How to Construct a Garage Door Arbor or Pergola

A wood pergola or arbor in front of a house over the garage door.
What You'll Need
Measuring tape
2 large wood brackets or wood braces
2 4x4 or 6x6 inch post braces
Cedar or pressure treated wood lath
2 4x4 or 6x6 inch cedar or pressure treated posts
2 2x6 inch cedar or pressure treated boards
Electric drill
Exterior bolts and wood screws
Wood stain, seal, or paint (optional)

The terms arbor and pergola are often used to describe the same garden structure. However, while they may look similar, there are slight differences.

An arbor is a freestanding structure with a top and supports on either side. A pergola is often a larger structure with a slatted roof and supports at all four corners. Both are equally beautiful, and building one around your garage door can add tremendous curb appeal to your home. Following are instructions on how to do it!

Step 1 – Take Measurements

Garage doors come in a variety of sizes and styles. Before purchasing your materials, you’ll want to take some basic measurements.

Measure the height of your garage door to determine how high your arbor needs to be. You’ll also want to measure the width of your garage door. When you have those two measurements, decide how much wider and higher than your garage door you want the arbor to be. If you're building two arbors (for two garage doors side-by-side), make sure that there is enough space between the doors for two posts.

Step 2 – Purchase the Materials

For this project, you can build your own arbor components or use pre-cut materials. Lumber yards often carry a variety of pre-cut wooden brackets and braces and may have lath strips cut to a variety of lengths. The brackets will be used for the ends of your arbor, the 2x6-inch boards will serve as the joists, and the wood lath will rest on top of the joists and form the roof of your arbor.

As this is a larger project, you’ll want to take some time to plan out your design and purchase your materials. You may need to rent or borrow a truck for the lumber and supplies. Bring your list and measurements with you to your local lumber yard or building supply store. Some stores will even cut long lengths of lumber (your posts and joists) to size for you.

Step 3 – Prepare the Lumber

If you purchased cedar wood, there is very little preparation involved. While cedar is more expensive, it lasts a long time and ages well. You can stain it or seal it to preserve its natural color. If you purchased pressure treated lumber, you’ll want to prep and paint it before building.

Step 4 – Cut the Arbor Components

This arbor is made of two posts, two brackets (at the top of each post), two joists forming a roof support, and lath strips on top of the joists.

Your posts should be cut to the height you determined in step one. Your joists should be cut to the width you determined in step one, keeping in mind that you’ll want your joists to extend slightly past your posts. Your lath should be cut to overhang your joists, and should be slightly longer than your brackets.

Step 5 – Set the Posts

You’ll want to use a post brace made for cement or asphalt to bolt your posts to the ground. If your driveway is dirt, you’ll want to dig a hole three to four feet deep to bury your post in the ground. (If you choose to do this, be sure to add three to four feet to the height of your post when cutting it.) Your posts should be placed on either side of your garage door, slightly away from your garage.

Step 6 – Attach the Brackets

You’ll want to attach your wooden brackets to the top front of each post, approximately six inches down. The 2x6-inch boards will rest on top of these brackets and form the joists of your arbor.

If your garage door is extremely wide, you may need a center support. Consider placing a bracket in the middle of your arbor, attached to your garage. Just make sure that the bracket is supported by a wall stud.

Step 7 – Attach the Joists

Attach your joists to the brackets with exterior wood screws. One joist should be placed on the back side of the bracket (closer to the garage) and the other should be placed on the front side. You can also screw the back joist into the top of the two posts for additional support.

Step 8 – Attach the Lath

Attach the lath to the joists using exterior wood screws. The width between the laths should be the same and is completely up to how you want the arbor to look. The final lath and joist structure will look like a ladder, where the joists are the sides of the ladder and the lath are the rungs.

Step 9 – Finishing Touches

If you painted your arbor components prior, you may want to touch up any spots now. If not, your garage door arbor is complete!

Additional Tips

You may want to consider cutting the ends of the joists at an angle for a more decorative touch. You can also treat the front part of the lath pieces the same way. Add a soft look to the arbor by planting vines that will climb up and grow over the structure.

Photo via Woodworkingtalk.