How To Build A Porch, Building A Pergola

Who owns a property, especially if it’s a house that is suitable to be modified and personalized, can not have no thought to make a few extra touches, by  improvising as an architect and trying to give more character and function to his own house.

Therefore, a graph paper, a pencil and a ruler and so we going to start with a schematic drawing of our house which we imagine to add and built a pergola, an arbor, a porch, a new wall or a dewck and anything else the imagination and the fantasy allow us to conceive to make the artist’s touch to the country cottage or of our grandmother’s garage

In some cases, going around, you can see some really interesting solutions that significantly increase the value of homes by giving to them a character of personality and uniqueness.

How to built a porch or built a pergola is something that appears to be difficult, but indeed it is not.

Few suggestion before starting to build a porch or pergola

One of the architectural elements that is most frequently used for these changes is undoubtedly building a pergola or a shelt or built a porch, whether it is made with a wood or metal roof supporting structure, both with antique looking roof tiles or shingles or tar still bright glass plates.

As said, the supporting structure of a pergola or a porch can be made of

  • wood.
  • metal

If the roof supporting structure is made of wood, the dimensions of the support posts, of the girders, joists and beams obviously depend on various factors such as

  1. The surface of the cover that must support
  2. The positioning of the roof itself (if ‘standing, leaning against a wall, adjacent to two walls, etc.).
  3. Climatic conditions (geographical area, radiation, rainfall, amount of snow, temperatures, etc.).
  4. Budget (this is technically not a factor, but obviously has some significance in the choice of materials)

Building a pergola or a porch can be very simple if we take into consideration the modular kits pre-cutted and pre-drilled, ready to be assembled, available in various shapes and sizes in the centers of DIY (to name a few: Walmart, Home Depot, Cost Co, Sam’s etc).

These kits include poles, sleepers, beams, joists normally already cutted, beveled and treated with stain or passed in an autoclave, well equipped with through bolts, edges of siding, roof gutters and all you need for a quick and easy installation of our porch in a relatively short time, by following step by step the instructions duly enclosed.

However, while not detracting from the aforementioned valid and very popular kits, we’d like to emphasize that anyone with the most basic knowledge of DIY is able to replicate these kits, adapting to his needs and achieving a significant cost savings. Then, if the timber or metal joists, poles and so are purchased in a joinery or carpentry rather than in a warehouse center, the savings become truly significant for the same quality or even for a better quality of materials.

What tools we need to build a porch

Meanwhile, we must have at hand the necessary tools for a proper work, like:

  • Ruler
  • Hammer
  • Screws
  • Nails
  • Screwdriver or electric screwdriver
  • Clamp
  • Joiner’s jaws
  • Pencil
  • Carpenter’s brackets
  • Level
  • Plumb bob
  • Drill


….a bit of time and a lot of patience

In any case, the procedure is always the same.

Where start with the project of building a porch or a pergola

You start by drawing on a sheet what you want to accomplish as plan, section and maybe in perspective (making a sketch, even approximately, to get an idea of what may be the result).

After locating the place where you want to build, for example, a shed or a pergola, make sure that the ground is appropriate and that the points where the poles will be placed is stable. Otherwise it would be necessary to create a solid foundation with cement mortar (please refer to directions as detailed for the construction of retaining walls).

Once we have reported on the ground the exact points where the posts will be put, you must draw directly on the ground the plant of your porch or pergola project, paying attention to observe the correctness of the angles whether it is a rectangle or a square. The important thing is that on the ground is respected the shape of the perimeter of your design. (For example, to rightly draw the correct angles of a quadrilateral having one side leaning against a building, just draw two diagonals of equal length starting from the endpoints of the side and folding in their mid-point).

One thing to which you should also pay attention is the horizontal and vertical alignment (to do it just use level and plumb bob, unless you have a new digital laser level that make everything easier)

Between one porch or patio and another there may be many differences depending whether they are built to be inhabited or not. In fact it could be necessary to provide an efficient insulation (but here is not the right context to open a discussion)

Another important element that we want to underline is that the load resistance is given by the thickness (vertically) of the various beams, joists sleepers. This basically means that a girder of 10 inches x 10 inches has the same strength of one joist of 10 inches x 5 inches, both placed vertically.

As the volume is given by the product of the three dimensions (height x width x length), therefore it is easily understandable that in the first case we have to buy a double quantity of wood than the latter, with double weight and substantially the same scope.

And … it is not necessary to underline what this means in terms of economic and environmental savings!

In this post it was our intention to provide some general information about how to build a porch, that we hope may be useful to whom want approach this work starting from the bottom, overall useful to fulfill the first step of the project, the design of your shed.

In another post we will talk in detail about how to proceed pratically to completion giving our suggestion for the step by step construction procedure.



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