What is the Difference Between a Gazebo and a Pergola?


Both pergolas and gazebos are fantastic additions to your outdoor area. They can provide a space for leisure or entertaining, enhance a garden, provide shade on a sunny day, act as a poolside gathering spot, or serve a number of other purposes. Both are great structures for extending your living space to the outdoors.

But what is the difference between the two? Before we get into that, it may help to know what’s not different. Both are open structures, typically with four or six columns that support a roof. Both come in various sizes, depending on your space, and both are usually set up in a square or rectangular patio or garden area.

Here are a few differences between the two:


Gazebo vs Pergola: Roof

The main difference between a gazebo and a pergola is the roof. 


what is a gazebo


What is a gazebo? Gazebos have fully-closed roofs that provide full protection from the elements. As such, gazebos are great for providing shade, as well as offering protection from rain and snow. The strongest gazebo roofs are made of steel, which holds massive snow loads without bending or warping.

Because gazebo roofs are enclosed, you have a few options when it comes to the type of roof. Some of the most common modern gazebo roofs include peak roofs, hip roofs and slope roofs. All offer the same protection from the elements and provide ample shade, so it comes down to which one suits your style best. 


what is a pergola


What is a pergola? Pergolas have a partial roof that is created by interlocking beams that form a horizontal lattice. These open roofs allow for exposure to sunlight, but don’t offer protection from rain or snow. If you are seeking shade, many pergolas have an option to add a soft shade canopy. Keep in mind that while you’ll be protected from the sun, the soft shade won’t necessarily keep out rain or hold snow.


The Use

Because of the differences in the roofs of gazebos and pergolas, they are often used differently in an outdoor space.

Gazebos are great for several things. They can provide a shaded retreat from the heat on a warm, sunny day and can be used for entertaining family and friends, as well as cooking. They’re also great for outdoor storage. You can leave outdoor furniture, grills and even cars or boats under a gazebo without having to worry about them being rained or snowed on. Gazebos also allow for rain or shine entertainment such as fire pits and hot tubs.

Pergolas, because of their open roofs, also have advantages. Perhaps you want to give your garden some style. Because pergolas allow for sunlight, they are better options for a garden area. Pergolas are also great structures for dining al fresco. Enjoy a nice meal outdoors while taking in the evening sun. Many people also use pergolas as a gathering space where you can still soak in the sun, and the soft shade canopy option is a nice addition if shade is needed.


Smaller Structures

We’ve gone over the main differences between traditional gazebos and pergolas, but there are some modern versions of each that allow for more intimacy and specific uses.


Grill Gazebos: If you’re looking for a structure that will offer both protection and a practical place to do some grilling, a grill gazebo is a great option. These smaller versions of modern gazebos have plenty of space for the grill and the grill master and help protect the grill from the elements, so it can be left under the gazebo year-round. Because they’re smaller, there are more options for where you can install them, and you can keep them away from the main outdoor entertaining space.


Cabana Pergolas: If you’re looking for a more intimate space for leisure, a cabana pergola is great. Unlike traditional pergolas, a cabana pergola is much smaller and has walls on two sides that form a right angle, allowing for a level of privacy that a traditional pergola doesn’t provide. Cabana pergolas, because of their smaller nature, are great for garden, patio, or backyard areas that may not be able to accommodate a full-sized pergola. Some even come with built-in seating along the walls! 


Which Option is Best for You?

There’s no right answer in the gazebo vs. pergola debate. It really comes down to what your outdoor space looks like and what you want to use it for. If you’re looking for a structure that will provide ample shade that you can entertain in or store things under without having to worry about rain or snow, a gazebo is the better option. If you want an open structure that gives your outdoor space some style and allows for sunlight to come through, a pergola is the better choice.

Either way, adding a gazebo or pergola will upgrade your outdoor area and immediately add value to your home. What are you waiting for? Browse gazebo or pergola options and transform your backyard into an outdoor oasis today!


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