TIP #1: Carefully look at your pergola with a critical eye. I like to call this my own Project Punch List. Before the tools get put away for the last time on the project, is there anything else that needs attention? Do it now. I see so many projects that are 95% of the way complete and someone doesn’t have the final piece of trim in place or final bit of paint touched up. You don’t want to be that person. Dedicate an evening or a day and complete it. You will be much happier in life
TIP #2: Make sure you have a long enough vacuum cleaner attachment to “vacuum” the tops of the beams of your pergola. I would recommend doing this at least once a month in order to keep the dust level to a minimum. The attachment arm should have a soft brush attachment so as not to scratch the surface or the lights of the pergola. Spiders may make the pergola their home as well and you will want to vacuum in order to keep them down to a minimum
TIP #3: After any project, at least any project I do, some self doubt creeps in and I am frustrated that maybe it isn’t good enough. I could have done better. Walk away from the project and scrutinize it again in 2 or 3 months. I was having some doubts about my basement finishing project near the end and I had wished I had done several things differently. I don’t know what to call these feelings of capitulation – project regret? But I find that if I let the feelings go and come back later and look at something, I see that my attention to detail and the extra time has paid off.
I enjoy working on projects like this. I feel a strong sense of accomplishment at the end of the project and it always makes me feel better to have completed something like this myself vs. having paid for it. For me personally, there is a satisfaction in the knowledge that I could have paid someone big money for lesser results and I know that I achieved results that you probably can’t pay for, or would be difficult to get even if you were willing to pay for it.
Things I wish I had done different:
1. Pre-paint the plywood. It would have saved a lot of time.
2. Scarf the plywood. I think this would have made more uniform seams. Minor, but maybe worth the extra effort.
3. Crown trim. I should have used a sleeper piece of ¾” by ¼” piece of stock on top of the stop and behind the cove to control how much reveal I had on the stop and it would have given the top of the pergola a cleaner look. This is probably my biggest regret. I thought I could save a couple of bucks and caulk behind the cove. Between the time caulking and the amount of caulk, it may have been a wash and the results would have been better.
4. Incorporated some sort of “design” or “artful” elements into the design. I am very good at seeing things from a fundamental basis. However, I have had some people comment on some artsy things I could have done with the painting or adding design and trim elements that would have set the pergola off. The paint elements we may still be able to incorporate before we install the cabinets, and I am playing with a couple of things. But this would have been easier before the trim went on. Plan, plan, plan and don’t be afraid to share your ideas with others.
Ideas that have come along since we’ve completed the Pergola:
A textured roller or “rag roll” look on the beams would have added a lot of depth and character to the pergola. I am experimenting with this now. I have never done anything like it and there are countless internet sites that go into this in great detail. I would reference those for the how to. At the bare minimum, I will probably do something with my columns to give them a “marbled” look without the marble – but I have lots of time before I need to have that complete as we are 4-6 weeks away from cabinets and granite counters.
Another idea was to incorporate a plant staging area somehow. I haven’t completely thought this element out, but a friend with a green thumb made a couple of very logical suggestions that would have been sort of easy to incorporate – a closed in shelf in the corners, for example – where you can have a plant growing in a pot, off the counter out of site. Then, the plant could grow throughout the pergola, which was our vision initially. We will probably end up using the tops of our cabinets for this staging area. But adding something to the design or at least think through would have been fun.