What Wood is Needed to Build a Pergola? (Top 5 Best Options)

wood pergola

Pergolas are popular backyard structures because they provide shade and protection that bring enjoyment to your outdoor activities. 

Making sure you choose the right wood material for your pergola is key to its long-term durability and overall success. 

Most woodworkers can build a basic structure with cedar or oak. If you want something more attractive, these five exotic kinds of wood will give you what you need.


wood pergola


This species of tree is pretty famous for its great looks. It has reddish-brown colored bark on it which signifies age.

This type of wood ranks among the highest in what is called decay resistance (which means it won’t rot away quickly). 

Cedar will also last more than thirty years due to the fact that it is very dense. This means that you will need fewer pieces of wood, thus saving time and money.

Many people use cedar for their pergolas because it gives off a lovely smell when the weather is hot outside.

This makes simply sitting under your pergola more enjoyable. On the downside, cedar has become so popular over recent years that it can be pretty expensive to buy nowadays.



This is one of the most common choices for a pergola. It has been used in homes and buildings for centuries. Oak is strong, sturdy, and durable. 

In addition to being a great choice for a pergola, it can be used in just about any other type of outdoor structure as well such as patios and decks. 

This wood is available in different grades with prices varying depending on the exact grade selected. 

The more water-resistant grades are usually more expensive than normal grades although they too vary depending upon their quality.

Oak is classified into several types: red oak, white oak, Oregon white oak, and southern red oak. 

White oak tends to be slightly more expensive but also tends to have fewer knots when compared to the others. This makes it generally easier to work with when constructing a pergola.

White (Cypress) Wood


This type of wood will make an excellent choice if you want something that looks great but doesn’t cost too much. 

White cypress is often imported from Australia and New Zealand because it is so common there. 

It’s a popular choice among DIY enthusiasts and people who have experience with woodworking projects in the past.

It’s important to note that cypress does contain some chemicals which give it its special smell; this is what helps prevent decay too. 

You can work with white cypress easily because it is soft, yet still very strong under pressure (which means you won’t need as much of it). 

While it doesn’t last as long as cedar will, you can expect cypress to last for around fifteen years before needing replacement. As well as all these benefits, remember that, unlike cedar, white cypress is really cheap.



This type of wood performs pretty close to the level of cedar too. Like you would expect of any wood that is called redwood, it has reddish-brown coloring on it which marks its age. 

You can tell which trees are more mature because the bark will be darker than the younger trees of the same species.

One benefit of using redwood over other types is that for each foot of length you use, you’ll need to use less material than pine or douglas fir (for example). 

This means that you’ll save money if your pergola is long in size; this also means that there’s less waste which makes good sense for people who don’t want to burn their wood unnecessarily.



This type of wood comes from South America and can cost a small fortune. It has a beautiful dark color.

It makes it stand out from the rest of the pergola wood types, yet it too is extremely durable and will last you for many years to come.

Ipe is extra long-lasting when compared to other “high quality” woods like Western Red Cedar. This is because it isn’t affected by outside conditions in much the same way (it resists rot and decay). 

People even use this type of wood for making residential buildings and decks without worrying about them falling apart over time.

If you want something that is really going to last you for decades, then ipe should be your first choice.

If you’re looking to build a pergola in an area where water can easily get inside, using ipe is a great idea. 

It has been proven to resist water damage better than cedar or western red cedar can.

Pergola Kit Comparison Chart

Rating 1-5DimensionsCanopy Included?Frame MaterialWeightPrice (approx)Review of Special Features
5.09’6″ L9’6″ W8′ HNoWhite Vinyl70 lbs$550-$600Traditional, sophisticated-looking design with easy-care and low-maintenance vinyl frame. Plus, you can hang lightweight curtains with rods or use pergola lighting kits. Lightweight and easy to move. That said, some customers have inserted 4×4’s into the posts to permanently secure pergolas to existing decks.
4.012′ L10′ W8′ HYesPowder-Coated Dark Brown Steel50 lbs$570-$600Retractable canopy/awning easily slides across the top of the pergola and can be pulled down on 2 sides for additional privacy or shade. The pergola kit includes ground stakes. Alternatively, some customers have attached it to a patio using bolts, while others have secured the posts in planters.
4.09′ L9′ W7’2″ HYesAluminum55 lbs$475-$550Lightweight, easy-to-move pergola with retractable canopy. Easy-clean, rust-free, powder-coated metal frame. The retractable awning comes in 3 colors. This inexpensive pergola holds up well in outdoor weather, however, it is small and shorter than other models. Therefore, it works well on a small/narrow patio or against the side of a house. Also, its square shape makes it ideal for use over hot tubs.
4.514′ L10′ W8’2″ HYesCedar Wood458 lbs$1425-$1650Package includes built-in standing bar and overhead sunshade. Complete pergola kit comes pre-drilled and pre-stained, ready to assemble with plans. Fun entertaining spot for family & friends with a rustic grey wood finish.
4.212′ L12′ W8’10” HNoHeavy Duty PVC Vinyl235 lbs$1299-$1450A classic, traditional-looking pergola that you can install yourself. PVC vinyl makes this a low-maintenance structure and is great for growing vining plants.
4.710’3″ L7’3″ W7’6″ HNoPre-Stained Cedar593 lbs$2299-$2500The unique corner pergola has 2 slatted privacy walls, built-in benches, and a table. Plus, open design allows for more furniture options, and a contemporary, upscale look increases the value of the backyard.
4.512′ L12′ W9′ HYesSteel110 lbs$279-$339Stand-alone shade sail kit has modern look and an inexpensive price. Easy to move and adjust with the sun. 
4.814′ L12′ W10’6″ HNoPre-Stained Cedar795 lbs$2450-$2799DIY Gazebo kit with thick cedar frame and industrial metal roof makes a stunning focal point in any backyard. Plus, the heavy-duty structure holds up to all weather and can accommodate lights, fans, hammocks, etc.

A quick guide to building pergola using wood

Pergolas and arbors add a distinctive touch to the exterior of the home. Whether you want to economize or simply do it yourself, one way to save money is to build your own pergola. 

Using wood is an economical choice; however, there are issues with using this material. 

Keep in mind that if you plan to leave your pergola outside year-round, make sure you select species of wood that can stand up well against sunlight and weather.

1). Cost – The cost savings potential for building a pergola using wood is considerable; however, before beginning construction, consider all costs involved. 

Generally speaking, these structures require fewer materials than most other types of abodes being built today. Keep in mind that you will still need nails and various other materials.

2). Consult with professionals – If using wood, be sure to consult with professionals to ensure that your structure is built properly. 

This is because improperly assembled pergolas and arbors can collapse under the weight of snow or due to weather damage. 

Even if you’re not planning on putting a lot of money into the project, it’s still important to take this precaution so your pergola will meet current building codes and hold up for years.

3). Use treated wood – Make sure the wood you use for building has been treated against insects and rot.

Otherwise, it can get damaged quickly after being placed outside in different weather conditions. 

Also, make certain that any holes or cracks are filled using a waterproof sealant before setting it up.

4). Upkeep and care – Once the pergola has been built, you will need to pay close attention to its upkeep and care. Cleaning and maintaining your structure requires a commitment of time on your part. 

It’s important to secure it against heavy winds by adding rope or tie-downs from time to time, depending on how extreme the weather gets in your area. 

If your pergola is damaged due to wind or other factors, make sure you get it rebuilt or repaired as soon as possible because safety for everyone using this structure is a top priority.

5). Shade – A pergola can be used for more than just seating underneath; if set up properly, a wood arbor can offer shade too. 

This provides protection from both heat and sun. If you want to add a shaded eating area or sitting area in your yard, consider using a pergola for this purpose.

What is good for building a pergola?

Pergola is a sort of garden structure that has been used for a long by the people. It enhances the looks of their gardens and also provides them with some additional space to sit and relax. 

There are many different types of pergolas available in today’s world; you can choose one depending upon your needs and requirements. 

For example, if you want more privacy and shelter from sun and wind, you should go for a grapevine pergola or arbor. 

If you want to add an ornamental appearance to your house, then it would be better to go for Victorian-style wooden pergolas.

If you require more shade, then parasol-style wooden pergolas may be a good option for you. 

However, if you want to use a pergola in your house, then you should go for an octagonal wood pergola. It is one of the best options available in the market these days.

Pergola wood material

When it comes to choosing the best wood for building a pergola, people may get confused due to so many choices available in today’s world. 

It is also quite difficult at times to choose the right type of wood that suits their needs and requirements properly. 

Thus, they can take help from experts in this regard or can visit some online sources where they will find information regarding this topic easily and conveniently too-

Types of woods used in pergolas: While choosing a wooden pergola, you should remember that there are many different types of woods available in today’s market. 

If you want to build an octagonal pergola, then it is better to go for cedar or redwood. They are very strong and durable when compared with other timber options. 

Moreover, these woods do not attract any insects at all. Thus, in comparison to other wood choices, these two are the best for building pergolas.

Bright colors: Apart from strength and durability, people should look for bright colors too when choosing a type of wooden pergola for their garden or home. 

For example: if they prefer Victorian-style pergola, they should go for light-colored ones like natural pine and cedar as these provide them with a brighter appearance.

What about maintenance?

Pergolas are usually made from different types of woods and thus, you should keep in mind that each type requires a different amount of care. 

For example: if you want to build a pergola using redwood or cedar, then these require less maintenance as compared to other traditional choices. 

Thus, choose the right material for your wooden pergola depending upon your requirements and situation at home so that you can save money and time as well.


In short, ipe is the best wood for building pergola you can get but unfortunately, it costs a fortune. 

It is really only worthwhile if you have access to a lot of money and want something that looks the part. 

Just remember that because it is so dark, people will think it’s fake at first glance. So no need to worry about anyone stealing your pergola after putting in so much work on building it.