Selecting the Right Wood for Your Outdoor Pergola

When you have decided that a pergola is the right option for your garden, the next big decision is what wood to choose.  There are lots of different options in both hardwood and softwood categories that all bring different looks and benefits to the end result.  Here are some of the most popular to help you decide.

Pressure treated timber

Pressure treated timber is where the wood is placed under a vacuum and preservatives are pushed into the wood.  There used to be concerns about the environmentally damage from this type of wood, but new regulations brought in back in 2003 mean this isn’t an issue.

This kind of wood is very strong and can withstand much more force, making the structure stronger.  It comes with a good guarantee and is resistant to fungal decay as well as damage from insects. It is also very low maintenance without the need for constant painting or staining to protect the wood.  Finally, it is an economical option and is available in different varieties with different costs associated to help you work within your budget.



Oak is a traditional wood that has been used in the construction of buildings for centuries and for good reason.  Oak is very long lasting and has a natural weathering process that makes for a stunning finish over time. Any pergola made with oak is always unique because each piece of wood is a little different and has its own characteristics that enhance the look of the structure.

Oak Pergola kits are made from green oak and this is the toughest of the lot.  Very moisture resistant, it can withstand the elements and is hard wearing and long lasting.  It is also a sustainable material with great environmental credentials – by putting the wood to use rather than burning it, the C02 collected over its lifespan is kept within the wood, rather than released into the atmosphere.

Western Red Cedar

Western Red Cedar is less commonly found in the UK, but you can get it in kits and to purchase.  It is naturally resistant to rot and insects as well as having a great resistance to the most severe weather.  It has a natural amber colour and if it is left untreated, will turn to a silvery grey over time. But you can also add paints or stains to it to preserve the colour or to have it any colour you want.  It is perfect for those rustic looks.


Douglas Fir

The Douglas fir is one of the tallest trees around and comes in two main types, Coastal and Interior.  Like western red cedar, it is not always found in the UK, but you can get kits made with it as it is a North American tree.  The material is very stress-resistant to handle extreme weather – it manages the conditions in places like California! It is also very attractive and great to use in a pergola where it will not warp or shrink over time.



Larch is a natural UK wood and is considered a softwood so can be more budget-friendly than some of the more exotic hardwoods.  It is very durable and resistant to insects while the wood has interesting patterns and a nice golden colour. It isn’t always ideal for building but with something like a pergola which has less structural demands, it can work perfectly.


Choose the right wood

There’s no right or wrong answer to the question of which wood to choose for your pergola – look at the durability of the wood and how easy it is to care for.  Then it is about the look you want and the budget you have.