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Expert Maintenance Tips for Your Outdoor Wooden Pergola

Adding a wooden pergola to your property enhances the outdoor space, turning a simple lawn or patio into a backyard oasis. The type of wood you choose can also add charm. Tropical hardwoods such as Teak or Mahogany provide visual appeal and long-lasting durability. Western Red Cedar has a similarly pleasing look with its magnificent scent. When properly finished, even pressure-treated Southern Yellow Pine will give you a gorgeous pergola.

No matter the wood, you’ll have a pleasant area to sit and relax in or entertain friends and family. However, wooden structures such as pergolas aren’t maintenance-free. You must diligently care for them to ensure their beauty and durability for years to come. To help, we asked our maintenance experts at Teak Master to provide some helpful tips for looking after your wooden pergola.

Trim Your Foliage

wooden pergola refinished by Teak Master

Pergolas make great additions to gardens. Adorning them with vines and climbing flowers and surrounding them with shrubs will further enhance your outdoor oasis. Keeping these growing features trimmed will help maintain the overall beauty of the space while keeping unnecessary weight off the structure, which will prolong your pergola’s life.

We recommend pruning vines twice yearly to keep them controlled. And with bushes, trees, and other growing features surrounding your pergola, we suggest you trim them to direct growth away from it. Keeping at least one foot of space between bushes and your pergola will help protect the wood and give you access to clean and maintain the wood.

It would help if you also trimmed taller trees around your pergola. Larger limbs can damage it if they come down in a storm, so make an effort to keep them in check.

Tighten Fasteners

Pergola construction involves more fasteners such as nuts and bolts than nails. Wind and settling can loosen the fasteners over time, so it’s a good idea to check and tighten them at least twice a year, particularly after storms. Ignoring loose fasteners weakens the structure and could lead to damage during the next storm.

Repair Chips and Cracks

Chips and cracks can occur no matter how diligent you are in caring for your pergola. When you find any, you should assess their severity. Chips in wood won’t necessarily weaken the structure unless they happen at a fastener.

On the other hand, cracks might compromise the strength of a beam and could require replacement. At a minimum, you should use a flexible wood filler color-matched to your stain or wood to repair chips and cracks. If you’re uncertain how to proceed, contact a professional to inspect and restore your pergola.

Staining and Sealing Your Pergola

Staining your wooden pergola would help protect it from the elements. However, the type of stain you use depends on the wood you have and the color you want. One of the most popular woods, Western Red Cedar, takes to staining well. It sands smooth with little effort, and staining enhances its close, even grain for a beautiful finish.

Pressure-treated Southern Yellow Pine is another popular choice for its durability, price, and beauty when stained. On the other hand, tropical hardwoods such as Ipe, Rosewood, and Teak rarely need staining. However, we recommend sealing these woods to help protect against the elements. It would be best to seal any wood you use on your pergola.

When to Stain and Seal

If possible, you should stain and seal the wood before you assemble your pergola. It’s easier and less messy. Unfortunately, pressure-treated wood has to dry before you can stain it because it’s saturated with the chemical liquid that protects it. Drying can take as little as three months but could take longer in wet, humid climates. Depending on the wood, you must re-stain and re-seal every two to four years.

Refinishing Your Pergola

Customers often ask us when they should refinish their pergolas. The answer depends on how well you take care of it. All woods weather over time, even the most well-maintained, and some weather faster than others. For example, softer timbers such as Western Red Cedar and Redwood weather faster than harder woods such as Mahogany and Ipe.

So, softer woods might need refinishing in 10-12 years if maintained properly. If neglected, you might need refinishing in as little as five years. Harder woods will last up to 20 years when cared for properly.

We always tell our clients that you probably need refinishing if your wood doesn’t have its old luster after staining and sealing.

Cleaning Your Pergola

Part of pergola maintenance requires you to clean it periodically. Here are some helpful cleaning tips.

Wash Your Pergola

As with any structure exposed to the elements, dirt, pollen, and debris can build up over time. Often, these substances can lead to mold or mildew forming, damaging your pergola. A simple hosing down of your pergola will remove this build-up.

We don’t recommend using a high-pressure hose, as this can scar the wood. Instead, a simple garden hose and a nozzle attachment with several spray patterns will clean those hard-to-reach spots. We suggest spraying your pergola twice a year to keep it looking new.

Remove Mold, Mildew, and Stains

Sometimes, mold and mildew develop, mainly if you live in an area with lots of rain or humidity. If your pergola does develop mold or mildew, you can remove it quickly. Mix one cup of bleach with one gallon of water and gently scrub the area with a soft brush. We don’t recommend you use a stiff or wire brush as these can scratch and scar the wood.

Find Wooden Pergola Maintenance Help In Los Angeles

We hope you found these maintenance tips helpful and contribute to more enjoyment of your backyard oasis. Remember to trim the foliage, tighten your fasteners, repair the wood as necessary, and, above all else, stain and seal your wood. And don’t forget to clean your pergola periodically to keep it looking fresh and new.

At Teak Master, we know that not everyone has the time or the inclination to do all the necessary maintenance. If this sounds like you or you want some help with a pergola restoration project, free to contact us for help. One of our friendly, professional restoration experts will inspect your pergola and answer any questions you may have.

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