Gardesol 10'x20' pergola

We were looking for a way to enjoy our deck in the summer without getting cooked in the baking sun.

We had to ensure that whatever we installed had to be able to withstand heavy snowfalls in the winter, so we opted for the Gardesol 10' x 20' pergola which would fit nicely on our 10' by 30' deck, leaving room to BBQ off to the side. It has a set of louvers that can be opened to let sun in, but more importantly, allow snow to fall through and not accumulate. The design also keeps rain out, channeling the water into the legs!

Hein takes a well earned break under the completed pergola

We ordered it through Amazon and it arrived promptly on a truck. Five boxes come on a huge overlong pallet, the whole lot weighing 519 pounds! The first task was getting it offloaded, so we pulled the box off the tailgate onto some planks as far as we could, and then cut all the strapping off, releasing the individual boxes to be manhandled about. You definitely need at least two strong people present to shift the boxes. We dismantled the shipping pallet and kept the bits for firewood.

The 5 big boxes

We then unpacked the boxes so we could walk the parts to where we needed them.

The legs, beams, and louvers (louvres for our real English speaking friends) are all very light to move individually. There is a heavy box containing all the hardware needed to assemble it.

The parts all look very nicely made, and of good quality. I did some trial fitting of the parts to confirm sizes and to check that it would indeed be able to be installed on our 10' deck.

How the louvers sit on the horizontal beams

Poor weather (days of rain) delayed the start of the assembly, but having studied the instructions, I knew that there was a long task of attaching end caps to both ends of the 38 louvers so I set up a production line under our carport out of the rain. I set up two trestles and a chair with a cushion for myself. I put the end caps and screws into some tubs and set up my cordless drill.

The task then consisted of:

  1. Remove two louvers from their box and lay them on the trestles with the ends near the chair.
  2. Add the two endcaps
  3. Insert two screws into each endcap by hand
  4. Drive all four screws in with the drill
  5. Flip the two louvers end to end to do the other ends 
  6. Add the end caps, and screws to the second ends
  7. Walk the two louvers to the assembly area
  8. Repeat 19x 
Screwing the endcaps onto the louvers

Each louver has two small plastic feet to rest on the adjacent louver when they are closed, and I noticed that many of them were missing, so I counted how many were missing as I went. Once I had my production system going, each pair of louvers would take about 6 minutes to assemble.

I contacted Gardesol and informed them of the missing feet and they shipped me the missing feet.

My friend Hein visited for a few days and the two of us erected the pergola over 3 days.

Our deck is 10' wide but there were two issues that made our installation more complex:

  1. There is a small eave on the side of the house, and I wanted rainwater coming off the house roof to go onto the top of the pergola rather than pouring into the area below. This demanded that we shorten the legs by 7" to get it to fit below the eave.
  2. To maximize the height of the pergola, I needed to position it so that the louvers would rise up next to the fascia of the house, meaning the whole pergola needed to be 6" away from the house, which meant that three of the legs would be just beyond the deck. This demanded that I create three supports on the outside edge of the deck for those legs. Fortunately the deck has a facia comprising a 2x8 and a 2x6 nailed together, providing ample wood onto which a piece of pressure treated 6x6 could be bolted, providing the additional 6" needed.
Drilling the bolt holes for the leg supports

We drilled some drainage holes in the deck to match the drainage holes in the steel plates under the base of each leg.
Drain holes

Because the pergola was up against the house on one side, and at the edge of the deck on the other side, outside access to the long sides was impossible. We therefore had to combine some of the assembly steps. We added parts G (linkage arms) after the first half of step 21. Then, as we added each louver, we also added part S (clips) which necessitated raising and lowering the louvers each time.

We clipped the last two louvers from the side.

We bolted the legs to the wooden deck using lag screws instead of using the supplied anchors.

The system is well designed and well built. The parts go together well and some smaller parts have spares supplied in case you lose a couple. The two halves can have the louvers set independently.

Louvers in vertical position

Water handling

We had a huge rainstorm the day after we erected it which provided a good test of the rain water handling. Generally it was good, but we did get some drips coming through along the edge next to the house.
Rainwater splashing onto the gutter

The water flows from the top of each louver through holes and onto the end caps above the gutter on the inside of the horizontal beams.  As it dropped off the endcaps, some splashed onto the side of the gutter and then onto the floor.

I pushed each endcap outwards towards the beams so that the momentum of the drops carries them closer to the beam and gutter instead of towards the inside of the shelter. This seems to have fixed the issue very well, except for one louver where there was a gap between the endcap and the drain hole in the louver allowing water to run through, unhindered, fast enough for the surface tension to allow it to run along the underside of the louver and then miss the gutter completely!
Missing the gutter!

This was solved by making a small bend in the endcap so that it touches the drain hole.

I also found that we had a lot of water gushing from the center pole next to the house (perhaps we misjudged the placement of the drainage holes?) so I drilled some additional holes next to the base plate.

We erected the pergola as horizontal as possible, and perhaps we should have let it have a very slight slope away from the house to aid water drainage to the outer edge. I might jack it up and place a shim under the middle pole on the house side so we get less of a puddle where we walk into the house.

I don't expect the area to be 100% dry in a rainstorm but with the small tweaks described, the water drainage works extremely well.

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