Enjoy Your Outdoor Living Area All Year Long – Add the Perfect Covered Structure

July 20, 2017

outdoor-covered-structure-roof-design-300x199Covered outdoor living areas offer a year-round oasis for relaxing and entertaining. Landscape East & West will work with you to create a unique patio cover, pergola, or other covered structure that’s perfect for your landscape. Because covered patios and decks have become a sought-after element among homebuyers, homes with covered structures tend to earn a higher resale price. A wood pergola or other covered structure adds functional square footage to the home, extending your usable living space. After adding a covered outdoor structure, many homeowners find they enjoy the outdoors more frequently throughout the year. And in our drizzly Pacific Northwest climate, being able to enjoy the outdoors for more of the year is a huge plus.


Don’t Let a Little Rain Keep You Indoors


As you begin thinking about the covered structure you envision, you’ll find magazines, books and design websites are excellent sources of inspiration. One of your friends or neighbors have a particularly cool outdoor space? Snap a picture and let’s talk about elements you’d like to see in yours. Or, if you’re more of a writer, describe what you’re looking for in a paragraph or two. This will help your landscaping contractor understand what it is you’d like to achieve with your covered structure or wood pergola. Think about how you will use your outdoor space and how many people might be enjoying it.

 Will you be dining, socializing, or relaxing under your gazebo or pergola? Also, as you gather ideas and inspiration, talk to your contractor about the costs for materials and design elements – that way you can establish an estimated budget.


Common Challenges and Other Things to Consider When Building Outdoor Structures

Typical challenges to keep in mind when covering your outdoor living space include:

Covered Structure

Sufficient structural support. Unfortunately some contractors use quick, weak methods to build outdoor structures – such as using only brackets to connect a post to its footing. Just like indoor rooms, outdoor rooms must meet basic structural standards to be safe. For a strong outdoor covered structure, posts should be sunk a minimum of 3 feet into the ground for lateral support. Further lateral bracing is generally required in the upper structure as well. To dress up your design, add trim to the posts or mix up materials – surrounding the base of the post with brick, stone or wood that adds architectural detail.

Focus on drainage. If your covered structure’s drainage is weak, it will soon become the kind of damp, leaky and generally miserable place where no family members ever want to hang out. Make sure your contractor has strong plans for the placement of gutters. Good drainage is especially important in wet locales such as Portland. The angle of the roof is key in achieving proper drainage, so gather all the roofing materials you will need up front, and make sure they are rated for the slope in your design.

Obtain the requisite permits. Obtaining permits and following city codes will help you avoid headaches and possible hefty fines down the road. Most cities have requirements on how far any structure must be set back from property lines, for instance. Work with a contractor who has a proven record of meeting municipal requirements.


Covered-Structure-Cedar-ceiling-lighting-199x300Materials Best Suited for the Pacific Northwest

  1. Cedar – Good mix of durability and beauty.
  2. Pressure treated wood – For any material that will be in contact with the ground. Its chemical preservatives help prevent rot and mold growth. One way to avoid the ugliness of pressure treated wood is to use it for posts and then wrap it with cedar on all sides for concealment.
  3. Juniper – Naturally resistant to rot, so no preservative chemicals are needed. And the rustic look of juniper is much more attractive than pressure treated wood. However, juniper is not yet available for structural use, so it is best to use it in combination with materials.

We do not recommend using fir for a wood pergola – this timber won’t survive the Pacific Northwest rain. We also stay away from vinyl or plastics because they tend to look grimy as time passes.


At Landscape East & West, we build all manner of wood structures according to our clients’ preferences, needs, and budgets. In the past, we’ve built freestanding roof structures, attached deck and patio covers, and wood pergolas. We are happy to customize designs with optional bells and whistles such as skylights, recessed lighting, infrared heaters, outdoor speakers, art elements, and ceiling fans. We can even add a patio cover to an existing pergola to keep you dry in all seasons. To complement the structure, we also offer fireplaces, fire pits, outdoor kitchens, water elements, and even outdoor home theater options. You may also want to dress up your outdoor living area with specially treated fabrics, including curtains and pillows.


Our Process

First, we discuss the client’s’ goals in building the pergola or patio cover. (There is no charge for this initial consultation.) When we’re sure we understand the project thoroughly and have a well-defined budget, we’ll suggest creative ideas that meet your needs and your budget. Once we have a solution you love, we’ll provide a conceptual cost proposal including any design fees if applicable. Our design will include a spatial layout, proposed structural design, material choices, color options, and permitting information. We can offer traditional plans and elevation drawings, but we are also able to deliver our ideas in a modern virtual 3D experience. We can even allow you to see what the outdoor structure will look like from “inside” your kitchen or living room. From here, we revise our design to achieve a final plan that perfectly fits the homeowner’s needs. With the revised plan, we give firm costs and alternative cost options such as different material choices. The final proposal is very detailed to clearly set the expectations for both of us. With this information, clients are able to find the perfect combination for their needs and budget. Finally, our skilled craftsmen install the structure just as specified. We handle all the inspections, permits and subcontractors, if any. The design process can take anywhere from one to four weeks, and the average structure installation might take one to three weeks to complete.  

Landscape East and West

Contact us to learn more about custom-designed covered structures. Better yet, schedule a time to meet with our designers and let’s start creating your escape today.