Shade structure construction

Albuquerque shade structures are called by many different names including Pergola, Ramada, Arbor, Porch, Patio cover, Atrium, Portale and Aluminum shade structure. Regardless of what we call them they all serve the same function but are constructed very differently. There are two distinct categories to describe shade structures in Albuquerque. The first is “free standing”. This is a shade structure totally supported by it own posts set in concrete for lateral strength. This is built some distance from the house as building codes require it to be at least 10 feet away from the house. It is not possible to erect a project like this on top of a concrete slab as there is no practical way to anchor it to the slab and retain enough lateral support. This type of shade structure will sway and move easily without serious braces on the post/roof connection. The most common installation is to bury the posts 30″ or more in the ground and then pour concrete.

The other popular category is the “attached” shade structure. This style is attached or bolted to the house with the use of lag bolts or other means of anchoring. It usually does not require posts for support where it attaches along the house. The attachment to the house provides most of the lateral support that is required so the other posts may be able to sit on top of an existing slab of concrete. This is especially true if there is a solid roof that prevents all sway in the posts. The most common type of post on Albuquerque shade structures is the “viga”, a round post tapered at the top where it joins the corbel or header timber. They add a southwestern shade structure charm to the project. Corbels are also a southwestern touch as are the corbel cut rafter tails giving an old world feel. The vigas sit on a post base to raise them off the surface and prevent water absorption.

Since these shade structures are usually built with heavy timber construction, everything about them is heavy duty. We usually don’t use hangers but rather timbers sit upon and are supported by another timber under it. The project is “stacked” so to speak, so the timbers hold themselves up, the fasteners simply hold them in place. Large 1/2″ lag bolts are installed in the joints after pre-drilling and counter boring the washers so little hardware is visible after assembly.

Various lap joints are used to join two timbers together creating a pleasing joint. Tongue and groove paneling is usually installed on the ceiling, covered with tar paper and pro panel metal roofing. Due to the low angle of the roof, only metal roofing is advised to prevent leaking. Flashing all around trims out the project. The whole shade structure is stained and sealed against the elements. We make our own Corbels and cut all our own rafter tails with many different styles to choose from. Carving is also available as well as American black walnut square “pegs” as old world building accents. We use Dovetails joints, Pegged Mortise and Tenon joints and Half Lap joinery at the most common attachment points depending on the project.

If you would like us to take a look at your Albuquerque shade structure project we’ll be happy to come out and provide a design and proposal. Call Narrow Leaf, Inc. at 505-897-1172 today for professional landscape design that will improve your outdoor living space!