How Much Does a Pergola Cost to Build?

A pergola is a simple structure that can transform a bland backyard into a relaxing retreat. Total pergola cost varies by build, but homeowners can expect to pay between $2,124 and $5,968, or an average of $3,970.

By Rochel Maday | Updated Aug 3, 2022 3:05 PM

Pergola Cost

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  • Typical Range: $2,124 to $5,968
  • National Average: $3,970

A pergola adds great style (and cool shade) to outdoor living spaces. But how much is a pergola? There are many factors to consider when estimating pergola cost, but according to Angi and HomeAdvisor, homeowners pay $3,970 on average for a new backyard structure, though the price can be as low as $2,124 or as high as $5,968 depending on the project.

Other factors to consider include whether a DIY approach will be taken to pergola construction or if a professional contractor will handle the build. Homeowners will also want to give some thought to the pergola’s design and whether they want additional features such as electrical wiring and lighting. For homeowners who are hesitant about the final price tag, the good news is that there are plenty of ways to save on a pergola build.

Learn how pergola size, material, and style affect the overall cost while determining whether the benefits of building a pergola make the investment worthwhile.

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Factors in Calculating Pergola Cost

Pergola Cost

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Unless they’re built from a pergola kit or common design, all pergolas are unique. Their size, materials, shape, and style all influence the average cost of pergola builds. Below are some of the most important factors homeowners will want to focus on when trying to determine the final cost of pergola construction.

Pergola Size

Pergolas are often priced by the square foot. This means that the size a homeowner chooses for their pergola will have the biggest effect on the overall cost. A smaller pergola may measure 10 feet by 4 feet and cost between $1,200 and $2,400 to build, including materials and labor.

But as the pergola grows in size, so does the price. A larger pergola measuring 10 feet by 20 feet can cost between $6,000 and $12,000. It’s important for homeowners to choose a pergola size that matches their needs without going overboard to avoid paying for space that won’t be put to good use.

Pergola Material

Besides size, the material used to build a pergola also plays an important role in determining the final cost of construction. Some materials are more affordable, like pine, aluminum, and vinyl. There are materials that quickly grow the average pergola build cost, such as teak and fiberglass. But more expensive materials tend to be more durable and offer other benefits like low maintenance requirements.

When choosing materials for a pergola build, it’s important for homeowners to consider not only aesthetics but also how much maintenance they want to put into their pergola’s upkeep. Longevity should also be considered. A pergola that’s a more affordable option today could be in for expensive repairs or even a full replacement tomorrow.

Pergola Shape and Style

Pergolas come in a variety of shapes and styles, allowing homeowners to customize the look and feel of their outdoor space. A modern design features a traditional box shape and may include aluminum or even stone. A contemporary style is great for a poolside environment. Wood or vinyl in light colors are both great options for a contemporary feel. Finally, a rustic look is always a great choice. Made from pine, cedar, or even reclaimed wooden beams, a rustic pergola offers a ton of style bang for the buck.

While style can have an influence on price, shape is likely to be a bigger determinant of construction cost. A classic box shape features simple cuts and a straightforward design, making it on the lower end of the cost range. But an oversize pergola with multiple defined spaces or a design that features curves or detailed carvings will raise the average cost of a pergola build. The added cost can be well worth the investment, though, especially if an outdoor space is uniquely shaped and requires a pergola to match. Trying to save money by choosing a more basic design can result in an awkward appearance and even cut off otherwise usable space. For example, a square pergola on a deck with a circular shape can make it difficult to enjoy the entire space.

Pergola Brand

There are multiple pergola kit manufacturers. As with other types of kits or appliances, some brands have reputations that earn them higher sale prices, while some brands are considered to be more budget-friendly. A more affordable brand isn’t necessarily low quality, and a more high-end brand doesn’t necessarily make it the best option. That’s why it’s important for homeowners to research all the brands in their price point to make sure they’re not just getting a great price but a good value.

Some popular pergola brands include Backyard Discovery, Paragon Outdoor, and Lawn Master. If having a kit professional installed, homeowners can ask their contractor for a brand recommendation based on price, value, and longevity. If choosing to build a pergola from a kit, the brand chosen by the homeowner will have a large impact on the final price.

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Roof Type

Despite their simple appearance, pergolas have multiple options when it comes to their roofs. And like other options and features, each option can affect the total construction cost. A traditional pergola roof has slats, and the more slats the design requires, the more materials are needed. This can increase the cost of a pergola roof compared to one with fewer slats.

Additionally, pergolas can feature a manual retractable roof. This allows homeowners to manually open and close their roof as needed depending on the weather and personal preference. This type of roof typically costs between $10 and $30 per square foot to install.

An automatic pergola roof costs a bit more. For about $20 to $55 per square foot, an automatic roof lets homeowners enjoy the convenience of controlling their pergola roof with a remote. Finally, smart pergolas can be programmed to open and close on their own based on weather conditions. Smart pergolas can also be controlled with a smartphone app. These roofs are the most expensive to install at $60 to $65 per square foot.

Labor

The average labor cost to build a custom pergola ranges from $500 to $1,000. But there are other factors to consider rather than hours put into a job. For example, materials can affect labor cost. More common and easier-to-work-with materials like cedar and redwood are more likely to come with a lower labor cost. Materials that require more expertise, like teak, can warrant a higher labor cost from professionals.

The design of the pergola can also affect labor costs. A more straightforward design like a box with simple slats is more likely to come with competitive labor costs, while a more detailed design that includes a unique shape or custom carvings can easily increase hourly labor costs.

A simple metal structure can be built with a labor cost as low as $100, but a more complex design can come with a labor price tag in the thousands. For example, a cedar pergola can cost up to $6,500 with materials costing as little as $1,400. The distance between materials and labor costs isn’t always this big, but it’s important that homeowners understand how choices on pergola materials, size, and design can greatly influence labor costs and the total overall.

Permits

Not all pergola builds require permits, but it’s a good idea to factor in the price so it’s not a surprise if needed. A pergola installation permit runs anywhere between $30 and $150, depending on the municipality. If homeowners are concerned about this additional cost, it may help to know that the best pergola kits rarely require a permit or approval. And since pergolas don’t have covered roofs, roofing permits aren’t required either. But homeowners may need local clearance to install lighting or electrical wiring in their pergola build.

Geographic Location

Geographic location affects total pergola costs for multiple reasons. First, the price of materials can vary greatly depending on how far it has to travel from where it was produced. Additionally, labor fees tend to be more expensive in heavily populated areas and less expensive in rural towns.

For example, a 100-square-foot wood pergola in Fargo, North Dakota, costs between $3,000 and $4,000. A pergola in Pleasanton, California, can be as high as $30,000 if a solid roof is requested, though some designs can be as affordable as $3,000. In Fort Wayne, Indiana, it’s difficult to find a pergola builder that charges less than $4,000, and pricing can go as high as $20,000 for custom builds.

As a general rule of thumb, homeowners can evaluate their local economies to get an idea of pergola cost. If coffee, dining, and entertainment costs more where a homeowner lives compared to other nearby towns, they can expect the average cost of a pergola to follow suit. The opposite is true as well. For towns with a lower cost of living average, pergola rates are likely to be on the lower end too.

Installation Location

Pergolas are often installed on concrete slabs, decks, or patios. Where a pergola is installed can affect the final price for several reasons. If the space is in good condition and up to code, a pergola can easily be installed, resulting in minimal additional costs. But if a homeowner wants to install a pergola on a deck that has rotten boards, a patio with bricks caving in, or a concrete slab with multiple cracks and a lot of crumbling, repairs are going to have to take place before the build can begin.

Whether this raises the cost of a pergola built by several hundred or several thousand dollars depends on the types of repairs needed. Homeowners should understand that not only are these repairs necessary for safety, they’re also likely to be required when permits are involved. So while the additional costs can be a difficult financial pill to swallow, repairs are often the only way to safely and legally install a pergola.

What if a homeowner first wants to install a new deck, patio, or concrete slab before installing a pergola? The average cost to install a new deck is $7,696, while a new patio can cost about $3,662.

Keep in mind that a pergola can be installed in a grassy lawn, but the area may need to be leveled before the structure can be safely installed. This may be another additional cost.

Pergola Cost

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Additional Costs and Considerations

Once the size, material, style, and installation location for a pergola has been determined, it’s time to consider additional costs and features, like electrical wiring and customizations. Here are a few considerations for pergola costs homeowners should know about.

Prefabricated vs. Custom

When it comes to prefabricated versus custom, how much is pergola installation? It depends on how extreme a homeowner goes with either option. For example, a prefabricated kit isn’t always inexpensive. Certain brands, shapes, and designs can still be on the higher end of a price range, even when mass-produced. A custom pergola isn’t always out of budget, either. If a homeowner chooses a smaller size, simple design, and low-cost materials, they can still enjoy a custom pergola at an affordable price.

A prefabricated pergola kit can cost between $600 and $7,500. This includes the cost of professional installation. A pergola kit can be found in a variety of sizes, shapes, colors, and materials. Most of the time, a prefabricated pergola can be put up without a permit, saving the homeowner some money. But other factors, such as the addition of electrical wiring or the installation of a new surface for the pergola, may require a permit.

A custom pergola costs an average of $1,700 to $15,000. A custom pergola means that it’s designed to a homeowner’s preferences. This includes size, shape, and customizations like carvings into wooden posts, the addition of stonework, or built-in seating. A custom pergola can certainly cost more than a prefabricated kit, but size and material are really the defining factors between the two options.

Electrical Wiring

Adding electrical components to a pergola can make it more relaxing and functional. For example, having ample lighting for the evening hours means the extended living space can be enjoyed past sundown. This is ideal for parties or romantic evenings spent watching the stars. Having lighting installed in a pergola also means it can be enjoyed more throughout the entire year, even during colder months when the sun retreats much earlier in the day.

Electrical wiring also allows a pergola to serve up additional entertainment, like a surround sound system for enjoying favorite playlists or a television for watching sports. Wiring also allows homeowners to set up an outdoor office on the fly with plenty of charging capabilities for their devices. Maintenance can also be simplified with electrical outlets that accommodate leaf blowers or sanders for wood pergola upkeep.

But how much for pergola electrical wiring? A high-quality electrical kit runs about $310 and includes one switch, one ceiling pigtail, and one receptacle. Multiple kits can be combined to provide enough outlets for lighting, entertainment, and other electrical needs. Unless a homeowner is an experienced electrician, it’s recommended that these kits be installed by a professional. This can cost another $310 or more, depending on the number of kits being installed.

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Customizations

An elaborately designed pergola will almost always cost more than a basic structure. But these customizations are what can make a pergola worth the investment to a homeowner who knows what they want.

What type of customizations can be added to a pergola? There really is no limit to the number of customizations pergolas can have. They can have space or trellises built for vines, which not only offer a more natural look but can add privacy as well. Curtains are another customizable feature. Curtains offer both shade and privacy and can even be updated for different seasons. Retractable covers are another customization to consider. This allows an operator to control how much sunlight is coming through the pergola roof. These can be affordable manual covers or automatic, which tend to run a bit higher in cost. Pergolas are also a fun place to feature hammocks or swings, especially around a fireplace or where a television is in the line of sight for those enjoying the structure. Finally, many pergola owners have custom seating installed. This may be space for a few people or feature an elaborate seating arrangement for socialization or dining.

In the end, any customization added to a pergola beyond its basic design will raise the cost. The good news is that customizations are completely optional and can even be added to an existing pergola structure down the road as funds become available.

Pergola Cost by Material Type

There are plenty of factors that influence the final cost of a pergola build. But when it comes down to the final cost for pergola construction, different types of materials can make all the difference. Here are some of the most common pergola materials and how they affect the total cost.

Aluminum

Aluminum is an affordable material for a pergola. It offers the stability of a wooden pergola while offering a sleek and clean appearance. Aluminum pergolas are also maintenance-free and can stand up against rain, wind, and sun. Homeowners can expect to pay between $10 and $30 per square foot when building an aluminum pergola.

Vinyl

Vinyl is a popular choice for pergola construction because it is low maintenance. It can also hold up to the elements and last longer than wooden designs. Vinyl pergolas offer homeowners a variety of colors and textures to choose from as well. A vinyl pergola can cost between $10 and $30 per square foot.

Cedar

Cedar is another common pergola construction material choice. The wood is naturally beautiful and thrives in damp climates. It’s also a natural insect repellent and can even absorb noise, making it great for pergola parties. Even with all of these attributes, cedar is an affordable pergola choice, coming in between $25 and $35 per square foot.

Redwood

Redwood is visually appealing, though not always the first wood homeowners turn to for a pergola build. The wood is insect- and rot-resistant, which does make it a bit more expensive than other types of pergola materials. It also requires routine maintenance to keep it looking its best. Redwood costs between $40 and $50 per square foot for a pergola.

Pine

Pine is a type of softwood that’s commonly used in pergola builds. It’s also an affordable material option, coming in at $25 to $40 per square foot. Pine naturally resists rot and tends to avoid insect damage. But it requires plenty of maintenance to make sure it can withstand wind, rain, and sun.

Teak

Teak is a dense, close-grained hardwood. It’s incredibly strong and durable and can withstand the elements with minimal maintenance. It’s virtually immune to rot thanks to its high rubber and oil content and can last nearly four times as long as pine. All of these benefits make it a more expensive option for a pergola build. Homeowners can expect to pay upward of $55 per square foot for this material.

Fiberglass

For homeowners after superior strength and durability, fiberglass is a great option. It is more expensive at $60 per square foot but can often be installed in less time than other types of materials used for pergolas. It’s great for locations that have heavy snowfalls or strong winds, and it requires little to no maintenance. It also comes in a variety of colors that allow homeowners to blend their pergola into their home’s color scheme or push the design envelope with a bolder hue choice.

Pergola Cost

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Benefits of Building a Pergola

Pergolas are a popular backyard accessory. But are they worth the investment? Here are some common benefits of a pergola build.

Additional Outdoor Living Space

Outdoor living space is hard to come by with some homes. A backyard can be overgrown, exposed to the elements, or simply unpleasant to spend time in. But a pergola can instantly transform a dull space into an inviting paradise for homeowners who want to spend more time outdoors without the heavy maintenance that comes with other backyard builds.

One of the ways pergolas help add additional outdoor living space to a home is by creating a defined area. This makes it easier for both family members and guests to visualize how a less-than-perfect outdoor area should be enjoyed.

Pergolas can also add comfortable and stylish additional dining space. This can be incredibly beneficial for homes with tight dining rooms. Where dinner parties and large family holiday gatherings were once impossible, pergolas make fabulous dinners with family and friends an enjoyable, comfortable, and unique outdoor experience.

Finally, pergolas also offer space that makes it simple to shut out the world and embrace self-care. By creating a serene outdoor space that’s separate from the constant reminders of a to-do list inside a home, homeowners not only have more physical square footage but also more mental space to find inner peace.

Increased Shade and Privacy

Fences can be an expensive investment. In some situations, like neighborhoods with HOAs or in some municipalities, fences that provide adequate privacy aren’t allowed. And while trees can provide ample backyard shade, most are deciduous, leaving homeowners exposed for parts of the year. A tree can also take years to grow tall enough to provide enough shade for a large outdoor space.

But a pergola can offer both shade and privacy in a quick weekend build. Both characteristics can also be customized and sometimes changed as needed. For example, homes in cooler locations can get away with pergolas with few slats and less shade. But for homes that bake under the hot summer sun, a pergola can be designed to maximize its shade with tight slats.

When it comes to privacy, homeowners have a few options with their pergolas. First, they can attach fabric to one or more sides, depending on the layout of their yard and exposure to their neighbors. They can also install drop-down curtains that can either block the wind from one direction or entirely box in a pergola for instant privacy. Finally, homeowners can simply place large plants or flower boxes with trellises to add natural privacy that also boosts backyard landscape.

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Improved Curb Appeal

A pergola is a home project that can instantly boost curb appeal. A well-designed pergola not only increases living space but also boosts a simple backyard to a design dream with a minimal investment in time and money, compared with decks, pools, and professional landscaping.

A pergola is great for homeowners who plan on staying put in their homes but want to make sure every space, indoor and outdoor, represents their style. Pergolas are also great for homeowners who plan to sell and want to appeal to as many potential buyers as possible. Finally, these shady structures are great for investors hoping to quickly flip a property. Compared to a deck build, pergolas are a quick and affordable way to transform an outdoor space.

Pergolas also provide curb appeal that lasts. One reason homeowners will want to consider working with a professional when building a pergola is that they’ll receive guidance on what materials will work the best in their geographic area to withstand wind, rain, and hot sun. While it’s true that all pergolas need some type of maintenance, it’s not difficult to keep a pergola looking great for years to come, especially when it’s built with materials designed to visually enhance a space yet withstand the harsh outdoor elements.

Building a Pergola: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional

There are plenty of pergola kits and DIY builds that homeowners can take on when adding a new structure to their backyard. But this doesn’t guarantee a faster or cheaper build.

A basic kit can be purchased for anywhere between $600 and $7,500. But for the homeowner who wants a custom pergola design, materials can be as low as $300 for a custom from-scratch build. There are other factors besides these initial costs to consider. The first is time. For an inexperienced builder, a pergola build can take several full days of hard work. There is also the cost of tools to consider. Electric saws, nail guns, and sanders will need to be purchased or rented before construction can begin. Finally, there’s the safety factor to consider. A homeowner with minimal construction experience may quickly become overwhelmed by a pergola build. An even worse scenario would be an unsafe pergola build that eventually causes injury to a family member or guest.

These are factors that may contribute to a homeowner steering away from DIY-ing a pergola in favor of turning to a professional. While a professional pergola build can cost more with the additional cost of labor, homeowners receive peace of mind that their pergola will be built quickly, with the right materials and tools, and with safety in mind both during construction and for the life of the structure.

In some scenarios, working with a professional for a pergola build can even save a homeowner money. For example, having a pergola built during the off-season is more likely to result in lower labor fees and possibly lower material costs as well. A professional pergola builder can also get the job done quickly, saving a homeowner time and cash if they were to rent tools or take time off work to tackle the build themselves.

Finally, a pergola built by a professional is more likely to last compared to a DIY kit or build. This is because a contractor has the experience necessary to maximize the lifespan of each material used, from first cut to final sanding.

How to Save Money on Pergola Cost

A pergola project can come with a high price tag, but it’s not impossible to get a pergola on a budget. Homeowners can consider the following money-saving tips for their pergola build.

  • Minimize the square footage of the pergola design, taking care to choose a shape that will offer the most workable space despite being on the small side.
  • Choose building materials that are visually appealing, long lasting, and affordable.
  • Consider buying a pergola kit and taking on the build without hiring out for labor, as long as the time, tools, and talent are available.
  • Delay pergola construction until demand is low, either in the fall or winter depending on geographic location.
  • Take time to research designs, materials, and contractors to avoid surprise costs and stay on budget.
  • Install the pergola on an existing concrete slab, patio, or deck to avoid paying additional construction costs.
  • Use pressure-treated posts as an inexpensive base but wrap them in cedar so they look high-end.
  • Consider an attached patio cover that offers many of the same benefits as a pergola but at a lower cost since fewer posts are necessary.
  • Put off adding optional features, like electrical and lighting, until additional funds can be secured; put currently available funds into higher-grade materials that will extend the life of the pergola instead of choosing cheap materials that may quickly wear out.
  • Research multiple contractors and ask for several quotes to ensure the build is carried out at the best possible price.
  • At the same time, choose a contractor with a proven track record of successful pergola builds to avoid delays in construction and possible repair costs from a bad build.
Pergola Cost

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Questions to Ask About Building a Pergola

Finding a contractor who can build a pergola that’s stylish, sturdy, and on-budget takes a bit of research. The good news is that there are plenty of handymen for hire when it comes to this type of work. From large construction companies to one-man licensed contractors, many homeowners can find themselves overwhelmed with options. To help narrow down their options, homeowners can use the following questions to help screen available contractors.

  • What type of experience do you have with pergolas?
  • How many pergolas have you built?
  • Do you custom-design pergolas or only offer a few standard models?
  • Where is the best place on my property for a pergola?
  • Do I need to build a patio or reinforce my deck to hold the weight of a pergola?
  • What size pergola should I get?
  • What type of shade can I expect?
  • Will this job require a permit and if so, will you handle the application and following documents?
  • Do you have insurance?
  • Do you have workers’ comp for all employees that may be involved with this job?
  • How are your employees trained?
  • Do you belong to any formal organizations in your industry?
  • Have you won any awards or received recognition for your pergola designs?
  • Do you have any references I can speak to?
  • Do you have pictures of past pergolas you’ve worked on that I can review?
  • How long will the job take?
  • What time do you start work?
  • What happens if the job takes longer than expected?
  • Do you offer payment plans?

FAQs

Pergolas are one of the most affordable and fastest ways to transform an outdoor space. Whether a homeowner is looking to create a defined outdoor space for entertaining, increase privacy in their backyard, or simply create a space that boosts quality of life and curb appeal at the same time, a pergola could be the answer.

For those interested in a pergola but still asking questions about designs, benefits, and the cost of a pergola, the following questions and answers may help.

Q. What’s the difference between a pergola and a gazebo?

The words ”pergola” and “gazebo” are often used interchangeably. But these two structures have several differences homeowners should be aware of. To start with, pergolas are open-sided; they don’t have a solid roof or a floor. Gazebos, however, have floors, roofs, and walls. In some cases, the walls are solid and offer protection from the elements.

It’s important to note that a pergola is more open than a gazebo. This means they provide less shade as is, but this can be adjusted with curtains and fabric. Gazebos have permanent shade structures, so while they offer more shade with their initial design, this can’t be adjusted as with a pergola.

Homeowners should also note that gazebos cost much more to build compared to pergolas.

Q. Is it cheaper to buy or build a pergola?

A DIY pergola is almost always the more affordable option for homeowners looking to install the structure on a budget. But this doesn’t mean the cost of a kit is the only cost to consider. For example, a homeowner needs tools, expertise, and time to build their own pergola. This can be challenging if their DIY attempt is also a first-time attempt. Working with a pro, though more costly up front, can result in a safer, more aesthetically pleasing pergola in less time than a sloppy weekend build by someone with minimal construction experience.

Q. Do pergolas increase home value?

Yes, a pergola can add market value to a home. Outdoor living is popular, and home buyers appreciate a pergola when house shopping. For the homeowner wondering how much a pergola increases home value, here’s a general rule of thumb. Any backyard improvement, including decks, landscaping, and pools, earns between a 50 and 80 percent return on investment. What’s even better news is that a pergola can earn an even better return, making them the perfect curb appeal and value booster for homeowners with less-than-perfect outdoor spaces.

Q. How much does a 12×12 pergola cost?

When trying to determine the cost for a pergola, size is one of the most influencing factors. A typical pergola cost ranges between $2,124 and $5,968 or between $30 and $60 per square foot. This means a 12-foot-by-12-foot pergola would cost between $4,320 and $8,640. This makes it a more expensive size for homeowners to consider, though choosing a less expensive material can help lower the overall cost.

Q. How much is a small pergola?

A pergola doesn’t have to be oversized to get the job done. A small 10-foot-by-4-foot pergola costs between $1,200 and $2,400 to build. Just like for a larger version, material choice is an important decision when a budget has to be met during a pergola build.

Q. Why are pergolas so expensive?

Most pergolas are large, which equates to a decent amount of material. This is one reason they tend to creep up quickly in price. But the other reason is that pergolas should be built to last. Quality comes at a price. But homeowners should keep in mind that pergolas built with inexpensive kits or affordable yet low-quality materials often need to be replaced after just a few seasons. This is why a more expensive pergola should be viewed as an investment instead of just a large cost.

Sources: Angi, HomeAdvisor (1 and 2), Fixr, Hometown Structures, Landscaping Network, Heartland Pergolas, Garbrella

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