How to build a pergola roof

Written by tom ross
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How to build a pergola roof
Pergola roof (pergola image by Unclesam from Fotolia.com)

Building a roof on a pergola is really a simple project. The variety of materials that are available to roof a pergola are so numerous, easy to use and adaptable for any situation that the average person, who has little skill with tools, is capable of performing the task. A pergola roof should allow sunlight in but keep the heat of the sun out. The pergola roof should protect guests from sudden rainstorms while still making it possible to enjoy the beauty and ambience of the garden. A roof that satisfies all of these requirements and can be installed by the homeowner in a weekend is a great choice for the pergola.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Fibreglass corrugated roof panels
  • Tape measure
  • Stepladder
  • Fasteners, 6 mm (1/4 inch)
  • Washers, armoured neoprene
  • Safety glasses
  • Dust mask
  • Gloves
  • Electric drill

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Determine that the pergola is built strongly enough to bear the additional weight of the roof. The upright support posts of the pergola should be anchored in concrete. During high winds the roof will act as a sail, placing great stress on the upright posts and crossbeams. Roof the pergola only after it is determined that the structure is soundly built. A city building inspector can provide all the information needed to make assess the strength of the pergola.

  2. 2

    Use high strength corrugated fibreglass panels, available at home improvement stores, to roof the pergola. They are translucent and allow sunlight in but keep the heat of the sun out. The panels will also shield against sudden rainstorms.

  3. 3

    Measure and determine the span of the framework that the fibreglass panels will rest upon. The fibreglass panels come in different sizes designed to fit various size ranges of roof framework. It should be noted that the panels are not designed to bear any additional weight. The panels can be cut to size with hand or power saws fitted with fine toothed carbide tipped blades while wearing safety glasses, dust mask and gloves.

  4. 4

    Fasten the panels through the crown at every second corrugation by drilling holes in the panels on 30 cm (12 inch) centres using a drill bit that is 2 mm (1/16 inch) larger than the diameter of the wood screw that will be utilised. Use 7.5 cm (3 inch) long wood screws along with armoured neoprene washers, available at DIY suppliers.

  5. 5

    Determine in which direction prevailing winds blow and start laying the panels on the roof from the leeward side and work toward the wind. Overlap each succeeding layer of panels over the panel that was just laid so that the wind blows over it and does not catch the edge of the panel.

  6. 6

    Place the panels a minimum of two layers deep on each side of the pergola roof for additional strength.

Tips and warnings

  • Always wear safety glasses, dust mask and gloves when cutting or drilling fibreglass.
  • Enlist the help of a friend to support and balance panels as they are laid on the roof.
  • Consult with the home improvement store specialist for advice on installation of the panels that may be pertinent to the construction of your particular pergola.

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