How To Maintain An Outdoor Pergola

What You'll Need
Water hose
Mild detergent
Wood cleaner
Touch-up paint
Wood putty
Metal putty
Putty knife
Vinyl patch kit
Metal snippers
Safety goggles

An outdoor pergola is an open structure you use to grow climbing plants. A pergola often provides overhead covering for a walkway, deck, or patio. When you learn how to maintain your outdoor pergola, you can help sustain its appearance as well as prolong its life. Pergolas are made from a variety of materials including wood, metal, plastic and vinyl. Each material provides a different look and requires different types of maintenance.


Step 1 – Hose It Down

Regardless of the construction material, you should begin by hosing it down. Clear away any furniture or other objects  near or under the outdoor pergola. Use a high-pressure water hose to loosen dirt and debris from all surface areas. Be careful setting the pressure if you are working with more delicate wood or a thin vinyl covering so you don't damage the material.  

Step 2 – Clean It

Acquire the proper cleanser for your outdoor pergola material. Apply the cleanser with a rag or other applicator and then use a flexible bristle brush to scrub the cleanser into all cracks and crevices. For hard-to-get-to areas, use a smaller brush (such as a toothbrush) to dislodge any hidden dirt or debris. Remove any wood splinters or peeling paint you find.

You may need to scrub a rusted metal surface vigorously with a stiff bristle brush to remove the rusted areas. When cleaning vinyl surfaces, always follow the manufacturer’s directions that accompany the cleaner. Most vinyl will also react well to soft scrubbing with a mild detergent.

Step 3 – Rinse Your Pergola

Thoroughly rinse the wash water away with the hose. Examine your outdoor pergola for any stubborn areas that need a little extra attention. Repeat cleaning in these areas, if necessary.

Step 4 – Touch Up Damaged Areas

Using a touch-up kit, repair kit or some type of restoration process, work on those separate areas that need attention, such as pitted or damaged areas. You can apply wood or metal putty to cuts and dings where necessary. After these dry, sand them smoothly to prepare for refinishing. Use your touch-up kit to restain or repaint the damaged areas.

If needed, snip out damaged vinyl areas to repair. Many vinyl pergolas that come in pre-assembled kits also contain small vinyl repair kits for these situations.

Step 5 – Tighten Connections

Examine all connections on your pergola and tighten any loose ones.

Repeat this cleaning process at least three times per year to enhance the appearance and function of your outdoor pergola.