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Pergolas vs. Gazebos: Which Is Right for You?

Pergolas vs. Gazebos: Which Is Right for You?

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Installing a backyard structure is always a great idea to enhance the aesthetic of your house and add a place to chill.

However, if you have to choose between a pergola vs. gazebo, which one would you go with? And why?

There are many things to consider before picking the type of outdoor structure you need. The house style, weather protection, and cost are all factors affecting your decision.

In this article, we’ll provide you with more information about the differences between pergolas and gazebos to help you decide which type is right for you.

Is a Pergola a Gazebo?

Simply, no. Though some people may confuse a pergola with a gazebo, there are a few distinctive features that help tell them apart.

First, you need to fully comprehend what each structure is and what it looks like.

What Is a Pergola?

Typically, a pergola is a modern, simple structure that can be free-standing in your backyard or attached to your house.

Moreover, it’s often made of various materials like aluminum, vinyl, wood, etc.

The roof of this structure consists of intermittent horizontal beams that offer partial shade. Furthermore, people often use those beams to grow vines or other climbing plants.

Some pergolas have canopies hanging in between those slabs, while other, more contemporary pergolas have retractable roofs.

In all cases, a pergola doesn’t offer complete weather protection. However, having climbing plants over its roof helps ease the heat and humidity.

As for the flooring, you can build a pergola on a currently existing deck or patio with its posts settling on concrete or directly on the ground.

That said, pergolas usually have no walls. Nevertheless, when they do, they’re often similar in minimalism to the roof, for example, rotatable blades or retractable zip shades.

People preferring simplicity and sleek styles usually go with pergolas to compliment the vibes of their ultramodern backyards.

Whether you choose to place it near your pool, over your patio, or beside your favorite flower bed, a pergola is, without a doubt, an awesome relaxing spot.


  • Pergolas are affordable and easy to DIY
  • The wood is usually durable
  • Great place for entertaining, dining, or relaxing
  • Can be more protected using fabric covers


  • Wooden pergolas require regular maintenance
  • Pergolas made of wood are prone to termites and color fading
  • Outdoor structure make your backyard look smaller
  • Not everyone’s cup of tea

What Is a Gazebo?

Gazebos have been around for much longer than pergolas and always offer a more luxurious addition to your backyard.

A gazebo comes in a polygon shape. Whether six-sided or eight-sided, it always looks classically stunning. Furthermore, some gazebos come with built-in benches.

The roof of a gazebo is fully solid, and it always mimics the style of the house it’s installed next to. Additionally, it’s often pitched. So, it provides complete protection from the rain.

Gazebos rarely come with no walls. A standard, partially closed gazebo usually has half walls or railings.

A fully closed gazebo, on the other hand, has full-length walls on every side with large windows. This is perfect for enjoying the view while lounging.

For additional rain protection, a gazebo has a raised floor with a couple of steps. That’s to ensure that the inside remains dry even during a heavy storm.

Overall, classic gazebos with pagodas or tiled roofs are more classic than pergolas, and they fit perfectly in a Victorian-style backyard.

That said, there are more modern styles of gazebos, which are made of steel frames covered with waterproof fabrics.

Though not as strong as the classic gazebos, they’re a great choice for those who need a temporary structure.


  • Gazebos provide more shade from the hot sun
  • The solid roof of a gazebo offers full protection from the rain
  • You can install screening over gazebos for insect protection


  • Can make your backyard look smaller
  • Gazebos require additional maintenance to maintain their condition

What Are the Differences Between a Pergola vs. a Gazebo?

Now that you know what each backyard structure looks like, it’s time to know what the key differences between them are.

Your final choice of the best backyard structure depends on what you essentially need from this area and the overall climate of the region you live in.

Here are some of the key differences between pergolas vs. gazebos:

StructureCan be partially attached to your houseStand-alone structure
ShapeSquare or rectangularPolygon (six or eight-sided) or oval
RoofHorizontal beams, canopies, retractable roof, or no roofPitched solid pagoda or tiled roof
Roof materialMetal, fiberglass, plastic, or fabricRoof tiles, shingles, dyed canvas, or acrylic
WallsUsually no wallsHalf walls, railings, or full-length walls with an open or gated doorway
FloorDirectly over the lawn or a patioRaised floor with steps
MaterialPVC, vinyl, fiberglass, or aluminumWood, vinyl, or aluminum
ShadePartial shadeFull shade and cover
ShelterLittle shelter from the rainFull shelter from the rain

Pergola vs. Gazebo: Which Is More Affordable?

The cost of each type is a major factor, especially when you’re on a tight budget. Additionally, if you’re a DIY type of person, there may be a more convenient choice for you than the other.

Basically, a pergola is cheaper than a classic gazebo, and if you’re planning to save on labor costs, a pergola is also the one to go for here.

Fortunately, there’s a wide variety of pergola kits in the market that are ready for self-assembly. Alternatively, you can find many plans available for custom-building a pergola.

What’s more, the wood used for this type of project is quite affordable.

That said, there are metal-frame gazebos. They’re quite inexpensive and they come with removable fabric tents.

Just like pergola kits, gazebos also come in an array of options and building kits. However, their fabric covers tear easily and may need frequent replacement.

All in all, while gazebo kits are more expensive than pergolas, the latter are remarkably more complex to build.

Pergola vs. Gazebo: Which Should You Go With?

When deciding between a pergola and a gazebo, it all comes down to personal preferences. Simply, both of them offer shade and shelter to some extent.

That’s why you should be precise with your practical requirements before picking the type of backyard structure you prefer.

If you live in a region where it rains more frequently than usual, you should go with a gazebo for full protection.

Contrarily, if your town is often hot and you need a place to lounge by the poolside, a pergola is a perfect choice. Throw in a few climbing plants, and you’ll have your dream oasis.

That said, consider the architectural style of your house as well as the aesthetic and energy that you want to add to it. Moreover, decide if you want a permanent or temporary structure.

What’s even more important is considering the yard space and how much of it you’re willing to give up for an outdoor structure.

Both a pergola and a gazebo are great for family and friends gatherings. So, all you need is to go out and spend some time in your backyard before making the choice.

Imagining what each structure would feel like in the available space all year round is crucial for the selection process.

Note that if you decide to attach the structure to your house, you might need a permit. That’s why it’s essential to check your local building codes to avoid future complications.

How Much Value Does an Outdoor Structure Add to Your House?

While both structures add a lovely appeal to your house, they add value to it as well. Additionally, houses with backyard structures appeal to buyers more than others.

That’s especially in areas with warmer weather where people use the outdoors more often, like the southern states.

So, exactly how much does a pergola or a gazebo add to your house’s value?

Well, it’s hard to precisely determine the exact figure. Nevertheless, you get to enjoy having an outdoor structure as long as you live in the house.

Final Thoughts

If you enjoy gatherings and outdoor barbecues, then having an outdoor structure is a must. However, choosing between a pergola vs. gazebo can be tough.

While both structures offer a place to chill with friends and family, each of them has distinctive features that separate it from the other.

Pergolas offer partial shade and rain protection and cost less than gazebos. Additionally, some styles are attachable to the house.

Gazebos, on the other hand, provide full shade and enclosure, but their more affordable styles aren’t that long-lasting.

So, it all comes to the features you’re looking for in an outdoor structure. Either way, they both add value to your house.

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