Answers to Commonly Asked Questions About Pergolas for Your Backyard

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Pergolas can be a great choice for any residential backyard, as they offer a bit of shade and can also "anchor" a space, providing a nice backdrop for outdoor furniture. If you need some type of shade on your patio area, or want to add an extra seating area in the backyard and need something over it, a pergola can be the best choice. Note a few questions you might have about these structures so you can discuss your options with a pergola builder or contractor, and determine the right type for your home.

What if you don't want slats for ceilings?

The common design for pergolas includes slats or boards for the ceiling, placed a bit apart from one another, so you still get sunshine through those gaps. However, you have many options for modifying this design; today's pergolas can be built with a solid ceiling, or you can have the slats placed very close together, so only a small bit of light gets through.

There are also motorized ceilings that rotate and close the slats, just like slats to blinds. This allows for maximum light control; you can close the slats completely for a solid ceiling, or open them completely for lots of sunshine. Don't assume you're simply "stuck" with one design, but ask pergola builders about your options or look for a pergola kit that best suits your needs.

Can you hang things from the ceiling?

The open slats of pergola ceilings offer some space for looping cords and attaching hooks. While this can make the pergola space more attractive, you want to be careful of bolting hooks and heavy items into lightweight wood, or attaching electrical cords to a metal pergola. It might be best to choose a kit that has electrical connections or overhead lighting already attached, or ask a contractor the best way to attach hooks to the body of the pergola, just to be safe.

Do they always have an Asian look and design?

Pergolas often have curved ends on the ceiling slats, which give them a very distinct Asian design. If this is not to your taste, you can buy a kit with flat ceiling slats that are more modern and simple, and not so distinctly Asian. There are even pergolas made with glass ceiling slats, which have a very clean and modern look. A contractor can also make ceiling slats from plain wood and shape the ceiling in any way you wish, including pointed ends, or with ends that are flush to the body of the pergola itself.

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