How To Add A Pergola Over An Existing Deck (Expert Advice)

A lot of homeowners would love to add a pergola to their backyard, but they’re not sure it’s possible. The good news is that you don’t have to tear down your existing deck in order to build a beautiful pergola over it! 

In this article, we’ll explain how you can add a pergola over your existing deck. We’ll also cover everything from design considerations and cost factors to building materials and installation techniques.

How to Install a Pergola on the Back Deck | This Old House
Adding a pergola over an existing deck can enhance the outdoor space and create a stylish and functional area.
Proper planning and design considerations are essential before starting the pergola installation process.
Anchoring the pergola securely to the deck is crucial for stability and safety.
Depending on the deck’s structure, additional support may be required to bear the weight of the pergola.
Careful attention should be given to the materials used for the pergola to ensure durability and longevity.
Incorporating elements like shade, lighting, and privacy features can further enhance the pergola and deck combination.
Consulting with professionals or following expert advice can help ensure a successful pergola addition to the existing deck.

Match the Material of the Deck and Its Railings

To get a seamless look between your deck, pergola and railings, you’ll want to match the materials as closely as possible. 

That means using the same wood, or a similar wood for either item. It also means matching up your stain or paint colors, as well as whatever style of posts and railings you choose to use with it.

If you’re wondering whether it’s possible to put a pergola on a deck, our comprehensive guide has the answers you’re looking for. Discover the considerations and steps involved in adding a pergola to your existing deck. Check out our article on can you put a pergola on a deck for expert insights.

Provide A Solid Foundation

Once you’ve determined the size and placement of your pergola, it’s time to start building. While there are many ways to construct a pergola over an existing deck, this guide will focus on how to build one using pressure treated lumber for the posts and framing nails to attach them.

Once you have your foundation laid out and dug out (if necessary), use a framing hammer or another tool that is appropriate for pounding in stakes with about 2″ of clearance on either side of where they’ll be buried into the ground.

Once all posts are in place, check their alignment by measuring from one end post out towards each side post every few inches until they’re all perfectly parallel with each other. Use a level as needed if any adjustments need to be made before nailing down the frame boards under each post

Extend The Length Of The Pergola

In order to provide shade and cover from rain, you will want to extend your pergola over the entire length of your deck. However, don’t go beyond that! The pergola should not be wider than the width of your deck because it will look awkward and unbalanced.

Don’t Overdo It With Materials

When you are constructing an outdoor structure like this one, there are several materials available for you to use in making it look its best: wood or metal railings; stone columns; cedar shingles; glass panes; lattice work panels (if privacy is needed). 

Ideally, you’ll want all these things but be careful about overdoing it with these details—you don’t want to make such an elaborate structure seem cluttered or gaudy by adding too many extras that aren’t necessary for its function.

Are you interested in enhancing your raised deck with a beautiful pergola? Our expert advice on adding a pergola to a raised deck will guide you through the process. Explore the benefits and practical tips to make your deck and pergola combination a stunning addition to your outdoor space.

Create A Floating Rafter

A floating rafter is a large, roof-inspired beam that supports the weight of your new pergola. This type of beam is made from 2x6s or larger lumber and can be raised or lowered to accommodate your existing deck height. 

You’ll need to install the first half of the beam on one side of your existing deck, then build an identical second half on the other side.

Once you’ve created this upper frame for your pergola, you’ll attach it to posts below with carriage bolts or lag screws these allow easy removal if desired (for maintenance).

Use The Correct Posts

You’ll also want to make sure the posts you use are pressure treated lumber. This is because rot-resistant material is needed for this project, and it’s usually only found in pressure treated lumber. 

Using regular untreated wood will lead to rotting of the post during rainy weather, which could eventually cause your whole frame to collapse!

To keep your posts from sinking into the ground and give them more support, dig holes deep enough so that they sit on top of hard soil. 

The hole should be wide enough so that when you backfill around each post with dirt, there will still be some space remaining between where they’re placed and the surrounding surface; this prevents water from getting inside your pergola framework.

Once all four posts have been put into place (and anchored), it’s time to add a cap on top of each one! You can either buy one at a store or make one yourself by cutting off their tops with power tools like chainsaws or circular saws; if using power tools sounds too dangerous for you then just go out an buy one instead 🙂

Design It With Versatility In Mind

Many people will want to use their pergola for more than just a dining or sitting area. For example, some may want to add a barbeque or other outdoor cooking equipment. 

Others may plan on turning it into a reading nook (or writing room) with bookshelves and cushions. It’s best to design your pergola with versatility in mind so you can easily make changes later on if the need arises.

Anchoring a pergola to a deck is crucial for stability and safety. Our step-by-step guide on how to anchor a pergola to a deck provides valuable instructions and considerations. Ensure your pergola remains securely attached to your deck by following our expert advice.

Paint It Or Stain It To Match Your Deck

Now that you’ve built a pergola over your existing deck, it’s time to decide what color or stain you want to use. 

You can paint the pergola with a paint that is compatible with the deck and/or stain it to match the existing wood. If you want to keep things simple and stick with one material, that’s fine too!

Think About What You’ll Use It For

As you plan your pergola, consider what you’ll use it for. Pergolas can be used as a place to sit and relax, or they can house plants and other living things. If you’re planning on having a fire pit, then a pergola will provide shade and cover for the flames.

Depending on how large your deck is and how much space you have available, think about adding storage underneath the decking a perfect spot if you want to hide clutter from view or store patio furniture when not in use.

Usage ConsiderationDescription
Entertainment SpaceCreate a designated area for outdoor gatherings, dining, or hosting events. Consider the size, layout, and seating arrangements for optimal functionality.
Relaxation and RecreationDesign a space for relaxation, such as a cozy seating area, hammock, or outdoor lounge. Include elements like comfortable seating, shade options, and privacy features.
Gardening and GreeneryIncorporate the pergola into your gardening plans, such as vertical gardening, hanging plants, or climbing vines. Consider the sunlight exposure and accessibility for plant maintenance.
Outdoor Kitchen and DiningCreate an outdoor cooking and dining area by adding a grill, countertop, and dining furniture. Ensure proper ventilation, seating capacity, and proximity to utilities if needed.
Hot Tub or Spa AreaPlan for a private oasis by integrating a hot tub or spa within the pergola space. Consider privacy, proper flooring, electrical requirements, and ventilation for a relaxing experience.
Shade and Sun ProtectionDesign the pergola to provide adequate shade and sun protection, using methods such as retractable canopies, curtains, or louvered roofs. Consider the orientation and positioning for optimal shade coverage.

Consider Adding Privacy Screens Or Panels

Privacy screens or panels can be made of wood, metal, or fabric. If you’re looking for something more permanent, wood is the way to go because it can be stained or painted to match your decking and furniture. 

Fabric panels are also an option if you’d rather have something that’s removable so you can remove it when not in use.

Privacy panels are often used to hide unsightly objects such as garbage cans or recycling bins so they don’t interrupt the beauty of your pergola design; however, if this isn’t a concern for you (or if these items aren’t present), then there’s no need to worry about installing one.

Adding a pergola to a concrete patio? Our expert tips on anchoring a pergola to a concrete patio will help you create a sturdy and long-lasting structure. Discover the methods and techniques to secure your pergola to the patio surface effectively.

Include Lattice Or Shade Cloth To Block Sunlight

For those who want to block out some of the sun from their deck, lattice is an excellent choice. Lattice comes in many varieties and materials: you can choose from wood, metal or plastic. You can paint it to fit perfectly with your deck and house!

  • Painting it black will allow light through while providing shade from the sun’s rays.
  • Painting it white will provide even more protection against heat (but not as much as black).
  • Staining your lattice so that it matches your decking material helps make for a cohesive look between both areas of your backyard.

Add A Ceiling Fan For Additional Shade And Cooling Benefits

If you want to add an added level of shade and cooling benefits to your deck, consider adding a ceiling fan. 

A ceiling fan can be used to circulate air on hot days and create a breeze, or you can use it in conjunction with other fans to create something known as the “wind tunnel effect” (for those who like their decks extra breezy). 

This is when all the fans push air up against the underside of the overhang, creating a wind chill for anyone sitting under there.

Add A Window Box Full Of Flowers To The Pergola Posts

Not only are window boxes a great way to add some color and greenery to your deck, but they’re also easy to install. Just follow these simple steps:

  • Measure the width of your deck posts and cut two pieces of 1×4 lumber (or whatever size you need) at that length.
  • Screw the boards into place on each post with 2″ exterior screws (you can get them at Home Depot).
  • Add soil and plants!
Flower Box MaterialAdvantagesConsiderations
WoodNatural aesthetic, customizable design, suitable for various flower types.Requires regular maintenance and treatment to withstand outdoor conditions.
MetalDurable and long-lasting, adds a contemporary look, available in different finishes.Can retain heat, may require additional insulation for temperature-sensitive plants.
VinylLow maintenance, resistant to rot and pests, lightweight and easy to install.Limited color options compared to other materials.
FiberglassLightweight yet sturdy, excellent durability, available in various styles and sizes.May require additional drainage provisions, may not provide as much insulation as other materials.
PVCResistant to moisture, rot, and insects, versatile design options, easy to clean.Limited heat resistance, may fade or discolor over time in direct sunlight.

Create An Outdoor Kitchen Under Your Pergola Over Your Deck

If you have outdoor space and a pergola, why not make it into an entertaining area? You can create a mini outdoor kitchen with a portable grill, sink and refrigerator. 

Or if you want to go all out, add a table with chairs so that your friends can enjoy their drinks and snacks while relaxing in the shade. If you’re feeling ambitious and have some extra money to spend on this project, consider adding speakers or even a TV so that it feels just like home!

Looking to integrate a pergola into your house structure? Our comprehensive guide on adding a pergola to a house offers expert insights and practical tips. Explore the different design options and considerations to enhance your home with a beautiful pergola.

Lighting Is An Affordable Addition For Decks With Pergolas Over Them

Lighting is a great way to add accent lighting to your pergola. You can place pendant lights on the center beam, or use rope lighting with hooks and clips underneath the beams.

 If you want the added security of motion sensor lights, you can install them in the corners of your deck with brackets.

If you would like to also add some decorative lighting to your deck, there are many options available that will provide both ambiance and safety. Solar-powered LED candles can be placed along either side of the staircase leading up from ground level for an elegant look that won’t cost anything but electricity!

Attach Curtains For Shade And Privacy On One Side Only

You can also add curtains, which are a great solution for privacy and shade. The curtains are attached to the wall of the deck with Velcro or spring clips.

The curtains should be hung from one side only so that they can be drawn back to expose the entire patio area when you have parties or gatherings on your deck.

Attachment MethodBenefitsConsiderations
Curtain RodEasy installation, adjustable height, allows for quick opening and closing of curtains.Limited coverage on one side only, may require additional support for heavier curtains.
Tension RodNo drilling or hardware required, adjustable width, suitable for lightweight curtains.Limited weight capacity, may not be suitable for heavy or floor-length curtains.
Curtain ClipsVersatile attachment option, easy to install and remove, allows for customization of curtain placement.May leave small holes or marks on curtains, limited support for heavy or thick fabrics.
Grommets and HooksProvides a secure attachment, suitable for heavy or thick curtains, allows for easy removal.Requires drilling or hardware installation, limited adjustability of curtain placement.
Velcro StripsEasy to install and remove, suitable for lightweight curtains, adjustable positioning.Limited support for heavy or floor-length curtains, may require regular readjustment.

Don’t Forget To Seal!

You can’t just build your pergola and call it a day. You need to seal it, too! Sealing is important for both longevity and to prevent leaks. There are many sealants on the market, but we recommend using a silicone-based product that is easy to apply and cleans up easily with soap and water.

When sealing your deck, remember that you want to make sure all joints between boards are sealed as well as any holes or gaps (like where pipes enter). You should also be sure to get into the corners of each joist hole where water could collect during storms or heavy rains if not sealed properly.

We recommend sealing once per year after installation has been completed in order to keep your outdoor space protected from rain damage or other natural elements like snowfall during winter months when temperatures drop below freezing temperatures outside due to climate change making it harden into ice if left untreated by either an appropriate amount of insulation which can reduce costs associated with energy bills plus increase comfort levels when inside working out etcetera…


We hope you found this article helpful to your deck and pergola over an existing deck project. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them in the comment section below. We’d love to hear from you!

Further Reading

How to Build a Pergola on a Deck: Learn step-by-step instructions and expert tips for building a pergola on a deck, adding style and functionality to your outdoor space.

Guide: How to Build a Pergola on a Deck: Discover essential guidelines and considerations for constructing a pergola on a deck, including materials, measurements, and design techniques.

Can You Put a Pergola on a Raised Deck?: Find out if it’s possible to install a pergola on a raised deck and explore the benefits and challenges associated with this installation method.


How do I secure a pergola to a deck?

To secure a pergola to a deck, you can use various methods such as post anchors, lag bolts, or brackets designed for deck attachment. Consult local building codes and follow manufacturer guidelines for proper installation.

What materials are commonly used for building a pergola on a deck?

Common materials used for building a pergola on a deck include wood, vinyl, or metal. Each material has its own advantages and aesthetic appeal. Consider factors like durability, maintenance requirements, and compatibility with your deck’s design.

Are there any special considerations when adding a pergola to a raised deck?

Yes, adding a pergola to a raised deck requires careful planning and consideration. Ensure that the deck’s structure can support the additional weight of the pergola. Consult a professional if you have concerns about the stability and safety of the installation.

Can I install a pergola on a deck without professional help?

While it’s possible to install a pergola on a deck as a DIY project, it’s important to have a solid understanding of construction principles and safety measures. If you’re unsure about your abilities or the complexity of the project, it’s recommended to seek professional assistance.

Do I need a permit to add a pergola to my deck?

The need for a permit to add a pergola to your deck varies based on local building codes and regulations. It’s advisable to check with your local authorities or consult a professional to determine whether a permit is required for your specific location.