape of your pergola

Building a freestanding pergola can be a great way to add some shade and style to your outdoor space. But before you start building, you’ll need to choose the size and shape of your pergola. Here are some steps to help you pick the right one for your needs:

  • Measure the area where the pergola will be placed. Make sure you measure from wall to wall and from the floor to the ceiling to get an accurate measurement.
  • Consider how many people you want to be able to fit in the pergola at once. This will help determine the size you need.
  • Choose a shape. Do you want a square, rectangular, round, or octagonal shape? Think about how it will look in your space and how it will work with the overall design.
  • Choose the material for the structure. Popular options include wood, metal, and vinyl. Each option has its pros and cons, so do your research and pick one that best suits your needs.
  • Consider any accessories you may want to add, such as a retractable canopy, privacy walls, planter boxes, etc. These will all affect the size of your pergola.

Once you’ve decided on these five factors, you’re ready to begin building your freestanding pergola! Make sure to follow all safety precautions while building and check with your local building codes before starting any construction project.

3) Select the type of wood for your pergola

Select the type of wood for your pergola

When you’re deciding which type of wood to use for your freestanding pergola, it’s important to consider the look and feel you’d like for your outdoor structure. The material of choice for a sturdy and aesthetically pleasing pergola is pressure-treated lumber. Pressure-treated lumber is treated with chemicals to resist rot and decay, making it perfect for outdoor structures.

If you’re looking for something more decorative, cedar is a great option. Cedar is naturally resistant to rot and insects, making it a durable and low-maintenance choice. It also has a beautiful natural grain that adds a unique look to any structure.

Redwood is another popular choice when it comes to building a freestanding pergola. Redwood is similar to cedar in terms of durability and resistance to rot and insects. It’s also more affordable than cedar, so if you’re looking for an affordable option that still offers a high level of quality, redwood may be the way to go.

No matter which type of wood you decide on, make sure it’s designed for outdoor use and treated to protect it from the elements. This will help ensure your pergola stands the test of time and looks great for years to come.

4) Cut the lumber to size

Cut the lumber to size

Building a freestanding pergola can be an exciting and rewarding project. It’s also a relatively simple project that can be completed in a day with the right materials and tools. The first step in building a freestanding pergola is to cut the lumber to size.

Before you begin cutting, make sure you have all of the necessary materials on hand. These include pressure-treated lumber, galvanized nails, screws, saws, tape measure, drill, level, hammer, circular saw and/or reciprocating saw. Additionally, you will need an assistant to help you hold the lumber in place while you cut it.

Once you have gathered all the materials, measure and mark the lumber according to the size of your pergola. Make sure to mark both ends of the lumber for cutting accuracy. Using your saw, carefully cut each piece of lumber to size. Be sure to wear safety glasses when working with power tools.

After you have finished cutting the lumber to size, double-check the measurements to ensure that everything is correct. With your assistant’s help, arrange the cut pieces of wood into the shape of the pergola. It’s a good idea to use a level to make sure everything is square before proceeding.

Now you’re ready to begin assembling your freestanding pergola!

5) Assemble the frame of your pergola

Assemble the frame of your pergola

Building a freestanding pergola is a great way to create an attractive outdoor living space in your garden. The process isn’t too difficult, but there are certain steps that should be followed in order to ensure a successful project.

The first step in building a freestanding pergola is to assemble the frame of your pergola. You will need to cut your timber to the right lengths, taking into account the measurements of the space you are building in, and also the type of roofing material you plan on using. This part of the build requires some careful planning, as the frame of your pergola needs to be sturdy enough to support the roof structure.

Once you have cut the timber and all other components for the frame, it’s time to begin assembly. You’ll want to start with the main posts, which should be set into concrete footings. Once the posts are secure, you can add the beams and rafters in between them. Finally, attach cross-beams and diagonal braces to complete the frame of your pergola. Be sure to use proper fasteners for each component, such as galvanized lag bolts or steel screws, so your structure will remain stable.

Now that you’ve assembled the frame of your freestanding pergola, you can move on to the next step in the process—installing the roofing materials.

6) Attach the joists to the beam

Attach the joists to the beam

Building a freestanding pergola is a great way to add structure and shade to any outdoor space. The key to making your pergola a success is making sure it’s securely fastened together, and the joists are an essential part of that process. In this step of building your freestanding pergola, you will be attaching the joists to the beam.

To begin, you will need to gather your supplies. You will need a drill, drill bits, screws, washers, joist hangers, a ladder, and a helper. Once you have all of the materials on hand, you can start the process.

Begin by placing the beam onto the posts and secure them with screws or nails. Next, use your drill and drill bit to pre-drill holes in the beam so that you can attach the joists. Measure the distance between the joists so that you know where to place each hole. Use your drill bit to make pilot holes in the beam that are large enough to fit the screws you’re using.

Once the holes have been drilled, attach the joists to the beam with screws and washers. Place a joist hanger on each end of each joist before inserting the screw into the beam and through the hanger. Make sure that the hangers are secure and then tighten all of the screws with a drill or screwdriver.

With the joists now attached to the beam, your freestanding pergola is almost complete. Be sure to check for any loose screws or joints and make sure that everything is tightly secured before moving onto the next step. With these simple steps, you can easily create a beautiful and sturdy freestanding pergola that will last for years!

7) Install the rafters

Install the rafters

Once you have all your materials prepared, it’s time to start constructing your pergola. The first step is to install the rafters.

Begin by measuring and cutting the top and bottom of each rafter to the desired length and angle. To ensure a secure fit, use 2-inch screws to attach the two pieces together. Then predrill holes along the rafter and insert 4-inch lag bolts into the posts at each end. Make sure the bolts are tight before continuing on to the next rafter.

Repeat this process for each rafter, ensuring that the rafters are level with each other before tightening the bolts. Once all the rafters are in place, you can move on to installing the crossbeams.

8) Add crossbeams

Add crossbeams

When it comes to building a freestanding pergola, the next step is to add the crossbeams. Crossbeams are the horizontal beams that attach to the vertical support posts. The size and shape of the crossbeams will depend on the design of your pergola, so be sure to measure and cut them to fit. Once the crossbeams are in place, you can start to assemble the rafters, which are the sloping beams that provide shade and shelter. To keep everything secure and stable, use galvanized deck screws or lag bolts to attach the crossbeams to the support posts.

9) Attach the lattice

Attach the lattice

Attaching the lattice to your freestanding pergola is an important step in creating a structure that will last for years. Start by measuring and cutting the lattice to fit the size of your pergola. Then, using screws and a drill, attach the lattice to the posts and beams of the pergola. To ensure a secure connection, use lag screws instead of regular wood screws. After the lattice is attached, you can add finishing touches like trim or decorative panels for added character and privacy.

10) Finish your pergola

Finish your pergola

Congratulations – you’re almost done! Now that you’ve completed the nine steps to building your freestanding pergola, it’s time to give it the finishing touches.

First, attach any additional decorations that you plan to use. This could include planters, outdoor lights, hanging baskets, or any other outdoor decor that you like. Make sure these items are securely attached, as they will be exposed to the elements.

Next, seal the wood to protect it from moisture and the sun’s UV rays. This can be done with a weather-resistant sealant that is specifically made for outdoor wood. It’s important to apply the sealant according to the manufacturer’s instructions for best results.

Finally, enjoy your new pergola and all of its added charm! Add chairs and a table underneath it for a cozy seating area, hang a swing or hammock to relax in, or simply use it as a decorative piece in your yard. Whatever you choose to do with your pergola, it’s sure to bring a beautiful addition to your outdoor living space.


Building a freestanding pergola is a great way to add shade and privacy to your backyard. With the right tools, a little bit of planning, and some elbow grease, you can create your own outdoor oasis. If you follow these ten steps, you’ll have a beautiful, functional pergola that you can enjoy for years to come. From choosing your location to the final touches, the entire process is rewarding and well worth the effort. So get started on your own freestanding pergola today, and create a tranquil space that’s all your own.


Q. What is the best type of wood for the beams?

A. Pressure treated pine, Douglas fir or cedar are all popular choices for beams in freestanding pergolas. The pressure treated pine will last about 20 years and is not as expensive as the other two types of lumber mentioned above. The Douglas fir has an average life span of 30-40 years, while cedar will last between 50-100 years! Remember that the longer the life span, usually means higher costs so take that into consideration when choosing your materials.

Q. Can I install a pergola on my deck/patio?

A. Yes! Your next step should be figuring out what size you want and how high off the ground you want it to be set at. Once you have those dimensions determined, you can attach brackets on the back of your deck/patio’s posts with appropriate hardware that will attach to the top beam of your pergola without any need for additional support below

Q. How do I measure my deck/patio’s posts so I know what height beam length to buy?

A. You’ll want to measure from where you want your deck/patio posts to start (or where they’re currently located) up until where you want the tops of your beams attached on top of them at their current height

Q. Will this project look good if I use a variety of different woods?

A. That depends on what look you’re going for! If you want an eclectic feel, then yes! Just keep in mind that some woods may require more maintenance than others

References & Additional Resources

Last Updated on December 22, 2022

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Mark Wright
Mark Wrighthttps://printerchief.com
Mark Wright is the author and editor for Printerchief, where he brings his expertise in research and the English language to life in the world of technology journalism. When he's not immersed in the world of print, he loves exploring the outdoors in Michigan and Arizona - taking long hikes, fishing and cycling along the way. Andrew is a big reader and likes to take on DIY projects around the home and garden. With a love for the great outdoors and a sharp eye for detail, Andrew has managed to bring both a sense of adventure and enthusiasm to all his work.


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