Pergola Canopy

I did a whole hell of a lot of sewing last weekend. A marathon of sorts. I was adamant about getting the pergola and daybed finished by the end of the weekend. To accomplish this, I spent 13 hours sewing on Saturday. For realsies. El Granto helped too, measuring, cutting and installing grommets. What do we have to show for our work? Continue reading “Pergola Canopy”


Our weekend pergola build is finished! AND it only took us a month.

Well technically it took us two afternoons, they just happened to be a month apart. Why did a weekend project turn into a month long ordeal? Life. Weather. Summer. Family. Motorcycles. Friends. Birthdays. Fun. Oh and new tools. Life took over as a priority, and work came to a standstill on the backyard. But this weekend, we were back in action.This is how it went down. In the first stage we built up the existing corner posts (they needed to be extended a few feet taller). The ones beside the house needed to be notched to fit over the rim board on the house, and everything was attached with brackets and deck screws. Then up went the outside beams of the pergola.

That went well-ish, but after the last beam (the big front one) went up, it pulled the rest slightly out of square.  Ugh. So we started off yesterday making everything as square and level as possible considering the unsquare and unlevel deck we were building off. I just want to point out, we did not build the deck. It was here when we bought the house. Building a nice square and level pergola off a crooked deck is an exercise in patience.

Knowing this, we took a bit of a U turn in on how we were going to do the cross beams. I wanted to notch out the beams so that they all fit together in a basket weave. That would involve pretty accurate measurements and cuts, and if we were a hair off, nothing would fit. El Granto sat me down and had a little talk about biting off more than I could chew, the inability to get more lumber should I wreck it all, and how were we going to raise the beams up and install it. All very valid and reasonable points.

But… I didn’t want to use ugly joist hangers, and I needed the joints to be strong. (I am not to confidant with toe nailing, it never seems to tighten up the joint enough for me.) We brainstormed a bit, and broke out the Kreg jig. That thing tightens up butt joints like nobody’s business. (El Granto’s note: hee hee tight butts)

El Granto drilling some pocket holes in the ends of our joists
Yes, it took a bit longer, but those butt joints are nice and strong. Did you spy one of our new tools in the pic? Yeah dude, we upped our drill game a bit. At Christmas El Granto bought me a Milwaukee Drill and an Impact Driver. We loved them so much, that this summer we added a few new Milwaukee tools to the arsenal. That’s our badass new hammer drill in the photo above. We had all three drills going for pergola install. The hammer drill was on pocket hole duty (yes a bit overboard, but he made short work of the holes) the drill and impact driver were stationed on the ladders so we could each drive in the screws on our ends of the joists. Can I just say how amazing it is not to have to change from a drill bit to a driver for… Every. Damn. Piece?

After all the joists were cut and pocket holed, up on the ladders we went and installed. No pics of this part, cause well, we were both up on ladders holding beams over our heads, but here is what it looked like when all was said and done.

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We also added a few more boards to our privacy screen. It was a bit low, and meant that if you looked over from our neighbours house you could see right into our bedroom. Frankly I think they were sick and tired of being blinded by my nakedness, so we upped the height of the screen.  It also did double duty of covering up the brackets on the posts. We added another board to the opposite side of the deck to make things look a little more polished as well.

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So whats next? Sewing! We laid out and measured for the Sunbrella fabric shade canopy, and I can get started sewing it this week. I am also thinking of taking down the twinkle lights in the backyard (it looks a bit too busy now, those solar lanterns also have to go.)

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Already the shade structure is making the upstairs deck seem more cozy. Cant wait for the shade canopy! What do you think about the backyard twinkle lights, should they go?

Pergola Progress

Not quite sure where this week went. Last time I checked it was somewhere around Tuesday, and then BAM! Friday!

Hey, I’m not complaining, but I sure do wish I got more accomplished around the house this week.

Here is what we’ve been up to.

The pergola started creeping off paper and into fruition. We made a stop at our local lumber yard and picked up all the wood, including the 12′ pieces. Thanks again goes to El Granto’s Mum and Dad for the car loan.


After some demolition of the current deck’s fence/top posts, a big shout out goes to the previous owner for stripping Every. Single. Screw he used to assemble the deck. Really awesome work… A sawzall with a nail cutter blade later, and a pry bar, and we were rid of them, busted screws and all.

With demo complete, we started building anew.

The new posts were measured, kerfed (to go around the ledger on the wall), and up they went.


Then the front and side beams followed suit.

This was a bit of a scary ladder moment (14′ drop to our new concrete walkway with hands above head holding a 2x6x12), but El Granto took over for me, and got it done.

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Decent progress, but still a ways to go. We have to add the cross beams, which overlap each other, so some careful math and half lap joints are in our future. Then we have to add some more fence boards. This kinda sucks. As our new pressure treated lumber is greener than a 19 year old after St. Paddy’s Day and our current fence/privacy screen has faded nicely. I know you’re going to lay into me about staining the deck. That is a ton of upkeep, and I’d like to ride the bare wood train as long as we can. I bought some Cabot deck wash, so here’s hoping I can brighten up the old bits a little, and that those new PT boards will fade quickly.

Back to the pergola. Our plan for the is to have a large open pergola like our inspiration:

This means not a lot of cross beams for shade, but what it does mean is that we are adding a fabric shade canopy.

We selected a Sunbrella sheer outdoor fabric for the canopy, Shadow Snow. It will filter out the harsh sunlight, but not block it completely. The last thing we wanted to do is remove all the beautiful natural light from our bedroom. The canopy will be loosely draped over the frame, and removable for winter. (Thinking corner grommets and hooks on the top of the pergola.)

Speaking of fabric. Our whole Sunbrella order arrived this week, and I’m super stoked.


Looks like I’ve got a hell of a lot of sewing to do! Anyone want to come help? I’ve got two machines! That or I teach El Granto. I think that’s a damn good idea actually! He’s a great hand sewer. He’s the king of sewing  motorcycle patches to his denim jacket and vest. No, not the gang variety. We’re friendly neighbourhood bikers, not Sons of Anarchy bikers.

Where was I? Busying myself with projects apparently. Looks like we’re going to have another full weekend.

P.S. It was my birthday yesterday, and my awesome husband baked me a gluten free cake. The dog was a bit jealous, but man was it good. Best. Husband. Ever.


Have a great weekend, and follow us on Instagram to see what we get up to!