Half Circle Pergola Designs: Curved Pergolas Offer a Variety of Unique Looks

half circle pergola designs

Some half and quarter circle pergola designs use rafters of different lengths to create the curved look.

I have a good friend who recently moved into a new house which already had a half circle, curved pergola in the backyard, and it is not exaggerating too much to say that she is obsessed with this pergola. It makes the yard look more elegant, and it creates an outdoor space which is perfect for sitting with a cocktail or a beer. If you want a unique structure in your yard or entryway, you may want to think outside the box–literally. While a standard square pergola looks nice as well, a half circle design is a fun update on the traditional. It’s not as simple to build as a standard pergola, but if you’re an experienced DIYer, it can be an interesting and ultimately satisfying project.

You have a lot of options in creating a half circle pergola. You can use bent wood, or you can create the optical illusion of curves with strategically cut and placed rafters and beams. Half circle shapes make great pergolas for the front of the house, particularly for entryways that are small or unusually shaped. They’re also great for setting off properties with gabled features. If you’re convinced that you need a half circle pergola, this is what you need to know about building one.

Types of Half Circle Pergola Designs

A half circle pergola isn’t just one specific design. The term is used to refer to all kinds of pergolas that use curves to add a bit of interest to a normally straightforward structure. The difficulty level and expense can vary quite a bit as well. Here are a few basic half circle-type pergola designs, as well as the best uses and locations for each:

  • Pitched half circle: A pitched half circle pergola is taller in the back and slopes down towards the front. Picture the construction as a bit like the top of a teepee, where the higher end pieces are closer together and fan out on the lower end. This type of pergola is great placed against the house over front or back entryways.
  • Inverted half circle: The inverted half circle is when the front is wider than the back. This is a good option if you want a pergola up against your entryway but you don’t much exterior wall to work with. The straight edge acts as the front of your pergola while the curved edge is the back.
  • Curved half circle: The name of this type of pergola may sound redundant, but it’s really the best way to describe a pergola that makes use of a bent beam to create a smooth, seamless curve. These pergolas usually aren’t always full half circle shapes; many are more like a long narrow pergola that’s been bent to create a c-shape. This design is a bit more expensive to create as it requires a custom beam. It’s an elegant style that may work best with homes that have clean lines and a more contemporary design, and the c-shaped version looks better as a freestanding structure than up against a house.

While half circle pergola designs can be eye-catching, like multi-level pergola designs, they’re a bit more complex to build than typical pergolas. You’ll need to make some adjustments if you’re working off a rectangular design plan, and there’s a lot more measuring and cutting to consider. If you’re a pergola novice, you’re best off working with a plan that you don’t need to alter, or getting the assistance of a more experienced DIYer. Here are some of the important things to keep in mind.

The Challenges of Building a Curved Pergola

Most of the complexity, when it comes to creating a half circle pergola is due to the roof, but there are also other considerations to think about. When you’re building your half circle pergola, don’t forget that:

  • Post placement may change. For most designs, you can still use four posts to create the base of the pergola, but unlike with regular, rectangular structures, your posts will likely be spaced so that the beams on top of them form a half hexagon shape. You may also need to add an additional post at the center to support the longest beam.
  • The beams may be in a different arrangement. Again, the beams make up the perimeter of your roof can be placed in a square, like a regular pergola, or in a half hexagon shape. With either of these styles, you’re going to want to use reliable truss ties made of hot dipped galvanized steel to ensure that the connections are solid. An alternative to using these multi-beam options is to use a bent beam instead. To bend a beam yourself, it needs to be steamed for one hour per inch at about 212° F to make the wood malleable. If you’ve never steamed wood before (and don’t have a good place to do it), you’re best off purchasing a custom curved beam.
  • You’ll need to decide how to use your joists and rafters to create the half circle. To create the illusion of a circular roof, you can either arrange the joists in a fan shape and criss-cross your rafters between them, or you can use the length of the rafters to create the circular look by cutting each one slightly shorter than the next. Whichever way you go, use sturdy hardware, especially with heavier components like joists. Rafter clips made from thick powder coated steel look good and are functional, as are specially coated timber bolts.

The most important part of your pergola design is going to be your blueprint or plan. You can adapt a circular pergola plan or a standard pergola plan or create your own. Just keep in mind that the measurements get a bit more complex with circular and half circle pergolas as your rafter sizes are going to vary and you may be working with curved beams. You’re also going to need strong, adaptable hardware to manage your rafter support as well.

When I need hardware that is super tough but also looks great, I turn to OZCO, and I told my friend that if her precious pergola’s hardware ever fails (and it’s your basic galvanized stuff, so it may wear out pretty soon), OZCO is the place to go. They make hardware that is both strong and attractive, so you can hold your beams and rafters in place and add a bit of flair. Their ornamental wood ties are thick, hot dipped galvanized steel that’s also coated with a high-quality black powder coating to protect against UV rays and corrosion. This makes their hardware both uniquely attractive and tougher than anything else I’ve used so far. OZCO has plans for all kinds of pergola designs, so if you’re planning on building a pergola you can find out what materials you need before you start, so you can build a pergola that you, too, will be obsessed over.

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