Height of a Pergola: Your Options & How to Choose

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height of pergola

A pergola really can up the aesthetic of your patio or yard. It can make a focal point in the overall design, bringing the whole ambiance together nicely. But if the height of the pergola is disproportionate, it'll create the exact opposite.

Your pergola needs to be the right height. Otherwise, it might be too cramped. On the other hand, if the pergola is too tall, it'll stick out and just look odd. You need to balance functionality and design here.

Following some design rules and planning steps will help you nail the balance. For example, if your pergola is very wide, you don't want it to be too low. And if it's near or attached to another structure, both need to be similar in height.

How Tall is a Pergola?

how tall is a pergola?

The standard pergola height is typically between 8 foot to 12 foot tall. But this isn't set in stone. It's just a common standard. Usually they're built between these two heights with 2 foot increments in between.

Depending on your preference, needs, and available space, your pergola can be between this range. Let’s check out which of these pergola standard height options are best in which situations.

8 Foot Pergola: Why & When

If you have a very small space, then a 8 foot pergola height could work. Anything less than this would feel very cramped. We have to be honest, with an 8 foot pergola, you’re already pretty space constricted. You might not be able to install any kind of fixtures above, except some small types of lighting fixtures.

Also, if your pergola is attached or built near a small structure like a garage by attaching it to a support structure, here's a rule of thumb. It should be close to the height of that structure or just a bit less tall if needed. Same for when a gazebo is attached to a house.

It shouldn't reach above the attached structure. This will not only look really goofy but it could create weird issue with drainage, wind resistance, etc. The main issue with 8 feet is the pergola height clearance. You just won't have as much room inside to do what you want, but it'll match the number of feet in a story of a house, especially on older homes before 10 and 12 feet ceilings on the bottom story became standard..

10 Foot Pergola: Why & When

10 foot pergola is considered to be a pergola standard height

While 8 foot is the minimum height of pergolas, many consider 10 foot to be the standard. It's a good middle ground. And a pergola that's 10 foot won't feel too high or too low either. With a 10 foot tall structure, installing fixtures like a ceiling fan becomes possible.

And since you're outdoors, it will help you feel that you're outdoors and give you room to stretch, carry tall items through the area (such as a ladder), enjoy having any types of grills out there without worrying about heat damage to the roof, etc.

12 Foot Pergola: Why & When

12 foot pergolas are pretty huge. It might be a bit hard to visualize a pergola that's 12 foot tall if you haven't seen one. But these are the tallest you should go. Anything more will start exceeding the look you need for a personal pergola versus a giant one you might see at a park for large groups (which have a much broader width and length to them).

If your pergola base is very wide, then this height maybe an option to help make it look proportional and not odd. But the question is whether or not you truly need that much space, or have the space to lose in your yard.

A decent reason why you may want a 12 foot pergola is if it's beside another tall structure. And you want to balance the look. If your pergola is much smaller than any structure near it, the aesthetics will clash. And it just won't look that seamless and may end up feeling smaller than it is.

So, a 12 foot height of a pergola is mostly used for design and aesthetic reasons. You can still install fixtures, obviously. There's a lot of headroom here to do as you wish. So how tall is a pergola? Typically 8, 10, or 12 feet in height. The average height of a pergola is 10 feet.

How Tall Should a Pergola Be?

how tall should a pergola be?

The reason why the height of pergola is important is for functionality. Aesthetics is also a factor.  There are lots of design routes you can take when building or installing a pergola.

But before you start building one, you need to ask yourself, how tall should your pergola be. And making sure you plan it properly will give you and your guests the best experience.

You should also take into consideration the pergola footings and how they're anchored (as they should be, don't skip this step). The taller and larger your pergola is, the more substantial the footings need to be as well as the main load-bearing structural posts.

So, how tall should a pergola be? Tall enough for you to install the ceiling fixtures you want, to enjoy the activities underneath it you want, but not so tall that it doesn't match the surrounding structures in height.

Considerations for Deciding the Height of Your Pergola

there are some things to take into consideration for deciding the height of a pergola, such as pergola height restrictions and codes

You might have different needs or requirements for your pergola. And there can be different restrictions as well. If you want a high pergola, permission might also be an issue. Always remember to check your city's building codes as well as with your homeowner's association if you have one.

So, let's look at some important factors to look at before deciding what height your pergola should be. It's easy to think that taller is better, but that's not always the case. Think about factors like if you'll be screening in the pergola, having any overhead weather protection, etc.

Who's Using Pergola

One of the most important things to consider is just who'll be using it. You aren't building a pergola for it to just stand there. You and your friends want to enjoy it. And maybe have a nice time chilling underneath.

The height of the people who'll be using it is important. Start with your and your family's height. It will give you a good base. Consider what kind of objects will be placed underneath it or will need to pass underneath it (like carrying tall tools like ladders through the back door or garage and under your pergola).

Also, there is the overall width and height relation. If you just want a small pergola for a cozy environment for less than 3 or so people, you won't be looking at wide pergolas to begin with. Then you won't try to build a very high pergola.

The Space Around the Pergola

From a design perspective, the space around the pergola also dictates the height. Aligning your pergola height with any surrounding structures is important. Trust us; if you don't do this, the whole thing won't look aesthetic. It can look downright silly if done wrong.

You need to make sure they align similarly to give you a cohesive look and feel. For example, if your pergola is attached to the house, it should be close to the same height as the roofline. A pergola that's too low will block your view from a window. Here, the height and positioning is almost dictated by your house's roofline and window alignment.

Fixtures & Desired Functionality 

Then there is also how you want the pergola to function and what you want it to have in terms of fixtures and amenities. Of course, you don't want your pergola to be just a barren structure. You might want to have seats, a hot tub, or a ceiling fan, among other things. If you want overhead ceiling lights or ceiling fans, they also need to be a certain height.

Otherwise, installing fixtures or any ceiling fans in a height of a pergola that's too low will make it uncomfortable and also feel cramped. Your guests might bump into it when they're walking about. That's no fun.

Pergola Height Restrictions

there might be some restrictions for the height of pergola in your region

Knowing about height restrictions is also important. In many areas, you might need permission for your pergola from the city or homeowner's association. And there might be restrictions on the height as well. A small pergola may not require permission, though, and especially one in a backyard that's not visible from the street.

But freestanding larger ones could require building and/or development permits. You need to check out your local authorities to be sure about your local rules. It's always best to plan these things out and look into local laws.

This will help you avoid any problems with the law later down the line. If you're working with a professional designer or developer, they would ideally take care of all these themselves, and also give you all the info you need. If you're going the DIY route, then you need to do the due diligence yourself.

The Height of a Pergola is Critical

So, to wrap up, the standard height of the pergola is between 8 foot to 12 foot. You should never have your pergola lower than 8 foot. It won't be comfortable, and functionality can be harmed as well. Design rules are important too. And check whether there is any pergola height restriction in your area.

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