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Buyer's Guide: The Perfect Pergola

Last Updated Feb 14, 2013 · Written by Rob Schneider

You've decided you want a pergola. That's a great start, because a pergola can be an ideal, low cost and high-style addition to any home. Now all you have to do is find the perfect pergola for your home. This guide will help you through the maze of options.

Materials for the Perfect Pergola

Some pergola builders specialise in pergolas made from particular materials, while others will make your pergola out of the material of your choice. Is one construction material better than another? Actually, it depends on the application and your preferences. These are some of your options:
  • Timber pergolas are often what come to mind first when you think of a pergola. Timber has the advantage of being a natural product and has a natural look, feel and texture that is hard to beat. You have to be prepared to give a timber pergola some regular maintenance, though, in order to protect it from the elements and rot. For greater protection at a budget price, choose treated timber.

  • Steel is a very popular alternative to timber. A treated steel pergola (like Colorbond) won't rust or decay and can be constructed very quickly, especially if bought in kit form. Steel pergolas can cover a wide area with less support structure than timber, so for a  wide open feel, steel may be the best choice.

  • Aluminium pergolas are light weight, strong and will never rust. If you live near the coast, aluminium may be the best choice for your pergola. For more colour options and greater protection, choose powder-coated aluminium.

To Roof or Not to Roof?

A traditional pergola does not have a solid roof, but is designed to afford some shade via the slats set across its support beams. This may be all you're looking for, but there are many advantages to having a roof over your head. If you want a solid roof, choose a conventional roofing material or for a more exotic look, natural thatch roofing. For the best of both worlds, choose a polycarbonate roof or a retractable pergola cover.

Speaking of retractable, a great way to get the most out of your pergola is to have retractable screens installed. These will keep the flies and mossies out when you need to, but allow you to enjoy the fresh, open feel of a pergola when you want it. Other specially designed and manufactured pergola screens, doors and windows give you even more options to choose from.

Custom Made or Kit Pergolas?

The choice between a custom designed and built pergola and a kit pergola is more than just a matter of budget. True, a custom designed pergola will cost more, but if you have an unusual layout or landscape or want something 100 percent original, don't let the modest extra cost stop you. On the other hand, pergola kits are not all alike. There are dozens of designs and configurations available, so don't make the mistake of thinking you can't find a kit pergola that will suit your sense of style.

The pergola has been redefined for the modern era. With so many options available, you can buy a pergola that will give you the open air feeling of a traditional pergola and the safety and versatility of a covered and enclosed patio or sunroom at the same time. To find the perfect pergola, just follow the links above and contact a pergola specialist in your area.
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