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Pergolas vs Patio Covers

Pergolas vs Patio Covers

wooden pergola with lights and firepit

Are pergolas and covered patios the same thing? Knowing the differences will answer that question.

In this post you’ll find out:

  • what a pergola and a covered patio are;
  • the differences between a covered patio and a pergola;
  • some advantages and disadvantages of each.

You’ll also learn how a pergola and covered patio can improve your use of your outdoor space.This review will assist homeowners and businesses to make a better choice between a covered patio and a pergola. An awareness of the differences between the patio cover and pergola is helpful when deciding which is best for your outdoor space.

wood pergola wall mounted attached to pillars


A pergola provides a limited amount of shade over a walkway, backyard patio, or outdoor eating area. Traditional pergolas usually have solid wooden posts or columns that support beams. Set atop, or snuggled between the beams, is a flat framed open roof with plank slats or lattice.

The freestanding or attached rectangular or square structure is normally oriented, so the plank slats cross the sun’s path to provide shade during the warmest part of the day. The closer together and taller the slats, the more shade they provide. They often stand in the backyard and provide shade away from a house or building. It is an easy way to shade a patio, garden or play area. Pergolas commonly have grape vines, bougainvillea, or other climbing plants growing up their posts and providing extra shade.Modern pergolas can have fabric canopies, aluminum or wood slats, or even solid polycarbonate panels that may be fixed, retractable, or rotate to adjust to the sun’s angle. They can also have manual or motorized curtains or draperies to provide both shade and backyard privacy. Some even have heaters, ceiling fans, speakers and lighting integrated into them. The traditional style is generally considered an inexpensive way to provide shade to your backyard.

retractable patio roof pergola cover extended partially extended retracted by

Patio Covers

A patio cover is a basic flat or sloped roof structure attached to a building on one side and supported by posts on the other. It usually covers a porch, patio, or walkway along a wall of a house. They are finished to match and blend with the structure they are an extension of with matching roofing and trim. Often they add a unique charm to the house with filigree and gingerbread woodwork added as decoration.

They have a solid roof which can have ceiling fans, lighting, heaters, speakers and other electrical devices attached to it. Their main purpose is to provide shade and rain protection to doors and windows and help keep the inside of the building cool. Many patio covers also include a screened-in area to provide a bug-free and/or pollen free space for relaxing. They are an extension of the indoor living space.

Modern patio covers are also an extension of the building they are attached to. Their role is much the same, but the roof and structural materials are commonly plastic, aluminum, PVC, polycarbonate or fiberglass. They can be retractable or fixed and attach to a wall above patio doors or windows to provide protection from the sun and heavy rain. They can help reduce summer energy costs and can be outfitted with modern conveniences too. Although not as decorated as many traditional patio covers, they usually blend with the trim, gutters and house cladding.

Pergolas vs Patio Covers: What are the Differences?

Pergolas and patio covers can help define a backyard space and provide shade for many years. The patio cover can be attached to a house or freestanding and provide protection from the rain and sun. A pergola often defines an outdoor space where it provides shade. However, a pergola can also be built near a building to provide shade both outside and indoors. Whether it’s a traditional or modern structure you’re interested in, here are some differences to consider.


  • Are generally freestanding structures but can be attached.
  • Have a flat or angled open style roof.
  • Provides shade away from a building with no protection from heavy rain unless using a retractable waterproof roof pergola.
  • Could be difficult to get electricity to.
  • Furniture under a pergola can fade and get wet unless using a retractable waterproof roof pergola.
  • Identifies and outdoor space.
  • Can see through the open roof.
  • Often involve local codes be met before building

Patio Covers

  • Generally are structures that are attached to a house or building, but can be freestanding.
  • Can be either retractable or fixed.
  • Have a solid sloped or flat roof.
  • Provides protection from the sun and heavy rain.
  • Assists in keeping an attached house or building cool.
  • Proximity to the building makes adding fans, heaters, speakers and lights easier.
  • Furniture under a patio cover won’t fade or get wet.
  • An extension of the indoor space.
  • Can’t see through the roof.
  • Often involve local codes be met before building.

Deciding to build a pergola or a covered patio is a big undertaking. Understanding what each is and the differences between each is a step in the right direction. Whether you decide on one or the other, check out the reviews and testimonials at about products and their manufacturers. It’s always better to know more by being educated before you make a choice.