Why do you want to make a rooftop pergola part of your deck? There are lots of reasons! Pergolas are a great way to spice up a rooftop deck. If you have lots of planters, then it can become part of your landscaping. It can also transform your outdoor space into an extension of the rest of your home. The overhanging beams will give you some shade and if you like, you can even design your pergola with curtains or screens to give your rooftop deck a little more privacy or a more intimate feeling — not to mention a way to keep the bugs out on those summer evenings spent outside.

If you have a rooftop deck, then this is one item that should be on your to-do list! And if you don’t have an upper level deck, then click here to get started on that project so that you can move on to the pergola later. Let’s take a look at the things you’ll need to consider as you design your pergola!

Safety First! Fireplaces, Barbecues and Your Pergola

Before you set your heart on a pergola design, you’ll need to know a little bit about Boston fire regulations. According to the Boston Fire Prevention Code, certain types of fires are prohibited, namely those that use solid fuel like wood or charcoal. If you are planning a fire pit, an outdoor kitchen in your pergola or some other amenity that requires an open flame, then you’ll need to rely on gas fuels, either refillable tanks or gas lines run to the appliance.

Designing Your Rooftop Pergola

When it comes to design options, there are several factors to consider. Size, shape and height are three basics that you’ll need to account for, of course. Then there are the stylistic choices, which can be broken down into three broad categories:

  • The Rafter Tails: Rafter tails are one of the major elements that give a pergola its look. These are the ends of the rafters that overhang the structure. Traditionally, the ends of the rafters are cut in scrolling designs to dress up the look of the structure. Depending on the profile you choose, the pergola could look modern, vintage or it could have a cultural flavor like Asian or Southwestern.
  • Beam and Rafter Size: The width and height of the beams and rafters that make up the roof of the pergola have a lot to do with the final look. In general, rafters and beams that are wider or higher usually look more formal or old fashioned. Narrower rafters and beams, especially those with square cut trails, tend to look more modern.
  • Posts: Most pergolas feature simple posts — unadorned square uprights that provide support for the structure. However, the posts don’t have to be simple! Some prefer a more upscale look, which can be accomplished by using decorative posts or even by flanking the posts with a bit of latticework.

Keep these things in mind — the major design decisions along with the safety requirements that you will need to adhere to — and you can transform your rooftop deck into a brand new space that can be used for entertaining or just for relaxation. In a city like Boston, it is hard to find a quiet place to retreat but your new pergola will give you that space.