Jumping in head first and choosing a timber without fully understanding what properties different varieties offer is an easy mistake to make. Not only do different timbers provide very different looks, but they also stand up differently to things like weather and termites.
Timber isn't the only choice, of course - and if you're after strength (perhaps for a less conventional design) steel or aluminium might even be a more suitable choice. Different cladding materials also offer different properties and behaviours - what you choose will ultimately come down to what you want from your pergola.
Silvertop Ash, also known as Coast Ash, is native to Australia. It is sustainably grown readily available, and is strong and durable. Silvertop Ash is not as resistant to termites as some other timbers.
Spotted gum, also known as Lemon-Scented Gum, is native to coastal areas in eastern Australia. As decking, it is attractive, tough and fade-resistant, and be stained and finished quite easily.
Red Gum refers to a number of Australian species (most commonly River Red Gum). Red gum offers beautiful hues and graining, and is rot and termite resistant but may degrade with humidity changes.
Treated pine is in plentiful supply, and is very affordable. It offers a 'softer' feel underfoot than some other types of wood. Pine must be properly treated to prevent termites and weather damage.
Cypress is the name given to a range of different species of conifer. Cypress is durable, stable and resistant to termites and insects, and offers a range of attractive colour options.
Merbau, also known as kwila and ipil, is a tropical timber which inhabits mangrove forests. Merbau is attractive and termite resistant, although its use has a considerable environmental impact.
Composite decking is a type of decking material normally composed of plastics, timber and sawdust. Composite decking is designed to look like wood, requires very little maintenance and is quite strong.
uPVC decking is a plastic alternative to timber and composite decking and cladding materials. It comes in a wide range of styles and colours and requires very little maintenance.
A number of different stains, paints and acrylic treatments can be applied to timber, both to improve the way it looks and to help to make it more resistant to weather and termites.
Decking oil is a type of oil used to penetrate and protect timber decking from the elements and general deterioration. Decking oil can be used to rejuvenate timber and restore its natural colour.
Steel beams can be used to construct pergolas and gazebos. Pergolas made from steel are normally extremely strong, very durable and long lasting. Steel pergolas offer a very different look and feel to timber.