Remodel An Old Pergola

What You'll Need
Basic construction tools
Galvanized nails
Paint, stain, lacquer, etc.
Curve template

If your pergola is looking worn down with age, or looks too bland for the rest of your backyard paradise, perhaps it's time to do a bit of remodeling. You can turn your old pergola into something amazing without spending an arm and a leg on a new one, or wasting too much free time building one from scratch. Below are some pergola ideas that will help you to remodel yours.

1. Inspect Your Pergola

Inspect your pergola for any pieces that will need replacing or at least sanding and fixing up. Look for splintering, insect infestation and fungi such as dry rot. Minor damage, like slight splintering, may only require a sander. Fungi calls for replacement, as do many infestations. If there is an infestation, call an exterminator.

If your pergola’s posts are embedded in the ground, dig out around it (at least on one side) to ensure there is no damage at the base, especially water damage.

2. Plan it Out

Decide what your end product should look like, and what it will take to get there. Is a new stain or lacquer all you want? Do you want to make it wider or longer? Maybe you want to add more shade, or a nice bevel cut on the ends of your boards. Just remember to account for fixing or replacing any problems found during inspection. Search online for pictures or pergola construction plans for fresh ideas.

3. Replacing Lumber

Whether you think you have to or not, now is a good time to simply break down all the pieces of your pergola, if possible. Anything damaged beyond repair needs replacing. This also means re-staining it to at least match what you already have, but that comes later. Make sure new pieces are cut to match the ones remaining. You may want to cut all new crossbeams or all new support beams in order to increase the length and/or width of your pergola. You can also adjust the design of the crossbeams and support beams to allow for more shade.

4. Bevel Cuts and More

Many pergolas have at least a curved bevel cut on the end of each crossbeam and support beam. If yours already has them, lay one of your boards on top of your new, replacement boards and trace the outline to get an identical cut. If you don’t have a cut, get a curve template (if you don’t have one, any hardware store can help) and make your cut with a jigsaw.

5. Stripping and Sanding

If you decide to re-stain or re-lacquer your wood, especially when going with a lighter color, you’ll need a stripper to get the sealer off, followed by a sander. Sand down any rough areas left over from the cutting.

6. Stain/Lacquer and Reassembly

As an outdoor piece, it's a good idea to stain or lacquer the wood first, then reassemble, to best protect it against the elements. However, if you plan on using construction adhesive combined with nails or screws to reattach pieces, stain or lacquer works against the hold of the adhesive and can be applied last. Otherwise, don’t apply it where you’ll be using the adhesive.