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Best Pergolas

Updated September 2018
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 21 Models Considered
  • 5 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 149 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best pergolas

    Last Updated September 2018

    A pergola can be a great way to add some shade and style to your backyard. Pergolas are large, open gazebos with roofs made of slats. These days, you have a lot of choice in size, style, and materials, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding a pergola that blends in well with your home’s architecture and your backyard. But all that choice can also get a little overwhelming.

    It’s easy to get caught up in a pergola’s design and fail to consider other crucial factors like durability or the amount of shade it provides. Choosing the right pergola for your outdoor space requires careful consideration of a number of factors, including thinking about how you intend to use the pergola.

    Luckily, BestReviews is here to make your purchasing decisions easy with our thorough product research. For everything you need to know about buying a pergola, just keep reading our shopping guide.

    You can dress up your pergola with curtains or a cloth roof to give it an extra touch of elegance and shade.

    Types of pergolas

    Pergolas are typically made of wood, metal, or vinyl. Each material has its advantages and disadvantages.

    Wood pergolas

    Most pergolas are made of wood, and you’ll find the greatest variety in style among wood  pergolas. One of the reasons that wood is such a popular material for pergolas is because it gives you more control over the finish. You can paint or stain a wood pergola whatever color you choose in order to complement your outdoor space.

    Pergolas can be made of hardwood or softwood. Hardwoods are more durable, but they’re also more costly and tend to be heavier. Softwoods are cheaper and are usually treated so that they can better withstand the elements. However, softwood pergolas are more prone to scratches and nicks.

    Metal pergolas

    Most metal pergolas are made of steel or aluminum, and they come in a variety of colors and finishes. The obvious advantage of going with a metal pergola is that you don’t have to worry about it decaying like wood. Metal pergolas may be prone to rusting, but most are treated to prevent this. Though they don’t offer the rustic look of a wood pergola, metal pergolas are a great way to add a modern touch to your outdoor space.

    Vinyl pergolas

    Vinyl pergolas are popular because they require virtually no maintenance once they’re set up. The downside to going with a vinyl pergola is that you have a lot fewer color choices. Unless you want a white or off-white pergola, you’ll have to consider one made of wood or metal. Vinyl pergolas also lack the elegant look of traditional wood pergolas.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Wood pergolas will require periodic restaining or repainting in order to keep them fully protected against the elements.

    Pergola design

    Most pergolas are square or rectangular, but it’s also possible to find circular or octagonal pergolas if you’re looking for a new twist on the classic design.

    You also have your choice of several different roof designs with pergolas. Traditional pergolas have a flat roof of slats, often in a lattice pattern, that is open to the sun. This style is a favorite for gardens, especially those with creeping vines because it enables the plants to grow up the pillars and onto the roof of the pergola.

    Cladded pergolas have some type of cladding underneath the roof’s slats to block the sun. You can find pergolas with cloth, steel, plastic, or PVC cladding.

    Pitched pergolas are higher on one end than the other. They are most commonly installed against a wall of your home to create a seamless look that blends in with the existing architecture. These pergolas usually have traditional, though slanted, roofs.

    Gabled pergolas have triangular roofs like the roofs on most houses. These roofs may be clad with a material for shade or have the open slats of a traditional pergola.

    If mildew starts growing on your pergola, you can remove it with a scrub brush and some soapy water.

    Features to consider for pergolas

    Size

    One of the first things you need to determine is how large your pergola should be. That usually comes down to the size of your backyard and how you plan to use your pergola. If you just want a cool, shaded space to accent your garden, you can probably get by with a smaller pergola. But you will need a larger pergola if you plan to cover your entire patio or want a big space for entertaining.

    Take a look at your outdoor space and measure where you want your pergola to go. Record these measurements, and use them as your guide as you explore your options. Common pergola sizes include 7 x 7 feet and 12 x 10 feet.

    Durability

    You want to ensure that the pergola you choose isn’t going to fall apart after a year or two. Part of that comes down to selecting the right materials for where you live. If you live near the sea, for example, you probably don’t want a wood frame because the combination of the sun and the salt air can easily strip off the paint. A sturdy, corrosion-resistant metal frame will probably be a better bet.

    Before you purchase a pergola, you should check to see if it comes with a warranty. Because pergolas are meant to last for decades, it’s not uncommon to find 10- or 20-year warranties with some of the top brands. This will protect your investment, so you don’t have to pay for a new pergola if yours breaks down after a few years.

    Assembly

    All pergolas require assembly, so you should be comfortable using a few basic tools and following an instruction manual. If you’re not the most handy, you’ll want to look for a pergola that’s as easy to assemble as possible. You can often get a sense for how difficult a pergola’s assembly is by reading through its online customer reviews.

    Bear in mind that you will probably need some help putting together and raising the pergola. This is especially true if the model you choose is made of heavy hardwood. You don’t want to risk those large beams tipping over and falling onto someone or crashing into your house, so it may require several people to raise the pergola.

    Once you have your pergola installed, make sure that it’s sturdy and on steady ground so you don’t have to worry about it accidentally tipping over if someone bumps into it.

    EXPERT TIP

    If your area gets a lot of snow in the winter, it’s a good idea to periodically knock the snow off the roof of the pergola to prevent the roof from getting too weighed down.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Prices for pergolas

    Pergolas range in price from under $500 to over $4,000. The price of a pergola varies depending on the size, material, and style.

    Metal pergolas are often the least expensive, and you can get a good one for between $350 and $500. Vinyl pergolas are slightly more expensive, usually ranging between $500 and $600. Wood pergolas are by far the most expensive, but their designs are often much more elaborate than simple metal or vinyl pergolas. A basic wood pergola usually costs at least $800, while an elaborate wood pergola can cost well over $1,000.

    Tips

    • If you plan to use your pergola at night, make sure you purchase a design that you can attach lights to.

    • The closer together the slats on your pergola are, the more shade it will provide.

    • Pergolas work the best on flat, open ground. If your yard is slightly uneven, try filling some of the low spots to give the pergola a sturdy base.

    • Consider the scale of the pergola as well as its footprint. You don’t want a pergola that’s too large, or it will dwarf the other buildings and structures around it.

    Some pergolas are made of a combination of materials. For example, some pergolas have a wood roof with vinyl posts.

    FAQ

    Q. My neighborhood has a homeowners’ association. Can I still add a pergola to my backyard?

    A. Possibly, but it depends on the rules of your homeowners’ association. Check with the association before making a purchase to ensure adding a pergola to your backyard is acceptable.

    Q. Do I need a permit to install my pergola?
    A. You might. It depends on where you live and the size of your pergola. If you’re not sure whether or not you need a permit, contact your city’s buildings department for more information.

    Q. Should I stain my pergola before or after it’s assembled?
    A. Either will work. However, you may find it easier to stain the pieces of the pergola while they are on the ground rather than waiting until the whole thing is assembled.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Austin
      Austin
      Writer
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Kailey
      Kailey
      Writer
    • Katherine
      Katherine
      Editor
    • Linsay
      Linsay
      Editor
    • Melinda
      Melinda
      Web Producer

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