Pergolas: A shady way to beat the heat

Filed in Construction by on February 19, 2014

Pergo what? Changes are you’ve seen or sat under one of these dazzling architectural denizens, but chances are equally as great you may not know their name. A pergola is a wooden, vinyl, aluminum or fiberglass structure made up of a header that usually lies above your patio doors or windows and is supported by posts and beams. A pergola can be attached to your home or freestanding in your yard. Most pergolas, wherever placed, are designed to offer shade and character to your property.

An attached pergola will shade the patio or deck that it covers, as well as the inside living space that sits adjacent to it. “An attached pergola will also extend the roof lines of your home, adding a whole new dimension to the architecture,” says Zach Fluto, owner of Premium Decks in Fargo.

The placement of a freestanding pergola is more forgiving than an attached pergola. “They can be placed next to the house and have the appearance of an attached pergola or in the perfect setting in your backyard,” explains Fluto. No matter how your pergola is built, most builders agree that placing them on the sunniest side of the house is your best bet.

In rare instances, a pergola can be placed indoors. “An indoor pergola brings a more intimate feel to a home with an open plan and high ceilings,” says Phil Stahl, owner of Stahl Architects and Builders in Fargo and Grand Forks.

Here’s a look at some of our favorites:

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Location: Fargo  Designer: Scott Meland, Stahl Meland Architects & Builders  Materials: Cedar posts and steel  Details: This homes was built for a Microsoft engineer. The pergola serves to enclose the outdoor space and cooking area. “This particular detail is a nod to Bill Gates’ home and the Microsoft empire,” says Meland. “Gates’ architect, James Cutler, used a similar detail for Gates’ house.”

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Location: South Fargo  Designer: Zach Fluto, Premium Decks  Materials: Cedar  Details: Fluto designed this pergola using his favorite material, cedar. “I prefer cedar over other natural wood materials because of its ability to resist most warping and twisting, which is very evident in wood such as pressure-treated pine,” Fluto says. Cedar is available in many different sizes and has unlimited possibilities when shaping. Fluto says natural wood allows him to design and build a pergola that is unique and fits a customer’s requests.

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Location: Lake Lizzie (north of Pelican Rapids)  Designer: Todd Funfar, Deckmasters  Details: This is an example of a standard, attached pergola. It provides ample amount of shaping for the outdoor patio and cools off the interior space beyond the windows.

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Location: West Fargo  Designer: Zach Fluto, Premium Decks  Materials: White Aluminium  Details: There are two main building challenges in any pergola design: post placement and height. Fluto had to work around not only a window and patio doors on this design, but also the corner of the home. “Ideally, the post placement should be on the outside corners of your deck or patio while not obstructing your most desirable viewpoint,” explains Fluto. “The problem is that materials usually have a maximum span, which may not be as big as your deck or patio.”

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Location: Crystal, N.D.  Designer: Scott Meland, Stahl Meland Architects and Builders  Materials: Cedar. Posts are prefab Tuscan (reinforced fiberglass)  Details: The details of this pergola are standard but the shape is anything but. Meland had to fit the pergola between this farmhouse’s angled garage and angled living room. “Since the garage and house had different roof slopes and the entry court faced west, the pergola serves to connect the two different building shapes and also provide shade for the entry courtyard.”

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Location: South Fargo  Designer: Todd Funfar, Deckmasters  Details: This series of pergolas offers a striking architectural element that adds grace, art, elegance and purpose to this backyard’s expansive patio. The project faces south so it captures full sun and gets extremely hot, hence the need for additional pergola-provided shade for each section of the patio. “The owners did a 28-foot round diameter pergola next to the pool,” says Funfar. “Another one sites over the hot tub and one sits over an outdoor bar. this looks helps break up the two-story look.

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Location: Fargo  Designer:  Scott Meland, Stahl Meland Architects and Builders  Materials: Maple slats attached to steel structure with steel spacers in between. Details: Meland took great care when implementing this interior pergola into this Frank Lloyd Prairie Style home. Since the house has a contemporary twist, Meland chose to put the pergola in the shared kitchen/dining area using the area’s false ceiling created by steel. Pendant light fixtures give the pergola its interesting finishing touch.

by Patricia Carlson

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