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What Is the Difference Between a Pergola and a Patio Cover?

April 27, 2022

What Is the Difference Between a Pergola and a Patio Cover?

Outdoor entertainment areas not only add value to your home but also give you a place to create memories with family and friends. If you've been considering a backyard refresh, a pergola or patio cover might be on your mind. 

But what's the difference between the two? And which would fit perfectly into your backyard design?

There are 4 major differences between pergolas and patio covers: 

  1. Their design
  2. The materials used
  3. How much maintenance they require
  4. Cost to build

While you'll probably be drawn to one over the other based on your style and priorities, we’ll discuss each of these considerations so you can make the best decision. At the end of this blog, you should have a good idea of what your next backyard entertainment area will look like!

Design of Pergola vs Patio Cover

The design is the most obvious difference between pergolas and patio covers. 

Pergolas are made up of vertical posts or columns that support a network of beams and rafters. This open-grid design lets in partial sun and shade, making them a popular choice for those who want the perfect mixture of sun and shade. They're also a good option if you want to train climbing vines or plants.

Patio covers, on the other hand, have a solid roof that offers more sun and rain protection. If you're looking for a space to entertain without worrying about the weather, a patio cover is a great choice.

Patio covers are typically attached to the home, either as an extension of the roof or as a stand-alone structure. This makes them more secure and helps keep the elements out, making them a great option for those who want to use their patio cover for year-round entertainment.

Materials Used for Pergolas vs Patio Covers


Vinyl is one of the most popular materials for pergolas and patio covers because it's durable and requires very little maintenance. Vinyl is available in a wide variety of colors, so you can choose the perfect shade to match your home.

It's also resistant to fading, so your pergola or patio cover will stay looking new for years to come. If you're looking for a more timeless, classic look for your backyard, white vinyl is the way to go.


Pergolas are typically made from wood because it's an affordable material that can be easily cut and shaped to fit your backyard design. Cedar and redwood are popular choices because they're naturally weather-resistant.

Wood is also a popular choice for both because it can be stained or painted to match your home's exterior. For a more European, countryside look, wood is a great choice.


Aluminum is another popular material for patio covers and pergolas because it doesn't rust or rot, and it's safe against insect damage. It's also low-maintenance and easy to clean. Aluminum is a great choice if you live in an area with high winds, as it's resistant to wind damage.

Maintenance of Pergola vs Patio Cover

Your maintenance will largely depend on the material you choose for your patio cover or pergola. 

Wood will be the most difficult to maintain because it's more susceptible to the elements. However, wood does give you the flexibility to change the style of your entertainment area because you can stain or paint the wood.

If your priority is as little maintenance as possible, you should consider vinyl.  It doesn't require any painting or staining, and it's easy to clean. Just hose it down with soap and water, and you're good to go!

Aluminum is also a low-maintenance material, but it can be more difficult to clean because it's not as forgiving as vinyl. You'll need to use a mild soap and water solution to avoid damaging the aluminum.

Cost of Pergola vs Patio Cover

The cost of your patio cover or pergola will depend on a few factors, including the materials you choose, the size of your entertainment area, and whether you build it yourself or hire a professional.

As a general rule, wood is the most affordable material, followed by vinyl. Aluminum is the most expensive material, but it's also the most durable.

If you're handy and have some experience with carpentry, you may be able to build your own pergola or patio cover. However, we recommend hiring a professional if you're not confident in your abilities. Not only will this save you time, but it will also ensure that your structure is safe and built to last.

Key Takeaways

Now that you know the difference between a pergola and a patio cover, you can decide which one is right for your backyard! Do you prefer the partial sun and shade of a pergola or the complete sun and rain protection of a patio cover?

If you still have questions, reach out to us at Best Vinyl Fence and Deck and we'll be happy to help you choose the right option for your backyard.



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