The long warm summers in Calgary lend themselves to lazy evenings outside with friends in the backyard. There’s nothing better than sitting out under the stars with the residual of the heat of the day still radiating from your surroundings. However, the intense heat of the late afternoon can mean that you have to wait for sunset before truly enjoying summer in your backyard; that is until you build your garden pergola. This simple piece of design will revolutionize how you utilize your outdoor space as it gives you some welcome shade and respite from the heat, as well as an outside place to host your friends and family.
One key to enjoying your pergola this summer in Calgary is what lies underneath your feet. A common mistake is to build a free-standing pergola straight onto the lawn. While this may sound tempting to have the feel of grass under your feet, it puts you at significant risk from insects, waterlogged ground and wood rot. A much better option is to build a stone patio first and place your pergola on top. If you’re looking for something a little more flexible, install a wooden deck that attaches to your home. The flexibility comes from the size and the height, so you can step straight out of your house into your summer oasis.
Not only will these two situations remove the problems of insects and wood rot, but it also gives you a flat and smooth surface to put your garden furniture on. Both of these options allow you to put up a free-standing pergola, saving you the hassle of digging foundation holes or attaching the structure to your house. The pergola can be free-standing, held up simply by a series of posts drilled or driven into the deck or patio, or attached to your home. The latter allows for bigger pergolas as they can hold more weight; this is ideal if you’re looking to effectively create a new room on the outside of your house.
Another key to enjoying your pergola is not having to think about the maintenance involved. Pergola maintenance can be very intensive if not planned ahead of time. Typical maintenance jobs include repainting, weather proofing and and sanding down dirt from the snow and rainstorms. Some of these are biannual jobs, but they’re all time consumer, and you have better uses for your time in the summer than doing maintenance work.
For the most part, you won’t have to worry about pergola maintenance in year one in the sense that you don’t need to worry about repairs on a brand new car for the first year. However, you need to think about how you will use your backyard in future years, and where it will be situated, before you make any decisions. For example, a pergola that is relatively well shaded by your house and trees will require less maintenance than one that opens out into your garden or is entirely south facing. You also need to consider the height of your pergola; structures that are smaller than the side of the house will get more protection than those which are taller.
In any situation, buying a maintenance-free pergola can significantly reduce your yearly expenditure and give you more time and money to spend in your backyard, which after all, is the goal of building the pergola in the first place. The following are some types of maintenance-free pergolas:
- Vinyl – back in the 1980s, vinyl was synonymous with plastic and while it was the cheapest material for pergolas, it was also the flimsiest. Today, however, most vinyl is sold with sun-proof additives that massively extend the life of the product. The cost is still the lowest of all of all pergola construction materials, but it’s not as dirt cheap as it once was. The sun proof additives have to be put into the vinyl before it is shipped to your door. This does mean that you can’t paint it, but you can select the colour ahead of time to blend in with the rest of your yard. The flexibility of vinyl is that you can pick just about any colour you like, so get ready to spend some time with swatches out in the garden.
- Redwood – if you must have a wooden pergola, make sure you buy one made from Californian redwood. It will cost you a fair whack as it’s a limited supply lumber, but the durability and beautiful look due to the lack of knots will more than make up for it. Beware that redwood is incredibly heavy (part of the reason for its fantastic hard wearing qualities!), so you may need to think about digging foundations to make sure that the posts aren’t top heavy. In terms of the maintenance, you will need to treat it with sealant every few years to preserve the colour, but you won’t see rot or decay in the wood for 15 years or more.
- Fibreglass – fibreglass is much stronger than wood, but much lighter which makes it ideal for bigger structures. This lightweight property also means you can build more elaborate pergolas which can bend round corners similar to a farmer’ porch. Fibreglass can be painted in any colour and is automatically resistant to water, heat, rot and decay. However, as it’s a synthetic material, it’s way more expensive than both wood and vinyl. If you consider the long term benefits and take into account the cost of maintenance of redwood, and the probability of replacing parts of your vinyl pergola, fibreglass can be a sensible investment in the long run.
As with all home improvement projects, you should consult with a building expert first. Not only will they be able to advise on the right material for your Calgary pergola, but they’ll also make sure that you meet all the relevant building codes and regulations. We offer this service to make it quick and easy for customers to start enjoying their new pergola in Alberta.
Our pergolas we offer at Desert Sun Patios are built with manufactured with heavy duty aluminum components, featuring a baked-on primer coat and a baked-on finish coat. This combination of heavy duty aluminum coated with baked on paint, results in maintenance-free structures that look as good twenty years from now, as they do today.
So make this Calgary summer the first that you spend outside in your backyard covered and shaded by your brand new pergola, whatever you choose to make it out of.