Can You Put Plastic Roof On Pergola? (Find OUT)

When the sun is shining, it’s hard to beat the feeling of sitting outside on a warm day. But with summer comes rain and wind, which can make outdoor activities less appealing. 

A pergola is a great way to add shade to your patio or backyard without having to spend a lot of money on materials or hire an expensive contractor especially if you use plastic as opposed to wood! 

This tutorial will walk you through how easy it can be to create an outdoor structure that will protect you from inclement weather while still looking great all year round.

Pergola Roofing – Polycarbonate sheets
Adding a plastic roof to a pergola can provide protection from rain, UV rays, and excessive sunlight.
Plastic roofing materials such as polycarbonate and acrylic are suitable for pergolas and offer durability and varying levels of transparency.
Installing a plastic roof on a pergola requires ensuring the structure can support the added weight and potential changes in wind resistance.
Regular maintenance, including cleaning and inspecting for damage, is necessary to ensure the longevity and performance of a plastic roof on a pergola.
A plastic roof can enhance a pergola by creating a more comfortable and shaded outdoor space, allowing for enjoyment in different weather conditions.

Step 1. Measure and Cut the Plastic Sheeting

The first step is to measure and cut the plastic sheeting to size. You need to make sure that you have enough plastic to cover your pergola.

First, measure the length of your pergola using a measuring tape or ruler. This will be the width of your roll of plastic sheeting. Next, measure the height of your pergola (from ground level). This will be used as your drop measurement for cutting out pieces of plastic with a sharp knife or scissors.

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Step 2. Mark and Drill the Plastic and Wood

Before you start drilling, make sure to mark the exact location of your screw holes on the plastic. This will ensure that they are spaced out evenly and in the right place. Use a pencil to mark them on the plastic.

You must also drill pilot holes into the wood so that your screws don’t split it when you hammer them in. 

The correct drill bit size is determined by the diameter of your screws—the best way to find out what size this is is by looking at them and comparing their diameters with those of common drill bits (1/4″ bit = 3/8″; 5/16″ bit = 1/2″). 

Make sure not to over-drill with these larger-sized bits or else you’ll end up going all through both layers of material!

1Mark the desired drilling locations on both the plastic and wood surfaces.
2Use an appropriate drill bit size for the intended fasteners and materials.
3Drill pilot holes on the marked spots in the plastic and wood.
4Ensure the drill bit is perpendicular to the surface to maintain accuracy.
5Remove any plastic or wood debris from the drilled holes before proceeding.
6Double-check the alignment and hole sizes before attaching the fasteners.

Step 3. Snip and Slip the Pieces

The next step is to cut the plastic to length and width. You will want to measure the length of one side of your pergola and then add about three inches for safety. 

Then, measure the width of your support beam or purlin by placing it down on top of another piece of lumber for stability. Cut off any extra material that hangs past this width so that it does not get in your way when installing it later on. 

Next, slip each piece over its respective support beam or purlin by pulling it tautly from one end until all four sides are evenly aligned.

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Step 4. Attach the Plastic to the Frame

Once you have the plastic laid out, use a drill to make holes in the plastic where your frame is. To keep from making too many or too little holes, start by drilling a few test holes and then continue until you have enough for each piece of wood on your pergola.

Keep in mind that if you place screws too close together, they will not be able to support each other and may break easily. 

On the other hand, if there are too few screws attaching pieces together, they may also break apart under pressure from strong winds or heavy loads of snow.

Once you have drilled all necessary holes through both pieces of plastic and into your pergola’s frame, use a screwdriver and attach them with at least two screws per piece

Step 5. Clean Up

Wash your hands. You’re done! Before you leave the area, double-check to make sure that you’ve cleaned up all of your tools and debris. When you’re finished, don’t forget to lock up your shed or garage if it’s not secured while you’re working outside!

Step 6. Prepare the Support Beams

Your next step is to prepare the support beams. Before you can install them, you’ll need to make sure that they are level and at a 90-degree angle with each other. 

To do this, have someone help you hold the first beam in place while you use a level to ensure that it’s perfectly horizontal. 

Then, measure from each end of the beam and mark your measurements on either side of where they cross over one another (this will be where we add long screws).

Once both ends have been prepped, use an electric drill/driver along with 3″ deck screws or lag bolts (depending on how large or small of an area these will cover) to secure them into place.

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Step 7. Install Purlins

Purlins are the horizontal beams that support the plastic roof. They can be made of wood or metal, but you need to make sure they’re strong enough to support your weight when you stand on them. 

If you’re using a wooden pergola, install two rows of 2×4 purlins on top of each other. Then screw or nail the purlins into the rafters using 3″ galvanized screws (or longer if needed). 

If you’re using metal rafters, staple 1/2″ mesh wire over each row of purlins and then staple them into place using either 16 gauge galvanized nails or staples that are at least as big as 1″-long galvanized nails

Step 8. Put the Plastic Roof on Pergola

The next step is to install the plastic roof on your pergola. Make sure that you have enough material to cover your pergola, and also make sure that you have enough screws or rivets to secure it in place.

1Measure and cut the plastic roof panels to fit the dimensions of the pergola.
2Position the plastic roof panels on top of the pergola, aligning them correctly.
3Secure the plastic roof panels to the pergola using appropriate fasteners or mounting hardware.
4Ensure proper spacing and overlap between the panels to create a watertight seal.
5Double-check the alignment and make any necessary adjustments before finalizing the installation.
6Test the plastic roof for stability and durability, ensuring it can withstand various weather conditions.

Step 9. Caulk Joints Between Panels and Beams/Purlins

After you have installed the sheets, it is time to caulk the joints. Caulking will help seal the seams of your roofing project and make it look pretty neat. 

You can use an exterior grade silicone caulk for this step, as this product has UV protection that will withstand exposure to sunlight.

You need to use a caulking gun or tube of caulk in order to apply it evenly along all seams in your pergola roofing project. The bead needs to be smooth, continuous and even across each joint between panels or beams/purlins. 

You should also apply caulk over any screws or staples used in attaching your pergola plastic sheeting if possible so that they do not show through on the finished surface of your patio cover with plastic roofing panels installed

If you’re wondering whether you can place your pergola on a patio, we’ve got you covered. Learn about the possibilities and considerations in our comprehensive guide on putting a pergola on a patio. Explore the design aspects and practicality of this pergola modification.

Step 10. Add Trim (optional)

There are a lot of options for trim. Trim is the decorative piece that can be added to the roof. It can be made of wood, metal or plastic but must match the color of your pergola and should not be left unpainted as it will easily be damaged.

Step 11. Secure Plastic Roof to Pergola Rafters with Screws or Rivets (optional)

Screws or rivets are optional, but if you have a large roof, it’s a good idea to secure it to the rafters with screws or rivets.

If you’re using rivets, many people use one at each joint between two rafters and two pieces of plastic roofing material. This means that every three feet or so along the length of your pergola’s rafters will require one rivet. 

If you used screws to assemble your pergola (which we recommend), then only those joints where two pieces overlap need securing with screws—you’ll likely need a drill for this part!

Attachment MethodDescription
ScrewsSecure the plastic roof to the pergola rafters using screws.
RivetsUse rivets to attach the plastic roof to the pergola rafters.
OptionalThe use of screws or rivets for attaching the plastic roof to the pergola rafters is optional and depends on personal preference or specific project requirements.

Step 12. Fasten the Roof Down

One of the most important steps in installing your pergola roof is fastening it down. You have a few options here, but if you use screws or rivets, we recommended using a hammer and screwdriver to attach the roof down. 

If you have access to a drill, this might be better for you as it can be more accurate than using just your hands and some elbow grease (but don’t get too crazy with this). 

If neither are available, you can also use a nail gun or staple gun to fasten down sections of your pergola roof as necessary.

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This process is not difficult, but it does require time and patience. Be sure to measure carefully before cutting your plastic sheeting and drill holes in the wood. Don’t forget to caulk around any joints between the rafters, purlins, or beams/purlins!

Further Reading

How to Put a Roof on a Flat Pergola: This comprehensive guide provides step-by-step instructions and tips for installing a roof on a flat pergola, offering valuable insights for your pergola enhancement project.

Installing a Polycarbonate Roof on a Pergola: Learn about the benefits and installation process of a polycarbonate roof for your pergola. This resource covers the advantages of using polycarbonate material and provides guidance for a successful installation.

Installing a Clear Pergola Roof: If you’re looking to add a clear roof to your pergola, this guide is for you. Discover the steps and considerations involved in installing a clear roof, allowing natural light while providing protection from the elements.

Now, let’s move on to the FAQs section:


Can I install a plastic roof on my existing pergola?

Yes, it is possible to install a plastic roof on an existing pergola. However, you need to ensure that the structure of your pergola can support the added weight and any potential changes in wind resistance.

What are the benefits of adding a plastic roof to a pergola?

Adding a plastic roof to a pergola can provide various benefits, including protection from rain, UV rays, and excessive sunlight. It can also create a more comfortable and shaded outdoor space, allowing you to enjoy your pergola throughout different weather conditions.

What types of plastic roofing materials are suitable for pergolas?

Common plastic roofing materials suitable for pergolas include polycarbonate and acrylic. These materials offer durability, resistance to weather elements, and varying levels of transparency or opacity, allowing you to choose the desired amount of natural light for your pergola.

How do I install a plastic roof on a pergola?

The installation process may vary depending on the specific plastic roofing material and the design of your pergola. Generally, it involves measuring and cutting the plastic panels to fit the pergola’s dimensions, securing them to the framework, and sealing any joints or edges for weatherproofing.

Are there any maintenance requirements for a plastic roof on a pergola?

Plastic roofs on pergolas generally require minimal maintenance. Regular cleaning to remove debris and dirt buildup is recommended, and any damaged panels should be replaced promptly. Additionally, inspecting the roof periodically for cracks, leaks, or other issues is essential for long-term performance and protection.