Skip to Content

Pergolas vs Canopies (A Complete In-Depth Comparison)

Pergolas vs Canopies (A Complete In-Depth Comparison)

Share this post:

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click one of these links and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. In addition, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Picking pergola vs. canopy is a tricky choice. Both structures can drastically transform your outdoor space into a much more appealing one.

A pergola can be used as an aesthetic area, a relaxing spot, or even a party zone. On the other hand, a canopy is a reliable outdoor shelter on sunny days.

Additionally, due to the canopy’s portability, it can be employed outside the home for different purposes, for example, as a beachside cabin.

In this post, we’ll break down all the differences between pergolas and canopies.

Pergola vs. Canopy: A Quick Overview

Let’s take a quick look at the two outdoor structures.

Pergolas: The Charming Extended Part of the Home

Pergolas are shade structures with neither floor nor sides and an open roof. They’re made mostly of wood. Their frame consists of beams and four posts.

These buildings are cozy places to relax and enjoy the outdoors. They’re also built to add an aesthetic view to the garden or backyard.


  • Considered an extended part of your home
  • You can easily DIY
  • Can be used as a plant’s home


Canopies: The Versatile Outdoor Structure

Canopies are freestanding, portable structures you can place anywhere outdoors.

They’re made of metal frames backed by vertical posts and covered by a durable fabric. That fabric is usually waterproof. So, they can be an excellent shelter in times of hot sun or rain.

In addition, they can be in any size, depending on the space available.

Further, their usage isn’t limited to home only. They can also be used for camping, on the beach, or even commercially.


  • Can be waterproof
  • Can come at a low cost
  • Don’t require a lot of maintenance


  • In case of large sizes, materials are bulky, and it becomes hard to build
  • Can’t withstand harsh weather conditions

Pergola vs. Canopy: A Toe-To-Toe Comparison

Knowing the essential dissimilarity between the two structures will help you easily make up your mind. 10 factors make all the difference between a pergola and a canopy.

Here’s an in-depth analysis of them:

1 – Design Flexibility

If you use your outdoor structure throughout the year, having a design that can be customized according to different weather conditions is essential.

Pergolas’ design is ideal for summer. Though, it’s not a reliable shelter when it comes to the cool breezes of fall or freezing temperatures of winter.

This is because it provides little resistance to these cold months’ weather. Still, with some curtains and roller blinds, things can dramatically change.

Thus, pergolas can be rain and wind-resistant.

On the other hand, some canopies are originally waterproof. So, they can be a good shelter in the rain.

Nevertheless, you can add fitted curtains and roller blinds to the canopy to promote its rain and cold resistance. That way, you can use it as a shelter in cold months.

The Winner: Canopies

Although, with some additions, both structures can stand well in rain and light winds, canopies’ main design is waterproof.

2 – Privacy

Regarding privacy, two open structures, like a pergola and canopy, may seem totally inappropriate at first glance.

That said, with a few additions, both structures can provide a decent level of privacy.

Simply hang curtains around a canopy, and curtains with a roof cover around the pergola. That way, you turn them into perfect private spaces.

The Winner: Draw

Both can easily get the same level of privacy.

3 – Sun Protection

Canopies come with a covered roof, allowing them to offer maximum shade. Actually, this is one of their main usages. On the other hand, the pergola’ open roof won’t do much to block sun rays.

Nevertheless, you can add a layer of sun-booking cover on your pergola to make it more sun resistant.

The Winner: Canopies

They’re structures with shade by nature.

4 – Ease of Use

Pergolas are built once, and then you can use them all the time with no further setup.

On the flip side, people usually build canopies for short use and then disassemble and store them for later. So, each time you use a canopy, you’ll need to install it again.

The Winner: Pergolas

They require only a one-time setup.

5 – Versatility

Pergolas can be used as a relaxing place as well as an entertaining one. Additionally, it can be an excellent small flower garden.

If your pergola is large, you can hold parties of different kinds in it and have fun with your friends.

On the other hand, besides garden purposes, you can use your canopies away from home. Their portability makes them good options for the beach, open-air exhibits, and many more uses.

The Winner: Canopies

They can be used in the garden and in other activities away from home.

6 – Growing Climbers

The canopies’ temporary nature and closed roofs make them unsuitable for growing climbing plants on their structure.

Conversely, pergolas are excellent structures that can be used to grow climbers on.

Climbers can grow on their posts, climbing up to their open roofs where their branches wrap around the openings creating an exquisite look.

The Winner: Pergolas

They are ideal for growing climbers.

7 – Adding Aesthetic Touch

Canopies are usually used as portable items, and when installed, they typically add no beauty to the house. That’s because they don’t fit well with the home design.

Pergolas are considered parts of the home. So, people pay much attention to their design and how they fit into the overall home style.

That’s why they add a terrific aesthetic to homes.

The Winner: Pergolas

They combine well with the overall home design to offer an appealing look.

8 – Combination with Other Structures

Pergolas can be combined well with other structures like gazebos or verandas. That way, the integration of the pergola and the other building provides an enticing, eye-catching look.

For example, you may build the pergola as a lead to a gazebo. Actually, integration ideas for pergolas are limitless.

Similarly, canopies can be attached to an existing building, adding a space of shade to it. In addition, they can protect the building from rain and light winds.

Nevertheless, this is the only combination you can make using a canopy.

The Winner: Pergolas

They can be attached to multiple other structures.

9 – Maintenance

Pergolas are usually built with high-pressure treated wood. So, when exposed to harsh weather conditions over time, this wood gets a warp crack.

In addition, adding a climber like Devil’s Ivy or any other plant gradually damages the structure. That way, pergolas need to be stained each couple of years.

It also requires checks every few months to spot any damage in wood and repair it.

Nevertheless, some pergolas are made of vinyl and aluminum, giving them more durability and even double their regular default life. Consequently, they require less maintenance.

On the flip side, a canopy is usually made of robust materials, including PVC, galvanized steel, and aluminum.

In addition, its curtains, roller blinds, and the entire frame require cleaning every few months. This cleaning takes half an hour at most and is pretty straightforward.

Further, its roof usually is windproof, which makes it last longer.

The Winner: Canopies

Most of them are made of robust materials, requiring less maintenance.

10 – Cost

A pergola can cost anywhere between $500 to over $1,500, according to its size and materials used.

On the other hand, a canopy can start at as low as $150. Still, its price may go up to over three thousand bucks depending on the advanced additions you might add to it.

The Winner: Canopies

Their cost starts from a notably lower range than pergolas.

Final Thoughts

If vacillating between pergola vs. canopy, consider the differences mentioned above.

Choose canopies if you’re looking for less maintenance, multi-uses, sun protection, and minimum cost.

Alternatively, pergolas are best if you seek a beautiful structure, a good combination with other buildings, a one-time setup shelter, or a home for your plants.

Share this post: