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Pergola vs Gazebo: What To Know Before You Buy

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When you’re imagining adding some backyard shade and a cozy spot to entertain, do you picture a pergola or a gazebo? Both structures offer similar benefits, but there are some key differences worth knowing before you make your final decision.

Here’s what you need to know about pergolas vs gazebos so that you can choose the right one for your home.

Pergola Vs Gazebo As Outdoor Structures

When it comes to pergola vs gazebo, the primary difference is the roof. Gazebo roofs give complete shade from the sun, while pergolas let sunlight shine through their crisscrossed roof. Pergolas usually give partial shade over hardscapes, walkways, and natural areas, while gazebos are their own structure.

Differences Between A Pergola And A Gazebo Outdoor Structure

Roof Design Differences

One of the most obvious distinctions between pergolas and gazebos is the roof. A pergola has an open roof design composed of rafters or beams that provide some shade from the sun but still allow rain to pass through. A gazebo has a solid roof that offers complete protection from the elements, as opposed to other structures with an open-air design. If you’re looking for a backyard structure that will provide a dry, sheltered space where you can enjoy your outdoor living space even on inclement days, a gazebo is likely the better choice.

Pergolas Can Be Attached To Your House

Another difference to keep in mind between a pergola vs gazebo is that pergolas can be attached to your house if you want to create an extension of your indoor living space outdoors. Gazebos generally need to be placed further away from the house since they have a solid roof that could present hazards if placed too close to your home (think falling debris in high winds).

Gazebos Provide More Shelter From The Weather

If shelter from the sun and rain is your primary goal, a gazebo will definitely provide more protection than a pergola. That being said, you can always add canvas or metal roofs to pergolas if you want them to offer more coverage. These types of roofs can be particularly helpful in ensuring that outdoor furniture stays dry and in good condition throughout the year.

Pergolas Typically Cost Less

Finally, for a pergola vs gazebo, it’s worth mentioning that pergolas typically cost less than gazebos overall. Of course, this will vary depending on size and materials, but in general, gazebos require more materials and labor to construct than pergolas because of their solid roofs. If budget is a major consideration in your decision-making process, a pergola may be the better way to go.

Pergolas And Gazebos Both Increase Property Values

While there are plenty of differences when talking about a pergola vs gazebo, they do have some common ground. Both structures can increase the value of your property while also providing you with a beautiful, functional outdoor space. Either of these structures can increase the value of your home by as much as 1.5%.

How To Pick The Right Pergola For Your Outdoor Space

Pergola with a fireplace
A pergola is a garden structure with a latticed roof that creates an inviting outdoor space. There are many different types of pergolas to choose from, so it’s important to pick the right one for your needs.

Pergola Installation Types

Freestanding pergolas are stand-alone structures that can be placed anywhere in your yard. Attached pergolas are attached to your house’s exterior wall or another structure.

Pergola Installation Tips

When installing pergolas, make sure that you select the right location. Pergolas should be placed in an open area where they will receive plenty of sunlight.

Determine the size of your pergola. It should be proportional to the size of your yard and the amount of space you have available. Keep in mind that larger pergolas will require more support beams.

The most important part of the frame is the ledger board, which should be securely fastened to your house or another structure. If you’re not confident in your DIY abilities, it’s best to hire a professional to install the ledger board and other key structural components.

Pergola Features

Pergolas can be simple or elaborate, depending on your needs. Some extra features to consider include built-in benches, arches, and trellises. Lights and fans can be added to create a comfortable space to enjoy even on hot days. Adding shade cloth can provide protection from harmful UV rays, and rafters can help support climbing plants.

Pergola Materials

The most common materials used for pergolas are wood (cedar, redwood, teak), aluminum, and vinyl. When choosing a material, consider durability, maintenance, and cost. Wood is the most popular choice because it’s durable and easy to work with, but it does require more maintenance than other materials. Aluminum is a good choice if you want a low-maintenance option that’s still durable. Vinyl is the least expensive option, but it’s not as durable as wood or aluminum.

How To Pick The Right Gazebo For Your Outdoor Space

Pergola and a gazebo structure by a pool

Gazebo Installation Types

There are three main types of gazebo installations: surface-mounted, sunken, and elevated. Each is a stand-alone structure.

Surface-mounted gazebos are the most common and can be installed on any level surface, including grass, concrete, pavers, or decking.

Sunken gazebos are installed into the ground and level with the surrounding ground surface.

Elevated gazebos are built on a raised platform, such as a deck or patio.

Gazebo Installation Tips

No matter what type of gazebo you choose, there are a few things to keep in mind during installation. Make sure you select a level spot for your gazebo. Mark the four corners of your selected spot with wooden stakes and string so you can clearly visualize where your gazebo will go. Clear the area of debris, such as rocks or sticks. Prep the ground by adding gravel or sand if necessary.

Gazebo Design Types

Patio Gazebo

Patio gazebos are usually made from wood or metal, and they can be attached to your deck or patio, or they can be a freestanding structure.

 Pop-Up Gazebo

Pop-up gazebos are usually made from polyester or nylon, and they have a frame that collapses down for easy storage. They’re a good option if you want something that you can take with you on camping trips or picnics.

Grill Gazebo

Grill gazebos are designed to protect your grill from the elements, and they usually have shelves or hooks where you can store grilling tools and supplies. Many grill gazebos also come with built-in lighting, so you can keep grilling even after the sun goes down.

Gazebo Features

While the features of a gazebo can vary depending on its style and purpose, there are certain elements that are common to most gazebos.

Most gazebos have a roof, which can be made from a variety of materials such as thatch, shingles, or even metal. The roof is supported by columns or posts, which can be made from wood, stone, or brick.

Gazebos also typically have a floor, which may be made from decking material, landscape pavers, or concrete. Many gazebos also include features such as railings or latticework to further enhance their aesthetic appeal.

Gazebo Materials

The material of your selected gazebo will largely depend on its intended use. If you’re looking for a temporary structure, then materials like canvas or nylon would be better suited as they can be taken down and stored away easily. If you want a more permanent gazebo structure, opt for materials like wood or metal.

You can also find composite materials which offer the benefits of both wood and metal, such as durability and easy maintenance.

Pergola Vs Gazebo: Other Considerations

Gazebo in garden

DIY Vs Hiring A Professional

One of the first things you’ll need to decide after choosing between a pergola vs gazebo is whether you want to tackle the project yourself or hire a professional. Both have their pros and cons. Building a pergola or gazebo yourself will obviously be cheaper, but it will also take longer and may be less structurally sound if you’re not experienced in carpentry. Hiring a professional, on the other hand, will cost more, but the end result will likely be better, and it will save you the time and hassle of doing it yourself.

Permits & Utilities

Another thing to keep in mind is that you may need a permit to build a pergola or gazebo. You’ll want to see what your local building codes are since they can be different depending on where you live. Check with your local zoning board or homeowner’s association to see if there are any restrictions on outdoor structures. You’ll also need to factor in the cost of running electricity to your pergola or gazebo if you want to add lighting or ceiling fans.


If you live in an area with harsh winters, you’ll need to take that into account when choosing between a pergola vs gazebo. Gazebos are generally better suited for colder climates as they provide more protection from the elements. Pergolas, on the other hand, are more popular in warmer regions as they offer less protection from the sun and rain.

Your Practical And Aesthetic Preferences

Ultimately, your decision will come down to your practical and aesthetic preferences. What kind of look are you going for? What’s your budget? How much maintenance are you willing to do? Answering these questions will help you narrow down your options and choose the right outdoor shade structure for your home.

Upgrade Your Backyard Space With Farrell’s Lawn & Garden Center

When it comes to a backyard pergola vs gazebo, both can be the perfect way to upgrade outdoor spaces. Not only are they a great place to relax, but they can also add value and functionality to your home.

If you’re interested in adding one of these structures to your yard, fill out our contact form today. We would be happy to help you get started on the process!