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Pergolas vs. Awnings (What Makes Them Different?)

Pergolas vs. Awnings (What Makes Them Different?)

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Whether it’s too much sun or the frequent rain, fixtures like pergolas and awnings are ideal solutions. That being so, you don’t want to confuse both structures.

When it comes to differentiating between pergola vs. awning, both may have the same purpose, but that’s where similarities end.

Pergolas are large architectural structures that are composed of pillars or wall supports. On the other hand, awnings are merely retractable extensions.

Stick around to learn more about the difference between pergolas and awnings.

Is a Pergola an Awning?

Although pergolas and awnings essentially serve the same purpose, to provide shade, they differ in several aspects. The main difference lies in the structure of both outdoor arrangements.

Pergolas are built with columns, pillars, and sometimes walls for arched types. Meanwhile, Awnings are attached to a building or house with no other support.

That being said, pergolas are not awnings. Both differ in design, structure, maintenance, and costs.

What’s the Difference Between a Pergola and an Awning?

Awnings and pergolas are sometimes confused with each other since they both offer shade or protection from the sun and rain.

Nonetheless, pergolas and awnings are different structures with contrasting designs and placements.


Pergolas and awnings are designed differently in terms. Both provide different aesthetic appeals and placement options.


Generally speaking, awnings are a piece of fabric stretched using metal frames. Now, they can be stretched into multiple designs fit for different placements.

For instance, a dome-shaped awning is perfect for storefronts. Meanwhile, retractable awnings are ideal for patios and decks where you can shield the region from extreme weather but retract it back to get a tan.

In addition to this, awnings are exceptionally versatile in shape and can be easily removed and installed.


Pergolas are a relatively larger and more permanent structure. Like awnings, they come in various types such as freestanding and attached pergolas.

The structure is designed to create a defined area. For instance, freestanding pergolas are separate from any wall support and stand alone.

They provide a graceful addition to your backyard. Plus, you can decorate your pergolas with foliage, light fixtures, and even a ceiling fan.

Overall, pergolas are more appealing in terms of design and appearance because they offer more than just a shade. They provide you with value and a seamless transition from your indoor to outdoor space.


Awnings and pergolas also differ in terms of materials. Here’s what each type of structure is built of.


Awnings are shade extensions built on wall support. More often than not, they use metal frames to support their structure.

The fabric covering the frames can be made out of several materials ranging from polyester, vinyl, cotton, and acrylic.

The materials can come in different colors and patterns. Additionally, each option has its pros and cons.

For instance, polyester may be weather-resistant and durable, but its color tends to fade due to extreme sun exposure.


On the other hand, pergolas are more versatile with their material construction. You can find pergolas made out of wood, steel, aluminum, vinyl, fiberglass, concrete, and more.

Each material offers its advantages and disadvantages. For example, wood pergolas are a staple structure and give you a classic and elegant appeal.

Nonetheless, they’re porous and tend to attract pests like termites. In turn, they require more maintenance.


Awnings and pergolas both require some form of maintenance. Besides that, one might be easier to care for than the other.


Awnings are usually made of fabric material. Consequently, they can catch a lot of dirt and debris from their surroundings.

That being so, caring for the awning involves using a brush to dust it off first. Afterward, they require a rinse or wash using a hose to keep the fabric looking clean and fresh.

Make sure the fabric is dried off completely before you retract the awning. Now, this cleaning process needs to be done at least every month.

You may also need to do a deep cleaning session every two to three years. This means using a mild soap and scrubbing off any stains that have been gathered throughout the years.


Pergola maintenance primarily depends on the type you own. For example, wooden pergolas require much more maintenance than fiberglass options.

You’ll want to stain them and make sure they’re termite and mold-free. Meanwhile, aluminum pergolas usually need a yearly power wash.

Meanwhile, some options like concrete pergolas rarely require any upkeep. Vinyl and fiberglass pergolas are also low maintenance and require occasional wiping.

Having said that, pergolas are still easier to maintain compared to awnings.


In regard to durability, awnings and pergolas vastly differ.


Although awnings are well-equipped to handle sun exposure and light rain. Now, if it begins to rain heavily, that’s when you should start to worry.

The rainwater can accumulate on top of the awning and cause mold issues if left untreated. On top of that, awnings aren’t built for snowfall.


Pergolas are much more durable than awnings. They can handle extreme weather more efficiently due to their strong build.

With a metal or cement base, the structure won’t be falling off anytime soon.


Price-wise, awnings and pergolas both have a wide range. Generally, awnings are smaller structures, so will cost less.

Nonetheless, some awnings can be priced higher than certain types of pergolas.


Awnings can come at affordable prices ranging from $250 to $500. They can also be offered at premium prices reaching $1,200.

The difference in prices depends on the type of awning you get. Smaller options like window awnings are more budget-friendly than awnings that cover a whole patio or deck.

In addition to size, prices can differ based on features. Motorized awnings can cost anywhere between $2,000 to $10,000 including professional installation.

In contrast, deck awnings can go for $800 to $6,000. For this reason, awnings don’t have fixed prices.


Like awnings, pergolas also differ in price. The cost could depend on aspects such as size, material, design, and customization.

The cost is mainly measured per square foot. An aluminum pergola can cost $10 to $30 per square foot to build.

In turn, a standard aluminum pergola ranges between $1,920 to $5,760. On the pricier end, fiberglass pergolas can reach luxury prices like $11,520.

With that in consideration, you can expect to spend a bigger number on pergolas than on awnings.

Pros and Cons of Owning a Pergola and Awning

After examining the main differences between a pergola and an awning, let’s look at the pros and cons of each structure.

Pros of Pergola

  • Pergolas are sturdier structures that can withstand extreme weather changes.
  • The construction offers better aesthetic value than awnings.
  • They provide an escape from your home space.
  • Pergolas are versatile structures, they can be BBQ areas, meditation spots, and more.

Cons of Pergola

  • Not all pergola types are retractable, so you wouldn’t be able to let a little sunlight in.
  • They require a lot more time and effort in terms of installation.

Pros of Awning

  • Awnings require lesser effort to install and can be easily removed.
  • The structure takes up a lot less space compared to pergolas.
  • They’re less expensive than pergolas.
  • Awnings can increase your home value.

Cons of Awning

  • They’re not always waterproof and can leak droplets.
  • Awnings are not durable enough to handle extreme weather such as snowfall.

Final Thoughts

When looking at pergolas vs. awnings, the main contrasts are how each structure supports itself, as well as its design and material.

Aside from that, pergolas add a grand element to your backyard or deck. They take up much more space and can easily change an outdoor space’s atmosphere.

Meanwhile, awnings are more subtle and are more suited to commercial areas. For instance, dome awnings pair well with restaurant windows to give off a cozy feeling.

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