Pergolas can be built as part of a new landscape design; as a laid-back cover for a BBQ or hot tub area; as a decorative addition to a garden; to cover a walkway, patio or deck; or as an attractive way to define a parking space. A pergola can be freestanding or attached to the home and has a slatted or lattice roof that allows sunlight (and rain) to filter through.
People often train flowering vines or ivy to grow up the pillars and through the open slats of a pergola for decorative reasons and to add shade. Pergolas can be open-topped, pitched or gable-roofed. Contractors can build them out of cedar, metal, vinyl, pressure-treated pine, redwood, steel or composite decking. Several factors affect the cost of building a pergola.
Materials directly affect the overall cost of building a pergola. Exotic woods or specialty finishes increase the cost per square foot over standard materials such as composite decking. Redwood costs more than twice the amount of pressure-treated pine—possibly more, depending on the region. A perk of both redwood and cedar is they are naturally resistant to decay. Aluminum or vinyl are the lowest cost options. "Always keep in mind your climate and maintenance needs when selecting your materials," recommends Don Fotheringhame of 221 Construction in Kearney, Missouri. “All wood will gray if it’s not regularly sealed and maintained.”
The size of a pergola affects the overall cost of building. Larger pergolas require more materials and labor. By nature, pergolas have an open-air or slatted roof, so they typically require fewer materials than a full-coverage patio roof. Opting for gables or ornate details, however, can balance this out.
Cost per square foot
The cost per square foot usually covers the cost of materials, labor in a particular region and the size of the project. Keith Blackstock of Blackstock Construction in Snellville, Georgia, charges $20–$50 per square foot, including materials and labor, to build a pergola, depending on the degree of difficulty. He says a standard pergola over the top of a traditional deck (meeting all local code requirements) is generally about $25 per square foot.
Total pergola cost
Custom-designed wood pergolas with elaborate or gabled roofs cost more than standard square-shaped pergolas or pergolas made using metal or vinyl materials. Here are a couple sample pergola projects, with details on the total cost, time spent and materials used:
480-square-foot deck with 180-square-foot pergola by Blackstock Construction
Total project cost: $6,500
Six hours of design work—the client sent a variety of Pinterest images and Blackstock drafted a custom design.
42 hours total of labor: A three-man crew worked just under two days.
Materials cost: $3,750–$4,000, including wood, concrete, posts, fasteners, and screws
- Blackstock Construction preferred using screws for this project because of the expansion and contraction of wood outdoors—nails start to work their way out. A case of nails is $50 compared with a case of screws at $120, but the pergola will have a longer life with screws.
Labor cost: $2,500–$2,750, including ground prep and construction
The finished product was a pressure-treated, step-up wood deck with a customized pergola roof and handrails on one side for safety and privacy.
12x14 pergola roof by 221 Construction
Total project cost: Approximately $4,500
48 hours total of labor: A three-man crew worked two full days.
Built from cedar