Is Fixing an Old Wooden Pergola Worth It?

Wood deck railingLike with all things we often wonder whether to fix or toss, wooden pergolas put us in this dilemma too. There comes a time when we realize that we should have been more attentive to this gorgeous structure that decorates our backyard and now that it’s dirty, stained, or even sagging – clear evidence that it’s seen better days, we wonder whether to keep or toss it.

There are some things we may know – or not, but they are true. The once-upon-a-time beautiful wooden pergola construction was meant to last for years but this needs some pushing from our side. That’s because pergolas, like wooden decks, sheds, fences, and all other outdoor structures are exposed to the rain, sunlight, winds, and all elements year after year. Wear comes and sets in, whether we like it or not.

How to avoid wooden pergola wear

To battle time and all the bad things that come along with it, we need to maintain the wood pergola. What’s the best way to do that? By inspecting and cleaning it every spring. By fixing minor problems. By keeping it stained or painting it every few years or when we consider it necessary. Besides, your pergola may be constructed with cedar, ipe, composite, or any other material. Not all materials have the same strengths and properties. Plus, such properties are also subject to the local climate. And so, a cedar pergola that would wear in seven years in one area may take 12 years in a different climate. To protect it, you need to seal the pergola and make sure the material is waterproof and thus, resistant.

How to restore the good looks of the wood pergola

pergolaIf you haven’t done all the above or move into a house where an old wooden pergola stands and looks you in the eye begging for some attention, you need to check its structural integrity before you take any other decision. For this reason, you may need to consult with a local pergola contractor. Structural damage will likely hide some safety hazards. And when it comes to that, you need to ask the contractor if the problem can be fixed or if the pergola must go.

Sometimes, there are solutions to even serious problems. But if the pergola repair solutions cost as much as a new pergola, why bother with repairs?

On the other hand, restoring the good looks of an old pergola may happen. What’s usually needed?

  • A thorough inspection of the wooden pergola to see if there’s apparent damage or some parts that must be fixed.
  • If the pergola is dirty or the existing paint is peeling off, you need to remove everything. If the paint has cracked, scrub and remove it along with splinters and debris.
  • Sand the pergola but do it gently so that the lumber won’t be harmed but the surface will be smoothened.
  • See if there’s mildew or stains of any kind, and remove them.
  • Wash the pergola with water and maybe some soap and let it dry well.
  • Once the pergola is dry, paint it and then apply a sealant that will make the material resistant to water.

That’s the method to follow to breathe new life into your old pergola. If there’s a roof placed over the pergola – anything from fiberglass to metal, remove it if it’s old. At the very least, check to see if there’s moisture at the points attaching to the beams.

Or, is it time to say goodbye to the old pergola?

If the pergola is attached to the house, you need to make sure that some damage hasn’t affected the building or the gutters. If so, this problem must be fixed. But if you have to pay an exorbitant price to fix both the gutter and the pergola, you may as well see if the price is close to the pergola building.

Sometimes, repairs are too expensive, making the restoration of an old pergola not worthy of the expense. In other cases, the damage is severe and there’s no bringing the pergola back to its original state – not even close. That’s usually the case with insect infestation and structural damage. If one of these cases is your case, it’s best not to bother with repairs and just get a new pergola.