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The ULTIMATE Guide to Heartland Vinyl Pergola Kits

There is a LOT to consider when planning for your new pergola! The options and details can get overwhelming when you aren’t quite sure what you want. Let’s break down what your options are and what may work best for your home!

Pergola Style & Design Basics

Pergolas can have old world charm or a sleek and sophisticated design depending on which style best suits the space you are installing it. There are two specific pergola styles offered; Traditional style or Modern style. The names are pretty self-explanatory but let’s go over the features of each!

Our Traditional pergolas are the most popular selling. Often when you picture a pergola in your mind, you see that iconic structure with the rafters and decorative ends and trimmed posts reminiscent of lavish country gardens. Traditional pergolas have beams, rafters and purlins all with exposed edges. Your rafters are typically caped with a decorative finished edge that gives them their traditional look. The rafters and purlins sit atop of the beams on a traditional style which add to the grandeur of the structure.

Comapare modern pergola with a traditional pergola style
A Modern Pergola on the left and a traditional pergola on the right. Two different styles to match your home.

Modern pergola style takes all the components of the traditional pergola and encloses them within wrapped beams. There are no exposed edges, so everything is straight lines and a clean finish. If you are after a minimalist look, this is the way to go.

Traditional pergolas seem to fit best for a large variety of home styles; Cape Cod, French Country, Victorian, Cottage, Mediterranean, Colonial, Farmhouse, and Traditional Single Family. Modern Pergolas are great for these Contemporary 2020s builds, Modern, Minimalist, and Midcentury Modern homes. But don’t feel pigeonholed into a specific type based on your house style. So much has to do with your sense of style and preference. How you decorate and renovate your home through the years may find you leaning toward a not-so-typical choice!

Attached Pergola vs. Free Standing Pergola

This choice is typically made out of necessity due to constraints of your space, but here are a few things to know. A free-standing pergola uses 4 or more posts to support all its weight, free of any other structure. Freestanding pergolas can go just about anywhere, deck, patio, garden, roof top, pool side, etc.

An attached pergola is a pergola that is attached on at least one side to another structure (home, garage, etc), often over your patio or deck. Attached pergolas come in various configurations. Most frequently we see them attached to your home or structure on one side of the pergola and have two posts on the other side. But custom attached pergolas may be attached to more than one side of a structure and may only have one post! We have even done a post-less pergola!

A modern pergola style attached to the wall of a home
An attached pergola shown in our Modern style, attaches to your home or structure leaving more room without the additional posts.

Attached pergolas require a structural weight bearing attachment point. Such as a header, wall plate, studs, etc. If you are not sure of the structural integrity of your attachment point(s), it's best to consult with a contractor, architect or engineer. For general guidance, you can start with our customer service team!

Freestanding pergolas will still require planning in terms of knowing what surface you are mounting your posts on, be it a landscaping column top, concrete slab / patio or a deck. For example, if you are adding a pergola on your deck, you will want to be sure you have blocking in place or added to your deck where your posts are going to go so that the posts are securely fastened. You will need to go through more than a 2x4 deck board to provide enough support.

Pergola Size

We sell our kits by standard sizes via our website, however we have created everything from small arbors to massive commercial pergola structures. Plus, sometimes you need a design that is not perfectly square or rectangular… we can custom build a pergola to conform to unique spaces. Triangular or corner designs are popular options for many homes, outdoor kitchens and outdoor bars. You don’t have to feel boxed in when it comes to size! There is no additional design fee to work with our team to come up a design for your outdoor space!

Depth & Width – Our pergolas sizes are defined by the depth and width (when talking size, we always list the depth first). On a Traditional Pergola this is the width and depth of the roof profile which extends out past the post columns, NOT a post to post measurement. On a traditional pergola the roof profile is designed to overhang the outer edges of the posts by 1 foot.

diagram of freestanding pergola width and depthdiagram of attached pergola width and depth
How to figure the proper depth and width of your pergola.

Depth – If you are ordering an attached pergola, depth is the distance from your attached side out to the other posts. If you are ordering a freestanding pergola, your depth is the length of your rafters.

Width- The width of your pergola is the length of your pergola beams.

Your shade purlins will always run the same direction as your beams and perpendicular to the rafters. If you have questions when it comes to your size or understanding depth vs width, please be sure to talk to our team so that you get the correct size.

Shade Level

One of the biggest draws of having a Heartland Pergola is getting some actual shade out of your pergola structure. Shade is created by our purlins that run across your rafters. Different shade levels are created by setting the angled shade purlins closer or further apart via the purlin holder. Keep in mind that the shade structure is most effective during the midday. Rising and setting sun coming in at low angles won’t be blocked by purlins at all. The angle of your purlins can also make a difference in how much sun you receive. So, what is the right shade level for your home?

No Shade Maybe you are sun worshiper and you are just after a pergola for looks. Our pergolas can be ordered and built without the shade purlins.

Pergola on a deck with just rafters and no shade perlins
This pergola has no shade perlins at all and serves to just add interest and beauty to this deck.

50% shade – This means you have shade purlins on your pergola, but they are set wider apart letting a good amount of sun in to your space. 50% shade purlins are set 6” on center.

Pergola over patio with some shade
50% Pergola Shade Option

75% shade – This is our most popular option. It allows some sun to come through but gives enough shade to cut down on the blazing heat directly under your structure. 75% shade purlins are set 4” on center.

Pergola over deck with partial shade
75% Pergola Shade Option

90% shade – 90% Shade has the purlins set very close to each other, almost overlapping. This option provides you with the most shade! If you love being outdoors but need an escape from harsh sun, this is a great option! 90% shade purlins are set 3” on center.

Pergola over patio with full shade
90% Pergola Shade Option

Post Types

Choose your style preference, the post you choose can altar the style and finish to your pergola! The post style only affects the look of your pergola – as all posts, no matter the style chosen, use the same internal aluminum frame components!

Modern Pergolas don’t get much of a style choice – all Modern Pergolas come with 7” square posts to match the sleek minimalist look. You do get your choice of trim ring or no trim ring to finish off your pergola.

Square Pergola post
7" Square Pergola Post with no trim

Traditional Pergolas give you additional options on your post type. You have a 5” and 7” square option, or a 10” round pergola post column! The 5” option is best on smaller structures or to tie into a deck railing. The 7” looks more polished and statelier on larger structures. And the 10” round really makes the Traditional Pergola have that old world charm.

Pergola Post Styles
5" Square, 7" Square and 10" Round Pergola Post Styles

Trim ring options offered with your post are just decorative pieces that sit at the base of your post. Like how crown molding finishes the look of a room, trim rings can finish the look of your post.

Beam Caps

This won’t apply to Modern Style pergolas as there are no exposed ends to cap off! On your traditional pergola, you can choose from Scroll Caps, Beveled Caps or Flat Caps. So, what’s the difference?

3 Pergola End Cap Styles
Flat Cap, Beveled Cap and Scroll Cap options

Flat caps, as the name suggests, are just plain flat end caps that go into your rafter and beam ends. This is how you make a traditional pergola look the most modern. If you are caught somewhere between an actual Modern Pergola and the Traditional style, this might be the option for you!

Beveled Edge caps will elongate your beams and posts but have smooth crisp lines instead of the soft scallop found on the Scroll Caps. Great to lighten up the formality of your pergola but keep traditional charm.

Scroll caps are the most common choice. It’s the most formal but also the most traditional look to a pergola. It has a soft scalloped edge.


Heartland offers a solid White pergola or Sandstone Tan color pergola. Our white is bright and crisp and looks great with homes that have white trim, soffits, fascia etc already on their home. If your home uses a darker or muted color palette, or all your exterior trim is more of an off white/beige, then the Sandstone Tan is probably your best bet! Both the colors are made with virgin premium vinyl which means that your vinyl color is solid throughout, not just a layer on the outside. This helps keep your vinyl pieces looking like new, forever!

White Pergola next to a tan pergola
Classic White Pergola next to our Sandstone Tan Pergola

Did you know that you don’t have choose from just photos alone? You can order a free sample kit which gives you samples of both colors to set next to your home to see which looks the best.

Fan Mount

You can add one or more fan mounts to the top of your pergola. These mounts just allow you an easy access points readily set up to run your wiring through and attach the fan of your choice to your pergola! Adding a fan is just another way to keep air flow moving on hot stagnant days increasing the enjoyment of your outdoor time in the heat!

Two White Fans installed on the roof of a pergola
Add one or more fan mounts to keep air flowing

And pro tip - the fan mount can also be used to hang any kind of overhead or pendant lighting from your pergola as well. The same principle applies, your wiring is run up through the mount to wire your lighting.

Outdoor chandelier light hanging from pergola
Creating a statement with lighting installed from the fan mount kit

Hurricane Clips (Traditional Pergolas)

Heartland Pergolas are built strong! That’s one of our main selling points. Without Hurricane Clips, our pergolas are wind rated at 105 mph, with the hurricane clips, 120 mph. If you find yourself in a coastal region where hurricanes are prevalent, the Hurricane Clips are recommended. They increase the pergola’s uplift resistance under extreme wind loads. Clips are designed to be installed at each rafter to beam intersection point.

Holding an L bracket in place on a pergola. The part is increasing the pergolas wind resistance
Hurricane Clips are attached to every rafter where it meets the beam.

If you reside outside of the coast and hurricane prone areas, you shouldn’t need them but you are always welcome to add them if you choose to.

Beam Attachment Bracket (Traditional Pergolas)

L shape brackets in pergola diagram
No pre-drilling is required when using the Beam Attachment Brackets

These brackets aren’t necessary for the build of your pergola but it does make assembly a little easier. Without Beam Attachment Brackets you will need to pre-drill through the beams before fastening the beams to post. With the beam attachment bracket you avoid the pre-drilling step and secure the beams to the post via these L-brackets. These brackets are also a hidden between the double beams eliminating the exterior caps over the traditional beam fasteners. An experienced carpenter would have no trouble going the traditional route but a DIYer may find it easier as well as not needing to obtain an additional bit.


Our pergola kits are made in the USA - fully fabricated in our Pergola Shop located in Iowa. Our kits are professionally engineered and approved. And they pass International Building Code.

Aluminum Frame

The engineered frame is made from extruded aluminum, relatively light in weight, yet incredibly strong. The aluminum frame is what prevents warping, sagging or rusting. The ½” heavy welded post base easily attaches to your deck, slab, poured footing or existing pillar.

Pergola post with aluminum insert under vinyl exterior
Vinyl with aluminum pergola reinforcement!


The vinyl exterior makes clean-up a breeze. The premium vinyl color is solid all the way through. It will not chalk, pit, discolor or become brittle.

Stainless Steel Fasteners

The included fasteners for constructing your pergola are all made of stainless steel to prevent rust. All your fasteners will be included unless you are doing an Attached Pergola or an Eyebrow Pergola. For these kits you will need to supply your own fasteners that secure your ledger board to your structure. Different structural materials will require a different kind of fastener which is why those are not included in the kits.


We are proud of our Lifetime Warranty! That’s something you won’t find with other pergolas! You can read through the full terms of the warranty but what it boils down to is that our pergolas are warranted against any abnormal surface issues or discoloration. Any damaged components due to wind are replaced or refunded when the hurricane clips are used and properly installed. The lifetime warranty is non-transferrable and applies to the original residential owner of the property. Commercial shade structures for Non-Residential single-home properties have a warranty of 30 years to the original owner.

Pergola Components

Posts – All posts include extruded aluminum post stiffeners in the framing. These interior posts are all the same, no matter the post wrap size you choose (5” square, 7” square or 10” round). The post wraps are made from our vinyl and sleeve over the post frame.

Rafters and beams – All rafters and beams also include the aluminum inserts which is what makes your pergola so robust. Depending on the size of your pergola, beam and rafters will be 2x6 or 2x6 and also have vinyl sleeves to fully cover the structure.

Purlin Holders – these are what get installed on top of your beams to hold the purlins in place. They are CNC routed for the specific shade amount you ordered which creates the perfect angle and spacing for your purlins.

Purlins – these are the long hollow vinyl pieces that slide through the purlin holder at an angle to create the shade below your pergola! These ship in either full length pieces or multiple lengths depending on the kit purchased. It is easy to splice two shorter sections together at the purlin holder which makes the joining splice secure as well as hidden from view.

Fan Mount – If you added this on to your kit, it will look like a smaller version of your roof profiles. Vinyl sleeve on the outside and aluminum interior.

Ledger Board – If you ordered an attached pergola or eyebrow pergola, you will get a ledger board that fastens into your structure and secures the attached side of your pergola to your home.

Rafter Hangers – Also included in attached pergola kits and eyebrow pergola kits are the rafter hangers. These will be secured to the outside of your ledger board and then the rafters on attached side will be fastened to these hangers to secure the rafter. The rafter hangers include a vinyl trim skirt that hides the hanger and screws.

How Long Does it Take to Install a Pergola?

Most DIYers can have these installed over a weekend. If you are hiring a contractor, landscaper or handyman to do your installation, most have no trouble installing in a day.

Man Installing a Pergola on a patio
Have your new pergola installed in as little as one day or two!

We provide both a written installation guide as well as a YouTube video series to walk you through the installation step-by-step. And if you have further questions or concerns, our customer support team is happy to help you!

If you are interested in doing your own pergola installation, here is what you will need:

  • Ability to lift up to 80lbs
  • A tape measure and a level
  • Circular or Miter saw
  • Drill with 6” extension, drill bits and drivers
  • Ladder
  • A second set of hands makes the work much easier and safer when dealing with heavier, bulkier pieces.

How to Purchase

Many of our standard size and shape pergolas and eyebrow pergolas are available for purchase directly through our website. Once you submit a quote you will have the option to change your quote or proceed to check out. We will always verify your order with you and the options you chose prior to sending to fabrication but you can handle the full checkout process online.

Scrolling the Heartland Pergola Website on mobile phone
Shop Pergolas online or call and order through our customer service team.

If you have customizations or feel better walking through everything with our staff, you can order via phone with customer service as well.


Once you have placed your order and signed your DocuSign verifying all of your pergola options, your pergola kit goes into our fabrication queue!

Our team creates all the pieces for your pergola to your specifications and packs up your pergola. The full-size pergola kits and arbors will arrive palletized and are shipped via LTL, which means a box truck or semi! Communication will be sent to you when the pergola ships as well as when the freight company will deliver. A homeowner does need to be present when the pergola is delivered as it is the responsibility of the homeowner to unload the pergola pallet from the truck. This is done by taking the pergola pieces off the truck and pallet one at a time. Two people can usually unload a full pergola kit in about 10 minutes from the truck. If you are delivering to commercial space and have a fork truck, the pallet can be unloaded using the fork truck.

Stacked pallets of pergolas
Stacked pallets of pergola orders ready for pick up.

Fabrication takes about 10 days while we allow 5 days for shipping. Typical turn around is at or under 3 weeks!

Our Eyebrow Pergola kits ship via UPS, so there will not be any requirement to be there when it arrives.


Lighting – Lighting is an excellent add on to any pergola. Whether you hardwire hanging pendant lighting from a fan mount, attach scones to the posts, or simply use festive bistro lighting, the addition makes a huge impact on the ambiance of your space at night! Our aluminum posts and beams are all hollow, which makes running wiring up through your pergola very easy. All lighting accessories are optional and something homeowners would add separately based on their taste in style. pergola with string lights at dusk near pool

Shade in the day, festive at night!

Plants – People often ask if they can grow vines or climbing plants on our pergolas and the answer is YES! Climbing plants are a traditional staple for pergolas and our pergolas are no different. We do advise avoiding woody vine style plants like Wisteria as it can compromise the structure over time. Plants can enhance the look of your pergola and add even more shade to your structure as it grows over the pergola roof.

Pergola with vines growing on it
Add vines for a classic look or add additional shading to your pergola.

Hanging Swings & Hammocks – While we love the idea of kicking back in a relaxing hammock or swing under your pergola, our pergolas have not been engineered for moving forces from things like hammocks or swings. You can contact us to discuss creating a custom structure that may accommodate those features if that is something on your must have list!

Painting – Can you paint a pergola? Yes, you can, but you want to use the right kind of paint. We recommend the Sherwin-Williams SuperPaint® (exterior acrylic latex) for the best coverage and longevity. Please note that painting a pergola is not a once and done process. There will be maintenance in touch up painting and re-painting every couple of years, so you lose some of the low maintenance enjoyment when opting to paint, but If you have your heart set on a specific color it’s definitely doable!

Pergola that has been painted brown on a deck
Painting your pergola gives you the opportunity to add your own personality to your structure.

How to get in touch

We are a small family-owned business so when you need to get ahold of us, you will work with one of our full-time members here in our fabrication and business office. We don’t pawn off our communication to any third party or call center.

In Person - Can you visit us? Absolutely. If you are in the Midwest and want to see any of our pergolas in person, we do have a showroom you can visit. We are located at 21060 Holden Drive, Davenport, IA. Let us know you are coming and we will make sure we can show you around!

Website – We have several request forms for general communication, sample requests, etc. Our online pergola designer is available 24/7 and supplies you with a quote instantly. You can download our installation instructions or watch our installation videos. We also have a chat box available through our website you can use for quick questions.

Email – Always a great way to ask questions, request information like brochures, send us photos of your space or drawings of the pergola design you would like.

Phone – We know not everyone likes to pick up the phone these days, but we do! You can talk with our customer support or designer to help you with any questions before, during and after your build.

customer service agent on the phone with pergola customer
Order or get help with your pergola order with our customer support team!

Social Media – You can find us on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube. They are a great places to browse for ideas or contact us through the specific chat features.

We TRY to get to all communication as quickly as possible. If you don’t get a response immediately, be sure to leave a message so we can contact you asap. We value great Customer Service, and we want to help you succeed in your pergola build!

WHEW, if you read half of that kudos to you! If you need MORE info, surf our website or feel free to contact us! We are always here to help.

Where to next?

If you can’t find what you’re looking for please give us a quick call at 563-345-6745 or use our chat box in the bottom left corner of your screen!