2022 was the year of the pergola, but this garden trend hasn’t slowed down in 2023.
In fact, HGTV calls the pergola a maximum-value outdoor project because you can create an outdoor space that enhances your property’s landscape design for a cost much less than many other backyard projects. And with so many ways to customize your pergola, there’s a design for every functionality and style taste.
But how do you get started choosing which pergola design you want? Continue reading as we dive in on how to select the perfect pergola for your Knoxville home.
What Is a Pergola?
First things first, a pergola is an open structure with four support beams that hold up a roofing grid. Typically, they don’t have walls because the purpose is to accentuate their natural features.
You can leave the roof open or cover it, depending on how much protection you want from the outdoor elements. Yet, regardless of the type of roof you choose for your pergola, most pergolas have decorative roof designs. This is what makes them unique compared to other covered patio options.
Now that you know what a pergola is, let’s go through the steps of choosing one for your home.
Pre-Pergola Construction Questions to Ask
The first step in choosing your perfect Knoxville pergola is to ask and answer a series of questions. These questions will help you identify the best pergola designs for your outdoor space.
How Will You Use the Pergola?
You cannot choose a pergola design without thinking about functionality. For example, do you want a low-key space to relax and hang out with friends, or do you want it to serve as an outdoor kitchen and dining space?
Knowing how you want to use the area will help you determine the design elements you need (and want). For instance, if you plan to build an outdoor kitchen, you need to think about the layout of the appliances, counter space, and seating area. You must also decide which features to include, such as a pizza oven or wine bar.
Some homeowners want a simple barbeque area, while others wish to have an entire outdoor kitchen with all the appliances you’d find indoors.
What Do You Want to Put Under the Pergola?
After thinking about the functionality, you need to think more about what you’ll put under the pergola.
While we just mentioned some outdoor kitchen features, if you want more of a relaxing space, you should consider the sofas or plush chairs you’d like to include. You may also want a coffee table or side tables.
You can even include a fire pit under your pergola if you have a large enough space. However, this will affect the roof’s height and how big your pergola should be.
This is why it’s essential to consider what you’ll put underneath in the beginning stages of the design process.
How Will the Environment Affect the Pergola?
Environmental factors will play a significant role in choosing your pergola design. For instance, if you live in a region with a lot of rain, you’ll likely want a fully covered roof rather than an open roof. This way, you can spend more time using your pergola, even when the weather is unfavorable.
Even if you live in a region with mostly sunny days, you may want more coverage to provide shade from the hot sun. You won’t need to cover the roof entirely. Instead, you can place the lattice closer together to give a darker shade.
On the other hand, if you live in a place prone to violent weather, like hurricane-prone Florida or snowy New York, you need to consider how high winds or heavy snow will impact the structure. While it may not affect your design aesthetic as much, it will determine the materials you should use and how the contractor anchors the pergola to the ground.
In regions where the ground freezes, the contractor must anchor the pergola below the freezing point, or its structural integrity will be at risk.
Where Will You Put the Pergola?
Next, think about where you want to place the pergola. Your two options are to either have it as a standalone structure or to attach it to an existing structure (usually your house).
If you want to incorporate your pergola into a garden or pool design, choose the standalone feature. But if you want to create an outdoor space you can quickly access, attach the pergola to your house.
What Materials Do You Want to Use?
There are many materials your contractor can use to build your pergola. Some options include:
Of course, each material has its pros and cons, as well as maintenance requirements. You’ll also need to consider cost, as some materials are far more expensive than others.
For instance, wood is a popular choice with homeowners. This is because wood offers a classic design style at an affordable price. Yet, wood also requires a lot of maintenance, especially in wetter environments.
On the other hand, aluminum and steel offer a modern and sleek aesthetic. Although more costly, they require minimal maintenance and can withstand harsher environments with proper care.
By now, you’ll know which materials suit your pergola, helping narrow your options. When in doubt, ask your Knoxville contractor what they recommend.
What Do You Want the Pergola to Look Like?
Once you’ve thought about the more logistical aspects of your pergola, you can think about the designs you like. You’ll have a clear idea of the possibilities you can choose from based on how you answered the previous questions.
Something to keep in mind is that you want the pergola’s aesthetic to be cohesive with the rest of your outdoor space and home. So try to have a common theme that complements what you already have.
For instance, if you have a Greek-inspired swimming pool, don’t choose an industrial look for your pergola, as it will look strange.
Types of Pergolas
As you answer the last question of what you want your pergola to look like, you can start exploring the different types of pergolas to see which aligns with your goals. Some styles to consider include:
While we’ve already discussed attached and freestanding pergolas, which detail where you’ll put the pergola, you also have to consider the design style.
Arched pergolas have an arched top, which elevates the roof, giving an elegant design.
Awning pergolas are similar to attached pergolas in that they both connect to the home’s wall. Yet, awnings are usually simpler and smaller.
Louvered pergolas don’t use slats in the roof but flexible louvers. You can open and close them to allow more or less sun in throughout the day. There are manual and automatic options available to control the louvers.
After nailing down the style of your pergola, you need to think about its size.
The most common pergola size is six feet by eight feet. However, this is only enough space for two people, so it’s small. While perfect for some, it’s not nearly enough for others, especially for those who want to use the space to entertain.
If you have a large backyard and want your pergola and patio design to accommodate more people, a pergola that is 12 feet by 16 feet is best. Think you still need more space? Bigger design plans are available, but pergolas typically aren’t bigger than 20 feet by 20 feet.
Should none of these sizes appease you, don’t worry. It’s easy to customize your pergola’s size to fit your unique needs.
When considering the size, you need to revisit some of the questions you answered previously. For example, an obstruction where you plan to place the pergola, like a large tree or swimming pool, may limit how big you can build your pergola.
You will also need to think about the roof height. Most pergolas are eight to ten feet high. But again, this is completely customizable unless you’re building an attached pergola. Attached pergolas will have a height restriction because you don’t want the pergola beams to be higher than your house.
Slightly taller pergolas are best if you’re going to install electrical elements. Then, you’ll have extra space for the wiring without limiting the pergola’s height. Yet, keep in mind that you may need a city building permit for a taller pergola.
Let’s Build the Pergola of Your Dreams
Having a pergola in your backyard is a cost-effective way to transform your space. Suitable for a multitude of uses and with a high level of customization, it’s no wonder they are so popular with homeowners.
And now you have this guide to help you choose the most perfect design for your Knoxville home. So if you’re ready to start building a pergola, connect with a contractor today and get a free quote for your project!
Our team at Renaissance Patio Projects looks forward to building you a high-quality pergola at an affordable price.