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Frequently Asked Questions

Product Q&As  |  Ordering/Delivery Q&As  |  Assembly/Installation Q&As  |  Ask a Question

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  • Sunset Pergola Kits offer the unbeatable combination of...

    1. High Strength - All structural components have a heavy-duty (and we mean heavy-duty) aluminum frame. The aluminum frame inside the posts (columns) is .150 gauge aluminum, while the beams and rafters have either .060 gauge aluminum (2x6s) or .080 gauge aluminum (2x8s).

    2. Low Maintenance - The exterior of every piece is made of premium extruded vinyl that is as beautiful as it is durable. Anyone who has ever had both a vinyl fence and a wooden fence knows how much easier it is to clean and maintain vinyl. Our pergolas are virtually maintenance-free and are guaranteed to never chalk, pit, discolor or become brittle.

    3. Real Shade - Our pergolas aren't there just to look pretty; they're there to offer REAL shade (as you can see in this picture). Other pergolas might as well come with a bottle of sunscreen, while Sunset Pergolas are essentially lower-cost patio covers.

    We know our pergolas aren't the cheapest pergolas on the market, and we're okay with that (even proud of that). Sunset Pergola Kits are made to last a lifetime. If you're looking for a low-cost pergola that will look nice for a couple years before it starts bowing, sagging, discoloring and falling apart, you're in the wrong place (though we'll gladly welcome you back in 2-3 years when you're ready to replace the economy/value pergola you made the mistake of getting). It's very telling that almost 50% of the pergolas we sell are to people replacing a low-cost pergola (as opposed to people buying a pergola for the first time).

    Sunset Pergolas are commercial grade... premium all the way and protected by a lifetime warranty. All men and women are created equal... but the same cannot be said of vinyl or aluminum. Just because a pergola has a vinyl exterior doesn't mean it's high-quality vinyl that won't chalk, pit, discolor or chip. Just because a pergola has an aluminum frame doesn't mean it's made of high-gauge aluminum that will hold up to extreme winds, extreme heat, extreme cold and other extreme weather conditions.

    If you're going to invest in a pergola, don't go half-way. Spend a little more and get a Sunset Pergola that will not only last a lifetime but will also stay beautiful for a lifetime. Click here to see real reviews from real customers, and watch the short video below to see what sets Sunset Pergola Kits apart.

  • The dimensions of a pergola refer to the area of the pergola's roof. For example, a 16w x 12d pergola has a roof that is 16' wide (i.e. 16-foot long beams, not including the 9-12" end caps) and 12' wide (i.e. 12-foot long rafters, not including the 9-12" end caps). The posts (which hold up the roof) can be placed right in the corners (so there is no overhang) or up to 3 feet in from the corners (so there are 36-inch overhangs), as shown here. For additional information, please see our CAD drawings.

  • Our posts (columns) are 10 feet tall, which is ideal for most customers.

    If you need/want the pergola to be shorter (which is sometimes the case for attached pergolas because of where the pergola needs to attach to your home), the posts can easily be trimmed down to a shorter height.

    If you need/want taller posts, you have a couple options:

    Option #1 (preferred) - Add risers or pillars to the base so that the posts themselves are only 10’ tall. If the risers are fairly short (12” tall or less), a 12” square riser should be fine. But if the risers are taller than that (2-4 feet tall), we’d recommend the risers be bigger (like 18” square). Here are links to a few images: Image 1, Image 2, Image 3, Image 4, Image 5 and Image 6.

    Option #2 - For $300 more (for 5" posts) or $400 more (for 7" posts), we can make the posts up to 4 feet longer (up to 14 feet tall). However, since we did all of our engineer testing and certification done using our standard 10' tall posts, we cannot warrant pergolas that have posts taller than 10' tall. This doesn't mean the pergola won't be structurally strong. Over the years, we’ve had several dozen customers go over 10’ tall on the posts (some as tall as 13-14 feet), and they haven’t had any problems. But it’s an infrequent enough occurrence that it hasn’t made sense for us to do the official engineer testing to get them certified, and therefore we won’t warrant them.

  • The width of the pergola indicates the length of the beams that sit directly atop of the posts or columns. The depth of your pergola refers to the length of the rafters that lie cross-ways on top of the beams.

    Attached pergolas always attach on the width side, as shown in this diagram. If you're looking to purchase a freestanding pergola, refer to this diagram to ensure you select the width and depth dimensions correctly.

  • Extremely well! In fact, we are so confident your pergola will stand up against heavy winds that, with the hurricane brackets (an optional add-on when you purchase your pergola), we offer a lifetime warranty against any damage caused by wind. If the pergola is correctly installed (with hurricane brackets) and suffers any kind of damage due to heavy winds, we will replace the damaged components and ship them to you free of charge. Click here for more details about our limited lifetime warranty.

  • All of the main structural components of the pergola -- which includes all of the 1) posts (columns), 2) beams and 3) rafters -- have a heavy-duty aluminum frame inside of them. (The purlin holders and shade purlins do not have an aluminum frame, as it's unnecessary and would only increase the pergola's weight and its cost.)

  • Absolutely. Our kits have been put through FEA testing performed by an independent structural engineering firm. The results helped us to design our pergolas to withstand high wind speeds. We are so confident in the structural soundness of our pergolas that we provide a warranty against wind damage when correctly installed using hurricane brackets. You can read more about our wind warranty here.

  • You bet they are! All of our structures are designed to withstand the heavier use that is typical of public areas.

  • Very well! Our pergolas have an internal heavy-duty aluminum frame. This means they won’t sag, bend, break or rust in extreme weather. The premium extruded vinyl exterior is thick and durable enough that you don’t have to worry about it deforming in heat or cracking in the cold. We guarantee it!

  • You sure can. A plexiglass or lexan roof is a great way to create a rain-protected outdoor space that still allows sunshine in. We do recommend adding a slight slope to the pergola roof in the direction you want water run off. Also, please be aware that the solid roof will retain snow, and while our testing has shown our pergola roofs to be very resilient under load, we will not warrant against damage caused by extreme snow accumulation.

  • Sure, we encourage it! Adding a fan to keep air moving on a hot day is the perfect way to get even more enjoyment in your outside space. Lights and speakers are also a great addition. The best part is that because all of the structural components have a hollow core, it’s easy to chase wires and add boxes and switches to your pergola.

  • Most owners choose not to simply because of how beautiful the white or tan vinyl looks, but you certainly can paint your pergola. We recommend Sherwin-Williams SuperPaint® (exterior acrylic latex) for a durable finish.

  • Our pergolas are designed to provide shade and sun protection and are not built to handle a moving force like a swing or hammock, so please do not hang anything from your pergola.

  • Most types of vines are just fine, yes. Vines can increase the amount of shade and can add beauty to your outside area. We do recommend that you do not grow woody vines (such as wisteria, for example) as woody vines can undermine the structural integrity of your pergola.

  • For general cleaning, good ol’ soap and water will do the trick! You can also tackle hard stains with a Mr. Clean® Magic Eraser®.

    A power washer is a great way to not have to hand-clean with a brush. But please keep in mind the power of your machine as some commercial-grade power washers could damage the vinyl. We recommend that you first try your hose with a good spray nozzle attached.

  • There are 3 ways for attaching one of our Attached Pergolas to your home, as discussed and illustrated in this article.

  • It's not uncommon for homes to have either a square (right-angle) "bump-out" OR a 45-degree-angled "bump-out" on the side of the home where the pergola needs to be attached. This isn't a problem at all. See this page for information (and accompanying illustrations) about how this is handled.

  • Beam attachment brackets are not necessary, nor do they add any structural strength to the pergola. They just simplify and expedite the installation step of attaching the beams to the posts (which is one of the more difficult assembly steps). If you're planning to have a contractor install the pergola for you OR if you have pretty good carpentry/assembly skills, you shouldn't need Beam Attachment Brackets. However, if you're quite inexperienced and consider yourself a novice, we'd recommend adding Beam Attachment Brackets.

  • You sure can! If the range of sizes we offer here on our website doesn’t meet your needs, we can create a custom pergola kit for you.

    You'll be happy to know that we price our pergolas based on the components included in the kit... the number/size of posts, beams and rafters, the number of shade purlins, etc. We don't "jack up the price" simply because you're ordering a "custom" pergola. Our quote calculator is completely component-based.

    Simply complete the form on this page to tell us what kind of pergola you're looking for, and we'll get in touch with you quickly and provide a no-obligation quote for what you have in mind.

  • We don't offer fully covered pergolas with 100% shade. However, the 90% shade option we offer honestly provides 100% shade the vast majority of the day. Light only gets through when the sun is directly overhead (or very close to it). In the afternoon or evening (which is when most people use their pergolas), the shade purlins block the sun completely and provide 100% shade. Here's a picture of a pergola that has 90% shade on the left half of the pergola and 75% shade on the right half.

    Our 90% shade option is perfect because it provides complete shade for almost the entire day, but it also allows rain/snow to get through, preventing drainage issues and snow pileup.

  • While our website only shows 50%, 75% and 90% shade options, you can technically get ANY percentage you'd like. The higher the shade percentage, the closer the shade purlins will be (i.e. for 90% shade, the purlins have 3" on-center spacing, while 75% shade has 4" on-center spacing). If you'd like a different percentage of shade coverage (i.e. 20%, 30%, 40%, 60%, 80%, etc.), please contact us to discuss.

  • Hurricane brackets add structural strength to the pergola to prevent wind damage. And more importantly, they add a lifetime wind warranty to your pergola. We highly recommend adding hurricane brackets to your pergola if you live in an area that sometimes gets winds in excess of 70-80 MPH.

    Hurricane brackets are placed at the intersection of each beam (running the width of the pergola) and rafter (running the depth of the pergola). For a 6-rafter freestanding pergola (which has 4 beams), your kit will include 24 hurricane brackets (6x4). For a 6-rafter atached pergola (which has 2 beams), your kit will include 12 hurricane brackets (6x2).

    The hurricane brackets are visible on the pergola, but they're very discreet and look nice. White pergolas have white hurricane brackets (as shown in this picture), while tan pergolas have tan-colored hurricane brackets.

  • The aluminum frame inside the posts (columns) is extremely heavy-duty .150 gauge aluminum.

    2" x 6" beams and rafters (which are standard for pergolas up to 18' width or depth) have .060 gauge aluminum. Upgraded 2" x 8" beams and rafters (for larger pergolas) have .080 gauge aluminum.

  • 7" square posts and 10" round posts both have the same 5" x 5" heavy-duty aluminum frame inside them as the 5" posts have. The aluminum frame is the same regardless of the size of the vinyl post sleeve, and it is plenty strong regardless of the pergola's size. We've had all of our pergolas tested and certified by a licensed engineering firm for structural integrity, wind, rain/snow, etc. Upgrading to 7" posts or 10" posts is a visual / aesthetic upgrade (as 5" posts can look a bit small on larger pergolas).

  • Since about 80% of our customers opt for white, we simply order a lot more raw materials for white vinyl pergolas, which brings down the cost for white. We pass the bulk savings on white vinyl on to our customers.

  • Sure, if you'd like an extra post (or two or more), you can certainly add additional post(s) to your order. An extra 5" white post is $800 (or $850 for tan). An extra 7" white post is $1,000 (or $1,075 for tan).

  • Our Traditional Pergolas can be up to 24 feet wide without needing a 3rd post in the middle. This assumes that you'll have a 1-foot overhang on each end, such that the posts are only 22 feet apart from each other (from the outside of one post to the outside of the other post).

    This is quite a bit longer of a span than most pergolas have, made possible by 2 things: 1) Our pergolas are relatively lightweight, especially when compared to wood pergolas; and 2) Our 20' and 24' width pergolas have 2x8" beams and rafters, rather than the standard 2x6" beams and rafters that shorter-width pergolas have.

    If your pergola's width is more than 24 feet (or if you get a 24' pergola and intend to put the posts right on the corners without any overhang), it will need to have a 3rd post. The 3rd post does not need to be placed directly in the center (exactly halfway between the two outside posts). It's perfectly fine to have the 3rd post be shifted a couple/few feet to one side or the other. Just let us know when you order it so we can fabricate your pergola kit accordingly.

    Our Modern Pergolas can only be up to 16 feet wide without needing an additional post. If you purchase a modern pergola 18' or longer, it will need (an) additional post(s) on the width side.

  • Traditional Pergolas wider than 24 feet require a middle post on each side. Therefore, 25'+ width attached pergolas will have 3 posts, and 25'+ width freestanding pergolas will have 6 posts.

    The middle post does NOT need to be exactly centered. It can be placed several feet to the left or right of center as long as 1) there's no more than 22 feet between each post, and 2) you notify us where you plan to place the middle post so we can fabricate your pergola accordingly. See this diagram to see how pergolas with middle posts are configured.

  • Our pergolas are designed to offer maximum flexibility. While the CAD drawings of our traditional pergolas assume a 12-inch overhang for beams and rafters, you do NOT need to install them that way. The overhang can be as little as 0 inches (i.e. no overhang at all) or as much as 36 inches, or anything in between. Here is a picture that illustrates these options.

  • There are 2 reasons. First, pergolas up to 18 feet wide and 18 feet deep have 2" x 6" beams and rafters. But once you go over 20 feet in either dimensions, the beams and/or rafters have to go up to 2" x 8". This sounds like a small difference, but the aluminum frame inside the 2" x 8" beams and rafters is a lot more heavy-duty than the frame inside the 2" x 6" beams/rafters.

    Secondly, freight shipping costs jump quite a bit when the pallet dimensions go from 18' to 20' in length.

  • A lot of our customers are torn between the lower cost of a traditional pergola and the more contemporary look (but higher cost) of a modern pergola.

    Depending on the size, traditional pergolas typically cost 20-40% LESS than modern pergolas with the same dimensions. When you're talking about a several-thousand-dollar purchase, that's A LOT of savings on our traditional pergolas!

    A really attractive option is our "hybrid" pergola design. It's actually just a traditional pergola (so you get the cost savings), but it's customized and installed in a way that makes it look very similar to our modern pergolas (no overhangs, and clean squared-off corners). Here's what it looks like from underneath and from the outside.

    Check out this page for more information on our "hybrid" pergola design and how to order it.

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Ordering and Delivery Q&As     Ask a Question

  • Please read through this guide about measuring your space and factors to consider when ordering your pergola kit.

  • The fastest and easiest way to find your desired pergola kit is to complete this 20-second wizard to tell us what kind of pergola you want. This wizard will take you directly to the pergola kit(s) matching your needs and preferences. (You can access this wizard by clicking the 'Build My Pergola' menu option in the top navigation bar on any page.)

    Alternatively, use the 'Shop By' menu to browse our pergolas by SIZE (width and depth dimensions), by TYPE (attached or free-standing) or by STYLE (traditional, modern or hybrid). Make sure to use the filter options on any category page to narrow down the results by width/depth, type, style and/or color. (Please note that shade coverage, post (column) style, end cap style and several other options are selected on the product page.)

  • Shipping for any-sized pergola kit is $999, although we sometimes have a sale or promotion going on that discounts shipping to $799, $699 or $499. (If you happen to visit our site when shipping is discounted to $499, don't delay in placing your order.)

    We currently ship to all 48 states (and the District of Columbia) within mainland USA.

  • Here’s an overview of the ordering and delivery process:

    1. Design and order your pergola by checking out on our website. You can also place your order over the phone by calling 877-760-6992.

    2. Please allow 2-3 weeks for fabrication and packing. We'll email you once your pergola kit ships out.

    3. Shipping typically takes around 5-7 days. Once the shipment arrives at the local freight terminal in your area, the shipping carrier (usually ABF Freight) will contact you to arrange a specific delivery time. The delivery typically needs to be scheduled within 48-72 hours of the phone call; otherwise, you may be required to pay the freight carrier storage fees.

    4. The freight carrier will deliver your pergola kit at the scheduled time. (See the Q&A immediately below regarding delivery details.)

  • As explained in the Q&A immediately above, our freight carrier (usually ABF Freight) will call you when the shipment arrives at the local freight terminal in your area to schedule a specific delivery time. The delivery typically needs to be scheduled within 48-72 hours of the phone call; otherwise, you may be required to pay the freight carrier storage fees.

    Because of the value of the pergola, you are required to be present to receive the shipment. You will need to unload the pergola kit by hand (unless you have access to a forklift). This should take two people no more than ~15 minutes. While a single person who can lift up to 80 pounds could unload the truck on their own, we recommend having a helper. (Please note that the driver of the truck is not required to help, although they sometimes will.)

    You should verify each component against the packing list and note any missing or damaged items on your packing slip before signing. If any item is missing or damaged (which is extremely rare), we will quickly replace it at no cost to you.

    The following 1:17 video shows how easy it is to unload your pergola kit from the truck.

     

  • We carefully pack and wrap each of our kits to minimize the chance of damage, but accidents do happen (though they're extremely rare). If any parts of your kit are missing or damaged, call us at 877-760-6992 and we’ll take care of getting a replacement shipped out to you as quickly as possible and at no additional cost to you. There is no need to ever file a claim with the carrier. We will take care of everything, even if that means sending you a brand new kit.

  • Due to the custom nature of our product and the high shipping costs, we cannot accept returns. All pergola kits are made to order specifically for your space and requirements.

    Please click here if you'd like to order a FREE sample of our vinyl and aluminum pergola materials so you can see the quality of our pergolas before ordering.

  • We have multiple sales throughout the year associated with various holidays, seasons and events. The deepest discount we offer in ANY sale event is $1,000 off + half-off shipping ($499 instead of the regular $999).

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Assembly and Installation Q&As     Ask a Question

  • Our pergola kits were specifically designed with DIYers in mind. Assembling a Sunset Pergola is quite simple and straightforward. Even novices with little to no construction experience can bang it out in a day or two. You don’t need any specialized tools, either. We provide fully-illustrated installation instructions, several demo videos (for the more complicated steps) and will even provide live help via FaceTime or Skype for free (if needed).

    All that being said, you can certainly hire an installer near you to assemble and install your pergola for you. Check out this list of installers throughout the USA who have 1) completed our installation training course, 2) passed a test we administer, and 3) already installed our pergolas multiple times (in most cases).

  • Yes, we have a list of installers throughout the United States who would be happy to install your pergola for you. These installers have 1) completed our installation training course, 2) passed a test we administer, and 3) already installed our pergolas multiple times (in most cases). Most of these installers are willing to travel 2-3 hours to do an installation.

  • Installing one of our pergolas is a 2-person job. Ask a friend or spouse to help you. Do not try and assemble it on your own.

  • It honestly isn't very difficult at all. Our pergola kits were specifically designed as Do It Yourself (DIY) kits. There aren't any "moving parts" and it's pretty obvious how everything fits together (even if you didn’t have fully illustrated step-by-step instructions or demo videos like you will have). Even a novice in basic construction can assemble our pergola kits without much trouble at all. But here’s the best part... if you have any questions on a certain step, you can talk directly with our trained staff via FaceTime or Skype (free of charge).

  • If you're fairly skilled with assembly and carpentry work (or if you're getting the help of a contractor or handyman), the two of you should easily have it up in about a day (or even less). If you're a novice, plan for two days. (Also, if you are attaching it to your house or deck or need to dig footings, you will need to add some additional time.) Either way, in one weekend you can have your pergola up and ready to enjoy.

  • You will need just a few basic tools to assemble your pergola. You’ll need a level, measuring tape, ladder, drill with a 6-inch extension, drill bits and drivers, and a circular or miter saw. That’ll do it!

  • Not usually. It depends on a) where you live, b) where you are installing the pergola, and c) the size of the pergola. While every locality has its own regulations, most residential structures that are less than 150 square feet do not need a permit. If your pergola is part of a commercial structure, a permit and full engineering calculations are usually required. Contact your local building inspector’s office before installing the pergola.

  • All of our standard pergola kits include CAD drawings detailing dimensions and construction (in addition to the step-by-step assembly instructions). If the building code official requires a stamp, we will happily refer you to a structural engineer who is familiar with our kits (additional fees may apply).

  • Most individual pergola components weigh between 10 and 40 pounds. Pergola beams, however, typically weigh between 50 and 85 pounds, depending on their length. Again, we recommend having two people unload the shipment and assemble the pergola.

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