Setting Posts For A Pergola

 
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Old 04-20-2011, 10:33 PM   #1
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Setting Posts For A Pergola


Hi there, this is my first post. Honestly im 21, and a new comer to the contract industry. I have a small business me and an old buddy started up about a year ago building peoples fences and recently started on larger projects like decks and pergolas as things get more serious. between 2,000-6,000 range jobs.
I have sold our first pergola job and I have a few questions. Although it may seem naive; I rather have the work done right than compromising my businesses name. so I subscribed to CT after coming here many times for advice.

My question is on the setting of the post on a pergola. We are out of Austin Tx where the terrain of the Texas Hill country is enriched in limestone. so Its more rugged than you would think. I am wondering weather for this project if we should set the posts (6x6 western red cedar) in the ground about 3 feet deep like we do fence posts with just a bag of quickcrete and adding water. Or do we need to install concrete cyliner forms first and lag-bolt the posts to a level surface using a 6x6 anchor. Or maybe; just dig out a foot, level, and than place pre fabbed fottings? The pergola is going to be 14x8 and 8ft tall, and it is going to be inches away from the house between the fence and the side of the home (standard mega-neighborhood grid layout if your'e trying to picture it.)

any advice is welcome...
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Old 04-20-2011, 10:42 PM   #2
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Re: Setting Posts For A Pergola


Hi Kid and welcome to CT. You will get a lot of help and advice here, there are a lot of great professionals here.
The questions you asked are good ones but not quite the right ones, there are lots of different ways to install Pergolas "the right way" it just depends on what you are capable of and willing to do that will determine the right way to build one.
You can install the posts in concrete footings if you want but is it he best method? Doubtful, ask what others think is the best for the kind of money you will be building it for, might be a better question.
Many things will depend on the certain application of course.

Hope this helps in some way.

Andy

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Old 04-21-2011, 01:17 AM   #3
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Re: Setting Posts For A Pergola


Hi and welcome. I recently came out of the shadows around here, you are wise to do so I think. If this kind of resource was around when I was your age I would have eaten it up.

Anyhow, 8x14 pergola. I'm not a fan of burying wood for decks or overhead structures. I like it mechanically strapped, above grade, for structural components. I'm in earthquake country, so I like pouring my own piers (footings), sized based on site soil and structure load, concrete coped away from the base of the posts to shed water away minimizing moisture contact. You didn't provide a pic or description of the pergola style, so I have no idea of the load, but 8x14 is not very intimidating for a basic design. Why don't you post a sample pic of the style you're building so we can get an idea of how secure it should be. I may be less concerned with your footings, than your lateral support, if it's completely free standing. High winds? Twist-lean-fail? etc.
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Old 04-21-2011, 06:01 AM   #4
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Re: Setting Posts For A Pergola


Really not trying to be a dick here, but if you sold the job, how did YOU intend on setting the posts?
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Old 04-21-2011, 06:21 AM   #5
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Re: Setting Posts For A Pergola


Quote:
Originally Posted by TheKid View Post
Hi there, this is my first post. Honestly im 21, and a new comer to the contract industry. I have a small business me and an old buddy started up about a year ago building peoples fences and recently started on larger projects like decks and pergolas as things get more serious. between 2,000-6,000 range jobs.
I have sold our first pergola job and I have a few questions. Although it may seem naive; I rather have the work done right than compromising my businesses name. so I subscribed to CT after coming here many times for advice.

My question is on the setting of the post on a pergola. We are out of Austin Tx where the terrain of the Texas Hill country is enriched in limestone. so Its more rugged than you would think. I am wondering weather for this project if we should set the posts (6x6 western red cedar) in the ground about 3 feet deep like we do fence posts with just a bag of quickcrete and adding water. Or do we need to install concrete cyliner forms first and lag-bolt the posts to a level surface using a 6x6 anchor. Or maybe; just dig out a foot, level, and than place pre fabbed fottings? The pergola is going to be 14x8 and 8ft tall, and it is going to be inches away from the house between the fence and the side of the home (standard mega-neighborhood grid layout if your'e trying to picture it.)

any advice is welcome...
I would set them 4 ft' below grade - 1' down for every 2' above grade.

I've built plenty of pergolas and always set the posts in the ground.
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Old 04-21-2011, 07:43 AM   #6
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Re: Setting Posts For A Pergola


I would do a typical footing required for your area set the anchor bolt with a post base bracket and trim out the base or make a nice decorative base collar. Here is a quick sample.
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Old 04-21-2011, 09:48 AM   #7
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Re: Setting Posts For A Pergola


Welcome A Borad !!!!

I build pretty much the same as Greg and recomend the post base fastened to the piers. Sometimes the job requires posts set in the pier so I use pt posts then wrap them with cedar,redwood or South American.

Welcome again to the wonderfull world of Contrator land.


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Old 04-21-2011, 10:10 AM   #8
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Re: Setting Posts For A Pergola


If you set your posts like Greg describes, you better have a plan for lateral stability, or in the next big wind, it will probably fall over.

I subscribe to Deck'sEct method. Use pressure treated posts, treated to ground contact specs. This will give you the lateral stability. Drain rock at the base of the poss, and slope the concrete at the top away. I wrap the posts as John suggests.

If you are concerned about post rot, you could wrap the posts with Vicor or similar, before pouring the concrete.

This is not a fence, mix the concrete before placing it into the hole.
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Old 04-21-2011, 11:03 AM   #9
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Re: Setting Posts For A Pergola


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Originally Posted by redwood View Post
If you set your posts like Greg describes, you better have a plan for lateral stability, or in the next big wind, it will probably fall over.

I subscribe to Deck'sEct method. Use pressure treated posts, treated to ground contact specs. This will give you the lateral stability. Drain rock at the base of the poss, and slope the concrete at the top away. I wrap the posts as John suggests.

If you are concerned about post rot, you could wrap the posts with Vicor or similar, before pouring the concrete.

This is not a fence, mix the concrete before placing it into the hole.

I'd fall in line with these gents in this instance for you. You'll eliminate lateral concerns. Send them deep and moisture wrap at ground contact if not using PT.
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Old 04-21-2011, 11:16 AM   #10
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Re: Setting Posts For A Pergola


I forgot to mention a couple things.

Copper Naphthenate. Re treating even ground contact mcq, thats all we can get over here local, with this stuff will stop rot and bugs all together. I put it on anything close to the ground.

Custom post brackets. A hot rod welder bud of mine makes up 16'' /24'' high brackets out of 3/8 / 12'' steel He bores all the holes and places gussets on two sides. Bolted into the piers and the posts these little girls stop the lateral movement. My price is around $50. Good thing to check into.

J.
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Old 04-21-2011, 11:53 AM   #11
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Re: Setting Posts For A Pergola


That was the only connector I had in my sketchup as a component just to give him an example...and that one will work in his or most cases. The Uplift loads for all post connectors have been increased to max to withstand wind or earthquake loads.

I don't believe in setting posts in the ground this is outdated practice this day and age...the post will fail over time, because no matter what you wrap around it, you will never protect it from moisture or other elements. It is quicker and cheaper way of doing it...but not for pergola or a deck.

There is a dozen more of anchors that are available to use for that application, he can also use Simpson CBSQ44 or here is another example of post connection on a pergola.
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Old 04-21-2011, 12:11 PM   #12
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Re: Setting Posts For A Pergola


Anchors are fine, just have to brace, like Greg's pic or have a custom bracket like John describes.

I don't think that any store bought post anchors are designed to withstand lateral forces without help. The CBS's are the best, but you still have to brace.
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Old 04-21-2011, 01:08 PM   #13
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Re: Setting Posts For A Pergola


Mark,

I was at the builders convention a few weeks ago, and spoke to a few people from Simpson and USB manufacturers They said that all tie-down straps,post connectors,etc now made much stronger to meet new max standards for wind and earthquake loads.

That said,he should have a design for at least connection detail to make sure it will be stable and safe.
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Old 04-21-2011, 04:45 PM   #14
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Re: Setting Posts For A Pergola


There is an advantage,for me anyway being a ol dumb okie, using brackets that dont install into the wet creet. That is fastening them to the set up piers.

Small mistakes in lay out can be adjusted where as small mistakes placing brackets in wet creet are there forever.

Really Greg,using the copper naphthenate will give planted pt posts a lifetime well beyond what we have to worry obout during ours.

J.
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Old 04-21-2011, 05:26 PM   #15
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Re: Setting Posts For A Pergola


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Originally Posted by John Hyatt View Post
There is an advantage,for me anyway being a ol dumb okie, using brackets that dont install into the wet creet. That is fastening them to the set up piers.

Small mistakes in lay out can be adjusted where as small mistakes placing brackets in wet creet are there forever.

Really Greg,using the copper naphthenate will give planted pt posts a lifetime well beyond what we have to worry obout during ours.

J.
I don't know John,and I will not argue about this...Because I can't say how long anything will last underground, or what chances anyone will ever know how long something will last, because down the road we will never hear from people we did that job for,or another HO living in the house will call someone else if there is a problem. So I think its fair to say, maybe it will last, maybe it wont last...
But we can easily say maybe this post got better treatment then the next post did, because we know thats possible. If you wrap the post up with something that will last in the ground a lifetime,there is a possibility in that... but, has it been lifetime since the test was conducted on this items, I doubt it...can it protect something for a lifetime, I doubt it...especially being underground, water, moisture and other elements will get to the wood and destroy it over time.

As precise anchor placement goes...When you have a plan and a layout, is very simple to lay something out and be right on the money. I did so many jobs with anchors being embedded in concrete,i.e decks, footings for parking lot lights, foundations,etc I never had a problem. Yes, it takes time to lay everything out, but so is placing the posts in concrete. I have seen guys do deck footings and they miss the post locations, so if they would stuck a post in the hole and filled with concrete, they would still be off. You know what is out there, I don't have to tell you.

I just think that using anchors and keeping posts above the ground is a much better practice...especially this day and age when we have so many advanced anchoring systems and fasteners.
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Old 04-21-2011, 05:35 PM   #16
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Re: Setting Posts For A Pergola


I total agree. if there is any other choice I never put the posts in the ground. Lay out is Everything.

Very good info. " in the mulitude of counsel there is Wisdom "
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Old 04-21-2011, 05:50 PM   #17
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Re: Setting Posts For A Pergola


Quote:
Originally Posted by John Hyatt View Post
I forgot to mention a couple things.

Copper Naphthenate. Re treating even ground contact mcq, thats all we can get over here local, with this stuff will stop rot and bugs all together. I put it on anything close to the ground.
.
FYI, copper napthenate is not effective against insects, only fungi. Even then some copper tolerant fungi can get by.
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Old 04-21-2011, 05:51 PM   #18
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Re: Setting Posts For A Pergola


Quote:
Originally Posted by greg24k View Post
I would do a typical footing required for your area set the anchor bolt with a post base bracket and trim out the base or make a nice decorative base collar. Here is a quick sample.
I like the trim idea.
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Old 04-21-2011, 05:55 PM   #19
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Re: Setting Posts For A Pergola


Soil and plant growth kind of organically speed up the rotting process, so concrete helps protect the wood as well as offering support.

Or, here's another method. Use a combination of crushed/pea gravel and sand. It acts as a barrier to soil, and drains well. Pack it as you fill, and after a few moons and rainy days, mother nature will embrace that post like it was one of her own. And you'll never have to worry about a concrete fracture that will let moisture in, but never let it out.

I used to skin cats for a living, so I learned that there's more than one way to do something.
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Old 04-21-2011, 06:00 PM   #20
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Re: Setting Posts For A Pergola


Thanks for the info Fence..

I cant do it right now but I will check out that input and get back to Ya.

J.

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