As one of the fastest growing outdoor living space design categories, pergolas and pergola kits are quickly becoming a staple in residential and commercial outdoor space design. Pergolas and other outdoor structures are not only being used to provide shade, but also to enclose a space and provide a more intimate gathering area.

When selecting a pergola kit or other shade structure for your design; strength, safety, and reliability are just a few of the things you should consider when deciding which pergola kit best fits your project objectives and budget. One important way to determine if your structure fits the bill: engineering.

A pergola kit or outdoor structure that has been pre-engineered will have gone through a formal analysis of the design, materials and overall structural integrity of the kit. The pergola kit is then real world tested to ensure the computer models and calculations hold true to actual conditions. As more and more designers use modern low-maintenance materials in place of traditional wood pergola construction, knowing that a pergola kit has data behind its design is becoming more important.

Engineered Trex Pergola KitsThis pre-engineered Trex Pergola kit is rated to withstand wind loads up to 160 MPH.

Once this information has been collected and tested, a product engineering package is put together. This information should be readily available from a pergola manufacturer. The engineering plan set will provide the designer with the information necessary to evaluate if the outdoor structure meets the requirements for the project location or if modifications need to be made to bring the pergola up to the design requirements. Typical design specifications will include what wind loads the pergola can withstand, if the pergola is suitable for high velocity hurricane zones, what snow loads the pergola can support, and fire ratings with material burn data.

Knowing that the pergola kit you select for your outdoor living area project has been pre-engineered will provide peace of mind and should reflect high quality and durability. If your project is a commercial outdoor space or a larger residential project, a pre-engineered pergola may be the only way to go.

Typically, if a project is a permitted project with the local building department, performance engineering data will be required for the outdoor structure. Choosing a pergola kit manufacturer that specializes in pre-engineered pergola kits and who has full design and engineering capabilities will likely be the best option for your project. Keep in mind that even with the best design and engineering, it is important to properly mount and install your pergola kit per the manufacturers instruction to ensure the structure won’t fall over.