Aug 15, 2013

Pergola Lessons Learned

For my final pergola-related post (for the moment anyways), I just wanted to wrap up with some lessons we learned while building it.

Inspect your Lumber
Lumber is expensive in NJ. Home Depot by far had the best price (50-60% less than local lumber yards), but the quality is also lower. We could not have afforded to do this project with more expensive lumber, so Home Depot was the right choice for us, but I do wish we had inspected some of our pieces more carefully. We were in a rush (cranky baby!) and even though we did reject multiple pieces, we missed several warped ones. Since the lengths were so long they were impossible to return without renting the truck, so we just lived with it. Next time, we’ll get someone to watch Oliver and take the time to inspect all the lumber more carefully.

Measure More than Twice, Cut Once
Measure, measure, measure, then measure again. Check, check and re-check with the level and right angle tool. Double check the line levels in multiple spots. Building a pergola requires some precision. Really it was the only “tricky” part of the whole thing because I’m not a big fan of math.

A Few Minutes a Day Add Up
It is possible to do a big project with a baby, while working full time, it just takes a lot longer. We managed to do most of this project when the baby was sleeping . Our goal was to just do something every day, and those small slivers of time (an hour here, a half hour there) added up. This project was estimated to be a “weekend” project (2 days) in the instructions, though the commenters said that it’s really a “long weekend” project (3-4 days). With that in mind, I estimated that it would take us about a week to do one full long day’s worth of work, meaning we would get it done in 3-4 weeks. Yes that can feel really daunting, to realize we would have to devote 3-4 weeks of our lives and minimal free time to this project. But at the same time it was also very freeing to know that we don’t have to rush and pressure ourselves, we didn’t have to take anything away from Oliver or family time, and we could still build something BIG.

Stain your Lumber Before Building
Okay so this one we knew ahead of time, but we were SO glad we did it. Staining a few touch ups (the cut ends, the wood filler patches, and the dings from construction) were bad enough. I can’t imagine trying to stain the whole thing, two coats, once it was built. Stain is so drippy and messy, it runs down the brush. Once all the slats are up, the space between them is also pretty tight.

Summer is a Great Time for Outdoor Projects
Yes it’s hot, but with our tips and tricks to stay cool, you can manage. The long daylight hours mean you can fit so much more work into the day. This is especially important when you do most of the work when the baby is asleep!

1 comment:

  1. It’s a lesson learned, I guess. But at least you were able to share a tip that will be helpful for others who want to make a pergola as well. Now they know the better and right way of staining the lumber. It’s easier to stain the lumber if it is not yet built. You wouldn't need to climb to do the job. It’s less hassle and a lot faster.
    Christian Renwick @ Altitude Fence and Deck