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Pergolas vs. Patio Covers (The Clear Differences and Similarities)

Pergolas vs. Patio Covers (The Clear Differences and Similarities)

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Backyard makeovers usually call for a certain construction project. This could lead you to choose between pergolas vs. patio covers.

Both structures are sure to create a warm, private, and cozy space for you and your loved ones.

Now, while they do appear to be similar, patio covers require more effort to build. They call for a solid roof that could feature beard-board paneling, stuccos, or more.

Meanwhile, pergolas are more open and versatile in terms of placement. They’re easily a DIY project and cost much less to build.

Having said that, stick around to learn more about the differences and similarities between pergolas and patio covers.

Differences Between Pergola and Patio Cover

Although patio covers and pergolas look similar, they can be distinguished based on structure and design. Here’s how you can tell the difference between the two structures.


Structurally, patio covers and pergolas offer different features.

Patio Covers

Patio covers are attached to your home and supported by a couple of pillars or more depending on how large the space is. What differentiates it from pergolas is the cover’s solid roof.

In turn, patio covers don’t allow any sunlight exposure or rainfall. The extension of the cover usually matches the design and trim of your home.

Since the ceiling is solid, you can attach several electrical appliances such as a ceiling fan, LED lights, or a speaker. Although you can add those elements to your pergola, it won’t be as easy to install.

Plus, the electrical wirings won’t be as visible on the patio cover since pergolas are relatively more open.


Pergolas are more versatile structures. They come in various types such as arched, freestanding, attached, and retractable.

That being said, patio covers can come attached, arched, and freestanding. Nevertheless, they aren’t built to retract like pergolas.

In addition to this, pergola roofs are often patterned where you’ll find gaps in between that let a little sunlight in. For this reason, they’re not as efficient as patio covers in terms of weatherproofing an area.


When it comes to purpose, patio covers and pergolas slightly differ. Here’s how.

Patio Covers

Patio covers are usually built to completely cover an outdoor space. They’re meant to protect your outdoor furniture from the sun and rain.

Plus, they expand your living space since they have the same trimmings and design as your home. Patio covers are also ideal for keeping outdoor spaces cool in the summer months by providing ample shade.

Aside from that, patio covers offer one main similarity to pergolas when it comes to purpose. Both increase your home’s value.

Think of it this way, it’d be easier to sell a home with a patio cover or pergola than a home without.


Pergolas are primarily designed to provide slight shade to your outdoor space. Nonetheless, they could be used for so much more.

The structures could create a defined space for privacy, reading, and meditation. You can even create a mini garden in the small space and weave a vining plant all around the structure.

You’ll create an enchanting green structure with mesmerizing and colorful blooms that’ll make your magical garden dream come true.

Thanks to pergolas’ versatility, you can add a retractable option to create a fuller shade from harsh weather.


Pergolas and patio covers differ in cost with the latter being pricier. Here’s why

Patio Covers

Patio covers, in most cases, require a lot more effort to build. Let’s assume you’re using cedarwood to build your cover.

A standard 10 ft x 10 ft patio cover can set you back around $13,000 to $14,000. On the other hand, if you use Acrylite, it can cost you around $10,000 to $12,000.

Overall, the average price of patio covers can go even higher. It can reach about $16,000. Aside from that, the price depends on factors such as the size and materials used to create the cover.


Pergolas, in most cases, don’t require as much material to build as patio covers. Plus, they don’t need to have the same trimmings or structure as your home.

For this reason, they’re more affordable than patio covers. A 10 ft x 10 ft cedar wood pergola can amount to $3,000.

You may even find cheaper options that range between $1,050 to $2,100. Apart from that, you’ll likely find pergolas on the pricier end as well.

For example, a standard fiberglass pergola can cost up to $6,000. Vinyl choices can go for an even higher $7,200.

Similarities Between Pergola and Patio Cover

Aside from all the differences mentioned between pergolas and patio covers, they still have a couple of similarities. Some of these include:


Pergolas and patio covers can both be composed of the same materials. Whether it’s wood, steel, aluminum, or fiberglass, you can find both structures with these materials.


Pergolas and patio covers use pillars for support. In addition to this, both can either be freestanding or attached.


Design-wise you can implement several elements like light fixtures and vined foliage in patio covers and pergolas. Plus, both structures are designed to provide shade, whether full or partial, to your outdoor area.


Since pergolas and patio covers are usually composed of similar materials, their maintenance levels match. If you get a wood option, then you’ll need to regularly practice pest control and stain the structure.

Meanwhile, if you opt for a steel option, then you’ll want to treat the patio cover or pergola with a rust inhibitor.

Pros and Cons of Owning a Pergola

Besides the differences and similarities between pergolas and patio covers, let’s get into the pros and cons of each structure.


  • Pergolas are a cheaper option than patio covers.
  • They’re simpler to build.
  • The structure alleviates your outdoor space with its versatile design options.
  • It provides you with a defined space for your garden.


  • Pergolas don’t provide as much shade as patio covers.

Pros and Cons of Owning a Patio Cover

Patio covers can become a fitting addition to your living space. Before deciding to build one, here are some pros and cons worth considering.


  • Patio covers provide the best sun and rain protection for your outdoor space.
  • They keep the outdoor area cool since it’s shaded.
  • The cover’s roof resembles the home’s trimming design providing a seamless extension.
  • You can add electrical appliances like light fixtures and ceiling fans without having to worry about visible wires.


  • They tend to be more expensive to build compared to pergolas.

Final Thoughts

After considering the differences, similarities, as well as pros and cons of pergolas and patio covers, you may have a clear idea of which to pick.

If you’re looking for a simple structure to enhance your garden’s aesthetic, then pergolas are a more fitting choice. Plus, they’re more budget-friendly.

On the other hand, if you want better protection from the elements, especially for your outdoor furniture, then patio covers are your best bet. Additionally, they blend better with your home.

That being so, patio cover or pergola, both options will ultimately give your backyard the makeover you want.

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