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With so many material choices, how do you decide the best material to build your pergola? Pergolas can be built out of virtually any material. Wood is the most common. However, pergolas can be built out of aluminum, steel, and even vinyl. So what are some considerations when choosing your material?
Some things to consider when choosing material for your pergola are aesthetics, maintenance, longevity, performance, and of course, cost. There are pros and cons to each material, so we’ll just run down the list and give a short summary on each.
Wood: Wood is the most cost effective solution when building your pergolas. When using wood, keep in mind that you’ll want to use a species that is not susceptible to rot or insects. Cedar and redwood are great species of wood that are naturally hearty in the outdoors, yet, are pretty expensive. Pressure treated pine is another alternative for outdoor structures. While not nearly as beautiful out of the box as cedar or redwood, the wood is treated to combat rot and bug damage. None of these three materials need to be stained or sealed; however, I would highly recommend doing so. All three will eventually turn grey over time. Your structure will last many years, if not decades longer, when treated.
Aluminum: Building a pergola out of aluminum is not much different than building a pergola out of wood. We can source material that is nearly the same dimension as wood, and the build is pretty similar. Aluminum, however, costs about 30% more than cedar or redwood, and twice as much as pressure treated pine. Aluminum is the poster-child of maintenance free. Whether powder coated or raw, you never have to worry about aluminum failing in the elements.
Vinyl: Vinyl is as rot preventive as aluminum. However, the structure must be strengthened with aluminum or wood. This often accelerates the price point beyond aluminum. Also, the manufacturing process of vinyl causes off-gassing which can be harmful to the environment and our customers, and we love our customers!
Steel: For large pergolas with big spans, steel is the way to go! The downfall is heavy lifting is involved in the building process, and means cranes or lifts are required on the job site. In addition, steel can often cost as much as aluminum, yet it still needs to be treated, painted, or powder coated, to resist rust. While the cost can run more than double any other material, it’s the only solution for very large pergolas.