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Pergola vs. Arbor

February 21, 2019

What is a Pergola?

Wooden pergolas from natural wood with comfortable benches in a modern country village on a sunny summer day. The paved path is laid past flower beds, ornamental shrubs and trees.

If you don’t know the answer to this question, you’re not alone. With so many different kinds of backyard embellishments designed to provide homeowners with shade and seclusion, it’s easy to confuse pergolas with their counterparts.

In this article, we’ll explain what a pergola is; the different types of designs, benefits, and purposes of a pergola so you can make the best decision for your new outdoor feature.

Types of Pergola Designs

While there are several different types of pergola designs, each one adheres to a primary form and function that separate the pergola from an arbor, a gazebo, and other backyard structures.

One of the most common mix-ups in backyard architecture is the pergola vs. arbor. A pergola is designed to serve a wide range of different purposes, whereas an arbor is primarily used to accentuate an entrance or pathway, and is quite small in comparison.

Generally, a pergola is a wide-open structure with four support beams, no walls, and a decorative roof design, such as a lattice. For shade or even a touch of shelter from the elements, screens can be added to the roof or walls, although the primary purpose of a pergola is not to shelter its users.

Below, we’ve provided you with a quick list of different types of pergola designs that you can choose from as you plan your backyard addition.

Vinyl Pergolas

Vinyl pergolas are becoming increasingly popular due to their affordability, durability, and universal design. One of the many benefits of choosing a vinyl pergola is being able to choose a custom design that meets your needs and personal design preference.

white vinyl pergola in a backyard


As we previously mentioned, most pergolas are designed with an open-roof design that allows for sufficient sunlight and air circulation. Open-top pergolas are most often placed in the garden to create an appealing focal point and can add even more beauty to the space with the help of trailing vines.


Steel pergolas are a wise choice for areas that are frequently affected by harsh weather conditions. Not only does the steel frame hold up extremely well in bad weather, but it’s likely to last the longest. Steel pergolas are not very common due to their avant-garde appearance.


A sail pergola utilizes a stretched fabric in place of a traditional lattice roof. This type of design provides a clean, modern look and more shade and shelter than an open roof design.

Brown Sail Pergola in a nice yard.

Gable or Pitch

If you would prefer to have a pergola with a roof that can shield you from the sun, rain, and other elements, a gabled or pitched pergola is a great choice. Because of the roof design, these two choices offer sufficient water runoff and are most often seen over decks or patios, usually over a hot tub or outdoor dining area.

The Purpose of a Pergola

A pergola can serve a wide variety of purposes, depending on the homeowner’s preferences. While the traditional pergola design consists of a lattice roof and an absence of walls, modifications can be made to fulfill your unique needs.

Below, we’ve illustrated the various benefits of a pergola and the four main ways these outdoor structures are used.

1. Boosting Your Home’s Value

By adding a sturdy, well-crafted pergola to your backyard, you can create a magnificent outdoor space and increase the value of your home. Builders be warned: if the pergola is poorly designed, it can actually decrease your home’s value. So, before you head to the hardware store to DIY this project, you may want to consult with a professional and get an estimate on a backyard pergola.

2. Upgrading Your Garden

A pergola is a fantastic way to dress up your backyard garden area. Opt for a spacious design with an open-top lattice roof so as to not disrupt the necessary sunlight and air circulation your garden thrives on. Add some vines for an extra charming touch.

Garden pergola in a nice backyard garden area.

3. Creating an Outdoor Extension of Your Home

It’s common for homeowners to use pergolas as a simple but appealing way to create an outdoor extension of their living space. If this is your goal, choose a design and material that will complement the exterior of your home, and have the pergola attached (or placed very close) to your home for a seamless transition from inside the home to a lovely outdoor patio.

4. Adding Shade and Privacy

While pergolas don’t typically come with walls and a roof, they’re still a nice way to add a touch of shade and privacy to your backyard space. Dress up the structure with vines, sheer curtains, or a sail-top design to increase shade and privacy.

Now that you know what a pergola is, as well as its purpose, benefits, and its various design types, are you ready to add a charming touch to your backyard? Get a free estimate from Best Vinyl today!

What Is An Arbor?

cedar wood arched arobor trellis entry to a garden enclosed by a wooden picket fence with table and chairs and umbrella inside, potting shed off to the right with cupola

Arbors are typically made out of wood or wrought iron and can be placed on walkways, in gardens, or entrances to add extra style and charm. People often use arbors to create seclusion in their yards, whether to enjoy a peaceful day outdoors or create an intimate moment with family and friends. Arbors are especially beautiful when covered in vines for a romantic feel.

Unlike pergolas, you can buy pre-made arbors at your local home improvement store depending on the size and style you want. You can easily personalize a store-bought arbor with various plant selections and color accents of your choice for added beautification.

Arbors are typically open-air structures that can help set the tone for any leisurely outdoor setting. While they are much smaller than pergolas, they can still become the focal point of any garden or home entrance.

Building Your Dream Shelter

If you want to add a new element to your yard or outdoor seating area but aren’t sure what path to take, let Best Vinyl walk you through your options. We can discuss the differences between both pergolas and arbors to help you figure out what works best in your outdoor space. We can also help guide you in the right direction when it comes to matching the style and environment you wish to create.

With Best Vinyl, you can rest assured knowing you’ll get both helpful and educated answers to all of your questions. We’ll strive to meet your needs and help you achieve the outdoor area you have always imagined. Whatever path you choose, we’ll craft a structure that will endure all the elements, leaving you with peace of mind. Call Best Vinyl today to learn more about our services and how we can help!

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