Wood Arbors, Pergolas, Patio Covers & Trellises
Looking for a beautiful, affordable wood arbor, dining pergola, patio cover, gazebo or garden trellis? I design and build custom wood arbors to reflect the architectural style of your home, whether you have a Spanish bungalow, Craftsman home, Mission style hacienda or Mediterranean villa.
I focus on building structures that are not only beautiful, but excellent value for the money and built to last. The right craftsmanship, building techniques and materials make all the difference in whether your arbor or pergola will last 5, 10 or 15 years.
That is one of the reasons why I do all the work myself, so I can control the quality of construction and you don't have to deal with crews of workmen you have never met. My clients also hate having construction start and stop and stretch out for weeks, so I build for one homeowner at a time and stay on your project until it is done - usually completing most projects in one to three weeks. And I create a singular design for each client which reflects the unique look and feel of your home and garden.
Below is my portfolio of arbor photos, as well as pricing for wood arbors in the Los Angeles area and a detailed arbor design guide. I hope these will help you find the right builder and design an arbor you will enjoy for years to come.
Portfolio of Wood Arbors, Pergolas, Patio Covers & Trellises
My online portfolio features photos of my work so you can get an idea of the styles and types of wood arbors, pergolas, patio covers and trellises I can build. To see more details about a project, just click on a photo.
As a first step, I recommend that you look at lots of different arbors and pergolas to discover what you do and don't like. You can mix and match design ideas and functionality to create the overhead structure. So take a look at the photos below and online. If you see what you want (or something close), we can use that as a starting point for a client inspired design. For even more design ideas, check out the resources below. Then read over my design guide to get a really good idea of what you want, and the budget you want to spend.
When you are ready to get started, contact me and we can set up an appointment to tour your location, discuss design options and establish a budget, so I can give you a detailed estimate.
Spanish & Mission Style Pergolas, Patio Covers & Trellises
Spanish Bungalow Dining Pergola Mission Fence & Trellis with Arbor
Mission Style Dining Pergola Mangaris™ & Redwood Arbor, Deck, Benches
Spanish Bungalow Lattice Patio Cover
Craftsman Style Arbors
Craftsman Wood Dining Arbor Garden Entertaining Arbor
Contemporary Patio Covers & Arbors
Patio Cover with Lattice Contemporary Style Pool Pergola
Open Lattice Patio Cover Redwood Arbor with Deck
Classical, Ranch & Other Styles of Arbors, Pergolas & Trellises
Architectural Trellis Hawaiian Wood Arbor Modern Grape Arbor
Wood Pergola & Breezeway Architectural Wood Trellis
Arbor over Tennis Court Gate Redwood Arbor over Backyard Deck
Prices For Custom Wood Arbors, Pergolas & Patio Covers
The prices below are for well built wood arbors that look good and last for years. Unfortunately, not all wood arbors are built well, and it can be difficult for a layman to tell the difference between a well built arbor and one that will start leaning in a few years. Good quality material and hardware, combined with superior building skills, make all the difference.
The cost depends on the type of arbor, pergola, patio cover or trellis you are looking for: basic, custom or high end.
- A basic arbor or pergola is a simple wood structure and runs $2,000 to $4,000. For this type of structure you want to find a basic arbor builder, so please see my related links.
- A custom arbor or patio cover costs from $5,000 to $10,000 based on complexity, overall size, height, beam size and wood type.
- A high end arbor or pergola reflects an investment in your home and can cost from $10,000 to $20,000+.
If you are purchasing a pre-made arbor, gazebo or trellis, remember to include the cost of on-site installation in your budget. You can also read about comparing estimates for more information.
Design Guide for Arbors, Pergolas & Patio Covers
This design guide provides information on how to create a great arbor or patio cover design which reflects the architectural look of your home and meets your functionality needs and budget.
Types of Structures
There are several types of structures you can have built, and what they are called depends on how you will use them:
- an arbor is an open beamed structure set in a garden and is designed to support plants
- a pergola is traditionally a covered walkway but also refers to an open beamed structure used for dining and entertaining
- a patio cover is a temporary or permanent covering placed over an existing raised platform, patio area or concrete pad
- a gazebo is usually a structure used for shelter and viewing the garden
- a pavilion is a roofed, outdoor room with open sides
Design Elements For Wood Arbors, Pergolas & Patio Covers
The style of your arbor, pergola or patio cover is created with design and construction components. By changing these key design elements and details, you can create a specific style or a totally unique design:
- post size (4 x 4, 6 x 6 or round columns)
- cross beam and rafter size
- joinery techniques (decorative pegs, notched or interlocking beams)
- overhead pattern and complexity (1,2,3+ tiers of beams, corbels and rafters)
- finishing touches (decorative end beam cuts)
- wood texture, color and finish
- decorative metalwork
- night time and accent lighting
Harmonizing Your Arbor With Your Home & Garden
Your arbor, pergola or patio cover should harmonize with the style of your home and garden:
- a formal structure for a formal garden
- a classic design for a classically laid out garden
- a flowing design for a garden with swept paths and flowing planting borders
If your home has a distinctive architectural or artistic style, you may want to have your arbor, pergola or patio cover match it.
- Craftsman & Greene and Greene Arbors ~ Start with smooth planed wood beams and posts. Add in simple yet strongly defined joinery. Add in "japanese" style joinery and decorative pegs for a Greene & Greene look. Embellish with latticed accents, trellises, craftsman style lighting fixtures and copper accents for this style.
- Mission & Spanish Arbors ~ Use large, heavy beams, corbels and decorative beam end cuts to create this look. Then add rough metal work and period lighting to complete it.
- Modern & Asian Arbors ~ Create a sleek design that echoes the elegance and simplicity of these styles. Accent with minimalist or traditional Asian lighting fixtures for nighttime use and garden viewing.
- Medieval, Tudor & Mediterranean Arbors ~ Start with heavy beams and posts and assemble them using simple period joinery. Use carved accents, decorative metalwork and candle lanterns for finish accents. Stain or paint a dark color.
In addition, the overall dimensions should also fit with the proportions of your garden, home and other outdoor structures. If your arbor is intended to support plants, the size and proportions should be appropriate and provide enough strength for the size, weight and density of the plant. For example, wisteria (a common Southern California arbor vine) requires a much more substantial structure over its lifetime, than does a climbing rose.
The final color should compliment the colors used in your landscaping. If you want to blend into the landscaping, the natural color of the wood or browns and greens work well. If you want the structure to stand out or highlight nearby plants, strong colors like white or black can be used.
Design Criteria & Location Considerations
- Use ~ The first step is to determine all the ways you plan to use the structure. That will help determine design requirements and the right type of structure to build. Arbors are typically associated with growing and supporting plants. Pavilions are roofed, open rooms. Pergolas are a blend of the two and create semi open roofed spaces for entertaining. Whichever structure is appropriate, design issues will include:
- roof support strength (heavier plants require larger beams)
- ceiling patterns (open beam, patterned, lattice or trellis)
- decorative rafter cuts
- number and height of tiers (multiple levels of overhead beams and rafters)
- built-in activity features (benches, storage, fire pits, and barbecues)
- utilities (electricity for lights for night time reading or entertaining, outlets for stereo and appliances, gas for overhead heaters, and water for overhead misters)
- Size & Shape ~ The minimum size will be determined by the activities and furniture you want under it (or nearby). The design will also be influenced by the need to keep it in proportion to the size and spaciousness of the surrounding structures and garden. The shape can be customized to fit and compliment natural features in your garden, such as wrapping around or enclosing a tree, reflecting the curve of a stream or conforming to a rock formation.
- Access ~ Pathways and gates should be designed to provide convenient access to and from the structure, house, garden and other key areas, such as the driveway, pool or tennis court.
- View ~ Determine the garden and house views you want, and if any views need to screened off for privacy. Framed openings can be created to enhance viewing of special garden features like ponds, herb gardens, or sundials.
- Sunlight ~ The amount of sunlight and heat exposure can be a factor in orienting the structure and its roof design. Consider where furniture should be placed to catch the sunlight or shade. Also consider if you want to install temporary overhead shading during the summer months or shelter during the winter months if your foliage (such as grape leaves) is not abundant enough.
- Water ~ Excessive moisture (from sprinklers and deep shade) can lead to premature aging, musty smells and structural damage from rot. The structure should be designed to shed rain and dew readily and dry out thoroughly, especially if it will be covered by vines or plants. Good drainage away from the area is also required.
- Wind ~ In areas with high winds or gusts, you may want to create an area protected from the wind. Strong or regular winds may require a more substantial design to handle the force or building it in a more protected area.
Wood, Hardware & Design Options For Arbors & Pergolas
- Materials ~ Your arbor, pergola or pavilion can be built of Redwood, Mangaris™ (Red Balau) or other woods. More expensive woods can be used for joint accents, decorative pegs and trim. The substructure framing should be built of pressure treated wood for durability. See below for details.
- Finishes ~ Heat and light contribute to weathering, so a UV protection finish is very important. If it will eventually be covered with hard to remove plants, applying a thorough coating is critical. Stains (clear, tinted, or solid) and paint are popular finish choices.
- Custom Touches ~ Post feet can be boxed with decorative trim. Decorative beam end cuts can echo those used on the house. Post caps and finials can match those used on fences, gates and other structures. Access panels for utilities can be inset or trimmed with molding. Beams and rafters can be notched and stacked in tiers for additional strength and visual interest.
- Built-ins ~ Consider how built-in features can enhance your usage. Benches (with built in storage) can be added and fireplaces can add romance and warmth to increase usage during the evenings and winter months.
- Metalwork ~ Blackened, wrought iron or copper post braces, lanterns and accents can add style, strength and functionality.
- Lighting ~ The placement and type of lighting can evoke both a style and a mood. Lanterns hung from ceiling beams, side mounted sconces, track or spot lighting or a central chandelier all create an immediate sense of style. Low mood lighting can softly illuminate pathways and steps as well as create a romantic atmosphere.
Selecting The Right Wood For Your Arbor or Pergola
To make sure you are delighted with your custom arbor, pergola, patio cover or trellis -- you want to choose the right building material. In Los Angeles, the popular wood (and composite) choices allow you to make tradeoffs in terms of cost, quality, color, visual appearance, ease of maintenance and the ability to resist the elements (water, sun and pests).
You need to select materials for ...
- the framing (posts and cross pieces) used to support the weight of the your arbor
- the wood used for roofing, trim and accents
Wood For Framing & Substructures
The first type of wood to choose is for your framing -- the structure that holds your arbor upright and to which you attach the beams, lattice and roofing.
- Pressure Treated Wood ~ For hidden framing, I only use pressure treated lumber (see photo). This wood is treated with a variety of chemicals to make it resistant to termites and rot. In the last few years, a major change has been made to the preservatives used -- they are safer for the environment but less effective.
- Redwood ~ For visible framing, such as arbor posts and cross beams you can upgrade to redwood for a better appearance.
Wood Choices For Arbors, Pergolas, Patio Covers and Trellises
There are two choices for these larger structures. Based on your needs and budget, I can also build out of other woods.
- Redwood ~ A distinctive pink/red colored wood which ages to gray. The red heartwood is naturally resistant to damage from termites and moisture. Any white part of a redwood board, known as sapwood, has little resistance to termites and rot. I use Construction Grade Heart Redwood, commonly known as Con Heart (see photo), which has no sapwood and some knots. For a beautiful and durable structure, this is your most cost effective choice. I can also use more expensive grades of redwood, if your budget permits.
- Mangaris™ (Red Balau) ~ A dense grained, reddish-brown hardwood (see photo) from Indonesia/Thailand that ages to a silver gray like Teak. It stains up like Mahogany and is more durable than Redwood. For a high end structure of exceptional durability and striking looks, consider Mangaris. See the rich color of the unstained wood (see photo).
Related Links and Resources
I specialize in creating client inspired designs. So if you see what you want (or something close), we can use that as a starting point for your design.
If you need ideas and inspiration, check out these resources, clip magazine pictures, look through your vacation photos and keep an eye out for what you like in the neighborhood.
Here are a few books I recommend.
I also recommend checking out these online resources for more ideas.
Out of Area Builders
Unfortunately, since I build everything on site, I can not build and ship you an arbor or pergola.
If you live outside of the Los Angeles area and want to find a beautiful pre-made arbor or local builder, check out these online sites:
Supplier of pre-made arbors, pergolas, trellises and other outdoor structures. Their site features over 80 photos of the products they sell.
- Artistic Decks & Arbors of Dallas TX
This company builds custom decks, arbors, patio covers, fences and gates and their site features over 100+ photos of their work.
- Elyira Fence Company of Northern Ohio
This firm builds custom arbors, fences, gates and decks in Ohio and their work is featured in the Trellises & Arbors book. Their site features over 40 photos of their work.
- Trellis Structures of Boston, MA
This company manufactures pre-made arbors, trellises, pergolas, garden furniture and more -- and ships throughout the USA. Their site features over 50 photos of the products they make. (Remember to include local installation in your budget.)
- Fine House, Ltd of Virginia
A supplier of high end pre-made arbors and pergolas, as well as building plans. (Remember to add the cost of local assembly to your budget.)
Please do not copy photos and text
Last Updated: Jul 26 2012