Deck with Pergola Reveal

Our deck with pergola is finished! And it took a whopping 3.25 days for three guys to build it.

I detailed in this post exactly what we were looking for in a deck. I even asked you guys to weigh in on the size of the pergola. And for the record, 70% of you voted for the larger pergola.

I think it’s important to show you the “deck” situation we had. The dimensions were something like 5×8 feet. As you can imagine, we hosted quite the parties on that deck. But you know, I’m glad we didn’t have our builder build the deck because, well, you should know by now.

Deck and Pergola Reveal - Before

As a refresher, here’s what was on our deck wish list:

• 18′ x 20′ deck on the right side of the house

• 12′ x 20′ pergola with multiple lattice

• thin black deck spindles

• solid deck skirting

• wood slat privacy screen

We used Fencing Unlimited Indianapolis to build the deck (not sponsored, we paid for the project). One of our neighbors used Bill and his crew to build their deck and pergola. Our neighbor had great things to say about them, so we got an estimate. Bill seemed easy to work with and the estimate was reasonable so we went with him. And while Bill didn’t necessarily agree with all of my ideas– ahem, the privacy screen, he went along with it. It was a pleasure working with him, and we’d definitely work with him again. We’re actually going to get an estimate from him for a fence. So if you live in the Indianapolis area and are looking to have a fence or deck installed, give him a call.


Bill and two of his guys arrived around 8:30AM on Monday. I had a blogger event at the state fairgrounds so the boys and I left before the guys got here. When we got back home that afternoon I was amazed how much they had done, especially because it was insanely hot and humid that day.

They had removed the old deck and framed the new deck and pergola before calling it a day.


It was pouring rain Tuesday morning, and I told Brad I didn’t think they showed up until the rain stopped. To our surprise, the guys showed up around 8:30AM. They set up a canopy in the yard to protect their tools from the rain and got to work. Thankfully, the rain cleared up around 11AM.

They laid all the deck boards, completed the skirting, and railings on Tuesday.


The guys got a ton done on Wednesday. They built the stairs and hand rails, completed the pergola, installed the spindles, got most of the privacy screen up, and filled holes and rough spots.

Because of the sump pump pipe and how the yard grades downward, we were limited on where the steps could go, but we’re happy with them. It actually created a nice little nook for our grill.


Bill and another guy were only here for about 2 hours Thursday morning to finish up. They installed the remainder of the privacy screen and sanded. By 11AM we had a completed deck and pergola. So in roughly 3 days, we had an 18×20 foot deck and 12×20 foot pergola.

deck with pergola and privacy screen

I’m looking forward to landscaping around the deck. I’d really like to plant some limelight hydrangeas. And more peonies.

pergola on deck

I love how the solid deck skirting anchors the deck. And it’ll hopefully keep pests from building their homes under the deck.

deck with privacy screen

I’m still really tempted to paint the deck gray and pergola and privacy screen white to better blend in with the house. Some of you have messaged me and encouraged me not to take this route, so we’ll see. I have until next spring to figure it out.

pergola on deck

I’m so glad I asked for extra lattice on top of the pergola for additional shade. I did this so it would be more comfortable for the boys to play out on the deck in the morning and early afternoon.

double shade pergola

This photo below was taken around noon. You can see how much shade the pergola and privacy screen provide– almost the entire deck is shaded.

pergola deck

pergola shade

We haven’t gotten furniture yet, but the plan is to add either a sectional or couch and chairs to the side with the privacy screen. We’ll put a dining table and chairs on the other side of the deck under the pergola.

deck privacy screen

As the day progresses, we lose shade because the deck is on the south side of the house. The photo below was taken around 4PM.

deck with pergola and privacy screen

Our plan is to add some sort of shades on this side of the pergola to block the sun so we can enjoy dinner out on the deck without the sun blasting us in the face.


There was a slight miscommunication about the placement of the pergola, which affected the privacy screen. I thought the pergola posts would be right next to the house, but they place them 23 inches from the house to accommodate the decorative ends of the pergola boards. It was too late to turn back on having them move the pergola posts as close to the house as possible (and reconfigure the pergola boards). Bill was going to put a section of railing between the house and the privacy screen. I asked if he could do a small section of privacy screen there instead because I thought it’d look funny to have railing and then the privacy screen.

This was the very precise rendering I did on my phone.

Bill agreed to do the small section of privacy screen. I’m very happy how it turned out.

deck privacy screen

I wanted to go with these thinner black spindles so the view of the lake wouldn’t be as obstructed. They have a glossy finish, which I like.

Since I love a good before and after, here are a couple of our view when we open the back door.

Deck and Pergola Update

Check out this post to see what the deck looks like with all our furniture and plants on it!

And check out this post where I detail how we added shade to the deck and pergola so we can enjoy the space in the evening.

deck with privacy screen

This may sound silly but considering our building history the past year and a half, it was a great feeling to work with a man who treated me with respect. And we were elated to have the deck and pergola built right the first time. It’s funny that this is how these types of things should go, but because of what we’ve gone through, we’re so appreciative when things turn out the way they should– if that makes sense. This experience restored my faith that there are quality contractors out there.

Brad and I can’t wait to sit out on the deck and enjoy gorgeous sunsets like these… with drinks in hand and children asleep in their beds.

Update: Click here to see what the deck looks like now that it’s painted and stained!

Deck with pergola and privacy screen

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  1. So beautiful!!! Love the way it turned out and all your choices. And great contractor to add to my list for client and personal use. ??

  2. I have deck envy, girl! It’s perfect! A flowering climbing plant would look gorgeous climbing that privacy wall!

  3. It looks great! I was interested to see how the privacy screen turned out and I really like it! My only suggestion would be at the base of your deck (behind where you plant the flowers), get chicken wire and lay it on the ground under the dirt up against the skirting of the deck. Critters LOVE to dig and get under ours. We even had a skunk dig underneath and hang out for a day until the dogs spotted him. The chicken wire stopped them from being able to dig down and you can’t see it at all so it’s a plus!

  4. I love your idea of the privacy wall. The whole thing looks GREAT!

  5. what a great deck! So happy for you that it turned out so well and the contractor was easy to work with/did quality work!

  6. Does the pergola cause you to get less natural light inside? I always wonder about building a shade structure on the patio outside our house, but I so covet every ounce of natural light we can get in our house!

  7. Looks great! I really like the pergola and privacy fence. I would be tempted to paint it as well, but my one concern would be that painted wood is VERY slippery when wet. My friend moved into a house with a painted deck and it was like a skating rink when it rained. There might be a treatment to help solve that issue, but slipping around on her deck when I was pet sitting for her really stuck with me.

  8. Elizabeth Fortier says:

    So beautiful!! I agree with those who are team no paint. We painted our deck a few years ago, and it really needed to be redone after 1-2 winters. If you aren’t planning to shovel it, it may hold up better, but our deck paint (and we got stuff specifically for that), just hasn’t held up, and looks shabby. I wish we had simply left it and sealed it.

  9. You know I love a big deck 😉

  10. So pretty, Chelsea! So glad that they got it done right the first time!

  11. This is so beautiful! I’m surprised at how much shade the pergola provides.

  12. Lori Wendte says:

    Your deck looks fabulous! That sunset picture was on point. You should have had those guys build your house. 😛

  13. Christina Tuohey says:

    Love this! Just curious why you chose wood over something like Trex? We are getting a big deck put on in the spring and I was leaning towards Trex. We live in new england and are not super handy (aka need materials that are low maintenance). Just wondering your thoughts because I really respect how much time you put into your research!


  14. the cape on the corner says:

    wow, this looks great! i can’t believe how much shade you’re getting and i LOVE the privacy panel.

  15. This is BEAUTIFUL! love the privacy panel. So dreamy! Thanks for sharing the idea with others. I am also going to install Pergola with Roof and will ask my contractor to install the privacy panel too. Thanks for sharing!!

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