Daily Dose Tallahassee

Designing a Pergola

Florida has a ton to offer, and so far Tallahassee has been treating me pretty well. The only complaint I have–and it certainly won’t surprise you–is about the bugs. Mosquitoes and flies are plentiful down here and make it a tad tricky to make full use of the great weather down here. One of the best ways to combat the bugs is, of course, to screen in outdoor areas so you get comfortable outdoor areas with all the protection of being in doors.

Since building a screen porch or covered structure is considered a building by local building codes and therefore requires a permit, I want to take the simpler approach and build a pergola. Per my research, as long as the structure does not have a roof (e.g. a shed or gazebo) and is not attached to an existing structure (e.g. house) then you don’t need a permit for construction. A ‘floating’ deck does not appear to need a permit of any kind, and a pergola is even simpler.

Here is a sketch of the pergola I want to build sans screening. The left section is 4 feet narrower than the right (8′ + 12′ vs 10′ + 10′) to both make room for the door (which is in the center of slab) and to make the transportation of the building materials easier (12 foot boards verse 16 foot). The total size is 20×12 and consists of 6 posts, 6 cross members and ~10 slats.

A mock-up of the pergola via Google Sketchup (click for full size).
A mock-up of the pergola via Google Sketchup (click for full size).

The posts will be pressure treated (like all the wood in this project) 6″x6″ with a total height of 7 1/2′. Using metal brackets they will be secured to the concrete slab. For support and design the cross members will be 2″x10″ and will be rabbit jointed to the posts. The top slats will then be 2″x6″ and secured by galvanized deck screws. The whole thing will also get a coat of stain and sealant to ensure longevity.


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