Pergolas are really neat and many people like putting them in their yards. It could be very convenient for you to have a pergola in your yard depending on what you want to do.
Many aren’t familiar with pergolas because they didn’t have them growing up. If you’re new to the idea of using one, you might still be figuring out what certain things are for.
For example, you might look at the rafters on the pergola and be a bit confused. What are they for exactly?
Not All Pergolas Have Rafters
Before going further, it’s important to note that not all pergolas have rafters. Many types of pergolas do, but some might not.
There are two distinct types of pergolas. You can build freestanding pergolas and pergolas that are attached to structures.
Pergolas that are attached to structures such as homes or garages might not have rafters. Sometimes they will, but they don’t always have rafters.
A freestanding pergola is generally always going to have rafters. The rafters will be necessary for support, and you’ll also use them for shade.
What Are Rafters For?
Rafters are necessary on freestanding pergolas. They’re installed for support purposes, but they’re also used to give people shade.
You’ll often sit underneath the pergola and enjoy gazing at your garden. The rafters will provide a bit of shade to give you relief from the harshness of the sun.
It’s also possible to attach a shade cloth to the rafters to enjoy even more shade. This wouldn’t be so easy if the rafters weren’t there.
What Size Should Pergola Rafters Be?
The size of the rafters will depend on the design of the pergola. Many standard pergolas that you’ll find being sold in kits at home improvement stores have rafters that are 2×6 or 2×8.
Technically, you could design pergola rafters to be just about any size so long as they’re proportional. You simply need to have the rafters match up with the other measurements based on the overall design.
Pergola rafters are designed to run opposite the beams. They’re meant to be spaced out at least 12 inches, but it’ll often be more than that.
Generally, the rafters will be made out of large types of wood. This is because the rafters need to provide shade for those that are sitting underneath the pergola.
How Many Rafters for a Pergola?
There isn’t a specific number of rafters that a pergola is supposed to have. You’re simply supposed to have enough rafters for the size of the pergola that you’re building.
It’s more important to focus on spacing the pergola rafters out properly. This ensures that the shading will work properly when you’re sitting underneath the pergola.
Some pergolas might have more or fewer rafters than others. It depends on the design and how big the pieces of wood are.
How Far Apart Should Pergola Rafters Be?
The distance between the pergola rafters will often differ from one pergola to another. It depends on the design and various other factors.
Typically, the rafters will be spaced between sixteen and twenty inches apart. It would be unusual for the rafters to be closer than twelve inches apart.
It’s said that the most important thing to focus on is consistency. Make sure that the rafters are all spaced out equally.
You don’t want some of them to be sixteen inches apart and others to be twenty inches apart. Make sure that you’re measuring things out and placing everything properly to get the best results.
Do You Have to Notch Pergola Rafters?
Notching pergola rafters is highly recommended. However, this isn’t something that you have to do for every type of pergola.
You already know that some pergolas don’t even have rafters. There are pergolas that have rafters that aren’t notched, too.
There are some benefits to consider when looking at notching rafters. Notching the rafters makes it easier for the pergola to withstand strong wind.
The added stability that your pergola gets due to the notched rafters will likely make it worthwhile. Also, the pergola should last longer overall.
If you wish to make your pergola as durable as possible, it’s advisable to notch the rafters. It does add a bit of extra work to building the pergola, but it’ll be worth it in the end.
How Are Pergola Rafters Attached?
There are a few different ways that pergola rafters can be attached to the beams. What method you’ll use will depend on how you want to design things or what type of pergola kit you choose to purchase.
Often, pergola rafters will be attached using simple lag bolts. You want to make sure that the bolts are fastened tightly.
Sometimes people go with notched rafters and use that design to attach them to the beams. You simply must follow the instructions if you’re building a pergola that comes from a kit.
If you’re designing your own custom pergola, you can choose to use the best fastening method that makes sense for what you want to do. Remember the benefits of notching the rafters that were mentioned above.
Pergola rafters serve a pretty important purpose. They’re there for structural stability, and they also help to give you a bit of shade.
You want to make sure that a freestanding pergola has rafters. Rafters might not be necessary if the pergola is attached to another structure such as a house or a garage.
When installing the rafters, ensure that they’re spaced properly. Consistent spacing is imperative when you’re trying to get good results.
Notching the rafters is a good idea because it makes the pergola that much more durable. It’ll have improved stability and will be more likely to stand the test of time.
Building a pergola can be a great experience, but make sure that you do things right. Ensure that you put it in a good place in your yard and take the time to build it properly so you don’t make little mistakes along the way.
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
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