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The pergola is traditionally a semi-open top structure.  Yet, building a solid roof for the structure has become more and more fashionable and useful.  Pergola roofing ideas range from large pvc roofing panels to the new metal roofing materials for the flat roof pergola.

Pergola Roofing Ideas Begin with the Flat Roof

The pergola roof to the left is flat, made of PVC sheets especially designed for covering areas like this.  The PVC material is readily available at most hardware stores such as Lowe’s or Home Depot.  In this case the PVC is white.  Note that although the roof blocks the direct sunlight it does not eliminate ambient light.  Some prefer the clear PVC which offers less filtering.  Others prefer the darker colors that eliminate most of the light from shining through.

It is worth noting that the roof line is on a slight slant to keep rain water from collecting.  The roof support is set farther apart than on most patio pergolas and was obviously designed to have the PVC installed when it was built.  This style of pergola roof is the least expensive and easiest to install.

The pergola directly to the left has a combination flat roof.  Part of the roof is designed for blocking the sunlight entirely while part of it offers a transparent covering that allows for full sunlight while still protecting the patio from rain or snow.

The basic pergola is made of metal and will withstand years of use.

This pergola addition was professionally installed and designed to fit around the corner of the home.

Depending on the style of home the pergola roof cover can be made of PVC sheets, corrugated metal sheets, or vinyl and metal can be used for the flat roof.

The Pitch Roof Pergola

When considering covered pergola roof designs most consider the flat roof style because most pergolas are originally designed with flat lattices across the top.  However, even a pergola that was designed with a flat top can be converted to a pitch roof when the pergola covering is installed.

The tile roofed pergola to the left is a perfect design of a pitch roof.

With four supports and a well designed pitch style roof that reflects the roof of the home, the patio becomes an outdoor room without the confines provided by a gazebo.

While the examples above are the most common types of pergola roofing styles, I have seen two others that I found to be rather interesting.

The first was a retractable patio awning placed above a pergola that was attached to the house.  Personally, I found it to be a little cumbersome in appearance, but it did serve the purpose.  When the sunlight became too bright the homeowner opened the retractable awning above the top of the pergola to offer more shade.  On other days with the awning retracted the pergola appeared as a typical structure with only the wood lattice.  It worked well for the homeowner and for those with limited space this could be an excellent idea.

The other example of a pergola covering did not appeal to me at all.  The pergola had an open lattice top with a roll across tarp.  It looked like too much work to get the tarp spread to me.  However, when rain is in the forecast and the patio furniture needs protection I suppose this is better than nothing.  Of course, I feel certain that this method of covering can be perfected by a creative individual.  I’m just not that person for this particular pergola roof option.

 

 

 

 

 

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The pergola is the perfect alternative to the gazebo when not attached to the house, is the perfect alternative to a covered porch when partial sunlight is welcomed, and is ideal for being located either as a part of the patio or anywhere one wishes in the yard or garden.  In other words, the pergola can be the perfect and cost effective method of finishing the patio.

Many of us actually prefer the pergola to the gazebo.  Of course, there is nothing that says we cannot have both and enjoy the benefits of both.  In a recent patio makeover I was impressed with the use of the pergola.  There was a screened porch area that was really a fresh air room.  Leaving the screened porch and crossing the patio first was an open area, with no roofing of any kind that allowed for direct sunlight.  The far end of the patio was covered by a pergola.  It was a most impressive combination that allowed for total protection from the sun in the screened porch, the open area that allowed for full sunlight and the pergola that offered partial sunlight.  In other words, there was a space for every occasion.

What is a Pergola?

The simple answer is a pergola is lattice work or trellis work placed horizontally, as a roof, and supported by posts or columns.  Most arbors have a pergola area where the top area is not totally open or totally closed, but supports vines or running flowers such as wisteria or bougainvillea.

Simple Pergola

The picture to the left shows a very simple pergola.  It is basically four 6″ x 6″ posts supporting square lattice.  There are angled supports for added strength from each of the posts.  How simple can it be?

Note that the simple pergola partially shades a small patio that is away from the home, but is comfortable for a cookout.

Pergola Attached to House

Obviously, the pergola to the right is better constructed with more detail and a stronger trellis top.  Attached to the house, it is important to keep the materials used for the structure of the pergola in proportion to the house.  In other words, the simple pergola above may be fine as a stand alone structure for easy relaxation away from the house, but it would look flimsy attached to the house shown to the right.

Covered Pergola Attached to House

The patio to the left has a covered pergola.  Note that the trellis work is still used as the top, but a solid material has been placed on top of the trellis style.  This is perfect for the patio that faces the afternoon sun or for the patio that has no protection from the rain, especially if there is no covered entryway.

This is not only a good way to create a covered patio space, it is far less expensive that building a porch or raised patio that would require digging a foundation, etc.

Non-Attached Pergola on Patio

This is a particularly attractive pergola.  It is not attached to the house, but it covers a portion of the patio.  Unlike the gazebo, the pergola leaves the area with a more open feeling while defining its space.  With potted climbing plants placed at each of the four corners, as the season goes on the corners of the pergola will serve as a trellis for the vines, creating a beautiful evening setting.

It is also worth mentioning that the lights are solar string lights so no electricity is required.

The style and design of this pergola is most attractive and strategically placed on the patio.

Attached Pergola with Privacy Wall

Depending on the amount of space between you and your next door neighbors, you may be interested in creating a bit of privacy when adding the pergola to the house.  This can be done simply by using an 8′ tall section of fencing for the support of the side needing to separate you and your family from the neighbors.

Not only will you enjoy the privacy, most neighbors will appreciate it as well.

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There are too many examples of the use of pergolas to go into here.  Hopefully, the idea has come across.  The primary purpose of the pergola is to provide partial shading across an area that gets direct sunlight during a portion of the day.

 

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basket_weave

The word chimenea is from the Spanish for “chimney”.  What an appropriate name for the patio fireplace!  After all, chimeneas is designed to have a large, bulbous container for the fire and often a tall vent chimney to prevent smoke from blowing directly over the patio guests.

It is pretty safe to say that the chimenea has been around for a long time, the first being made of clay.  Today many of those we buy for the patio are clay with a beautiful glaze.  The exterior looks more like beautiful pottery than the utilitarian fire place.  Of course, over time chimeneas have been made from a variety of fireproof materials, including cast iron.

With a patio heater the outdoor room can be used earlier in the spring and later in the fall.  Needless to say, there are electric and propane patio heaters, but they look like heaters more often than not.  The electric patio heater should not be left outside when not in use.  A sudden shower could damage the electric heater or in some cases cause a real fire.  The propane heaters for the patio can be useful for keeping warm but for the most part add little esthetics to the patio.

The chimenea is our top choice.  However, they do not come without warnings.  The clay chimeneas do not get as hot as the cast iron or other metal equivalents, but whatever the selection it is not wise to touch it while a fire burns inside.  It will take time for the exterior to cool down even after the fire has been extinguished.  For that reason, keeping an eye on any young children who may be on the patio is a must.  Even adults have a tendency to get too close at times and can get burned.

With proper precautions, the chimenea can be an asset to the patio.  Remembering to be careful when around fire, whether in a chimenea, another style fire pit or any open flame is just good common sense.


Oakland Living Hummingbird 45 Inch Chimenea in Antique Bronze

Oakland Living 8025AP Leaf Chimenea Antique Pewter

The Blue Rooster Prairie Chiminea Outdoor Fireplace

Deeco DM-6035J-IA Western Basket Weave Jr. Cast Iron Chiminea

These are a few of our suggestions.  The ones above are cast iron, making them durable for years to come.

The purpose of our selections is to show that there is a chimenea style for every patio.  When a built in fireplace is not reasonable or an open fire pit may be too dangerous for the young ones, the chimenea — particularly, the ones with a screened opening — may be all you need to keep those cool nights warm while adding a little ambiance for those special evenings.

 

 

 

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Investing in a wrought iron lounger or chaise lounge will complete the patio decor.  Yes, high quality wrought iron is an investment and it will pay dividends in comfort for years.

Our first selection is one that is simple in appearance, but made to last.

Specially developed for the harshest outdoor elements, the chairs’ four-layer Electrotherm® coating provides an exceptional corrosion barrier that reliably seals and protects the high quality steel frames from corroding, blistering and peeling, even in coastal areas. Easy to clean and maintain with soap and water.

The description is directly from the seller.  Let me try to explain a little about the new coatings on wrought iron patio furniture.  The newer pieces have a special coating process that causes the finish to adhere to the wrought iron.  Unlike the vintage wrought iron pieces which will chip and flake, the new process of coating the product actually meshes the paint with the piece.

About this particular chaise lounger, it is important to note the style.  The gentle curves are designed for a casual look.  Needless to say, a plush cushion would be needed for added comfort.  The newer styles are designed for the patio cushion where the older vintage pieces were designed for the artistic value more than comfort in most cases.

This piece is guaranteed to rust resistant for five years.  With care, such as covering during the winter months, the lounger will stay beautiful for many more years.

And, unlike so many of the vintage loungers, the back of the seat adjusts with ease.  It is also worth noting that the legs are protected at the base.

By the way, a side table is available to complete the set.

 

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Another style of the wrought iron chaise lounge chair for the patio is shown below.

Not only is the decorative design slightly different on this chaise, so is the overall utility.

First, notice the wheels on the back for easy moving.  While these chaise loungers are not too heavy for moving, they are bulky to pick up, generally requiring two people to pick up the piece.  Remember, sliding any piece of wrought iron furniture is not recommended.  With the wheels under the head, lifting the foot of the chaise and rolling the furniture to its place is much easier.

Second, note the curved end of the chaise.  While a cushion is still a must for comfort, for the individual who will occasionally sit on the foot of the chair, the curved end will be far from comfortable.

Both of the selections above have the mesh backing which is important for air flow, even once a cushion is added.

This piece is also prepared with a rust resistant finish in black.

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And, our third selection comes with something a little different.  First, there is the single chaise lounge that I find particularly attractive and useful for the pool patio.

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But, the big surprise is that the chaise lounge above also comes in a double version, ideal for two people who enjoy resting side by side.

The style of either the single or the double Santa Fe wrought iron chaise lounge is designed for comfort and ease in moving.  With adjustable back positions, there is little more one could need — except cushions, of course.

 

 

I know that style is important.  Each of us have our preferences and know what we like and what we need for our particular patio space.  With any of the three (actually, 4) selections above summer evenings can be spent in comfort.

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We have all seen wrought iron patio furniture and many of us have fallen in love with the look.  Whether the furniture is new or whether we select vintage wrought iron patio furniture for our special area, the look is often formal and all too often a little uncomfortable.  That’s not to say that all wrought iron outdoor furniture is for looks only.  Some of the newer styles are quite comfortable.  Add a few cushions and the patio is ready to welcome family and friends.

Vintage Wrought Iron Patio Furniture

When we think of vintage patio furniture, we most often think in terms of wrought iron or wicker.  Both have long histories.  Finding a good selection of antique wrought iron patio furniture usually requires nothing more than a trip to a used furniture store or an antique mall during the early spring.  Another good place to visit is the local auction.  Most towns now have auction houses that sell everything from high end antiques to vintage collectibles and all the way down the spectrum to junk.

The Pros of Shopping for Vintage Wrought Iron Outdoor Furniture

  • The older furniture is usually a little heavier than the newer.
  • Quite often the designs are far more elegant and the patterns are more defined.
  • Prices are often negotiable which means some outdoor sets can be purchased at a deep discount.

The Cons of Vintage Wrought Iron

  • The entire setting may not be available
  • There may not be a choice of colors or finishes
  • There may be hidden stress fractures that will cause the piece to break easily when moved.

I still shop for the vintage wrought iron patio furniture because I have only had a few pieces break over the years.  It can be quite frustrating but find a good welder and the piece can be repaired.  Ordinarily, when a piece breaks, such as a leg breaking off the piece I chalk it up to experience and trash it.  Of course, as I said a good welder can do the repairs.

About the colors — well, let’s face it, if it is wrought iron furniture or wood furniture or wicker furniture and it has some age on it, chances are it has been painted and more than once.  This is nothing to be afraid of.  Most of the time I use a little sand paper to smooth out any surfaces that have cracked paint or nicks.

If there is an excess of paint coats that has diminished the pattern I have taken the pieces to a sand blaster.  Be sure to check them out before taking the pieces.  A good sandblaster can knock off the excess paint without scarring the wrought iron.  BUT, not just anyone can do this.

(If you buy or begin buying vintage furniture for the outdoors or indoors, you will soon learn from experience and references where to get the work done.)

Eaxample 1:  What were they thinking when they picked this color?

I’m guessing this table and chair set is from the late 1950’s or 1960’s.  The picture was taken at a home that is trying to sell off the furniture before putting the home on the market.  I had to snap this picture because it is obvious that the owner painted the wrought iron to match the plastic covered back cushion that is visible beneath the table, resting on the chair seats.  Personally, I don’t know which is worse — the plastic cushion or the color of the wrought iron.

As a stand alone vintage wrought iron table and chair set I would probably not purchase this set.  There is nothing about it that really distinguishes it.  Even with a good paint job, the set seems “thin” to me.  But, the fact is the set is on the truck right now.  I haven’t unloaded it because it is headed to my shop for a cleaning and painting.

Why did I buy it?  Well, I bought several other pieces that are shown below.  The estate sale people seemed a little desperate to get rid of the set and I had a little room left on one of my trucks.  I paid $25.00 for the table, four chairs and the glass top.

Will I use it on my patio?  Absolutely not!  The style is not to my liking.  As I said, it is a little too thin and without a good design.  It will make a great table for someone, just not me.

What will I do with the set?  I will clean it, paint it, and sell if for $150.00.  Whoever buys it will be overjoyed to purchase a sturdy wrought iron patio set “at a steal”.  Of course, it will be black when they buy it.  And the $150.00 will cover the cost of all the vintage wrought iron furniture I purchased at the estate sale.

Example 2:  To Buy or Not to Buy?  A Small Stress Break

This is an example of what to look for when shopping for vintage wrought iron patio furniture.  Note that the foot pad on the left is missing.  This is an example of the typical small break that occurs with older wrought iron.  There are any number of ways this could have happened.

Most of us think that wrought iron is as sturdy and as solid as anything in the world.  This isn’t quite true.  It is heavy and the newer pieces are usually pretty solid.  But, with age stress fractures become more common.  Just be aware that older wrought iron, in particular, should always be lifted when moving it.  Sliding older pieces, even across a grass yard can cause a break.

The decision to buy or not to buy this piece would be a matter of personal preference.  If you can live with the missing piece or if you have someone to repair it, negotiate for a better than good price.

Personally, I opted out.  Although I loved the design of the set, there were problems that showed up beyond the foot.  Chances are if the other piece had not been visible I would have taken this chaise lounge.

Example 3:  Check What is Around the Piece You Are Looking At

Okay, so this isn’t real wrought iron, but it is a heavy metal that is the accessory piece of the chaise lounge and the sofa (broken foot in Example 2).  Note the rusted through area.  If the accessory pieces shown extreme wear and tear, walk away.  If the lighter weight pieces are totally worn out, the heavier pieces are pretty well on the way to wearing out.

Again, experience will become your best guide when buying vintage wrought iron patio furniture.  Just look carefully at every inch of the piece or pieces.  Do not be afraid to take your time.  If the seller tries to rush you, walk away.

Example 4:  The Prize!  Elegant Style in a Solid Selection of Antique Wrought Iron Furniture

What makes this chair so special?  First of all, the condition is excellent for an old wrought iron piece of outdoor furniture.  There are no stress breaks that are visible.  Although the style and the weight of this selection indicate its age, it has been painted so many times that there is little — very little rust on the surface of the iron.

It is easy to see this piece has been painted white more times than I can count.  And, it is easy to see that the paint is ready to chip off.  In fact, if you look carefully you can see where I flicked a small portion of the paint from the wrought iron, just using a fingernail.

Also, there is much more detail than is noticeable at first because of the thick paint.

Besides all the quality points of the chair.  It is one of a pair!  What a buy!  The size is perfect to fit on either side of my front door in front of the side panels.  Perfect fit!  (By the way, if you are shopping for vintage or antique anything, know your space measurements.  You never know what you will find.)

Closing Comments on Buying Vintage Wrought Iron or Any Other Vintage Patio Furniture

Thanks to my friend Miranda who writes “Home Furniture and Furnishings” who helped with this article and who went shopping with me to find the pieces and take the pictures.

Over the years I have learned from Miranda and a few other friends that try as we might when shopping for vintage goods, we are going to get burned on price and quality from time to time.  It is a part of the learning process.  When bidding on an item at auction do not worry if you do not win the item at the price you bid.  There is always another piece that will catch your eye.

Decide if you are buying the vintage piece for value alone or for personal use.  Patina, even on patio furniture, has its value.  If you are purchasing a piece to use daily, the patina may not have much value to you.  So, decide if you want to keep the piece “as is” or if you want to “restore” it.  Again, this depends on the purpose of the purchase.

Unless you are buying from a museum, do not pay museum or full price for an antique.  There is old stuff and there are antiques.  You are buying “old stuff” even if it is old enough to be an antique.  Pay accordingly.  Do not be afraid to negotiate.  If the seller had a valuable antique he would not be selling in at the local estate sale or auction.

Buy what you like.  Unless you are in the resale business, buy only what you like.  It makes no difference if the piece is old or new if you like it and it suits your needs on your patio.

And…. by all means, enjoy the shopping experience!


 

 

 

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Elaborate Backyard Patio

The patio is an outdoor area that adjoins the home, usually made of concrete or stone.  Many patios are constructed directly on the ground while decks are often built on posts.  A raised patio could be a continuation of the foundation of the home itself.  Technically patios are made of concrete, pavers, or stone while decks are generally made of wood, much like a back porch with or without a cover and extend beyond the home structure as an addition.

That is pretty simple.  However, often when discussing that special patio area beyond the home, the words patio and deck are now used interchangeably.

curved stone patio

Simple curved stone patio

The patio to the left is a simple style that is attached to the home providing a walkway from the back door to the sitting area.  For those who are prepared to pay the cost of flagstone, pouring a concrete area could be less expensive and serve the same purpose.  A few outdoor chairs and a table with an umbrella could turn this area into an evening oasis.

Elaborate Backyard Patio

Elaborate Backyard Patio

The patio directly left is larger than the one above left and includes steps that offer a walkway to an outdoor living area.  Definitely more expensive than the previous patio, this stone patio can be built in stages.

It does require a larger space and the steps help offset the land elevation by incorporating the grade of the yard into the design.  However, it is the accent flora and the furniture that completes the patio.

For most of us there is a happy medium.  For some of us a wood deck is the answer.  And, for those of us who live in an apartment a balcony patio off the living room may be our only choice.  However, regardless of where we live or the amount of space available, the addition of an outdoor chair and perhaps a table, a few plants and where possible an umbrella will create an after work sanctuary or a family gathering place.

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Love Adirondack chairs but need a bistro set for the patio?  This set is the answer!  Available with either two or four chairs and in three color selections: creamy yellow, sage green or white.

Whether the space is large or small, this lovely and classic Adirondack style bistro table and chairs will create a gathering place for a couple of friends for a chat, a spouse or significant other for a romantic evening dinner, or for a comfortable place to relax with a newspaper, book or laptop.

  • Kiln-dried Southern Cypress, decay-resistant
  • Choice of finishes
  • Finished in a water-based stain with UV inhibitors
  • Includes dining table with choice of 2 or 4 high dining chairs
  • Marine stainless hardware and fasteners
  • Chair dimensions: 32L x 26W x 51H inches
  • Table dimensions: 28.5L x 28.5W x 38H inches

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