Over 25,000 Satisfied Customers
Onsite and Offsite Service

What’s the Best Wood for Building a Pergola?

Creating a beautiful backyard oasis is every homeowner’s dream. One of the most popular options people turn to is a pergola. A pergola has no roof; instead, it has rafters held up by posts. Pergolas provide an eye-pleasing accent structure to any patio, garden, or uncovered deck. You won’t spend a fortune constructing a pergola and can build one quickly. There are a few things to consider before getting started. First, you’ll need to choose the wood type. Most lumber yards have a handful of popular wood types in stock and will happily order most others if needed.

Before placing an order, please ensure you have a wood type fit for your environment. Some wood types do better in harsh conditions such as high heat or humid, rainy locations. Others are better suited to coastal areas. Insects can present problems in specific regions, too. To help you make the right choice, we asked our wood experts to review the most popular types of wood perfect for pergola construction.

Tropical Hardwood

wooden pergola refinished by Teak Master

Tropical hardwood offers ideal beauty and durability for pergolas. Tropical hardwoods come in many forms, such as teak, mahogany, ipe, and rosewood, to name a few. Not only are these trees luxuriously stunning, but they’re also some of the most durable you’ll find.

We measure durability using the Janka scale to calculate a wood’s hardness. The lower the score, the softer the wood. So, ipe, with a score of 3,500, is much harder than redwood, which scores around 450, while pressure-treated yellow pine has a 690 Janka rating.

Mahogany has a 900 Janka rating, while teak measures at 1,070. Rosewood’s 2,700 Janka rating gives you even more durability.

As a result, tropical hardwood gives you the durability you won’t get from other wood types, and these high-character hardwoods leave you with a gorgeous pergola. Unfortunately, they cost as much as three times more than traditional lumber, such as pine and redwood. If you need a strong structure and have the money, we recommend finding a hardwood with the color and grain you like.

Unfortunately, tropical hardwoods are challenging to source, so they cost more. In addition, they’re only sometimes responsibly forested. We recommend you do your due diligence in finding an eco-friendly source if you must have tropical hardwood.

Caring for your tropical hardwood requires applying a sealant before you assemble your pergola. Most tropical hardwoods don’t need to be stained. Then, every year after, you would reapply the sealant for maximum protection.

Pressure-Treated Southern Yellow Pine

You’ll love the natural beauty of southern yellow pine. In addition, it’s solid and durable, with a 690 Janka score. If your pergola needs to hold up against severe weather, heat, humidity, and insects, pressure-treated southern yellow pine makes sense.

Pressure-treated pine wood provides exceptional rot and insect protection. The chemicals used to treat the pine allow it to withstand elements. Most lumber yards carry pressure-treated pine at reasonable prices, making them a good option for builders looking to stay on budget.

As the pressure-treated pine ages, it turns from its original green color into a golden brown. If you don’t stain and seal it, eventually, it turns gray. Unlike untreated wood, pressure-treated lumber must dry before you can stain and seal it because it is soaked with pressure-treating chemicals. How long it takes to dry depends on the climate. Ideally, you can stain it in a few months. You can re-stain it every four to five years to maintain its beauty.

Western Redcedar

Using western redcedar will give your pergola a pretty light amber color. A Janka rating of 350 makes it a decent choice for regions that experience extreme weather conditions. We recommend you find a premium rough-sawn cedar with tight knots, which offers more protection against decay.

One of the best features of western redcedar is its delightful fragrance. Its close, even grain, and light weight make it easy to construct, and you can sand it smoothly with minimal effort. Western redcedar also takes staining and sealing well, and applying the stain and sealant is recommended before you build your pergola.

Then, every two years, you can reapply the stain. If you sink the posts into the earth, you’ll want to treat the wood with an appropriate wood preservative to prevent decay. With the proper care, western redcedar will stay beautiful for decades.

Modified Wood

Modified wood was first developed in 1915 in Madison, Wisconsin. However, it wasn’t until 2007 that commercial production of modified wood began in the United States. Modifying wood begins with fast-growing, sustainable trees treated in various ways to enhance the wood structure.

As a result, the wood cell walls thicken, making them as strong as many tropical hardwood varieties. For example, modified radiata pine has a Janka rating of 1,618 at a fraction of the price of tropical hardwood species.

Modified wood requires the least amount of care. You don’t have to stain or seal modified wood because the modifying process leaves it highly water resistant. This quality makes it ideal for use in coastal regions or anywhere you expect wet, rainy, and humid conditions. Many manufacturers will give you a warranty of as long as 30 years, something you don’t get with other wood options.

So, if you’re searching for a sustainable option that’s durable, beautiful, and less expensive, modified wood makes perfect sense.

Get Answers to Your Pergola Questions Today

You have so many wood options available to build the perfect backyard paradise. Choosing suitable wood will help your pergola stay beautiful longer. As you shop, consider the weather, insects, heat, and humidity to ensure you get the best wood suited to your needs. You’ll enjoy your pergola for decades if you strike the right balance between price, durability, and color.

Also, consider the level of maintenance you’re willing and able to do. If you enjoy maintaining your pergola and other wood structures yourself, great. At Teak Master, we know some people don’t have the time or inclination to maintain their pergola. If this sounds like you, please contact us for all your maintenance and restoration needs.

Bring Life Back to Your Wood Investment