10 Differences Between pergola and gazebo

The Difference Between Pergolas and Gazebos

Are you considering adding an outdoor structure to your backyard but finding it hard to decide between a pergola and a gazebo? While both structures can enhance your outdoor living space and provide shade and shelter, they have distinct differences. In this article, we will explore what pergolas and gazebos are, provide examples of each, discuss their uses, and highlight the key differences between them.

What is a Pergola?

A pergola is an outdoor structure consisting of vertical posts or pillars that support cross beams and an open lattice roof. It typically does not have walls, allowing for a partially shaded area with an open-air feel. Pergolas are often used to create an inviting space for outdoor entertaining, to define an entryway or walkway, or to provide a focal point in a garden or backyard.

Examples of Pergolas

Here are a few examples of how pergolas can be incorporated into different settings:

  1. A vine-covered pergola overlooking a garden pond.
  2. A freestanding pergola with a built-in seating area.
  3. A pergola attached to a house, extending the living space into the garden.

Uses of Pergolas

Pergolas offer various benefits and can be used for several purposes, including:

  • Creating an outdoor living or dining area.
  • Providing shade and protection from the sun without blocking airflow.
  • Adding visual interest and architectural charm to a backyard or garden.
  • Supporting climbing plants or vines to create a scenic canopy.

What is a Gazebo?

A gazebo is a standalone outdoor structure that is usually octagonal or hexagonal in shape with a solid roof and open sides. Unlike a pergola, gazebos are more enclosed and offer a greater level of protection from the elements. They are often designed as a freestanding structure, serving as a focal point in a garden or as a sheltered seating area.

Examples of Gazebos

Let’s explore some common examples of gazebos:

  1. A fully enclosed gazebo with windows and screens, suitable for year-round use.
  2. An open-sided gazebo with a built-in bar for entertaining guests.
  3. A gazebo nestled in a corner of the backyard, providing a quiet retreat.

Uses of Gazebos

Gazebos offer a range of functional and aesthetic uses, including:

  • Creating an outdoor gathering space for parties and events.
  • Providing a cozy spot for relaxation and enjoying the surrounding views.
  • Offering a sheltered area for outdoor dining or cooking.
  • Providing protection from insects and pests with the addition of screens.

Differences Between Pergolas and Gazebos

Here are ten key differences between pergolas and gazebos:

Difference Area Pergola Gazebo
Design Open-roof structure with cross beams and an open lattice roof. Standalone structure with a solid roof and open sides.
Enclosure Partially open, offering partial shade but no protection from rain or wind. More enclosed, providing greater protection from the elements.
Shape No specific shape requirements, can be customized to fit the space. Usually octagonal or hexagonal in shape, creating a distinct focal point.
Function Primarily used for creating shade, defining a space, or supporting climbing plants. Used for various purposes, including outdoor seating, entertaining, or as a garden feature.
Installation Can be attached to an existing structure or built as a freestanding unit. Typically freestanding, requiring a level foundation for stability.
Cost Generally more affordable due to the simplicity of the design and materials used. Tends to be more expensive due to the additional materials required for walls and a solid roof.
Privacy Offers limited privacy due to the open lattice roof and lack of walls. Provides more privacy with the option to add screens or curtains to the open sides.
Seasonal Use Best suited for warm climates and can be used throughout the year. More suitable for areas with varying seasons, as it provides better protection in colder or rainy weather.
Construction Usually constructed with lighter materials such as wood or aluminum. Constructed using heavier materials such as wood, steel, or vinyl.
Aesthetics Focuses more on creating a natural and open ambiance in the outdoor space. Provides a more structured and enclosed aesthetic to the area.


In summary, the main differences between pergolas and gazebos lie in their design, level of enclosure, functionality, installation, cost, privacy, seasonal use, construction, and aesthetics. Pergolas offer an open and airy structure that is ideal for creating partial shade and defining outdoor spaces, while gazebos provide a more enclosed space with greater protection from the elements. The choice between a pergola and a gazebo ultimately depends on your specific needs, budget, and personal preferences.

People Also Ask

  1. Which is better, a pergola or a gazebo?
  2. There is no definitive answer to this question as it depends on individual preferences and specific needs. Pergolas are better for creating an open and airy space while gazebos offer more enclosure and protection.

  3. Can a pergola be turned into a gazebo?
  4. Technically, a pergola can be converted into a gazebo by adding solid roofing and enclosing the sides. However, it may be more practical and cost-effective to build a gazebo from scratch.

  5. Are pergolas and gazebos permanent structures?
  6. Both pergolas and gazebos can be permanent structures when constructed with durable materials and proper installation. However, they can also be designed as temporary or portable structures.

  7. Can I install a pergola or gazebo myself?
  8. Depending on your skill level and experience, it is possible to install a pergola or gazebo yourself. However, it is recommended to consult professional contractors for more complex or larger structures.

  9. Which is more expensive, a pergola or a gazebo?
  10. Gazebos tend to be more expensive than pergolas due to the additional materials required for walls and a solid roof. Pergolas are generally more affordable due to their simpler design.

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