Simple Ways To Upgrade And Enhance A Backyard Wood Structure

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Written By Berry Mathew

Pergolas, gazebos, trellises, and planting arches can turn an ordinary backyard into a storybook garden. These structures are classic and can be put together by professionals and DIY enthusiasts alike. They can be made with simple joinery using sturdy standard materials, like pine and cedar.

But what if you’re looking for something that makes your addition unique? This can be achieved by adding simple and inexpensive accents that not only look great but can also improve the stability of the structure, ease its construction, and improve its resistance through the seasons. Here are a few options for using and adding accents to wood structures.    

Carriage Bolts And Timber Bolts

These tough wood fasteners are used to provide a hold that cannot be easily achieved with wood screws. Timber bolts are an easy way to connect wood to wood while carriage bolts secure metal hardware to wood frames. Apart from securing connections, both carriage bolts and timber bolts can be used to enhance the esthetic of a structure.

Instead of using zinc carriage bolts, for example, HDG carriage bolts—also known as galvanized carriage bolts—can be used to create a rustic accented look. Black oxide, bronze finish, or hex-forged carriage bolts can be used to create an esthetically pleasing contrast against natural and stained wood.

The smooth domed-shaped head timber bolts and carriage bolts will add a more classic look while also improving the integrity of the assembly. Use them to enhance the visible part of a structure for a timeless look that’s also functional.     

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Rafter Clips And Decorative Brackets

Many modern pergola and gazebo kits make it easy to bypass the skill, labor, and tool requirements of wood joinery techniques by using special hardware. These wood connectors have gone from simple brackets, plates, and clips to decorative options that balance form with function.

Decorative rafter clips, joists, and wood brackets build on the popularity of exposed wooden trusses. They make it easy to connect wood planks using fastener assemblies. They also add tasteful accents that highlight the beauty of wood architecture instead of attempting to hide it.

This hardware is typically coated or made from corrosion-resistant, high-strength metals. They are made in a variety of shapes to suit specific connections, such as those that create a gambrel style roof or fan style overhang, as well as simple 45-degree and right-angle connections, and braces and clips that grip planks of various thicknesses.

There are a number of companies that specialize in the creation of decorative bracket kits that are combined with detailed assembly plans. These kits will usually require only the addition of wood planks that can then be fastened together.

Many decorative brackets can also be purchased as individual pieces, making it possible to apply them to a custom construction project or an existing structure.   

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Get Creative With Sealing And Staining

Sealing and staining a wood structure not only makes it look better, it’s vital to maintaining the integrity of the wood and preventing the common and costly problem of wood rot. Wood that is not pressure-treated should always be sealed in some way to guard against the effects of moisture, UV damage, and insects. Pressure-treated wood should also be sealed, but only after the wood has been thoroughly dried, which enables the sealant to fully penetrate it.

Apart from protective benefits, coating the wood is an easy way to enhance esthetic. A clear seal can dramatically improve the appearance of any wood structure by enhancing the natural beauty of the wood grain.

Modern paint and stain producers now offer an extensive selection of tinted stains that can give ordinary, lower-cost wood like pine the rich colors of cherry, walnut, and other more expensive and exotic woods. Staining a wood structure also provides an easy means of making it more cohesive with its surroundings. For a balanced look, seek inspiration from the color of the home’s siding, brick, or fencing, or natural parts of the local landscape. For a more modern look, consider using different but complementary shades of stain or paint on various parts of a single structure.