Outdoor Living Products and Pergolas FAQs

What are the differences between Pergola Rafters made with Wood vs. Vinyl vs. PVC  vs. Fibreglass?
The main differences come from the material itself as opposed to anything to do with the shape of rafters. Pergola rafters made from wood are the most common. Wood is classical, economical, and easy to install. The downside is that it needs continuous maintenance and upkeep in painting or staining. Some outdoor structures can be intricate therefore making staining or painting time-consuming. 

Vinyl is a durable material that is water-resistant, unlikely to rot, and fairly maintenance-free. It can be installed much like wood is, however it is far less common to find pergola rafters made from this compared to the other options. It is also not ideal in places with intense weather as it can not only fade but can bend and warp under heavy snow or heat.

Fiberglass is lightweight, strong, and fairly weather resistant. The downside to fiberglass is that due to the process in how it’s made, it has a variety of surface textures and distortions can appear in fiberglass even weeks after the resin in it has set. 

Finally, PVC aka polyvinyl chloride, which we use here is similar to its cousin vinyl in that it is installed the same way wood is. It is less likely to warp or split and is moisture-free. PVC is maintenance-free and can be painted or left as is. We do recommend painting.

Do you offer custom Profiles and/or Custom Sizing for your Outdoor Products?
We offer an infinite variety of profiles, sizes, lengths, and Structures. We request that you send us a sketch of your project, CAD drawing, Rendering, or Setup file to sales@elitetrimworks.com, and we will promptly get back to you.

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What options are available for Arbors? Do they come in kits?

We are working on offering and packaging Easy to assemble Window and Garage Arbor Kits; they should be posted by this spring. Contact us if you are looking for something specific. Some available options are making Arbors.
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What is the best way to mount a Wood Beam to the TOP of a support Post?
There are several steel wood connectors made by Simpson Stong-Tie that are sold at big box stores. Choose a size to accommodate your beam and support post. If you are ordering your beam or rafters from us, we provide guidance on what connector to use. Click to find out how to make your own Engineered Wood Beam.

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What Hidden Hardware is used for Installing PVC Beams to the Support Rafter?
Mounting hardware is often exposed and adds to the character of wooden outdoors structures, but that is not the case for white PVC Structures. Most people prefer the screw heads and other mounting hardware remain hidden. Depending on the sizing and whether or not the Beam or component you are installing is hollow or solid, the installation method differs. For hollow components, we typically ask that you drill an ¾" to 1" hole to allow access for mechanical fasteners. We produce and supply PVC Plugs that fill in the opening simply by tapping the plug in place with a rubber hammer. For large, hollow Pergola Rafters or Beams, we include both the screws and plugs (see drawing below). For smaller, solid purlins, we offer Concealed Fastening Kits and the tool with installations on how to use them. In the end, the metal hardware is not left exposed to rust. We will be looking at this closer and describing the methods in more detail in the future.

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How do you keep PVC Pergola Rafters from sagging?
Depending on the load that is expected to be placed on the Rafter or Support Beam, we have used either Fiberglass Rebar, Aluminum tubes, Rust-Coated Steel Tubes, LVL Lumber, or Engineered Beams. Learn More.

What type of fastener is best to use?
It's important to use the correct fastener for the right amount of holding power and to use as few of them as possible. We provide guidance for installing our PVC Rafters Beams. Please ask if you are not sure how to mount or install them.

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Are Purlins absolutely necessary?

Whether the rafter is composite or not, the quick answer would be yes. Apart from the decorative appeal, Purlins add to the structure's overall strength and keep the Rafters from warping over time. They also prevent lateral shifting. In the case of PVC Rafters, you may order optional wider, 2" to 4" Rafter Beams that are stable even without purlins.
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We are constantly adding more questions to this section. In the meantime, contact us if you have any that we have not covered.