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4x4's for Pergola?

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Forum topic by sarah posted 01-29-2014 05:05 PM 1286 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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sarah

6 posts in 231 days


01-29-2014 05:05 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

Hey everyone,

First post.. hoping to get some advice on a pergola I want to build/replicate from THIS picture:

http://i70.photobucket.com/albums/i108/YELLOWDOGDAVE/DSC_5890_zps3eab8ee7.jpg

The guy who made this listed the materials he used:

“Materials I used were
6- Bags of Sacreete (or Quickcreete – whatever you call it) one for each upright.
6- 6×6x10’s (for the uprights)
6- 6×6x8’s for the top sections
6- 2×6x8’s for the stabilizers that go kitty corner on top of 6×6’s (for strength)
24- 3/8’s x 8” lags for laggin the top horizontal pieces to the uprights (countersunk)
24- 4” Deck screws for screwing the top pieces together horizontally before lagging them.
24 – 3” Deck screws for screwing the top 2×6 stabilizers to the 6×6’s
10- 3/8×8” eyebolts with nuts and washers for hanging the swings”

Here’s what I’m wondering- can I do this using 4×4 posts instead of 6×6’s? (And 2×4’s instead of 2×6’s)? Will this be strong enough to hold the weight of the swings?


19 replies so far

View basswood's profile

basswood

255 posts in 272 days


#1 posted 01-29-2014 05:39 PM

I would stick with 6×6 posts, The beams are best narrower than the posts and deeper too. Narrower beams can let-in by notching the posts to receive them. This allow for a secure connection between post and beam with less invasive hardware or penetrations in the tops of the beams. Countersinking lags in the tops of beams exposed to the elements invites decay and failure.

Here is a photo of the posts I notched for beam connections a few months and a photo of this odd shaped pergola:

!http://i436.photobucket.com/albums/qq88/knottree/IMG_2018.jpg!

-- http://www.basswoodmodular.com/Tri-Horse-Builder-Plans-p/thbp.htm

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basswood

255 posts in 272 days


#2 posted 01-29-2014 05:42 PM

btw, 3×8’s are available in cedar. beams gain more strength by having depth vs. width.

3×8’s may also be $3 a lineal foot cheaper than 6×6, support a similar load, and be lighter weight.

-- http://www.basswoodmodular.com/Tri-Horse-Builder-Plans-p/thbp.htm

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basswood

255 posts in 272 days


#3 posted 01-29-2014 05:43 PM

The part of the posts that run up flush with the tops of the beams is on the inside of the beams, if that makes sense.

-- http://www.basswoodmodular.com/Tri-Horse-Builder-Plans-p/thbp.htm

View reedwood's profile

reedwood

880 posts in 1328 days


#4 posted 01-29-2014 07:12 PM

Basswood nailed it.

kind of a weird design…. If everyone started swinging at the same time it could get a little bumpy – Ha!

Not crazy about the octagon – awful lot of vertical 6×6s in a small area. not sure…..hmmm. Using 4 6×6s would save you a lot of money too.

besides, if built right there’s no need for those massive 2×6 diagonal supports. They’re huge and don’t add much as far as looks go. 2×4s or 2×6s on edge like the example above might look better and give a little shade.

Are you going with the porch swings? maybe have only two facing each other and one bench could be fixed, at least they won’t crash into each other.

What do you plan to put under it? Pavers? blue stone is cool. I couldn’t help notice the concrete piled around the posts in the picture. That’s going to be a real pain to deal with if he adds a stone surface. You probably saw that too.

BTW – did you thumb thru his other photobucket pictures? He is a hunter who built a similar 6×6 post structure for his pet eagle which he seems to be using as a way to catch rabbits! The wildlife photos of the turkeys are really good too….. Great pictures.

Be sure to follow up with a project post….we’d like to see what you come up with!

-- Mark - I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.

View sarah's profile

sarah

6 posts in 231 days


#5 posted 01-29-2014 10:33 PM

Thanks for the input! The reason I prefer 4×4s is because 1) They’re a lot easier to work with 2) I can get them from Home Depot which is 1/2 mile from my house. 3) I can fit them in my van ;) It IS a weird design, looks pretty awesome, but I figured 4×4s might work because I don’t think I want 5 huge porch swings like he did – probably just some of these:

Couldn’t 4×4’s hold the weight of that?

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basswood

255 posts in 272 days


#6 posted 01-29-2014 11:04 PM

You probably don’t want 4×4’s from Home Depot. The are almost all “boxed heart” stock, meaning the pith or center of the tree is in the center of the 4×4. This stock usually warps, twists, checks and generally behaves badly.

You want “free of heart” posts. I would not build this with 4×4’s either.

-- http://www.basswoodmodular.com/Tri-Horse-Builder-Plans-p/thbp.htm

View sarah's profile

sarah

6 posts in 231 days


#7 posted 01-29-2014 11:24 PM

Wow, first post and I’m already learning! Alright, alright, I’ll take your advice and find some 6×6’s. Lol. Thanks!!!

View PRGDesigns's profile

PRGDesigns

207 posts in 965 days


#8 posted 01-30-2014 04:09 AM

One of the things we incorporated into our pergola was building up the posts with 2x material rather than solid posts. We did this for a couple of reasons; we didn’t want to have the “boxed heart” effect so aptly illustrated by “basswood” above, and we wanted to be able to run electrical inside the post for lights, etc. We used a Kreg Jig for the joints we could get to with it, and then plugs and screws to close it up.

You might also take a gander at Project 50515 by Kiefer, which shows how he built his posts with half dovetails.

-- They call me Mr. Silly

View LakeLover's profile

LakeLover

275 posts in 591 days


#9 posted 01-30-2014 09:06 PM

Nice pergola.

Now don’t put the posts in concrete. They will rot.

Fill with gravel and tamp.

If it were be, I would get it built with 2×4 bracing on the up rights, then tamp the posts. If you don’t get them perfectly measured and plumb. You will tear your hair out.

What kind of wood ?

View sarah's profile

sarah

6 posts in 231 days


#10 posted 02-01-2014 05:27 AM

Was going to use some douglas fir 4×4x8 pressure treated. Thanks for the tip about the concrete. Here’s what I’m thinking. I don’t need this to be a huge project. Something simple, so I don’t want to mess around with hefty 6×6s.

No concrete- something like this:

[IMG]http://i60.tinypic.com/akihki.jpg[/IMG]

Here’s a simple sketchup:

[IMG]http://i59.tinypic.com/2q8rfk0.jpg[/IMG]

and

[IMG]http://i60.tinypic.com/14aiyd5.jpg[/IMG]

View LakeLover's profile

LakeLover

275 posts in 591 days


#11 posted 02-01-2014 01:27 PM

Those ground spikes should help alot.

If you use PT make sure you seal every cut. If not you are just throwing $$$ out.

Just a thought. The end surface of a 4×4 AKA 3.5×3.5 is not that large. The 2×4 s if not pre drilled will split. You may consider some sort of Simpson bracket. Better yet some type of wooden angles elements to add some meat to attach thing to.

Not a lot of Racking resistance in that design.

View dhazelton's profile

dhazelton

1185 posts in 948 days


#12 posted 02-01-2014 02:06 PM

You can also get 4X6s. Cheaper and easier to work with (Lowes should have them). On the beams that hold up the seats just keep the 6 inch side oriented up/down.

View sarah's profile

sarah

6 posts in 231 days


#13 posted 02-01-2014 02:57 PM

4×6s….........I may try that. But, then I couldn’t use the ground stakes. Any recs on alternatives to that??

View firefighterontheside's profile

firefighterontheside

4271 posts in 508 days


#14 posted 02-01-2014 04:52 PM

Where are you located? The last pergola I built I used 6 by 6 eastern red cedar posts. When I built a roof over my deck I had eastern red cedar posts cut that measure 4 1/2 by 4 1/2. These look great and were just the right size. Not too big, not too small. Of course you need a local source. If you have that source, you can get all of your materials of eastern cedar. I paid less than $100 for 6 post 8’ long. Just a thought.

-- Bill M. I love my job as a firefighter, but nothing gives me the satisfaction of running my hand over a project that I have built and just finished sanding.

View dhazelton's profile

dhazelton

1185 posts in 948 days


#15 posted 02-01-2014 08:19 PM

I don’t know what the stakes are – those things that people use for mailboxes? You might be able to bend two opposite sides of those outward, so the 4X6 fits on top of it. Personally I think your posts need to go in the ground if people will ‘swing’ on this. You’re just making extra hinge points that may fail if the post is just nailed to one of those pointy stakes. Look in the galv. plate section of the home center and pick up a booklet from Simpson Strong Ties. They probably have some good ideas. Or browse here:

http://www.strongtie.com/products/connectors/index.asp#

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