Proper pergola maintenance

Posted September 13, 2018 in Landscape Maintenance

A pergola is a wonderful feature that adds not just beauty, but function to your outdoor living space.  From highly ornate custom structures to prefabricated wooden kits, the inclusion of a pergola will certainly introduce character into the landscape, helping the space feel warm and welcoming.  However, just as the showy perennials in your garden or the water feature tucked away in your favorite garden nook, pergolas also need a little TLC from time to time to keep them looking and performing their best.

Being that pergolas are exposed to the elements 24/7 and 365, it is important to know the basic maintenance to care for your investment.  The solutions used and the method of cleaning will depend on what your pergola is constructed out of.  A little preventive maintenance goes a long way, so let’s explore the suggested do’s and don’ts for both vinyl and wooden pergolas in your outdoor living spaces.


Vinyl pergolas are typically white in color and exude a light, clean and fresh feeling to the backyard, but as we all know, white usually means upkeep.  However, don’t stress, because vinyl is an amazingly low-maintenance material and a little elbow grease goes a long way.

First, it is important to know that not all household solutions and cleaning tools are right for the job.  Rough and abrasive sponges and scrubbers along with any caustic or harsh cleaning solutions should stay far away from this material!  While deep cleaners are known for making white items very vibrant, vinyl pergolas have a general sheen to them, and hard chemicals will dull or remove the gloss completely.  We recommend approaching your vinyl pergola with a mild detergent mixed in warm water and a non-abrasive cloth to do the scrubbing.

You will find that a gentle bath will have your vinyl pergola looking great by putting in just a little time and effort.  However, there are instances where stubborn stains, debris and scruffs will put up a heck of a fight.  To give yourself an honest fighting chance, it’ll be time to break out the big guns…the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.  Once you get that incessant Mr. Clean jingle out of your head, use the warm, soapy water to do some light but precise scrubbing.  If you are finding that the determined gook is something sticky, follow the product directions for vinyl-approved products such as Goo Gone and watch it wipe away.  Lastly, if your efforts are only being half met with success, you may certainly involve your power washer, but be sure it is set at a lower setting.  A power washer set too high may damage the structure and harm the more delicate areas such as roof lattice.


Wooden pergolas are gorgeous and can tolerate more cleaning action than its vinyl counterpart, however, a wooden structure also comes with its own set of maintenance rules.  The first step in maintaining your pergola will be a visual inspection.  Give your structure a once-over to find any concerning splits, cracks or darned carpenter bee holes.  If you notice any glaring imperfections, call the installer or manufacturer of the product, perhaps your issue is covered under a warranty.  If only minor imperfections are found, you need not worry, some cracks will happen and can be helped with a coat of fresh stain.

To clean your wooden pergola, get that power washer out again, using nice and even strokes with the power washer set on low.  Be careful not to get the nozzle too close to the wood itself, as the pressure may damage and mar the wood.  You may also use a scrub brush and warm, soapy water if there is any deep cleaning to be done.  Once the wooden structure is completely dry, which may take a day or two, it is recommended to apply a coat of stain.  We recommend staining your structure as often as you notice it looking worn down or not as vibrant as you recall.  Once you move the furniture out of the way and put down your protective tarps, coat the structure with a nice water-based stain or matching exterior paint in long and even strokes.  This will guarantee a uniform and brilliant look, bringing the outdoor feature back to life!

These cleaning suggestions and methods may seem like common sense and simple enough to do, but sometimes these things are worth another mention as a friendly reminder.  Cleaning the winter grime and early season pollen off your pergola in the spring will usher in the summer with smiles and also increase the longevity of your structure.  Protecting your investments and extending your enjoyment of your backyard is what it’s all about, and MasterPLAN is always happy to offer tips, tricks and helpful suggestions to keep your outdoor living spaces looking their best!

For those living in the Poconos, Lehigh Valley through the Main Line of Philadelphia and western New Jersey who would like to explore their options for their very own backyard oasis, reach out to MasterPLAN Outdoor Living!  Partnering with our clients through the custom outdoor living design and installation process, we believe in full transparency and honest communication throughout the entire journey.  Let’s sit down and uncover the full potential of your property, so you and your family can live your best life outdoors…we would love to welcome you into the MasterPLAN family!

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