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Project Pergola: How To Decide On Options

Updated: Mar 20

Pergola Options: Making the Best Decisions

By definition a pergola is a glorified arbor, but what glory! For a simple wooden structure with at least four supporting posts it covers ground with class and sophistication. The very nature of pergolas suggests outdoors, sunshine, warm breezes, and if you’re lucky, some kabobs grilling nearby to add to the general sense of well-being.

Pergolas are simple, but they come with a fair share of options and we’re going to go ahead and cover some of these for you pergola-lovers who are hoping to buy in the near future.

Next Summer: Skim the options

  1. Install a base: does a pergola come with a floor?

  2. Wood vs. Vinyl Pergolas

  3. Roof cover options for all-weather pergolas

  4. Style & Design: accessories for Pergolas

  5. Start now: checklist to buying a pergola

Install a base: does a Pergola come with a floor?

Excellent question. Pergolas don’t come with an installed base or floor like a gazebo, so it will need some type of base. You could set them on a level base of any type, though most people go with options like concrete, stamped concrete, stone, and wood decking.

The idea of having a foundation is to give the pergola a secure foothold, and companies like Ulrich Lifestyle will offer anchor brackets and concrete lag bolts to make sure that a stout wind doesn’t topple the pergola. If you don’t like the look of exposed brackets there is the option of adding post skirtings, which are a little like installing door and floor trim in your house to give it that perfectly finished look.

Wood vs. Vinyl Pergolas

Wood or vinyl comes down to two basic considerations: maintenance and style. Quality wood with a good stain or paint will last approximately 5-10 years in between finishes whereas cheap wood or stain may need it every 3-5 years. A good vinyl will not need refinishing, however it will probably require a power washing every 1-3 years depending on humidity in your location as eastern locations tend to “Go Green” more quickly.  

Style is the other factor here, and for some people all it takes is to match the current siding on your home or business to the new structure. If everything on the property is already vinyl you might decide it’s not worth it to deviate off the designs already going. On the other hand if your property is all about a rustic log cabin look – wood may be the sweet spot for you.

We’ve written about this more in-depth in a blog post here, so if you need a little more info on the pros and cons feel free to head on over there for the full FYI.

Roof cover options for all-weather pergolas

Most of us aren’t interested in relaxing in either blinding sun or light rain, and since we aren’t all-weather ourselves prefer to bring in some outside help: enter the EZ Shade System.

Available in canopies and curtains, this system is the one we use almost exclusively with Ulrich Lifestyle’s pergolas to provide the ultimate sunblock/rain protection. The EZ Shade is installed on a triple track system that is manually controlled, and the material quality is manufactured to hold out against the elements, plus resist mildew and fading. We recommend this highly for the protection, privacy, and unique style it brings to a property. The fabric designs and colors cover a wide range of style and taste, and we find there is usually something for everyone.

Check out this photo below for ideas on how the EZ Shade or Canopy is utilized.

Style & Design: accessories for Pergolas

Love details? You will have fun with the smaller options on pergolas, such as:

  1. higher posts

  2. changing the post style

  3. replacing posts with stone columns

  4. electrical packages

  5. headers to attach the pergola to your home or business.

These choices are what differentiate between common pergolas and those that stop the show, or host it. Install the right option, such as an electrical package, and you have a ready-to-go venue for an outdoor dinner or party. Attach it to your home and the kitchen will be right there for easy convenience.

Adding a pergola to your property will enhance the curb appeal a great deal, and the options and accessories will set it apart to make it both a relaxing retreat and unique venue for a party.  A pergola might not be able to change the world, but it can change your world.

Start now: checklist for buying a pergola

  1. Fall & Winter: create a budget and plan your space. Look at building sizes, measure your outdoor space, search Pinterest, pick-up brochures from companies, browse websites, and dream of the greener days to come. Decide on whether or not to hire landscaper.

  2. Spring: actively begin shopping. Price and quality compare, check to see who offers free delivery and installation and who doesn’t. Surprise! Manufacturers really get busy in the spring, so you may have over a month of lead time for the best pergolas. If you wait until April or May you might have 1-2 months to wait. Engage someone to level your space or put in a base.

  3. Summer: provide level base or foundation, and start haunting greenhouses and home project stores. Pergola installed.

  4. Enjoy: Once the pergola is in you have the major part of the project out of the way and you can lay stone, plant flowers and begin to cook-out to your heart’s content!

  5. Helpful links: What is a Pergola → Wood vs. Vinyl Pergola

Feel free to stop on by Ulrich Lifestyle and ask a few questions, we’re here to help.

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