Pergolas are becoming an increasingly popular choice for homeowners looking to expand or even upgrade from a traditional porch design to something that requires less maintenance.
There are, however, some factors you need to take into consideration before getting one installed, including whether it can withstand the force of a hurricane.
Are Pergolas Hurricane Proof?
Most pergola designs can withstand strong winds and even that of a strong category 4 hurricane. Pergolas can easily withstand winds as high as 110 MPH. However, the quality of material and how well it was built will determine if it can withstand powerful hurricanes.
How Much Wind Can A Pergola Withstand?
It depends on the size of the pergola and the strength of the wind that hit the pergola. If a pergola is smaller and the wind is very strong, it can damage the pergola. With extra big pergolas and normal winds, the pergola will most likely fine. However, many pergola manufacturers and builders state that typically a pergola can withstand winds up to 110 miles per hour.
There are several types of materials used on pergolas, and it is important to know which material to choose if being hurricane-proof is one of your primary concerns.
Having a wooden pergola is the most traditional and the most popular type of pergola to get choose from. They are also the most sturdy material to construct a pergola with, as it is unlikely for them to be swept away easily.
However, it is important that the wood is treated very well so as to avoid rot and then deteriorated while they stand outside, especially if you live in an area where it is rainy or humid.
Plastic pergolas are easier to build and don’t require as much attention as the wooden version, but their durability is lacking, and cause they are made of plastic they are more likely to get damaged or be flown away during strong winds.
There are good points with Plastic Pergolas.
Plastic pergolas are the least expensive option you have and can be found at most local stores. Because they are made of plastic, they are lightweight and don’t require very much support, making them easy to move around. It is also easier to maintain.
The strongest and heaviest type of pergola is made from steel, and as it is virtually impossible to sweep away. However, they are also the least aesthetically pleasing.
They are, however, more resistant to the weather but are somewhat vulnerable to strong winds as they are more prone to shattering. Metals can also bring more damage to your home or neighbourhood if it is swept away.
For a complete list of pergola types, you can check this website.
How To Make Pergola Stronger For Hurricanes?
If you have installed a pergola in your garden, then you may well be wondering, how can you strengthen it.
Pergolas are made to offer shade and a little privacy, which are good for people who want to relax or spend time in their garden. So it makes perfect sense to protect it for stormy months.
In this section, we’ll look at some of the most important things you can do to help you improve the strength of your pergola.
A pergola is like a stick frame house, it can resist vertical forces and itself. However, it has weak resistance against side-to-side forces. For a structure to stand up against hurricane, the sides have to be braced against strong winds.
One way of doing it and is also a popular method is using plywood sheathing. You can also use diagonal bracing if needed.
Here are some more potential ways of preparing your pergola for hurricanes:
- You can stick the pergola posts on concrete and sink it deeper for several feet than you’d normally do. It is common to stick at least 1/3 of the post in the ground.
- Adding diagonal bracing is also a popular option. Usually, 45 degrees is the common way of doing it, but for a pergola, it is not a requirement. In case a 45-degree angle brings the braces too low to the ground, then you can always change the angle. These braces can be added as an additional architectural design if you are creative.
- Using metal reinforcement is also another common strategy. You can just use easy to find L-plates. With this method, you can go all-in on its size and the bigger the metal plates you use will mean it will be much sturdier and stronger.
- Adding railings on the side of your pergola is an excellent solution to strengthen your pergola. Not only it will add more strength, but it can also be a great design addition and protection for your pergola.
- One of the weakest parts of a pergola is the trellis. To strengthen it, you can add a diagonal bracing to the top and create a giant ‘X’ bracing using wood beams or alternatively tensioned cables.
Over time, even a small “Wiggle” of a couple of inches can cause structural problems to your pergola. Even though the hardware will not get damaged, however, the wood where the hardware is installed can wear in the long run.
Out of the options I mentioned. My recommendation is to start using metal L-plates as they are the easiest and least expensive solution among others. They can be small and easy to hide inside posts and beams. Optionally, you can use shelf brackets, but be sure they are the heavy-duty type.
As an added tip: you might find plates or metal shelf that already have a design or architectural detail that can look nice on your pergola.
In conclusion, pergolas are easy to make hurricane proof with many different materials that can last for a long time. Simply by using the advice provided above, you can keep your pergola weather-resistant through the hurricane season.
However, if you live in an area known to be hit by hurricanes or just a stormy area, it might be a good idea to do more research on what materials to choose. A steel pergola will be the most durable of all, but wood and plastic ones will do just fine but not as much a steel one could.
Knowing how do you make a pergola stronger against a hurricane helps you choose the proper materials and the proper design for your home. Never think that a hurricane cannot hit your area. Even though the chance is slim, preparing your pergola with the right materials before the hurricane strikes is still a wise move.
Make sure that you are able to build it according to the instructions and that you can actually see it during a storm so that you will know whether or not you are building safely.