How to Build a Pergola Roof | Ep. 174

Pergola with no roof over patio.
You can use your outdoor space even when it’s raining by adding a roof to a pergola.

A pergola roof protects you from pop-up storms, so you can extend your time outdoors.

Tyler Schwall in Mobile, Ala., wants to install a tin roof over his pergola. But before he does this, he wants to know the best way to put the roof so it has a pitch for rainwater.

First, buy some pressure-treated 2-by-4s to cover each slat on the pergola. Make sure these boards are the same length as the ones on the pergola.

Then, rip each 2-by-4 at a slight angle from its full width down to nothing. Ripping a board means cutting it along its length. This will create a tapered strip. Make sure the pitch of the roof is at least two inches so the rain will properly flow off of it.

Next, apply some construction adhesive on the slats and place the ripped boards on top of them. This will add some extra waterproofing protection and keep them secure when you’re installing the tin roof.

After you’ve placed the ripped boards on the pergola, secure them with wood screws. To keep the tin roof from sagging, lay some 2-by-4s perpendicular to those. 

Once all the boards are secure, install the tin roof

Now, you can sit outside under your covered pergola and enjoy the sound of the rain dancing on the tin roof. 

Skip to [21:58] for the full segment on the Today’s Homeowner Podcast.

Also in this episode:

Roof Types To Consider For Your Pergola

If you’re still in the design phase of your pergola, you might be choosing between different roof types. Below we describe a few pergola roof designs to help you make the right choice.

Shed Style Roof

A shed-style roof is the simplest and easiest to construct. Think of a shed roof as one side of a gable roof. These are common in older structures, such as barns, stables and birdhouses. This type of roof is flat, with one side slightly higher than the other, usually, the front being the highest.

This slope, or pitch, allows the roof to “shed” rainwater efficiently. The required angle is cut onto all four posts, ensuring the front posts are a few inches longer. Also, note that the angles on all of these posts are in the same direction, not mirror images of each other. The beams are then connected to the posts with galvanized carriage bolts, following the angle.

After the rafters are cut, they are laid out along the beams and fastened with galvanized screws. Care should be taken to ensure the spaces between the rafters remain consistent. If the design includes louvers, they are installed with galvanized nails perpendicular to the rafters.

Gable Style Roof

A gable roof is the next simplest design, made popular in the earliest residential construction. The gable design is essentially two shed roofs joined together, sloping away from each other.

The building process is the same as with a shed roof, with the addition of a ridge board. This ridge board runs the entire length of the roof and represents the highest point on the structure. In contrast to a shed-style roof, each side of a gable roof will be a mirror image of the other. 

Hip Style Roof

A hip roof design takes a gable roof and adds another adjacent roof at a 90-degree angle to it. This roof style became very popular during the 1980s and is still widely used today.

The hip refers to the roof’s change in direction, so a hip rafter will divide two roof sections at 90 degrees to each other. The visual effect can be dramatic, so this design is often used on larger pergolas. As mentioned earlier, this roof style can be complex to design but will often produce the most attractive results. 

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Simple Solutions

Finger twisting a bolt into the bottom of a wooden leg on patio furniture
This Simple Solution levels patio furniture and helps prevent wood rot.

Leveling Wood Patio Furniture — Start by boring a 3/8-inch diameter hole into the bottom of each table or bench leg.

Then, use a hammer to tap a T-nut into each hole.

Thread a hex-head machine bolt into each T-nut.

The bolts lift the bench off the patio to prevent rot, and they are adjustable to ensure the bench is level. 

Watch: Tip for Leveling Wood Patio Furniture  

A hacksaw cutting a bolt in a drill
If you need to cut a bolt to size, let a cordless drill do most of the work for you.

Clean-Cut Bolts — Here’s how to shorten a machine bolt — threaded rod or carriage bolt — without messing up the threads.

First, thread two hex nuts onto the bolt, then make the cut using a hacksaw or jigsaw with a metal-cutting blade.

Then, spin off the nuts, one at a time, using a wrench if necessary.

When the nuts come off the end of the bolt, they’ll re-cut and straighten out any threads that were damaged by the saw, making it easy to thread the nut back on.  

Watch: Tip for Cutting Bolts to Size 

Engineered wood flooring with tools needed for installing.
Engineered wood flooring drastically changes the look of the room, but you must have the right plank size before you begin. (digidreamgrafix, Getty Images)

Question of the Week

Q: I just bought my first house and I’m about to install some engineered wood flooring.

According to the installation instructions, the last row of flooring must not be less than half the width of the planks. (The planks are five inches wide.) But the instructions don’t tell you how to determine the width of the last row.

Can you please tell me how to figure that out? 

A: When installing flooring, the initial layout is going to define the success of the project. Don’t start with a full-width plank and hope the last row is wide enough. 

First, measure the width of the room and divide by five, the width of the plank. That will give you the number of full-width planks plus any fractions.

If the last row is less than 2½  inches, reduce the width of the first plank. 

Skip to [36:22] for the full segment on the Today’s Homeowner Podcast.

Further Reading


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