The best pergolas 2023 — how to choose

What is a pergola, and where it is used?

What could be better than having a light buffet or barbeque party with refreshing drinks for family or friends in the garden, somewhere in the shade? Beautiful gazebos and trellises are often installed for this purpose. But, today, a new type of construction, called a pergola, has become really popular. 

A pergola is a special building that provides reliable protection from the scorching sun, a chic appearance, a variety of style options, and a wide selection of plants for its decoration. Traditionally, it has a form of many repeating arches connected by transverse bars and decorated with plants. It can be a separate structure in the form of a gazebo or a small alley, as well as part of other buildings — an open terrace or pavilion. Pergolas are also widely used for decorating parks, restaurants, and backyards. They offer shade to residential and commercial outdoor spaces, are unique, and can be used almost everywhere to create a cozy place for relaxation.

Pergola and gazebo: what’s the difference?

In landscape design, modified pergolas are arbours, trellises, gazebos, “bypass roads”, and even awnings (a light canopy over the entrance). But what is the difference between a pergola and a gazebo?

A gazebo, like a pergola, is primarily a place to relax, allowing you to simultaneously be outdoors but under a roof, in the shade. There are key differences between these two types of buildings. 

  • The pergola lacks solid walls and a roof. They are replaced by climbing plants. Sometimes the roof is covered with a light water-repellent fabric. The lattice roof provides partial shade while allowing direct sunlight. You can take different practical approaches, such as installing a retractable shade that will provide more sunlight on mild days or more shelter on hot or rainy days.
  • Unlike a pergola, a gazebo has a full roof that provides complete protection from the sun and rain. Usually, gazebos are made from wood and are usually rectangular, with four sides supporting the roof.

What to consider when choosing the best pergola kit?

Pergolas may be constructed in a wide range of shapes and materials. Before choosing the best pergola kit, you should consider the landscape design of your area, the necessary functionality, and the available budget. 

The best pergola materials 

Today, the available materials used for pergolas are: 

  • Wood; 
  • Fiberglass; 
  • Vinyl;
  • Steel;
  • Aluminium.

Each type of material has its advantages, but you can use those that have already proven themselves to be reliable and profitable for construction.

  • Wooden pergola kit. Lightweight and ease of manufacture make wood the most successful and affordable material for construction. Wooden pergolas look the most organic and natural in the garden. Carved racks will be the highlight of the whole structure. Pine, oak, larch, redwood, and some other types of hardwood are suitable for construction. However, the wooden material needs additional maintenance. It’s necessary to protect the wood from parasites and create a protective layer to avoid rot and mold.
  • Fiberglass pergola kit. This type of pergola is one of the most unusual modifications, distinguished by modern design, innovative technologies, and high-quality premium materials. Fiberglass is usually used as the main material for the pergola roof. The use of glass roofs in classic pergolas allows you to visually expand the area of ​​the object and make it more presentable. Fiberglass goes well with wooden and metal structures of pergolas, reliably protects against seasonal precipitation, and creates a harmonious atmosphere of unity with nature. This is quite an expensive canopy, so the purchase should be carefully considered.
  • Vinyl pergola kit. Until recently, this material has been unfamiliar to landscape designers. But today, vinyl has become affordable and can be used for more than just interior decoration. Both in their design and style, such pergolas are practically no different from traditional ones made of wood. The most practical are white, brown, and black vinyl pergolas. White has the appearance of painted boards, black looks like beautiful wrought iron, and brown looks like natural wood. Such structures are slightly more expensive than wooden ones.
  • Steel pergola kit. The appearance of such arches is very interesting. Forged extensions look especially elegant. These pergolas must be installed using special equipment, which increases their cost. They are subject to corrosion, so it is important to maintain their appearance. Sometimes steel pergolas look old-fashioned and don’t suit modern design situations.
  • Aluminium pergola kit. Aluminium is the most popular and widespread type of material for pergolas. It always looks stylish and doesn’t need additional maintenance. It is lightweight and can be easily installed without complicated preparation. This type of material has the longest list of advantages, such as material durability, lack of rot, deformation and cracking, the ability to withstand temperature changes, and resistance to adverse weather conditions.

Pergola size and shape

When considering the size of the pergola, consider the area of ​​the site. An overly-spacious building will take up a lot of free space and look out of place in a small adjoining area. Conversely, a pergola that is too small will be invisible in a large landscaped area.

The pergola itself can be of various shapes, such as rectangular or elongated. Modern trends can offer more original options. The shapes trending are square, rectangular, hexagonal, and circular.

  • Square and rectangular pergolas are simple, straightforward structures. They look classical and are common in any area. They can be made of any type of available material.
  • Circular (rotunda, geo-dome, yurt, igloo, wigwam) — one of the most original, but complex and expensive structures to build. As a rule, fiberglass or combined materials are used for this type of pergola.
  • The hexagonal pergola kit is a uniquely shaped pergola structure. The most vivid advantages are the harmonious combination of design with the natural landscape, the elegance of the architectural form, and their large capacity. Usually, they are made of wood.

Depending on the necessary design, you may choose a different pergola size and shape that will be the most suitable for your area.

Pergola top: what are the types 

The design of the pergola is really up to your imagination. You can install a pergola of the following types depending on your needs:

  • Pergolas with open roofs are commonly used as a framework for climbing plants. They are usually very popular and serve a decorative purpose. Such pergolas serve as freestanding decorations for the landscape due to their form and the plants they contain, and they create a vertical green zone. When choosing this type of pergola, it’s important to consider the climatic features of your region.
  • Louvered roof pergolas — are modern models, equipped with a motorized protective roof, so you can enjoy unity with nature in any weather. Small aluminum panels rotate at different angles, thanks to which you control the degree of darkness and ventilation inside the pergola.
  • Attached pergolas — are attached to the walls of the house and are used to create terraces and recreation areas in the immediate vicinity of the house. It can be a small canopy for a car, garden equipment, a cozy recreation area or a tent above the playground. The main purpose of such a building is protection from the sun. Sometimes attached pergolas are used to protect windows from excessive sunlight.

How to choose a pergola color and design 

The color of the building is dictated by the general view of the landscape and the color scheme of the other structures on the site. Also, it is important to determine whether the pergola will be a bright, outstanding object, or whether it should harmonize with the overall image. Actually, the color of the frames can be any you want, but the method of painting is determined by the material of the pergola. The most popular colors for vinyl and metal frames are black and white. These colors are considered to be unique and perfectly suited for any landscape design. The brown color is mostly used for wooden pergolas as it looks more natural. 

But the style of the construction plays a very important role. And, to satisfy the needs of buyers, manufacturers are trying to create different style options:

  • country — regular geometric shapes with minimal decoration;
  • hi-tech — the most unusual forms;
  • modern — clear lines, high functionality, contrasting combinations;
  • Japanese — luxury, red-brown colors, lanterns, carpets, and ornaments, made of wood or bamboo.


Pergolas should not only be esthetically pleasing but also functional. Often, an individual project for a pergola allows you to implement any idea, regardless of its complexity. This is an excellent solution for establishments and premises with a complex facade and exterior layout. In its original form, the pergola has a simple open design, but if you wish, you can add options that will make the pergola even more functional. 

  • Automatic roof and motorized protective screens. It’s possible to control the awning, slats, or panels from a remote control, smartphone, or stationary switch and create the necessary climate inside the construction.
  • LED light: built-in lighting with warm, cold, or colored light creates a cozy place and solves the problem of illuminating the relaxation area.
  • Infrared heaters: faster and more economical than standard heaters, they heat the surfaces of tables and chairs even with open walls, creating a comfortable temperature inside the pergola.

Additional options turn the outdoor terrace into a full-fledged patio, where it is convenient to relax at any time of the year, regardless of weather conditions.

How do you install the best pergola kit?

One more important fact that you need to consider when choosing the best pergola kit is its installation. Decide on a place for the pergola, take measurements, and don’t forget to take care of appropriate plant seedlings, for example, vines. 

Whatever type of pergola you choose, you need to start with the foundation or the installation of supporting columns. If the pergola is heavy, a strong foundation is desirable. You can limit yourself to a foundation for supports, but even so, without a foundation, you can only install pergolas with a relatively light top. They must be isolated from the ground. Pergolas and gazebos require professional installation, especially if you plan to integrate them into your terrace design or choose attached pergolas. 

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