How to Build a Pergola On a Deck or Patio

Adding shade structures to your backyard such as pergola, pavilions, and arbors can enhance the entire atmosphere and feel of your home's outdoor space. Many homeowners or DIY deck builders, however, wonder, "How do I design and build a pergola?"

While building a pergola of your own can look and feel intimidating but with contemporary structural hardware and pergola systems from companies such as OZCO Ornamental Wood Ties and Wild Hog Railing Products; it can be straightforward, simple, and strong! Find out how to build a simple pergola, pavilion, or arbor with steel pergola hardware to complete your home's outdoor living space can expand your usable living area.

Whether working with a clear-cut DIY pergola kit such as the LINX Simplified Pergola System by Wild Hog Railing with defined sections and pergola installation instructions, or hand-crafting your own unique pergola space, learning how to build a pergola is an easy task you'll be proud to show off!

How to Build a DIY Wood Pergola

Here are the easy fool-proof steps on how to design a pergola structure for your backyard and how to build a simple pergola for DIY deck builders of any experience level. A DIY shade structure build can be achieved in a weekend and will increase the overall value of your home and outdoor living space.

How to Design a Pergola

Creating an outdoor space that's cool, comfortable, and chill can be tough, especially if your backyard is open and without trees to block out the hot summer sun. Thankfully, it's easy to install a pergola that provides shade and style. Begin by looking at the size of your home, the location you plan to build a pergola, and how you want to use your pergola space.

You'll want your backyard pergola to be no more than 1/3 of the size of your home. If you build a pergola that is significantly larger than that, it will overpower the size and feel of your home and outdoor space. Therefore, your DIY pergola build will make your entire home appear smaller and more confined.

Do you want your pergola to be mostly shady or fully immersed in sunlight? Is the ground surface of your pergola space level and stable or will a ground material such as wood or concrete be necessary? These are important notes to factor into your backyard pergola build and design.

What is the activity level of your family and friends? How will the pergola or pavilion be used in your day-to-day life? For larger families, families with pets, or high-energy people; plan your pergola design to be larger and more open than others. Avoid installing pergola posts that can block pathways and hinder foot-traffic areas. If your backyard pergola is intended for more relaxation purposes, plan ahead for outdoor furniture spaces and comfortable hammock areas.

DIY building a backyard pergola increases your family's outdoor living space and add a space for outdoor meals

Prepping for a Pergola

  • Wear personal protective equipment, including eye protection and gloves.
  • It is the responsibility of the installer to meet all local building codes and permit requirements.
  • Manufacturers shall not be held liable for improper or unsafe installations.
  • Pergola posts must always be properly secured to the substrate.
  • For deck installation, the pergola posts must be tied to the main framing structure via lag bolts (sold separately).
  • For concrete installation the posts must utilize a metal base plate, such as the LINX Unifit or the Titan Post Anchor and permanently affix it to sound, uncracked concrete with concrete structural screws.
  • For soil installation of posts, 2 options:
  • Utilize post spikes, purchased locally.
  • Set in concrete, buried to a depth of at least 6” below the frost line.
  • Post securing hardware is NOT included. Consult your local building permit office for recommendations.
  • Do not leave partially assembled structure unattended.
  • Do not leave fully assembled structure unattended without posts permanently attached to the ground.
  • Do not assemble or install your structure during foul weather, including rain, lightning or high winds.

Learn how to build a pergola and how to design a structure for your backyard area and pool house

Planning Out A Pergola with LINX Simplified Pergola System

Lay out the parts for the top • 4 wood posts and 4 TriFits, laid out in a square shape. Place flattened TriFit boxes between Linx parts and the ground to protect all surfaces. Measure parallel posts to ensure equal lengths. Trim with saw as necessary.

Create 2 ‘C’ Shape Ends: Selecting 2 parallel posts, slide the TriFits on both ends of each post. Do not use screw fasteners yet.

Create large ‘U’ Shape: Insert remaining 2 loose posts into each side of the ‘C’ end. Do not use screw fasteners yet.

Attach the C-shaped end to the complete square. Raise posts off ground and slide LINX TriFits onto post. Do not use screw fasteners yet.

Building a Wood Pergola

Insert 2 screws in each corner. Ensure parallel, opposite sides are equal length. Insert 2 screws into the outer single holes using an electric drill and the provided bit. Repeat on all 4 corners of the pergola.

If avoiding installing the LINX SunShade, insert all remaining interior corner screws and move ahead to inserting the upright posts.

Installing Corner Brackets for Pergola Build

Place and position all 4 corner brackets. Attach the brackets to the upper pair of pilot holes using screws. Insert screws into lower pair of holes. Repeat for all 4 corners.

Adding a Hammock to Pergola

Attach the LINX Hammock in its 4 corners. Loop strap through each bracket and snap buckle together. Repeat on all 4 corners. Cinch tightly for a secure hold.

Attach side brackets and straps for pergola

Pull side strap to post, mark bracket location. Attach bracket with screws. Loop strap and snap together buckle. Repeat on all sides.

Check out how easy it is to design a backyard pergola and learn how to build a structure in an afternoon

Mounting Pergola Posts

Insert 2 upright pergola posts. Have 2 adults tilt up one side of the pergola top, while a 3rd adult inserts posts. Don’t fully attach with screws.

How to Raise a Pergola with 4 Posts

Have two adults on ladders lift the pergola top to its marked location. Insert pergola posts when the angle permits. Insert all top screws. Using a ladder, access the underside of the pergola top to insert screws in all empty holes, including both horizontal beam arms and upright posts. Repeat on all 4 posts.

Mount Post Bases for Pergola Posts

Have two adults lift each leg while one adult slides a LINX Unifit or Post Base under the post. Slowly drop post into place. Attach screws. Square and level the post base. Measure and align all posts. Plumb all upright posts

Anchor the LINX UNIFIT or Post Base Kit to the ground and substructure below. Affix post base to substrate per local building codes. Fasteners for anchoring the pergola posts in place are (sold separately). DecksDirect recommends using GRK Rugged Structural Screws for post installation on wood or composite decking material, or the Caliburn XL Concrete Screw for mounting the pergola posts on concrete or stone material.


Learn more about the basics of deck framing and building in the Deck Framing Guide and learn the specific deck part names in the Glossary of Deck Terms and Lingo.

Browse more deck design and railing style notes to upgrade your backyard space and deck in the DecksDirect Railing Style Guide. The quickest way to learn if your home is more suited for a classic aluminum deck railing or a strong, composite railing line.

The more you know, the better your deck and backyard projects will be! Whether you're looking at a brand new start or a fresh end-of-season deck renovation, give our deck designers a call at 1-888-824-5316 or send us an email at hello@decksdirect.com. Our deck experts will help you get the information, products, and tools you need for a gorgeous deck that you created and designed!