Wood Pergola Guide: How to Choose Between the Top Five

A pergola built from wood can be a substantial and lovely addition to a home. Wood adds weight and elegance to a garden structure and more importantly, provides the ideal neutral canvas onto which homeowners can add their own touches of style. Before building or purchasing a wood pergola, consumers can benefit from first looking into some of the most popular wood options available. Each wood offers its own set of advantages and features, all of which can help guide a consumer's decision when it comes to choosing the perfect wood pergola kit.


The beauty of redwood exudes a natural radiance and tone that many consumers find appealing. It is also a sturdy wood that repels insects and avoids rot in the long term. Redwood is one of the more pricier woods and can quickly drive up the cost of a wood pergola. 


Pine is an affordable wood that is now available in a pressure and heat-treated version suited for pergola construction. Natural (unimproved) pine compromises too much style and quality for the sake of price. Pine does not have the natural preservatives of redwood but can be pressure-treated with a preservative to provide insect and rot-resistance (not an environmentally friendly choice). The toxicity of the preservative treatment will prevent the effective growth of plants on your pergola (at least until the treatment weathers). Pine isn't the most visually pleasing and for this reason most homeowners prefer to stain it. Ultimately, if you prefer a natural wood look, pine may not be the best choice.

Douglas Fir

Douglas fir is perhaps the most affordable option on this list. This wood comes with the sizeable downside of being very prone to moisture, rot, and insect infestation. While it does provide a quick and easy answer in terms of your pocketbook, it won't necessarily give you the long-term solution you want in an outdoor accessory of this scope and magnitude.


Cedar is an ideal wood which falls midway between the high price point of redwood and the lower brow look of pine or douglas fir. Cedar is resistant to rot and insects like redwood, while also having an attractive natural look to it. For consumers who want to enhance cedar, paints and stains work well with this wood. Cedar weathers to a gray tint, so consumers may want to weather treat this wood to preserve its natural beauty or let it go untouched for a totally maintenance free and environmentally friendly choice.

Western red cedar is from the same family as redwood, so it possesses many of the same favorable characteristics. Western red cedar is particularly better suited to building pergolas because of its enhanced flexibility and higher density (contains more oils which makes it easier to fasten pieces together without splitting the wood).

You can purchase this western red cedar pergola kit here.


Ipe is a wood originally found in tropical environments. It has become more popular with upscale designers and carpenters and is valued for its sturdiness and natural beauty. Like redwood, it can come in at a higher price point. Ipe looks great in its natural state and can also take a stain rather well.

Consumers looking into a wood pergola have a lot of great options in front of them with these five woods. Pine and douglas fir are the most pocketbook-friendly choices, while the upwardly mobile ipe and redwood deliver true natural beauty and resilience. Cedar is probably the most versatile choice, delivering both quality and an affordable price and is widely used by quality manufacturers of pergolas and other outdoor constructions.

Have you used one of these woods in your outdoor space? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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