Knowing how much it costs to install a pergola will help you decide whether it’s a worthwhile home improvement. After all, if the cost to build a pergola doesn’t match the value you’ll get from it, it wouldn’t make sense to purchase or install one. This guide provides details on pergola average cost by material, type, and installation method. Click here for an in-depth guide on how to finance a pergola.
Before you learn more about the costs associated with installation, you should know what a pergola is and isn’t. There are a few similar structures out there that might confuse you in your research.
What is a pergola: Pergola types and installation costs
Often, the word pergola is used interchangeably with terms like gazebo, arbor or trellis. However, these are all very different structures. If you are adding a pergola to your outdoor space, you’ll want to use the right terminology to best choose and design your structure.
<blockquote class=”widget quote” style=”display: inline-block; width: auto; max-width: 600px;”>I scratch-built a 16×16 pergola over my patio for around $800 using pressure treated lumber. The labor was free, other than the cost of beer and dinner for a bunch of my friends to help assemble it.”</blockquote>
A pergola, usually square or rectangular, is a raised platform, set on posts designed to provide shade and beauty to outdoor spaces. Many times, you’ll see plants growing throughout the structure to add color and a renaissance flair to the design. Pergolas can be made of many materials but the most common is wood. A pergola is sometimes referred to as a patio cover.
A trellis is a simpler one-sided wall that supports growing vines. Trellises normally have lattice designs that allow viny plants to grow throughout. Often, trellises are used in the design of a pergola, arbor or gazebo.
An arbor is an archway that leads into the entrance of a garden, backyard or any type of outdoor space. Common arbor structures have an arch at the top with trellises on the sides as supports.
Finally, a gazebo is essentially an outdoor room with semi-closed walls and roof. It’s usually very large with a round or many-sided shape (hexagon, octagon, etc.) A gazebo provides shade, shelter, and seating all in one. For this reason, a gazebo might require a separate foundation or other supports to keep it in place as a freestanding structure.
To get some clarity on how the price of a pergola can vary, I chatted with Mr. Handy Dad, himself, Chris Heider. Chris runs a popular YouTube channel featuring tutorials on outdoor projects like pergola installation.
Pergola installations and cost
The cost of your pergola installation will depend on many things: prefab, DIY- build, material, size location and more.
If you go to a big box store like Lowes or Home Depot, free standing pergolas start around $600, with the bulk of them in the $1,000-$3,000 range.These manufactured pergolas are made of either vinyl, wood, fiberglass, composite or aluminum. Aluminum and wood tend to be on the high-end of this price range.
Building from the ground up, this will be a true do-it-yourself project. Building a pergola from scratch allows you to select your materials and design. However, with a DIY-build, you’ll also save on labor costs and material markups a contractor might charge.
The cost for a DIY pergola can be slightly less or equal to a big box pergola. Chris built his own buying materials and getting installation help from friends, “I scratch-built a 16×16 pergola over my patio for around $800 using pressure treated lumber. The labor was free, other than the cost of beer and dinner for a bunch of my friends to help assemble it.”
Chris adds that you can save money by going smaller, “A 12×12, could be done for 30% less using 16-foot lumber that is readily available at home centers.”
Custom Pergola Kit
You can install or setup a custom pergola kit yourself or engage the help of an experienced contractor. A custom pergola kit can be built to your design specifications and delivered to you for installation. Because these kits are custom, they can be on the pricier end. Expect to pay in the range of $4,000 and up.
You can save money on the installation if you do it yourself. If you hire installation out, labor could start at $1,500 or more. Chris talks about his experience with custom kits, “I recently helped a friend install an Amish pergola kit (around the same size as mine) that cost him $4,000 delivered. Certainly not cheap but his was prefinished whereas mine had to weather for a few months before I stained it.”
Custom Built Pergola
This will be the most expensive option starting around $7,000 and going upwards of $10,000 or more. The custom build will give you more variety in the design, location, and style of the pergola.
Additional Cost Factors
Overall the cost of your pergola will depend on a variety of factors including:
- Design complexity
- Location (free-standing versus attached to another structure)
- Accessories and embellishments (canopies, drapes, nets, screens, etc.)
Don Barlow, owner of Finyl Vinyl, a manufacturer of pergolas, says that you’ll see a clear difference in pergola costs based on your materials. Not only do you have to think about initial costs but you have to consider the total costs of ownership (TCO) that comes with certain materials like wood, for example, “Another eventual cost to wood patio covers is the replacement of wood that usually becomes infested with termites or dry rot.”
Don also mentions that aluminum might be less expensive to install but it bends easily and is subject to scratches. Here are some estimates he gives for different materials used in pergola construction:
Paying for Your Pergola
If you think you’d like to install a pergola and are comfortable with the price, it might be a good time to figure out financing. Super Money helps you find the best rates on loans for home improvement projects like pergola installation.
Lenders like Avant, Prosper and Lightstream can fund your project with terms and interest rates based on your credit score. SuperMoney’s loan offer engine makes it easy to get prequalified rates without hurting your credit. The application process is simple and can help your pergola installation become a reality.
If you’re looking for a contractor to install your new pergola, Homeadvisor ProFinder makes it easy to find vetted pros in your area.