What is an arbor? How is it different from a pergola? Which one is right for me? If any of these questions sound familiar, you are not alone; many people believe they are one and the same and that if you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all. This couldn’t be further from the truth, as not only does style vary from one pergola and arbor contractor to the next, here at Sullivent Services we have at least 5 different styles to choose from ourselves!

Pergola

       At Sullivent Services we simply refer to an arbor as a structure, sometimes built in a garden, which is designed to have some type of vine or other growing plant using it as a growing substrate. Pergolas are similar structures which are usually built over a deck or patio to provide shade (we even have a rainproof pergola) to a sitting or dining area.

A couple of important things to consider about pergolas and arbors include:

  • What type of materials should be used?
  • What size of materials and style will look good at my house?
  • How much shade do I want?
  • To stain or not to stain?
  • Do I want a rain proofing material installed?

       There is quite a lot of technical information in these questions and it would take a multi-page report to spell it all out so I will just hit a few highlights, but feel free to contact us for a design consultation if you have additional questions.

       The first question in our climate is almost always cedar or treated? While these are the most popular species used in the Houston area to build pergolas and arbors there are other options some of them even more exquisite than cedar, like the Brazilian hardwood Ipe for example. Our approach is not to recommend one over the other as much as it is to give the pros and cons of each allowing our clients can make the right choice for themselves.

  • Ipe and other hardwoods are beautiful, relatively easy to maintain, and very resistant to rot or insect infestation but are among the most expensive pergola options available!
  • Cedar is a beautiful species of wood which has a very pleasant odor and doesn’t taste good to most wood eating insects, making it naturally resistant to them. This material makes great pergolas but the material does eventually rot over time with the most prone areas (usually the base of the posts) seeing rot within 8-12 years.
  • Treated southern pine has an excellent warranty against rot and insect infestation (20 years to lifetime depending on the manufacturer) but has less texture and character than cedar and is less stable.

Pergola

       Both cedar and treated pine have the tendency (like all wood installed outdoors) to turn grey, crack, warp, check and twist over time; but treated pine is more susceptible to this kind of weathering than cedar. Many contractors shy away from treated pine for this last reason but this is not necessary. Using processes that are the result of over 20 years of experience handling treated lumber in this area; our expert crews of specialized technicians can limit these characteristics drastically.

       The sizes of the members of any structure are mostly controlled by the spans (distances) between the supports; but the desired style affects the size almost as much. From the beefy Tuscan look of 3x12’s to the simple look of smooth 2x8’s the options are many so the best approach is a consultation with someone who can guide you.

       Spacing of the shade producing pickets is an issue that often does not get discussed by contractors and potential clients interested in arbors or pergolas but is one of the main variables not only in function of the cover but also in the price of the cover. Our default spacing for example is 3” on center but we have seen competitors bid projects recommending 6” on center. So what is the big deal, 3” isn’t that much right? Wrong! At 3” on center a pergola will have about 50% shade at noon, at 6” on center the same pergola will have only 25% shade, half as much!

       Most manufacturers and contractors who know outdoor lumber recommend staining. But why should I stain my pergola or arbor? The answer is simple: properly staining the lumber protects it from the elements and extends the beauty and life of the material stained. The same problem arises in the analysis of what is best viagra or cialis. Staining is not required but unstained lumber used outdoors will dry out and be baked by the sun and the air intensifying cracking, twisting, and warping that is a natural part of wood. At Sullivent Services we believe that our structures will endure more than 20 years and an investment in your home like a pergola or arbor addition built by our experienced craftsmen is worth protecting.

       Many of our potential customers are surprised to learn that a pergola can allow light to penetrate to their deck or patio but not moisture like rain. Our crews have successfully installed pergolas as patio covers all over the area that look rustic and natural, but allow homeowners to enjoy their time on the patio without the worry of getting drenched by an afternoon shower popping up on them.

       It is easy to see from these few examples that there is a lot more that goes into the decision to build a pergola or arbor than where to put it or how big to build it. An effective patio cover style pergola or even a garden arbor that will endure the elements should be well thought out; so call the professional consultants at Sullivent Services today and allow us to help you realize you pergola or arbor dreams and desires.

Contact us today for your free consultation.

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