Once the 60-foot-long curved pergola was lowered in place by a crane, it was time to build the 18-foot straight section of pergola along the gable end of the porch. Photo credit: Joseph Cracco

Four steel plates that were later concealed by cedar purlins helped to support the pergola. At both ends of the gable wall, plates were sandwiched between the layers of the side-wall headers when the porch was framed, as shown in the photo above. Plates were also bolted to two 4x6 posts in the center of the pergola’s span. Photo credit: Gary Moyer

The beam of the curved pergola appears to continue along the front of the porch; however, that 18-foot section of “beam” is only 3/4 inch thick. The four steel plates projecting from the gable wall above the cedar fascia will be embedded in cedar 2x6s to form purlins. Photo credit: Joseph Cracco

To create the illusion of a beam, the end of the 3/4-inch-thick cedar fascia was mitered around the corner of the porch, and the flashing detail was carried through. Photo credit: Joseph Cracco

For the supporting purlins, four cedar 2x6s were cut down the middle and a spot was hollowed out for the steel plates. Photo credit: Joseph Cracco

The cedar 2x6 halves were epoxied and clamped together around the steel plates — which were bolted to the porch framing — to form the four supporting purlins. Photo credit: Joseph Cracco


It looks like the thin 1x2s are supported by the purlins, but five of these purlins are actually supported by the 1x2s. Kerfs were cut into the tops of two of the 1x2 lengths. Stainless steel bars were epoxied in, reinforcing the 1x2s so they could span the 6-foot distance between the supporting purlins and hold up the remaining five. Photo credit: Joseph Cracco

The completed pergola looks like a single unit, though the two sections are structurally separate. Photo credit: Joseph Cracco

Joseph Cracco of Modern Yankee Builders in Cumberland, R.I., recently provided PDB with photos of a 78-foot-long cedar pergola his company built in the spring of 2009. In the July/August 2009 issue, we ran a handful of these photos — showing an impressive 60-foot curved section of the pergola being lifted by a crane as the crew placed supporting columns below (Day’s End, “Floating a Pergola in Place”). Unfortunately, we had no room in the magazine to describe an equally interesting 18-foot section, which runs along the gable end of a screened porch that was also part of the project. So we’ve put together this Web page to share a bit more about the cleverness behind this structure.

— Laurie Elden