Imagine the fun of enjoying your outdoor living space as part of your home’s outdoor space. If you have an existing deck but are looking to add some shade by building a pergola, you may be wondering, “Can you put a pergola on a raised deck?” In this article, we will answer this question, explain how to properly attach a pergola, and look at how to effectively use your outdoor space or outdoor living room.
A pergola is outside and covers a seating, dining area, or entertaining area. Typically, a pergola has vertical posts that support the overhead crossbeam grid. This allows the pergola to create partial shade. However, some pergolas are covered and fully shade the area beneath them.
Most often, pergolas are freestanding structures. This means they can be located in more locations in your yard or on your deck. However, some pergolas attach to a wall of your house as a lean-to.
Table of Contents
Can a pergola be attached to a raised deck?
Yes, you can put a pergola on a raised deck. The primary difference is that you need to focus more on the stability and security of the pergola.
Deck hardware has advanced in recent years. This makes it easier to build on an existing structure, like a deck, as opposed to needing to reframe the entire structure.
Post bases are now made to be stronger and the wood ties are more versatile. These advancements in building technology allow you to clamp two structures together and attach them as if they were one.
There are a few situations that will require more expertise to safely attach the pergola to the deck. If there are elevated patios that use tall supports, pergola installation will be more difficult. Similarly, if the deck is built over water, attaching the pergola post beams will be more difficult and costly.
Be sure to check with local building codes before you begin the construction project. The local building department should be able to point you in the right direction of any regulatory guidelines you need to follow.
How to build a pergola on a deck
The existing deck strength and deck framing will make a big difference in whether you can safely attach a pergola. If you are uncertain how to proceed, you can hire a contractor to take care of the project for you. However, if you want to DIY the project, here are the important parts to consider.
While the style of your pergola may vary, there are some fundamental hardware pieces that are needed.
The pergola posts help support the entire structure. If you are constructing a traditional type of pergola, you will need at least four support beams that will connect to the deck.
To add the pergola posts to the deck, you will need to use post bases. These are designed to hold the weight of the structure, so they are very important. It is essential that you understand the weight of the pergola that you plan to attach. If it is too top heavy, the pergola structure will not be sturdy and poses a risk of collapsing.
When you add a pergola to the deck, the hardware will be visible. For this reason, you want to pick hardware that will look good with your design aesthetic. Typically they are silver, industrial looking galvanized metal. However, you can buy powder-coated post bases. These will look like wrought iron.
The timber bolts are also an important part of the deck pergola. The timber bolts connect wood to wood. These are especially relevant when you are creating the top frame of the roof.
Post to beam support
Hardware will also be needed to connect the posts to the beams at the top of the pergola. This will help hold the structure steady in the wind. These supports should be made of thick steel and hot dipped galvanized.
Building a pergola on a deck means that the pergola will be higher off the ground. This makes it more susceptible to moving in the wind. For this reason, you should be sure to use thick galvanized steel fasteners.
How to add security to a pergola
Adding free standing pergolas to decks is more challenging than just building a pergola on the ground. If you were building a pergola on the ground, you would bury the posts in the ground and add concrete footings to help give the structure stability.
However, if you are building on a deck, you will have to connect the wood beams to the wooden deck. This runs the risk of making the pergola less stable. There are things you can do, however, to add to the stability of the structure.
Use pressure treated wood
Since the posts support the weight of the entire structure, the wood needs to be able to endure the pressure. You do not want your main support beams to be vulnerable to wood rot or termites. If you use treated wood, the beams will be able to resist damage from the weather and insects. This is why choosing wood support beams is very important.
You can also add railings between the wooden posts. This will strengthen the entire structure. The crossbars create additional support for the pergola.
Beware of the weight of the roof
You do not want to have a roof that is too heavy. Otherwise, it can negatively affect the stability of the pergola.
If you want more shade, you can add a light wood lattice or fabric panels. These are better options than heavier wood or a canvas cover.
Attach the support beams strategically
The pergola’s posts should be attached to the deck’s joist structure, not just the floorboards. If you do not do this properly, the deck boards could just pull up and the pergola could collapse. This is also why different deck structures require different strategies if you plan to add a pergola atop an existing deck. When in doubt about whether you can install free standing pergolas, consult a professional.
Use a kit
Another option is to use a pergola kit. Some options utilize an all-aluminum design and come with stainless steel hardware. This provides a high level of strength. Kit options also come in a variety of customizable options. You can choose the size, shape, and style you want.
Plan your space
As you consider adding a pergola to a deck, you should contemplate how the space will be used and the type of furniture you plan to include.
If you are looking to enjoy some outdoor dining space, you could have a pergola deck with a dining set underneath. Be sure to measure out your space so that you will know there is sufficient room to walk around the table and the pergola posts, even while carrying food or platters.
You can also use your pergola as an outdoor living room. Perhaps you want to enjoy a game night outside or set up a screen to project a movie for an outdoor movie night. If this is how you plan to use the space, your own unique pergola space can provide some shade while also creating a usable living area.
If you have a pool in your backyard, adding a poolside pergola can be a great addition. This could be a place where swimmers rest or where those supervising the swimming lounge around and relax. A few furniture themes would work with this type of pergola. One idea would be to include a small dining table and chairs.
This would work well if you plan to enjoy some snacks by the pool and want a place to hang swim towels. Another option would be to include some chaise lounges and a side table. If you plan on doing some sunbathing beneath your pergola, this is a great option.
There are numerous accessories that can be added to a freestanding pergola. What you choose to add to your own pergola is up to you and will differ based on where you live and how you envision using the outdoor space.
One option is to add hanging lights to the pergola. This will not only provide illumination but ambiance as well. You can use a candle chandelier if you are looking for something fancy, or a string of Christmas lights or Edison bulbs if you want a simpler look. One fun option would be to hang paper lanterns on the pergola. These lights can be electricity based or outdoor solar powered lights.
If you live in a hotter or drier climate, you may get more enjoyment out of your pergola and the outdoor living space if you add a ceiling fan. You can suspend the ceiling fan from the grid of the pergola as long as it is structurally sturdy enough. The breeze created by the fan can really extend the amount of time you are able to enjoy your pergola.
Curtains or canopy
If you are looking to block out some of the sun or want more privacy while enjoying your pergola, consider adding curtains or a canopy to it. You can hang curtains on the side of the pergola to create a cozier feeling and not be bothered by neighbors peering in. A fabric shade canopy can be added to the top of the pergola to block out the sun.
Plants and vines
You can use the overhead grid on the top of the pergola to add hanging plants or allow vines to grow. Similarly, if you add lattice walls to the pergola, you could allow vines to grow there too, as well as adding vertical planters.
Can you put a pergola on a raised deck FAQ
How do you secure a pergola raised deck?
The pergola posts are attached to the joists of the deck. The posts should not be attached to just the floorboards at the risk of the boards popping up and the structure collapsing.
Can you fix the pergola to decking?
Yes, you can safely attach a pergola to most types of decking.
How do you attach a pergola to a wood deck?
Attach the pergola’s posts to the deck’s support joists. Lag screws and carriage bolts are common fastener choices. Just make sure that what you are using is designed for wood and has matching washers available.
Can a floating deck support a pergola?
Yes, floating decks are often able to support the weight of a pergola. The main determinant of whether your deck can support the pergola will be what the support structure looks like underneath the deck. It is essential that the pergola can attach securely to more than just the deck boards.
Final Thoughts About Putting a Pergola on a Deck
Regardless of whether you choose to attach your pergola to your house or install a free standing pergola in your yard or on your deck, you can enjoy the shade structure and spend more time outdoors with friends and family.
By adding accessories such as optional lighting, a lightweight roof canopy, or vertical planters, you can make the space even more inviting.
Free standing pergolas can be added to most existing deck options, as long as you are able to safely and securely attach the pergola to the support system of the deck, not just the deck boards themselves.
When you build a pergola, you should consider the type of structure it will sit on, how you will attach it, and how heavy the structure will be. Wood support beams will provide additional stability, which is very important if the pergola is off the ground on a raised deck.
Pergola decks are wonderful options that enhance your home’s outdoor living space. If you use durable materials and contemporary structural hardware, the structure should provide enjoyment for years to come. For maximum shade coverage, add a shade canopy.
If you plan to add a hot tub, you can add curtains for more privacy. Through intentional pergola design choices, you can add a pergola to your deck and enjoy it for years to come.