Patio Cover vs Pergola

pergola tarpTo enjoy the outdoor decking area, you need some form of protection from the sun, the rain, the wind – the elements. Don’t you? And while there are quite a few choices, wooden pergolas and patio covers prevail. No surprise here. After all, they are both solid constructions in contrast to a simple umbrella, for example. But then comes the big question of which one of the two choices is the best solution for your home’s backyard. Should we throw them in the ring?

Patio cover vs pergola! How much do you know about each construction? Isn’t it prudent to know the basic distinctions of such structures before you decide which one will best fit your landscape’s style? Let us get down to it.

What is a pergola?

Usually made of wood, pergolas may be freestanding or attached to the house. And so, they are an excellent structure if you like to cover the cedar deck, the driveway, the walkway. After all, it can be shaped in the form you like – although most traditional wooden pergolas are square or rectangular.

Their distinctive feature is the open sides and half-open roof. Although nowadays, the pergola designs are endless and some include structures (like lattices) to close one side, they usually consist of pillars (the ones that support the structure) and rafters as a roof. The design of the semi-open roof may change. The beams may be put parallel to each other or this may be a lattice design, for instance. These are the things that define pergolas.

What is a patio cover?

patio coverPatio covers are attached to the home. Their most distinctive feature is the roof. They do have a roof and often, have closed sides too. The roof may be the extension of the house or a separate structure – still attached to the home. Whether or not you will have the sides open or close, it’s up to you or even up to the structure of the house. Depending on the shape of the house, one side of the patio cover may be a wall of the building. People often put doors or screens on the sides for extra protection, especially when it gets cold. That’s easy to do.

And that’s basically the main distinction between pergolas and patio covers. Whereas patio covers are more secluded with a roof and often most of the sides closed too, pergolas have no sides and nearly no roof. And don’t forget that pergolas are not necessarily attached to the building, in contrast to patio covers.

The pros and cons of pergolas & patio covers

  • The freedom to have your custom pergola attached to the house or not is an advantage. With patio covers, you don’t have this luxury. You are stuck close to the house, like it or not.
  • Since the patio cover is a more solid structure – often the extension of the house, it’s hard to expand it.
  • But come to look at this aspect from a different angle, you will realize that this is also an advantage of patio covers. They are truly solid constructions. Not that pergolas are not solid – given that you assign the construction and installation to a professional pergola contractor. But patio covers have a real roof and often sides.
  • On the other hand, this is not always a good thing. If you think about it, people spend time outdoors when the weather is good and so the airy feeling of the semi-closed roofs of pergolas is ideal.
  • Another advantage – when it comes to the roofs of such structures, is that pergolas are versatile. You can use retractable canopies, add plants, let a vine grow whereas patio covers are more boring – the same roof at all times.
  • In their defense, the solid roof of patio covers brings stability and gives room for many more activities than under pergolas. With a solid roof over your head, you can bring all sorts of electronics to the outdoors, sit outside rain or not, have a ceiling fan, do whatever you would do indoors. With pergolas, there are restrictions.
  • Although you can change the style of the pergola by using different methods to cover the top, you can do a similar thing with the patio cover’s roof. Not that you can change the ceiling easily, but you can choose any material, style, design, and color you want. So, that part is good for both structures.
  • While pergolas provide a sense of freedom and take the aesthetics up a notch – with the use of drapes for the top and sides, patio covers can be equally beautiful with beautiful screens, glass panels, etc.
  • The airy feeling of the pergolas is great, but the advantage of having a roof and sides makes patio covers the best choice when it gets chilly or when it rains. Such solid, secluded constructions allow you to spend more days of the year outdoors. But do you know what the paradox is? It’s safer to use an outdoor fire pit in a pergola, unless you create a good exhausting system at the patio cover.

Ready to decide whether you need a pergola or patio cover?