What is a Pergola?

By February 21, 2019 No Comments

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.


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.

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.

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!

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