Parking our car got a little more scenic this weekend with the completion of our carport pergola. Or, cargola (pergolaport?) if you will.
Last week we talked about dressing up our carport with the help of some pergola plans from Workbench Magazine. The plans took a lot of the guesswork out of it, but there was still plenty of actual work. All-in-all it took about 4.5 days of work (the half day was spent picking up the materials, which we talked about here) but I’m gonna boil it down to one simple post. So here we go. What you need to know is that there were four main parts to this building project: 1) the column, 2) the braces, 3) the joists, and 4) the lath.
Most attached pergolas don’t have the column in the equation (they just attach to the walls beside or above a garage door or a french door), but because our carport only had posts on the left side (see below) our first assignment was to add one on the right to add symmetry and create a place for the pergola to attach.
To attach a post to our concrete floor, we used this post base which is built for situations like this. And I got to break out my hammer drill to make a pilot hole for the concrete anchor, which was a good time. I bought the hammer drill back when I was starting the deck, but never ended up using it, so I’m glad I had it around because I needed it’s drill-plus-hammer motion to get through the concrete. Then I hammered in a wedge anchor and tightened the nut to keep it in place.
I attached another metal post base on the ceiling (this time just using heavy-duty screws) so that we could slide a 4 x 4″ post right in there and nail it into place.
Since that post is neither very attractive or big enough, we used the same method as we did when we beefed up our porch columns. They didn’t sell any pre-primed pine in long enough boards, so we primed and painted the two 1 x 6″ and one 1 x 4″ boards before hanging them. Here I am using our nail gun to attach the boards in place and give the column a chunkier look.
After we caulked the seams and added some touch-up paint, our first of four steps was officially checked off the list. And I should add that this took me the better part of my first day (with occasional “hold this with me” and “take a picture of this step” and “help me paint while Clara naps” assistance from Sherry).
The other part of day one was spent getting started on my braces (or “knee braces” if I’m feeling formal). These were by far the most complicated of all four steps, since there were four sub-step when it came to building each one. We originally hoped to purchase these pre-made, but we couldn’t find any in the size that we needed. In the end, I’m glad I made them because it was much cheaper.
Some of the braces that I saw online were going for $50 – $100 a piece, depending on the size. Each of mine were made from one single 12 ft piece of 2 x 6″ and a few bolts, making mine about $22 each. So the first step was to cut my 2 x 6″ into the lengths that my plans called for. Burger double-checked my work.
First up was what I’m calling the “base” (the part that rests against the column). They were pretty straightforward. I cut some decorative notches on the bottom with my miter saw and then used some hole-boring bits to make a few places on each side to countersink my bolts. Again, my plan took a lot of the mystery out of what to do, but it was still a bit tedious.
The next pieces I tackled were the “beams” – the parts that would stick out from the base at a 90° angle. They were really easy, which was lucky because I had to make four of them. I actually clamped two together when I made the cut so that I’d be sure the beams that got paired together on the same brace were absolutely identical.
With the easy stuff out of the way, I turned my attention to the “arch.” Yes, a dreaded curved cut. Cue the dramatic music. To mark my curved line, I tapped some temporary nails into the wood at both ends and at the middle/top of my curve. Then I used a thin piece of scrap wood (a small piece of PVC works too) and bent it over my nails to create an arched shape. That held long enough for me to mark the curved line between my two nail-points.
Next was the challenge of actually cutting that line. Since I don’t own a scroll saw, I had to rely on my jigsaw. It did the job okay, but since it’s sometimes hard to keep the blade perfectly vertical, my arch had a couple of wonky spots (not majorly wonky, but wonky enough that I noticed them) so we sanded the heck out of it to try to smooth things out.
After some vigorous sanding they were a lot better looking, and some primer further cleaned things up (we primed all of our brace pieces together once they were all cut out).
Then we had to assemble them. It was a tricky system of clamps, temporary nail gun nails, and balancing on scrap wood pieces to get it done, so don’t even try to make sense of this picture (it’s upside down, if that helps).
Basically we had to get both of the beams and the single arch piece aligned (and centered and level) and then screw them to the base using some 3″ lag bolts. It took a bit of finesse to get it all done without attaching something slightly crooked, but eventually we got the job done.
Then we had to drive some bolts through two beams (and the portion of the arch that sat between them). It sounds very straightforward, but the process took me a while and the rest of the day was spent rerouting a gutter and outdoor light fixture. So by the end of day two we had built two braces, but I couldn’t call this step complete since they were neither painted (that happened the next morning) nor hung (which also got done the next day).
Hanging them took some finesse too, mostly because one of us had to hold the weight of it while the other checked that it was level and temporarily nailed it into place. There’s no way brad nails would support the weight of it over time, but they kept each brace in place long enough for us to drive a lag bolt into the top and bottom of each one, which secured it for the long haul.
By noon on day three we were finally ready to move on to step 3.
Step 3 was the joists. You know, those two long pieces that would rest on each of the braces. These were again made from 2 x 6″ board and again they required a decorative curved cut (marked below). We did the curve on just the left side since on the right side they’d butt up against the side of the house.
Once they were cut, we hoisted them into place and marked the exact spot where they rested on the braces.
These marks showed me where we needed to cut notches in the joists so they’d sit tight on the braces. And while we had them down, we also primed and painted them.
While the paint dried I got started on step 4, so it wasn’t until the next morning that we could actually hoist them into place. As for how we screwed them into place, we basically drilled a long pilot hole through the top of each joist and used a long drill bit to screw right through the top of the joist and into the brace’s beam below.
The last step was the lath, or the small strips that create the rail across the top. Since we were going to paint ours I couldn’t use the pre-cut pressure treated 2 x 2″ pieces that they sell pre-cut for deck railings (they say pressure treated lumber should be allowed to “dry out” for a number of weeks before paint or stain traps the treatment’s moisture in – and we wanted to paint things right away). So we bought regular 2 x 2″ boards that were 8 feet long and cut them down at home. This ended up being substantially cheaper, but we needed 50 of them (including a few just-in-case extras) so cutting and sanding them took me a good two hours. It was not exactly fun, but it was nice and mindless. Then came priming and painting all. those. pieces.
We had to cover all four sides of them since they’d all be seen, so thank goodness the paint had good coverage and it only took one coat (it’s Benjamin Moore Exterior paint leftover from the previous owners). Once everything was dry, we could start putting the lath into place on top of the joists.
This was the point that we both started to get giddy because the pergola was actually starting to look like a pergola. Oh and we cut a few 3-inch wide “spacers”out of scrap wood to help us keep our gaps even so we could screw them into place as quickly as possible (see the two longer unpainted boards in the picture below?).
By the end of day four, step four was 100% done.
And with that, we could step back and enjoy our gussied-up carport. How YOU doin?
We’re both crazy happy with how it turned out. We were nervous (well, I was nervous) because it wasn’t the most conventional spot for a pergola – but it really is a huge upgrade. Suddenly that parking space tacked on the end of our house has some character. It has actually turned two anti-carport people (remember we almost didn’t look at this house just because it had one) into carport lovers. Well, cargola lovers.
Despite being a bit tedious, none of the labor was really that back-breaking. And the DIY price can’t be beat – especially when we heard that custom attached pergola kits are being sold for over 2K! Here’s where ours wound up:
- Truck rental (to get materials home): $19
- Lumber: $112
- Post bases: $23
- Nuts, bolts, & screws: $46
- Materials to reroute gutter & light: $14
- Paint & primer: Already owned
- TOTAL: $214
Oh and if you have a carport that already has two columns (or a garage with outside walls to rest the braces on) and you buy the braces instead of building them it would be about 50% easier (and should cut out around 2 days of work). So that’s an awesome option for anyone who wants to instantly cut four steps down to two.
I feel like the new pergola gives our house a bit of “quaintness” (if that’s a word). We especially like how it frames the view of our street, which is currently blooming like crazy. Either way, it definitely adds some nice dimension to our flat ranch.
So yeah, between this and our beefed up porch columns, we’re falling in love with the front of our house all over again. And can you just imagine some flowering vines growing up those posts and across the top of the pergola? Holy charming, batman.
What’s on your outdoor agenda these days?
This nursery that Dave and Carrie created for their daughter had us smiling from the second we saw the first picture. Not only is it bold and playful, it also has some sweet personal touches and a lot of handmade/DIYed goodness going on. Here’s their letter:
Hey S & J, We recently welcomed our first child into the world, Everly Harper. Before we even knew Ever (that’s what we will lovingly call her), we knew we didn’t want a typical nursery for her – and we definitely didn’t want anything close to what the room looked like when we bought the place.
My wife was inspired by a woodland themed nursery that we found through your site years ago, and the following is what we came up with. We knew we wanted to save money where we could, and we both love a good project, so we tackled whatever we could on our own over the last few months.
We started by painting the walls with Behr Ultra Premium Plus Flat Enamel (color-matched to the Sherwin-Williams color Grizzle Gray ) and then hand painted the birch trees in some leftover trim paint (Behr matched to Sherwin-Williams Extra White). We covered the old half hardwood / half painted subfloor with carpet tiles and then layered the white shag area rug from Target over that. The curtains and hardware are from Ikea, but we ended up hand painting those yellow stripes (Yellow Gold in Behr U.P.P.) because we couldn’t find reasonable yellow curtains that we loved.
The changing table/long dresser is a vintage dresser (thanks Craigslist!) that we sanded, and then stained, painted and polyurethaned. We added the changing pad frame and insert (Pottery Barn kids) which can later be removed so she can grow up with the dresser. The crib is new from Walmart.com.
The canvas on the wall is actually vinyl that we had our birth announcement photo printed on. I built a frame out of leftover lumber and stretched the vinyl like I would stretch a canvas. The local company that printed it for us is PrintLeader, based in Buffalo, NY. The photo itself was taken as part of a “Trash the Dress” shoot we did with our favorite photographer Erin Oveis Brant. We found out a few weeks before we had planned to shoot a five year wedding anniversary gift to ourselves that we were pregnant, so we asked Erin if she could incorporate some pregnancy announcement photos into our day. She was actually the first person we told, and those boots were our first purchase for the baby!
The Hunter boots are now a part of the décor until she herself can kick up a little mud of her own! Most of the other accessories have been collected over the last 10 months – like a fox and mushrooms from Target, a fabric wrapped tree from Anthropologie, and a diaper pail from Ikea.
So thanks for inspiring us on a daily basis, and thanks for letting us share our room with you! We hope Ever knows how much love we put into it! Best regards, Dave & Carrie
We love not only how this room looks, but all of the awesome thought that went into it. Everly is a lucky lady. And if you want to see more, Dave and Carrie have a photo album that shows off more corners of this colorful “woodland” room. Thanks for sharing guys!
We’ve gone and done it. Nope, we didn’t create a hybrid ceramic animal robot. And we didn’t build Burger a dog-sized palace in the backyard. Instead… we’re introducing Young House Love Forums!
The idea for a forum section (or “message board” or “community” or whatever you want to call it) has been floating around for a while. Several of you have suggested/requested it and we even put it into our 2013 resolutions back in January (see #2). So consider this to be one resolution that we’ve officially kept.
You’ll notice that the site says “Beta” on it, which basically means this is a test. Kind of a trial period to see whether or not people find them helpful and fun, whether or not we can figure out a system for running them without stealing too much time away from DIY, and whether or not everyone can support and encourage each other. That last part is especially important to us because, just like our blog, we really want the forums to be a happy place where everyone feels comfortable. There are plently of places to get your snark on, but this little slice of the internet is meant to be a positive and encouraging spot to share advice, ask questions, and have fun. If Sherry were writing this she’d pull a Mary J Blige and start singing No More Drama. You can read more about our hopes for the forums in our Community Guidelines.
We hope you’ll all find the interface pretty easy and intuitive. We’re relying on a leading forums software called Vanilla Forums, which has lots of functionality built right in. For instance, they make registration super simple (especially if you’ve already got a Facebook, Twitter, Google, or OpenID account). UPDATE: We notified Vanilla about the too-strict standards of the password registration and they say they’ve changed it so “weak” passwords don’t prevent you from registering.
If you sign up using one of your social accounts, it’ll fill in most of your profile for you. You can also edit or add to it pretty easily (like including links to your website, removing things you don’t want to share, adding a hometown, or even including a status update in the “Activity” box). But there’s no need to spill anything you don’t want – you can just start with your username and a photo. People like seeing who they’re chatting up. Bonus points for mustaches.
Posting and commenting is pretty straightforward too. You can start a new “Discussion” (aka topic thread) or comment under an existing one using a nice standard comment box. It allows you to style your text, quote previous commenters, and even include images. We’d love for people to share photos of their projects, rooms they’re working on, etc – but please just post photos that are your own, and just use links to reference other inspiration pics (we don’t want anyone getting into any copyright battles).
We created a couple of categories to kick things off.
- The “Ideas Anyone?” category is meant to be a place to seek help – like getting design input from other forum-goers, asking for product recommendations, or troubleshooting a DIY project gone wrong.
- The “Look What I Did” is for showing off your successes (which we hope will be both encouraging to you as a DIYer who’s trying to build momentum as well as to others looking for fun ideas). Just pop in a couple of pictures of your most recent room makeover or furniture upgrade. Note: this is NOT intended for folks to copy and paste their latest 25 blog posts or spam the forum with a link every time their newest post goes live.
- The “Feeling Random” category, which is for fun sidebar thoughts that don’t really fit into the other two categories. So that’s where you can exchange dinner ideas, guess what’s going to happen on the next episode of The Walking Dead, or share the funny thing your kid said.
The forum software has some built-in systems for blocking spam and other abuse, which is nice, but you guys can also be our eyes and ears. If you see something sneak through please flag it. It helps the system get smarter so we get closer to a spam-free site. Oh, and it also lets you mark posts for good reasons too – like if you liked it or it triggered your LOL reflex.
So with all that said, we’d love for you to sign up, read the community guidelines, and then get your chat on. We’re excited to see where Young House Love Forums go (we always say that you guys put the “you” in Young House Love, so we can’t wait to see all the inspiring and hilarious stuff that’s shared).