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Most Important Pergola Parts For Completing The Structure

by Sean

A pergola is an outdoor structure with some similarities to an arbor. It is usually fixed to a house or it can be a freestanding structure that stands close to a house. If you are planning to build a pergola on your property, it is important to know about its different parts. This guide should explain the details of some of the most important pergola parts.

Pergola Columns or Posts

The columns, as the name suggests, are vertical support structures that get secured to the surface. They run from the footing to the beam. A freestanding pergola must have at least 4 columns while an attached pergola must have at least a couple of columns to support it.

  • An attached pergola must have minimum of two posts with one at each end of the beam
  • A freestanding pergola must have minimum of four posts

While smaller structures must have 4×4 columns, larger ones can have 6×6 or even 8×8 columns.

Ledger board

The ledger is a piece of lumber that gets anchored to the wall framing of an attached pergola. Its length will be the same as that of the pergola while the height will at least match that of the rafters.

Pergola Beams & Rafters

The beams and rafters are pergola parts that form the roof.

  • The beams are fixed on top of the columns
  • The rafters go over the beams
  • The overall combination creates the effect of open air and shade

An attached pergola has beams running parallel to the ledger board. A freestanding pergola will have a couple of beams running parallel to each other. Oftentimes, the beam ends are cut to create an attractive shape.

The rafters are the ones that form the primary part of the roof. They are positioned 12 to 24 inches apart. Some of their key features are as follows:

  • In an attached pergola, the rafter ends are fixed to the ledger board at one end. The other end sits atop the beam.
  • In a freestanding pergola, the rafters usually go atop the beams on both sides.

It is also common that the ends of the rafters are cut to create elegant shapes.


Footings are concrete piers created by pouring concrete into a form or hole in the ground. They are responsible for providing support to the posts. The depth of the footings is determined by the local building codes and is usually set below the frost line.


Purlins are optional smaller wooden pieces that go over the rafters. They are designed to provide extra shade. These pergola parts usually run perpendicular to the rafters.

Pergola Hardware

Building a pergola also requires hardware including screws and brackets. They help in connecting all these different parts together to create a sturdy structure.

So, these are some of the most common pergola parts that you will require to complete the structure on your property. It is best to choose high-quality parts to ensure your structure lasts long and withstands all kinds of conditions.

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