Build a Pergola + Privacy Screen for your Deck
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Build a Pergola + Privacy Screen for your Deck

By starting with the existing framing and adding distinctive new elements above it, you can create a deck that stands out. Here, we’ll walk you through the basics of installing a pergola and privacy screen.

Written by David Stone
Build a Pergola + Privacy Screen for your Deck
Now that your attention has moved to the pergola end of the deck, we can take a closer look at the two unique components of it: The privacy screens and the pergola itself.
The screen is made up of tall, narrow lattice panels that add a measure of privacy to the end of the deck. The panels fit into frames that are attached to 2x4 vertical supports. These supports run between the upper and lower rails to divide up the screen and give strength to the assembly.

After you cut the vertical supports to size and secure them with pocket screws, two frames get added to the screen assembly to hold the lattice panels in place. First, the outer screen pieces get cut to size, mitered at the corners, and nailed to the posts, supports, and railings. Then the lattice panels go in. Finally, the inner frame is added to sandwich the panels in place.

Put on the Pergola

Now you can look upward, where the decorative pergola gives this deck a distinctive look and creates the impression of an outdoor room.
At first glance, the pergola’s beams and rafters appear to be made from massive timbers that would be difficult to machine and install, let alone find in the necessary lengths. But on closer inspection, you’ll see that each of these beams and rafters is really two 2x6s with a gap in between. The visual effect is deceiving, but there’s no deceit in the simplicity of the design.

All it takes to make this pergola is to cut your beams and rafters to length out of cedar 2x6s. Then cut dadoes in the pieces to accept the mating pieces. Note that all the dadoes are cut so that the space between them is centered over each pergola post. This is no accident, as it creates a sturdy, stable construction that’s sure to stand the test of time (complete dimensions and specifications for all these parts are available at

The one tricky aspect of the pergola construction is cutting the elaborate pattern on the rafter tails, but you can knock this out in no time with a jigsaw. Again, we have a pattern and plans to help you make the rafter tails at As you can see, most of the rafter tails are just smaller parts that get screwed on later. The one exception is on the outer beams, which have the cuts made on their ends.

After cutting all the parts, the pieces get secured to the pergola posts and the house with screws as shown at right. It’s important to follow this sequence, as it ensures that you’ll have access to every joint that you need to drive a screw into.

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