What Is a Pergola and What is its purpose?

What is a pergola and what is its purpose in your home? By definition, a pergola is an outdoor structure made with four pillars meant to support a rafter or beam grid roofing. One may choose to close its roofing grid or leave it open.

 Also, a pergola may be attached to a house or left standing on its own. These structures are available in many shapes and sizes and are meant to enhance your back or front yard’s appearance. 

There are different places where you can place a pergola, including by the pool, or garden. Also, you can enhance a pergola by adding some screens to its roof or walls. These outdoor structures can be tailored to your preference to provide a shade.

pergola structure in garden

The construction of a pergola is critical, and you have to plan your budget and time. However, if you don’t have enough cash in your pocket, you can go the DIY way. 

It is important to know that building a pergola requires some skills, so most people prefer hiring a contractor. Apart from the budget and the time, you should factor in some other considerations. Here are a few.

  • Time needed-The time you want the pergola to be completed matters. This will guide the contractor in planning his time as well. And, on average, pergola construction should last a week.
  • Experience with tools- If you decide to go the DIY way, all you need is some experience with tools used. Using power tools without knowledge can put you in danger. Please take the necessary precaution.
  • Where to attach- The attachment of a pergola is an important thing to be considered. For example, if you want to attach a pergola to a deck, you should mount its posts to the decks’ beams This is to ensure that the pergola is well anchored especially due to strong winds. On the other hand, if you want it attached to your home, you may require a permit which you can get from your homeowners’ association.

Types of Pergolas

As mentioned earlier, pergolas are available in different types. The type of pergola is determined by materials used, method of installation and your preferred pergola features. Here are the different types of these structures.

Free standing pergolas

free standing design

A free standing pergola is portable. You can shift it from the poolside to the garden or patio. This is because it is not attached to your home or rooted to the ground. The portable pergola is the most popular option on the market. You can move a freestanding option to any corner in your yard.

Anchored pergolas

An anchored pergola is securely fixed to the ground. This is done using some cement, bolts or stakes. The main advantage of an anchored pergola is that it’s more durable compared to the freestanding option that is exposed to breakages. It’s also suited for all seasons.

Why you need a pergola

Pergolas have got diversified functions depending on what a homeowner wants. And, you can modify it to add curtains (walls) and a canopy on the lattice roof. Here are the main purposes of these outdoor structures

1. Privacy and shade addition

Pergolas are good for giving shade and privacy despite them not having walls. They add up as a perfect escape zone where you can have your alone moments. You can achieve this by adding some pergola curtains around it. Also, you can give it a sail-top design to ensure it gives more shade and privacy. Pergolas are great in protecting you from direct sunlight or showers of rain.

2. Gives a more defined backyard

Any yard which has a pergola is eye-catching and gives a sense of luxury and relaxation. The outdoor space offers comfort and allows you, your family or guests to relax while enjoying the breeze, sun, scenery. Most families prefer to have their dinner and parties in a pergola than in an indoor setting. Generally, pergolas create more space for entertainment.

Related Read: Screened porch ideas

3. Garden upgrade and plants display

pergola with vines

This structure provides you with ways to enhance the beauty of your backyard and garden. You can add a touch of nature by hanging some variety of climbing plants, vines, and moreover the pergola’s lattice roof.

 This will create a shade and beautify the backyard with the hanging pots of different flowers. Your back area will become a small haven with a charming touch.

4. Ups the value of your home

An attractive pergola is a perfect way to add value to your home. Besides the leisure and comfort that comes with these outdoor structures, adds up as a plus for you. 

This is if you decide to sell your house. Most buyers these days consider outdoor living spaces. Buying a classier pergola will make sense when such a time comes.

5. Creates the perfect extensions

A pergola creates more room and allows you to enjoy more time outside. This is best if you have rented a house that is not spacious enough on the inside but has a big back area. By erecting a pergola, you can have more space outside and reduce internal congestion.

Materials Used To Make Pergolas

There are a few options for materials used to make pergolas. However, the material you choose draws the line for the price, durability, maintenance, and outdoor structure style. The main materials are treated wood, metal, cedar and Vinyl.

 All these materials look great in your backyard, but the quality of each of them makes the difference. Let’s have a look at each of them in details.

Vinyl pergolas

Vinyl is one of the best materials for any outdoor structure. It is eye-catching, stylish and adds some touch of class to any outdoor spaces. This material is available in different colors, and you can choose a color that blends well with your home décor theme.

 It’s a low maintenance material and you can clean it with a hose. Also it does not require repainting. With the vinyl material, you will not need to worry about termites and mold invasion on your structure.  And it’s important to note the price of this material is higher compared to other materials.

Treated wood

There are several benefits of using treated wood material to make pergolas. The price of wood is favorable compared to other solid materials.

Also, you can customize it to your taste by painting. You can change the color of your backyard whenever you want to change the color scheme. Also, wood will come in handy for a modern and rustic deck theme. Treated wood is not easily invaded by rust or wood-eating insects, and it will serve you well.

Cedar wood

This material is different from the treated woods in several ways. Cedar wood is tough when it comes to rots and insects damage. Also, this wood has a unique red color and you can repaint to your liking. 

There is a unique smell that comes with cedar wood making it the preferred wood for most homeowners. The price of this wood is slightly high, but a cedar pergola kit a worthy investment.


Metal pergolas boast of a sleek design and a touch of modernity. Additionally, there is no much hustle in putting them up. 

They are available in different sizes and styles, and therefore you have an option to select one that matches your taste. However, this material will need more maintenance and attention because it rusts easily.

Pergola vs arbor

You may be wondering, what is the difference between an arbor and pergola? Well, though arbors share some similarities with pergola, there are a few key differences. One of the main similarities is they are both outdoor structures and are mostly made of wood material.

Now, the key difference between a pergola and arbor is the size. Pergolas are larger compared to arbors. Also, most arbors are placed at the entrance of the garden. 

These structures are attached to the fence and are meant to create an inviting entrance to the outdoor space. You can add some vines or climbers to add to their beauty.

Pergola vs gazebos

The gazebo is another outdoor structure that resembles a pergola. The main similarity between these two structures is both offer shade and has a similar shape. The difference between a gazebos and pergolas is the roof. 

Whether it’s a soft top or hard top, all gazebos must have roof. On the other hand, pergolas are open. But, you can use a pergola canopy to close with open space/ lattice with a canopy to protect yourself against sun during summer.

Two, many gazebos are enclosed using netting or curtains or glass. Here is an image of the two.

Frequently asked questions

1. What is the point of a pergola?

The main point of a pergola is to create a shade and sitting area. These outdoor structures are made to create more space within a home for entertainment and relaxation. Additionally, pergolas add beauty to the yard. You can add some vines, lights and more.

2. Why are pergolas so expensive?

Pergolas are expensive because of the general cost of putting it up. Besides the materials and construction costs, these outdoor structures also need some pergola lighting and furniture. 

Whether you go for high-end furniture or the cheap options, you will still find that your wallet will take a hit, but it’s worth it. Also, for a pergola to look chic you need to add some planters or flowers and do some paint job.

3. Is it cheaper to build or buy pergola?

Building is cheaper than buying one. With basic tools and materials, you can put one up, thus cutting on labor costs. And, this allows you to decide the type of pergola you want for your backyard. 

This may take a week if you have all the tools and necessary skills. But, if you are not a DIY kinda guy, buying a ready-made pergola may be your best option.  


There is no better place to escape and have some peace than your yard. Pergolas will allow you to have your alone time with protection from direct sunlight.

 Moreover, these outdoor structures are an easy way to increase your outdoor space where you can entertain your family and friends. 

Besides, the value of your house increases once you put up a pergola. These outdoor structures also come in handy in giving you an environment full of fresh air by planting vertical climbing plants around it. 

Enhancing your house with a pergola is an awesome idea. Your home is your haven and therefore beautifying it is the best thing to do. This article has discussed various things about pergolas, and we hope you are better equipped on the type of structure to put up on your yard. With it, you’ll love your evenings and weekends.

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