If you’re looking for a patio idea to add shade, structure, or definition to the space, a pergola is a great option. This could lead you to wonder what the cost to build a pergola is so you know if it’s inside your budget or not. Pergolas are nice for any sized yard, and they work to shade in your deck or any other relaxation area you may have. New materials and designs make them more affordable and adaptable as the years go on, so the cost to build a pergola can easily fit into almost any budget.
Pergolas come built from different materials, including vinyl with an aluminum core, fiberglass, or wood. They vary in placement, design, and size, and all of these factors will impact your final cost to build a pergola. On average in the United States, the cost to build a pergola falls between $2,500 and $6,000. Most people expect to spend around $3,500 to build a 10-foot square structure using solid wood with a traditional design.
If you choose to have a custom-made structure or a larger structure, this significantly increases your cost to build a pergola. Having a larger or custom structure or using high-end materials can easily take your total costs above $10,000. If you just want an arbor, you can pick up a kit and do it yourself for around $200. A freestanding trellis is another option if you can’t cover the cost to build a pergola, and this ranges from $100 up to $1,500 or more to complete.
For those who want a pergola but aren’t sure which factors can drive up the cost to build a pergola, this is for you. We’ve put together a breakdown of the different factors that go into determining the cost, including the cost by materials, installation process, design ideas, labor costs, and much more. By the end, you’ll be able to decide if you want to invest in the cost to build a pergola for your own backyard.
Pergolas come in several sizes, and this allows you to tailor your choice to your yard or garden space. You can also choose to install them over existing patios to create a fun outdoor relaxation or entertainment area. Pergola by Field Outdoor Spaces / CC BY 2.0
The Cost to Build a Pergola – Popular Material Breakdown
A large portion of your cost to build a pergola will center around the material you choose. Some materials are more high-end than others, and this can drive the price up. Speciality woods and metals will cost more, and kits will cost less.
First up is alumawood. This is aluminum that goes through a processing, painting, and embossing job to make it mimic the look of wood. It’ll usually add between $10 and $20 a foot to your cost to build a pergola total, and it’s generally more inexpensive. However, it’s easy to dent due to how thin the material is, and it can look chalky or fade over time with sun and element exposure. You will want to repaint it every few years to keep it looking nice, and it will be a nice way to refresh your decorating scheme.
Aluminum with Vinyl
Although they are two different materials, they go hand-in-hand because almost all vinyl pergolas you have will have an aluminum core in them to make them more stable and improve their strength. You get the durability of metal with the low maintenance requirements of vinyl, and this is perfect for the busy gardener who has a large container garden and yard to tend to without a lot of time to dedicate to their pergola.
Usually, pergolas that use these materials feature a traditional or contemporary style, and you won’t have to worry about maintenance as much as you would with wood structures. Depending on the style, the cost to buld a pergola with these materials ranges between $10 and $30 per foot.
Almost any wooden pergolas you see use cedar for the main build material. You can stain or paint it to change the colors, but this isn’t a requirement to keep it looking nice because cedar is naturally resistant to insect activity and rot. Cedar can crack with long exposure to the sun and the elements. However, this is more of a cosmetic problem than it is a structural one. The cost to build a pergola using cedar for the main material is between $25 and $35 per foot, and this puts in comfortably in the mid-range for a price point.
For homeowners who are looking for a long-lasting material that doesn’t require a lot of maintenance to upkeep it, fiberglass is a solid choice. It’s a very popular material when people want a contemporary pergola, and it’s slightly more expensive at around $60 per foot. They can last for years, but you are limited on the colors and customization options you can request with this material.
Pine is a softwood, and it’s one of the more budget-friendly items you can use when you’re trying to keep your cost to build a pergola down. However, you’ll have to perform a lot of maintenance on it to keep it looking good, and this includes routine staining and painting. You will refresh the stain or paint every year or every other year to help protect it from the sun and other elements, and it’s also prone to developing insect damage. The cost for pine for your structure falls between $20 and $20 per foot. 3
Redwood can mirror cedar in many ways. First, it’ll resist insect activity and rot, and it won’t need as much care to keep it looking nice and new. If you don’t paint it, you’ll have to prime it to help prevent bleed-through, and it’s prone to cracking like cedar does. However, this is more of a cosmetic issue than a structural one, so you don’t necessarily have to replace a cracked board if you notice one. Redwood is also more durable and harder than cedar, and it’ll cost between $40 and $50 per foot.
Specialized Woods like Ipe and Teak
If you’re ready to pay more upfront for a very durable and long-lasting pergola, consider using specialized woods like teak or ipe. These with other exotic woods can easily resist cracking and rot for a long time, and they’ll outline cedar and other softwoods. However, the availability and the type of wood you want will factor into the cost to build a pergola, and these types of wood are at the higher end, starting at $55 a square foot.
Different Pergola Types and Prices
The cost to build a pergola also depends on the different shape, style, or size you want. You can use readymade kits, or you can choose to create a custom design. Obviously, a custom design is going to cost you more than choosing a kit.
Adjustable or Retractable
If you choose to get an adjustable or retractable pergola, you’ll notice that you have a broad range to choose from. They can come equipped with a shade that will automatically extend below the frame, or you can choose one that allows you to position the roof. They are considerably more expensive than traditional pergolas because you get them custom-made to your deck or yard. Also, you usually attach these types of pergolas to your home instead of having them freestanding, and they cost between $800 and $3,000.
Attached or Cantilevered
If you choose to have your pergola built right over your patio, it usually comes attached to the home or cantilevered. You’ll only need two columns or legs, and this makes them a little less expensive to have than a freestanding model. They give shade for anyone who exits or enters the home, and the typical cost to build a pergola in this style is between $500 and $2,000 to install as long as you don’t have a lot of obstructions around where you want to install it. If you do, this can increase your costs.
If you want a curved roof pergola, you’re going to build a traditional pergola with an arched top attached to it. You can build the curved top from materials like wire or mesh to help keep your cost to build a pergola down, and it gives you a space for your vines or trellis garden because plants can climb on it. These are usually freestanding structures, and you can use smaller wooden designs like gates. They can cost anywhere from $15 to $35 for every foot.
A curved roof is popular on pergolas that line walkways because it allows you to train your plants to grow over it to create a whimsical look and feel.
This type of pergola is very popular for businesses to add detail instead of shade. They typically only extend one or two feet out, and you’ll see them directly attached to buildings. They’re very popular above windows, doors, or garages to provide small amounts of shade, and the cost to build a pergola with this decorative type is between $200 and $1,000 per pergola.
Freeform pergolas are very expensive because they’re custom. The company will design the pergola to meet specific landscaping needs like a pond, ornamental shrubs, or garden statues. They can have an artistic or sculptural design to them, and they can include vines or cloth. The cost to build a pergola with a freeform design can easily exceed $10,000.
This type of pergola runs on an automatic system that allows it to open and close with the push of a button. Since it’s automatic, it costs slightly more to build a pergola of this type, averaging between $20 and $55 per square foot. However, it makes it easy to open and close it due to sun, rain, or other weather conditions.
You can get freestanding or attached modern pergola designs. They use lean posts instead of columns, and the cross beams don’t go out past the frame. This design element gives these types of pergola a very clean and container look, and this lends to the modern appeal. They can have closely spaced sections, be open, or come shaded. Many have a UV roof screen and include things like benches or fans. This can all drive the cost to build a pergola up, and you can expect to spend between $4,000 and $10,000 to complete it.
Round pergolas are very eye-catching, but they’re also more uncommon. They’re different from traditional gazebos because they come with totally open sides. They also have a flat roof, and they come in a smaller size than you’ll get with more traditional square pergolas. A rounded pergola can cost between $1,000 and $3,500 to complete.
The smart pergola is relatively new to the market because it runs on technology. It will automatically open and close according to your local weather. You can control it using your app on your phone, or it comes with a remote. This is a more expensive option due to the technology, so you could pay between $60 and $65 per square foot with it.
Thatched pergolas aren’t common unless you’re in the tropics. They use a frame with a tightly thatched roof that comes made out of traditional materials like straw. Most of these types of pergolas are custom-built, and this can increase the cost to build a pergola. Additionally, it can be challenging to find contractors who know how to thatch correctly, and this can increase your costs even more.
Finally, a traditional pergola is a freestanding structure that gets support from four posts or columns. The top comes with evenly spaced beams, and they can have a decorative or curved end on them. The beams can get cloth draping, be open, or have vines that you train to run across them to provide you shade. There are also nice covers you can but to string over them.
Installing Your Pergola – Labor Costs
On top of figuring out the cost to build a pergola while factoring in the materials and type, you also want to include labor costs unless you plan to do it yourself. There is a huge cost range associated with installing a pergola, and things like the design, material, and whether you pick out a kit or go with a custom build will all factor in. Generally speaking, to install a basic 10-foot by 10-foot pergola with no customization options, labor will run around $500.
If you want to get more complex, the cost to build a pergola will go up. Adding things like a back wall for privacy or additional slats to the roof to increase the shade can take the labor costs up to around $1,000. Any speciality materials or other customization options can boost the price too.
Our new pergola #2 by funny strange or funny ha ha / CC BY-NC 2.0
Cost to Install a Roof on Your Pergola
When you look at the basic pergola design, you’ll notice that it’s an open-roofed structure. This means that it generally doesn’t give you much protection from the elements or shade by itself. Growing plants over the top of the structure or getting a shade cloth are two popular ways to give it a temporary roof. However, it’s possible to give it a permanent roof too.
You’ll notice that some companies do offer kits that come with slats that you space much closer together to give you up to 90% shade. Some offer UV-material roofs that block out harmful UV rays. You can add a complete, solid roof to your pergola, but you should be prepared to pay for it. Depending on the size, design, and material you want, adding a roof to your structure can increase your cost to build a pergola by as much as $15,000 for a larger structure.
Pergola Improvement and Enhancement Costs
Maybe you’ve had your pergola for a while and you want to improve or enhance the look of it to make it match your yard or hot tub enclosure better. Whatever the reason, you can pay to have improvements or enhancements added to your pergola.
A lot of people decide to take the custom route when they build their pergolas, and it can include everything from a custom and shape and more shade to a back wall for a windbreak and greater privacy. These design features will increase your cost to build a pergola. A custom design cost starts around $5,000 to $6,000 and goes up, depending on your level of customization and the materials you want to use.
A lot of pergolas feature a square or rectangular shape, but you can get them with rounded edges or curves instead. These features put this pergola squarely into the custom category, and this can increase your project costs. Generally speaking, the cost for curving edges start around $5,000 and go up.
It’s possible to add a gabled roof or gables to an open-sided pergola design. This helps to create a pergola and gazebo hybrid that looks interesting. This is another custom design that has a starting cost between $6,000 and $7,000 depending on your materials and labor costs. As always, larger pergolas will have a higher cost associated with maintaining and building them.
It’s very common to use a shade sail to create a roof for your pergola, and there are several options available. You can easily stretch your shade cloth over your pergola’s existing slats, and this allows you to tighten and loosen it as you need. This is a relatively cost-effective option, and it should only cost you between $50 and $200 to buy and install it.
Shade sails stretch under or over the top of your pergola and attach directly to the support columns with grommets and ties. You can loosen or tighten them as you need. Vista student 1 by Denver Awning / CC BY-ND 2.0
Additional Costs and Considerations
There are additional costs and considerations to keep in mind when you’re figuring out the cost to build a pergola. If you’re going to use a wood that isn’t redwood or cedar, you’ll need to seal or stain it once you build it. Seal or stain can cost between $30 and $60 to have enough to finish the project.
You also want to ensure that your pergola is on even ground. If you have to install your pergola on uneven ground or on an old deck, you’ll have to pay additional labor costs. You could also look at adding more to your cost to build a pergola by adding structural reinforcements.
Anyone who is going to pour a foundation for their pergola like a deck or patio is going to have a much higher project cost. This can increase your costs to build a pergola by $2,800 to $5,100. The size of your patio, whether or not the company has to level the ground, and the weather conditions will all factor in. If you have an existing foundation, this can save you thousands.
Your pergola should also match your style and design of your property. The size is another consideration to keep in mind because having a bigger overhead structure can restrict how well you can use the surrounding area. Also, check into the permit requirements for building a pergola. Some require it and some don’t require it. Check with your local town or city hall to find out the process and the cost. Larger pergolas may require a permit, and this can cost up to $150.
Where to Find a Professional Pergola Builder
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can pergolas boost your home’s curb appeal?
Yes. Pergolas are excellent at helping you boost your home’s curb appeal, and they can add thousands to your home’s price. This can help reduce the anxiety about thinking about the cost to build a pergola. Again, it has to flow with your home’s design and tie into the surrounding landscape to work.
2. What is the best wood type for a pergola?
The best wood for the pergola will vary depending on your needs. Red cedar and pine are both very popular options. Harder wood will generally last longer, but it can cost much more upfront. However, it also requires less maintenance to keep it looking nice, so this is a bonus for paying more straight away.
3. Is it cheaper to DIY your pergola?
As long as you don’t run into complications, yes. Generally speaking, it’s cheaper to build your own pergola because this allows you to cut out the labor costs. The downside is that you could run into problems that require professionals to help with, and it can cost more to have them fix it. If you’re not very DIY-prone, don’t be afraid to increase your cost to build a pergola by hiring professionals.
4. How much will it cost to stain or paint your pergola?
If your pergola is a type of wood that requires routine staining or maintenance to keep it looking nice and structurally sound, you’ll paint or stain it every year or every other year. Generally, it costs around $2 to $5 for every square foot to paint it. If you want to stain it, you’ll pay between $2 and $4 for every square foot.
5. How can you get the best price on your pergola?
You have a much bigger chance of securing a discount if you buy your pergola in the off-season during the fall and winter months. You can extend your savings by asking your contractor if they’ll install it in the off-season when they’re less busy. Also, don’t be afraid to shop around for companies to ensure you’re getting the best deal on labor costs.
The cost to build a pergola has a very large price range because there are so many different variables that go into it. You can use this guide to get a feel for your price, and this will help you decide if it’s something that’s in your budget this year. If it is, you can enjoy this new addition to your yard and use it to add structure, shape, and interest to your space all year-round.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.