Long-time clients of House Specialties in south Evanston called us to do some repairs on their pergola/arbor. The outdoor garden structure is part of a beautiful yard that wraps from the side to the back of their house. The pergola is approximately 25 years old and has a significant amount of rot. This pergola is also home to several wonderful flowering vines that have been growing for many years. The homeowners wondered if some rot repair could be completed without disturbing the vines.

House Specialties undertook this project to replace 6 of the rafters, and all the 1×2 sticking on top of the rafters. The crew for this project was carpenter Bill First, apprentice Aidan Milne and company owner Lightning Atkinson.

First, the crew focused on the rafters. They cut to size the replacement rafters and slid each of them into the structure around the vines and next to the rotted rafters. Then the old rafters had to be carefully removed. These were sufficiently rotted that they could be cut or broken into several pieces and pulled out. Then the replacement rafters were fastened into the same place as the old rafters.

The real challenge of the day was replacing the wooden strips on top of the rafters that the vine had grown around. To do this, the crew slid 25 new boards into place, working from each end of the pergola. It took all three carpenters working together to weave these boards over and under the vines carefully one by one. “Sometimes we lifted the vines to slide the supports under them, and sometimes we repositioned the vines,” Bill explained; “we tried really hard to not damage or cut the vines”.

By the end of the project, the crew had successfully replaced all the 1×2 strips on top of the rafters, and the 6 rafters on the end. The homeowner was pleased with the results and the crew admitted that they had impressed themselves.