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Outdoor Home Improvement - Pergola
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If you have a deck that you want to make look and function spectacular, you should consider a pergola. Okay, you might be asking, �What is a pergola?� A pergola is a way to enhance your deck with a trellis-like addition that would be ideal for growing any type of climbing vine or plant. Pergolas can take a drab and boring deck and breathe new life into it. They sit atop the deck in a grid pattern so plants can be hung or vines grown and intertwined.

Another great thing about a pergola is that you do not need to be a master craftsman to build one. In fact, if you have some time on your hands, this would be a great weekend project. To get started, you will need 15 pounds of 2 1/2-inch galvanized screws, eight 6 1/2�inch carriage bolts, eight 7 1/2-inch carriage bolts, four 4x4x10-foot treated posts, four 2x8x10-foot treated boards, five 2x6x10-foot treated boards, and six 2x6x8-foot treated boards. Other tools would include a tape measure, jigsaw, drill driver, chalk, circular saw, miter saw, mason�s line, ladder, hammer, and ratchet and socket.

To build your own pergola, you will need to start by determining where you want it. Find a deck joist at a corner and then mark the decking flush to go with the inside edge of the joist. Now, measure eight feet going along the joist, make another mark. With a chalk line, you need to snap it between the two marks. Next drive a 6d nail into the decking at the mark you made. Using the Mason�s line, tie it around the nail, pulling it perpendicular to your chalk line. Then you need to measure three inches along the chalk line and mark and four feet along the cord, again marking it. Adjust the cord so the distance between the two marks equals five feet and then repeat this process to square the cord in coordination with the chalk line.

Now you need to place a 4x4 piece on the decking and align it with the outside edges of the chalk lines. After tracing the other two sides, use a jigsaw to cut a hole for the posts. Now the posts and beams will need to be set by sliding a 10-foot, 4x4-post into the hold you drilled. After aligning it with the deck joist, it will need to be plumbed. Using your 6 1/2 �inch carriage bolts, you will secure the post to the joist. Next, from the top of the decking on the post, you need to measure 8-foot, 6-inches and mark it. Do the same for each post.

The 10-foot, 2x8�s will be squared and cut to 10-foot. Screw them together flush, keeping the fasteners in a row of three, spaced evenly. You then want to measure from the first outside post to the third and subtract the number from 120-inches. When done, divide the difference by two so you know what the beam overhang needs to be for each post. Now, from the end of the beam, you want to measure in and make a mark for the overhang, which should be 12 3/4-inches for each side of the post.

The next step is setting the beam, making sure the top is flush with the top of your posts one and three. You want to now align your overhang marks with each of the outside posts and then drill two 1/2-inch offset holes through both beam and post. With the 7 1/2-inch carriage bolts, you want to secure the beam to the posts. When done, set posts two and four just as you did the first two.

For the rafters, they will need to be set 24 inches off-center. Start by finding and marking each beam�s center. From that center, make a mark every 24 inches, ending with five on each beam. Now, measure between the beams from the outside to inside face and add 12 inches, which will allow for a six-inch overhang. The rafters then need to be centered on the marks and screwed into the beams.

Finally, for the brackets, you want to take a measurement between the rafters, cutting brace blocks out of the 2x6 boards. Number each rafter from left to right and then measure 10 inches from the inside face of the beam, going along the rafters one and two. After marking them, you will then measure and mark the left-side rafters again 24 inches off-center. When finished, you will have four sets of marks. Next, the bracing blocks will be secured between the rafters.

Finally, you will go to rafters two and three, measuring from the inside face 13 inches on the beam, marking each rafter. Once done, mark 24 inches off-center and then install the brace blocks. Just as you did for rafters one and two, you will now install the brace blocks for three, four, and five. By offsetting the blocks, you will be able to screw clear through the rafter and into the brace block. The result is an amazing new deck that will make sitting outside much more enjoyable.
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