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There is widespread misuse of the word "pergola". We are often called to quote for a pergola, when the Client really wants a verandah.

The distinction between the two is very important, as they have specific meanings under the Building Act, with different regulations applicable.
It is also possible to have a combination verandah/pergola.

An alfresco or outdoor room is a more substantial or robust looking verandah, and is often an integrated part of a home's fabric, with 1 or 2 walls missing.

A pergola will be built where exposure to, or partial control of, the weather is desirable. It may also be built where weather exposure does not impact it's use. For example an architectural device to improve a facade, garden arbour, or to add definition to a transitory space.

On the other hand, verandahs are used in situations requiring weather protection.

Pergola or verandah?

Verandah: roofed structure, attached to the home, open sided

Pergola: unroofed structure, that may be free standing, & may have an open covering on top
Pergolas & verandahs are post & beam structures, and are required to comply with the requirements of:
Posts:

Posts of minimum size 115x115 are preferred, even though in most applications, 90x90 would be suitable. This gives the structure a more robust appearance. We embed our posts into the footing and apply a bitumen rubber protective coating to the embedded section. Embedding the posts into deep footings does away with the requirement for cross-bracing, provided certain criteria are met.

We use remanufactured finger-jointed, laminated, H4 treated pine posts for most of our balcony, verandah, pergola, carport & gazebo projects. These are expensive, but the best performing posts available. Defects under long term performance such as twisting, bowing or splitting are minimal, if any. The smooth finish is ideal for painting, or can be stained for a natural timber colour, to say match a deck.

Remanufactured merbau posts are a good choice where the design requires it, provided the in-ground section is suitably treated.

Framing:

For framing requiring a painted finish, we use remanufactured pre-primed finger-jointed, laminated H3 LOSP treated pine. This enables greater accuracy in work, compared with the commonly used laser-cut treated pine. Its smooth, pre-primed finish provides for a superior end finish.

For framing to be stained a natural timber colour, we mostly use Monterey Cypress (cupressus macrocarpa) a timber sourced from redundant farm trees. This timber is superior to the common cypress pine (callitris glaucophylla) used as framing.

Other options, where superior finish & performance are required, are available such as laminated kiln-dried cypress pine or merbau.

Roof Covering:

Tiles are not often selected, except where it is the most appropriate material to match a homes style, for example an edwardian home.

Colorbond sheet roofing is appropriate for the traditional Australian verandah, where escape from our harsh climate is a priority. Care has to be taken to avoid the effects of radiant heat.

Polycarbonate corrugated sheeting (Laserlite etc.) is used where access to natural light is important, & comes in different grades with improving thermal performance the higher the grade (& cost).

Multicell polycarbonate sheeting (Makrolon etc.) is the top of the range product. It is a flat sheet, set into aluminium channels with seals. It avoids the "dark stripe" effect of overlapping corrugated sheeting, & the panel module is coordinated with the roof framing to produce a streamlined, modern look. It has excellent thermal performance, but the system comes at a very high price.
A verandah has to be designed to resist the impact of wind uplift forces, so the footings are more substantial than for decks. A pergola that may have a roof added in the future has to be designed as if it was a verandah.

The span tables in AS1684.2, or a publication such as "Carports & Pergolas Design & Construction Manual" enable the sizing & layout of the framing to be determined. Note that carports & verandahs are structurally the same.

Pergola & verandah construction

   Building Code of Australia

   AS1684.2 Residential timber-framed construction

   Guide to Standards & Tolerances (VBA)
Contact Rob Eadie:
rob@outsidestructures.com.au
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0402 908 562
Modern pergola design
Features blade post pairs & ss tensioned wire in the roof plane to grow vines

Completes the spatial definition of the alfresco area deck
Modern pergola with blade post pairs, on alfresco deck with wide steps

Pergola, verandah pictures & project info

Modern pergola design
Detail showing tensioned ss cables in the roof plane & end privacy screen

Pergola & deck links laundry to the alfresco area & garden on a sloped site
Modern pergola design with tensioned ss cables for vines
Pergola used to soften harsh sunlight on north/west facing glazed walls & patio

Bedroom balcony deck with view to golf course
Sunscreen pergola
Sunscreen pergola softens harsh sunlight to glazed walls & patio
Sunshade pergola
Battened sunshade pergola controls sun angle, screening out summer sun
Designed to screen out summer sun, & permit winter sun to enter home.

Batten size, spacing & width of screen controls sun angle entry
Spa deck verandah
Provides covered outdoor area adjacent & over spa deck

Features rendered walls, ss wire balustrading, merbau handrails
Spa deck & verandah features rendered walls, ss wire balustrading, merbau handrails
Opposite view to previous slide, with stair down to garden
Spa deck verandah
Spa deck & verandah with stair down to garden
Balcony verandah
Verandah with timber ceiling built over existing balcony

Features robust style to suit existing home designed by Alistair Knox
Verandah over balcony features robust structure & timber ceiling
Laserlite 3000 roof sheeting with polycarbonate gable end panels in aluminium glazing channels           

Merbau deck with bench seating to BBQ
Gable verandah
Gable laserlite verandah, merbau deck with bench seating to BBQ
Verandah & deck extension designed to blend in with sprawling colonial style home. Decorative features & double posts match existing
Colonial style verandah
Colonial style verandah extension to blend with sprawling colonial home
Interior view of previous slide

Shows pre-primed LOSP framing & the complex geometry of intersecting gables
Colonial style verandah
Interior view colonial style verandah shows complex geometry of intersecting gables
Modern verandah design
Features special post/beam stirrups & blade post pairs

Deck with bench storage seats & rendered walls
Modern verandah design with feature stirrups & double blade posts
Elevated verandah
Elevated balcony deck with gable verandah
Replaces a deck in a bad state of repair, changing the orientation to take advantage of the view, & providing valuable outdoor entertaining with direct access to home's living room.
A new skillion verandah built to provide shelter over an existing deck.

Contemporary style achieved using the "Sunglaze" roofing system.
Contemporary style verandah utilizing sleek lines of the Sunglaze system
Sunglaze verandah
A new skillion verandah provides shelter over an existing elevated deck.

A section of the roof in polycarbonate to allow light into home's windows
High skillion verandah
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Where a pergola forms part of a leisure area, it will be located to take advantage of mild weather, & may have deciduous vines to provide summer shade.

These starting ideas may also apply to verandah design, but as verandahs provide protection from the weather, it is less likely to be about transition space and more about providing for all-weather outdoor leisure & entertaining, often as an extension to an indoor living area.

The forms & styles of pergolas & verandahs are many & varied, but these will be refined & eliminated as the design develops from the starting idea(s) through to the final design.

Pergola "roofs" are usually horizontal, but occasionally gable style. Roofs for verandahs & similar structures may be one, or a combination of:
   Skillion - flat, with a min. fall of 2°

   Gable - triangular, with vertical ends

   Hipped - triangular,  sloping (hip) ends

   Dutch gable - hipped end with feature gable
The influences on design development are the same as, or similar to those  listed in our Deck Projects page.

The pictures & information in our pergola & verandah project gallery above demonstrate our capability to produce unique solutions crafted to complement your home & outdoor living requirements.

More......

See our Design Plans page for ideas and plans to provide inspiration for your new pergola or verandah.
Pergola design often starts with one or more of these ideas:

Pergola & verandah design

   Creation of an indoor/outdoor transition space

   To soften or enliven a bland elevation

   To add spatial definition to a leisure area, eg. deck, patio, special garden place, or to a connecting space

   A means to control sunlight into the home, or a favourite part of the outdoors

Unique pergola & verandah solutions crafted to complement your home & outdoor lifestyle