Sue P.
Sue P.
  • Hometalker
  • Kingsport, TN

Cantilevered Pergola -- DIY Designed and Built

1 Material
$400
1 Week
Medium

Read about our self-designed and built cantilevered pergola built for around $400.

Cantilevered pergola over part of our deck
Cantilevered pergola over part of our deck

We just had a new composite deck installed and wanted a pergola to cover a portion of it. My husband, Craig, designed this one and set to work with just the plans in his head. It is cantilevered, thus supported by two legs on the outside of the deck, in order to be more sturdy and stable than one attached to the top of the deck. It is attached to the side of the deck as shown in my blog post. No kits were available for this type of deck, so he purchased the materials from a nearby lumber yard.

cantilevered pergola diy designed and built

When the deck was being built, we had the contractor attach two 24-inch all-thread bolts into the deck’s foundation so he could use these to anchor the two legs of the pergola. In the photo above, you see one of those bolts sticking out from the side of the deck (bolt is just above the far-left end of the lattice in the lower portion of the photo above…just to the right of the center).

cantilevered pergola diy designed and built

The second foundation all-thread bolt is shown above between the little strip of lattice and the steps on the right side of photo. Craig would use these two bolts to attach and stabilize the main support legs of the pergola.

cantilevered pergola diy designed and built, decks, diy, how to, outdoor living, woodworking projects

He’d pre-drilled the hole in the lower portion of these support legs and slid them onto the large all-thread bolts that extended from the deck. He’d previously dug-in two 6-inch post footers directly underneath the all-thread bolts. The support legs and first braces go up. Craig had pre-drilled most of the holes for the carriage bolts and lag screws.

cantilevered pergola diy designed and built, decks, diy, how to, outdoor living, woodworking projects

Additional supports are added to serve as counter-weights since the rafters extend 7' over the deck without supports on the other end.

cantilevered pergola diy designed and built, decks, diy, how to, outdoor living, woodworking projects

Notches were cut on both ends of the cross-pieces. He used carriage bolts and lag screws to connect all of the supports.

cantilevered pergola diy designed and built


Once the seven rafters were in place, Craig measured the distance between them and moved them as necessary to even out the spaces at roughly 16″ on center. He toe-nailed a 3″ exterior wood screw into each of the seven rafters on the outside notches to secure them.

cantilevered pergola diy designed and built

Later he added 10 8′ 2″ x 2″s to provide a little extra shade and additional support for vines to cling to in the future. (see last photo below)

cantilevered pergola diy designed and built, decks, diy, how to, outdoor living, woodworking projects

He spent $400 on materials. Kits for traditional pergolas begin around $800.


See additional photos in the Comment area.


Materials List Item Quantity 6” x 6” x 10′ pressure treated post 2 4” x 6” x 10′ pressure treated post 3 2” x 8” x 10′ pressure treated board 4 2” x 6” x 16′ pressure treated board * 7 1/2” x 10” carriage bolt 20 1/2” nut and washer for carriage bolt 20 1/2” x 8” lag screw 20 1/2” x 6” lag screw 4 6” post foot 2 Concrete for 2 post footings Total with delivery ~ $400** * Note: number of 2” x 6” x 16′ boards may vary from 7 – 10 depending on desired spacing between rafters. We used just 7 for rafters 16” on center. My husband pre-drilled holes in the boards and laid them on the garage floor in the manner in which they would be put together. He could also mark the angles for his cuts for the smaller support pieces with everything on the ground. I hope this helps anyone who might be interested in building this pergola.

cantilevered pergola diy designed and built, decks, diy, how to, outdoor living, woodworking projects

We added commercial globe string lights from Save-on-Crafts so we can enjoy the deck at night.

cantilevered pergola diy designed and built

Craig later stained the pergola and planted non-invasive American wisteria in pots next to each post. Here you see it in 2018 (pergola built in 2015) after we redesigned the screen porch, had the house re-sided and cut down the giant cedars that were blocking the view of the southern Virginia mountains.

Suggested materials:

  • See materials list in the Comments section along with additional photos

Have a question about this project?

12 questions
  • Amy Thompson DeVore
    on May 6, 2016

    Hi there, wonderful design. Could I ask if you recall the angle of the counter support beams?

    • Sue P.
      on May 6, 2016

      My husband said it is around 14 degrees. Would additional photos of anything specific help?

    • Shane Gold
      on Sep 3, 2017

      We are building ours and held the back 4x6 in place then drew a pencil line to mark the angle to be cut with it in its ideal position.

  • Geoff
    on Jun 22, 2016

    The link for more information http://lasthomebeforeheaven.com/cantilevered-pergola-diy-designed-and-built/ is not working. Where might I go to get the materials list and instructions for this project?

    • Sue P.
      on Jun 22, 2016

      I no longer have my blog and don't see a way to edit that link out of this post. However, I have added a materials list in the Comments section below along with more photos for those of you who may want to build the pergola. See my comments in the blue areas below. Thank you for your interest.

    • Geoff
      on Jun 22, 2016

      Thanks so much!

  • Chris
    on Apr 27, 2017

    the 2x2's on top can you provide length, spacing on those...?

    • Sue P.
      on Apr 28, 2017

      We used 10 2x2's spaced evenly across the top -- all inside the main legs of the pergola. You can see them a bit in the last photo -- don't look very evenly spaced however! They are just under 8 ft. long. Since I took my blog down that had more pictures, I've added additional photos and information in one of my responses in the Comment area.
      Good luck on your project!

  • Matthew Privitera
    on Jul 22, 2017

    Do you think this will be ok as a stand alone? I was looking to do this mounted to a cement patio. I don't have a deck to mount to

    • Sue P.
      on Jul 22, 2017

      Yes, I think that could be done. See Michael M.'s (Clifton Park, NY) comment and picture below. He has his cantilevered pergola directly in the ground. Perhaps you can send him a question asking how it secured his in the ground.

    • Ryan
      on Apr 4, 2018

      i did. Post are in 5 feet deep with 450 lbs of sack Crete in each.

  • Jerry
    on Jul 25, 2017

    how did you determine the cut angles for the supports?

    • Sue P.
      on Jul 25, 2017

      After installing the sloped 2x8's I cut an 8' 4x6 in half for the supports and just eyeballed the angles holding them up to the side of the install locations and marking the angles where they would attach to the posts.

    • Scott B
      on Sep 11, 2018

      How did you actually cut the 4x6's ? The angle on the back piece is rather long...any suggestions?

  • Karen
    on Aug 28, 2017

    This pergola looks quick & simple enough. We plan to use poles for posts (6-8" round) & sink 4' in the ground. The distance would be 9' from the pole to the house. Do you think the support you show would accommodate the extra 2'?

    • Sue P.
      on Aug 28, 2017

      That should work fine.

    • John Wasilk
      on Jul 18, 2018

      Thank you for posting this. This gives me a better idea on how to start my design. Do you feel that burying the posts in concrete in the ground would cause rot and stability issues in the future? I am having a hard time understanding the stability and longevity of a project like this.

  • Great work! In terms of the two primary legs, what sized diameter concrete did you pour to support the 6x6 posts? Did you use sonotubes or just pour into the soil? Thank you!

    • Sue P.
      on Apr 30, 2018

      We didn't pour footings because of the septic tank location issue. If we were putting it in another location, my husband says he would not use sonotubes, he would probably dig three-foot deep holes for the primary legs and pour concrete around them.

    • Hi Sue - I thought I saw a picture you posted that had some kind of bracket/footing in concrete? I'm curious as to your husband's opinion on the footing diameter size for the 6" x 6" post given the pergola is cantilevered. Thanks again.

  • AJ Pas
    on Jun 13, 2018

    I'm currently in the process of building one based off of this design. How did you secure the 2x6x16 boards to the top of the pergola? Are they just held in place by pressure and weight or screwed down?


    • Sue P.
      on Jun 13, 2018

      They slip down into the notches then are toe nailed in with long screws. Post a picture of your pergola when you finish!

  • Rit4849377
    on Jun 30, 2018

    This will be attached to the building and I like the style...can it be done with a roof to keep from the rain coming in maybe see through

    • Sue P.
      on Jun 30, 2018

      Yes, you may add a roof over the top. Look at the comments to this post and you will see where another reader used this design and added some kind of cover. He posted a picture.

  • Darryl Gillespie
    on Aug 1, 2018

    Thinking about building something similar but with a steel roof. I was going to use 3-6x6 posts but I'm worried about how to set them in. How were the posts set in your project and how sturdy is it. Where i am. i'll also need to worry about frost and snow load.

    • Sue P.
      on Aug 2, 2018

      The way we did it would not work with a steel roof and snow load. My husband thinks the snow load and steel roof on a cantilever design would just be to much. He suggests that if you do go ahead with this design, that you sink the three posts into three-foot deep holes filled with concrete.

    • Cheryl Williamsen
      on Jan 10, 2019

      Your questions are well thought out.

      This cantilever’s structure is probably not going to hold snow nor wind load.

      Your city may have a prototypical set of plans for a Patio Cover, that they’ve approved. Ask them if they do.

      If not, please read my comment about the “free” engineering services that essentially come with the Plans Check Portion of Building Permits.

  • Noodleboyjunk
    on Aug 28, 2018

    I am very inspired by this! My only issue is that i would be building it on concrete and cant dig down 3 ft to secure the posts. Any suggestions?

    • Sue P.
      on Aug 29, 2018

      There are brackets made specifically for attaching a wooden structure to concrete. However, we don't have any experience with using them so can't make any recommendations. You might talk to someone at a building materials store for more information and suggestions.

  • Christopher Shoemaker
    on Jan 28, 2019

    Love the design Sue and is just what I need here in AZ! Does this structure rely on support from the deck (connected) or is it free standing? Thank you.

    • Sue P.
      on Jan 29, 2019

      Thanks for your question, Christopher. Originally I'd linked to a more detailed blog post, which I took down a year later. I've now edited this Hometalk project post and added more pictures and details. Take a look now and you'll see how we attached the pergola posts to the deck. I hope you'll find enough information here to build your own pergola. Ours is still standing strong 4.5 years later!

    • Christopher Shoemaker
      on Jan 29, 2019

      Thank You!!

Join the conversation

3 of 37 comments
  • Sue P.
    on Aug 21, 2018

    Looks great! You did a good job! I think ours is a bit more slanted upward on the front end, otherwise it looks just about the same. Here's how ours looks now, three years later and still standing without any problems. We stained it and planted wisteria in pots next to each post. By being in pots, we can control it and not let it take over the back yard.

  • Mike Collins
    on Sep 3, 2018

    Sue, is it known if this would support a swining bench. If not is ther settle changes to make it work or would that become some knda nightmare. I do plan on using 3 foot holes with concrete. Thanx. Mike

    • Sue P.
      on Sep 3, 2018

      If the swing is attached to the large cross beam that runs between the two large posts, it should be supported. Don't hang it anywhere else.

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