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What Is the Best Wood To Use for a Pergola?

Updated: Nov 29, 2021

beams of oak wood to be used in the construction of a pergola

Constructing a pergola is an easy way to create an oasis of outdoor entertainment or a quiet, personal space. One of the most important choices you will have to make during the pergola construction process is deciding on the type of wood that will be best to use for your pergola beams.

Now, let’s go over some of the most common pergola wood types to help you decide the kind of wood you should use for a magnificent outdoor structure.

The Best Wood for Pergola Construction

An outdoor structure needs to withstand direct sunlight, high wind, and moisture. Improper pergola material selection can cause your pergola beams to rot or become infested with insects. Here are some factors to consider as you compare wood types:

  • Weight

  • Weather resistance

  • Visual appeal

  • Cost

Consider one of these pergola wood types as you follow the steps to build your own pergola. Many types of wood aren’t suited for outdoor weather conditions, but these four options offer the balance you need for a long-lasting structure.

Western Red Cedar

Western red cedar, and other types of cedar and redwood, are naturally insect- and rot-resistant. The natural oils and resins make it less likely to decay or become infested with insects, even when left outside year-round. This makes cedar a durable investment for a pergola.

If you’re looking for a natural tone for your structure, western red cedar offers a beautiful reddish-brown color. Several years out in the sun gives it a silver tone that often looks regal rather than worn out.

Pressure-Treated Pine

Southern yellow pine isn’t normally used in outdoor areas unless it’s pressure treated. Pressure treatment is a process that forces a water solution with active ingredients into the lumber.

There are many different pressure treatment compounds, but they all work in similar ways to prevent fungus, rot, termites, and moisture damage. This solution needs to completely dry before the pine can be painted or stained.

Pressure-treated Southern yellow pine is typically more affordable than other options. It may not offer the same rich depth of natural color, but a stain or paint can create a bold backdrop to your outdoor area.

Tropical Hardwood

This luxurious option matches your Bjørn Woodworks pergola kit to create a stunning centerpiece to match any landscaping. Here are some common types of tropical hardwoods to consider as you plan to create a custom pergola:

  • Teak

  • Mahogany

  • Ipe

  • Rosewood

These and other tropical hardwoods score at least 1,500 on the Janka scale. This rating system is designed to measure how hard the material is. A lower score is softer than a higher score. Ipe, which scores over 3,5000, is considerably harder than redwood, with a score of 450.

Prepare to invest more in these stunning, long-lasting wood options. Tropical hardwood is packed with character and very durable, which is why many people believe that this is the best wood for a pergola, but it can cost as much as three times more than other popular pergola wood options.

European Green Oak

Oak is a clean, bright-colored option that offers the durability you need for outdoor structures. Choose fresh-sawn European green oak for a sturdy, reliable option that has plenty of character.

Oak isn’t as durable as tropical hardwoods and it can turn silver or grey with age if left unsealed. In most cases, however, it requires little or no maintenance to last for years. Enjoy competitive infestation, decay, and moisture resistance as you cut oak lumber to fit your Bjørn Woodworks brackets.

Because of our Nordic heritage, oak is especially favored by Bjorn Woodworks. Historically, Vikings would use oak to construct their best ships because of its unrivaled durability and strength.

How To Protect Your Wood Choice

A little maintenance can help your pergola beams last longer and maintain a vibrant look. Most wood species turn gray or silver as they age. This can offer a regal look, or it can diminish the vibrance of the structure.

Consider staining, sealing, or painting your pergola to maintain a beautiful appearance. Explore each option and consider your design goals before selecting a species.


Stains come in solid, semi-transparent, and clear options. A clear stain protects the wood while maintaining as much of the natural tone as possible. Solid stain, however, colors the material to offer a totally new look.

Cedar, oak and tropical hardwood don’t require any stain. Some pergola owners choose to stain cedar for an altered color. Pressure-treated pine can be stained to increase its lifetime.


Sealants come in similar options, and many brands offer a combination of stain and sealant. A sealer coat typically doesn’t penetrate it or alter the color as much as a stain. Consider sealing your pressure-treated pine or oak pergola, but a sealant is optional for cedar or tropical hardwood.


Some homeowners love the natural beauty of wood, but there’s no shame in wanting a little color in your outdoor entertainment or relaxation area. Any wood can be painted to match your home or provide an accent color.

Be sure to choose an outdoor-rated wood paint before you proceed. Some paint brands recommend a sealer coat to prevent fading or peeling. Be sure your pressure-treated wood is fully dry before painting. This can take up to four months depending on when it was treated and your location.

Choosing the correct wood and maintaining your pergola will protect your investment and ensure a lifetime of use.

How To Maintain Your Pergola

No matter what type of wood you decide to use, you can’t enjoy your pergola if it becomes faded, dull, or damaged. Maintain your pergola materials to protect your investment for a lifetime of use.

Carefully read the instructions for your chosen paint, stain, or sealant. Most brands recommend re-applying every two to three years. Don’t let dirt, bird droppings, and other contaminants build up on your pergola, or it could affect its lifespan.

Prepare for a Personalized Pergola With Bjørn Woodworks

Compare the pros and cons of each type to find the best wood for your pergola. Explore Bjørn Woodworks pergola kits today to pair with your chosen wood type.

Build a custom structure for your home and prepare for a stunning outdoor getaway!

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