What is the difference between a gazebo and a pergola?

In this article, we will explain what is the difference between a gazebo and a pergola to help you make an informed decision.

Firstly, let’s look at what defines a gazebo and a pergola.

A gazebo is an outdoor structure with a roof and open sides, typically supported by columns or pillars. It is often used as a seating area, outdoor dining space, or even a venue for weddings and events.

On the other hand, a pergola is an outdoor structure with an open roof made of beams and rafters. It is usually supported by vertical posts or pillars and can be used as a walkway, patio cover, or a decorative feature in a garden.

difference between a gazebo and pergola


Understanding Gazebos


Gazebos are freestanding outdoor structures that have a roof and open sides. They are typically used to provide shade and shelter for outdoor activities such as dining, entertaining, and relaxation.

One of the distinguishing features of gazebos is their design. They are typically round or octagonal in shape, although rectangular and square designs are also available. The roof of a gazebo is usually pitched, with a center cupola or dome that serves as a decorative element.

Gazebos are constructed from a range of materials, including wood, metal, and vinyl. Wooden gazebos are the most popular and offer a natural and classic look. Metal gazebos, on the other hand, are durable and low-maintenance. Vinyl gazebos are lightweight and easy to clean, making them ideal for homeowners who want a low-maintenance outdoor structure.

Key Features of Gazebos Description
Open-Sided Structure Gazebos have a roof and open sides, providing an airy and spacious environment.
Decorative Elements Gazebos often include decorative elements such as cupolas, finials, and lattice work.
Multiple Uses Gazebos are suitable for a range of outdoor activities such as dining, entertaining, and relaxation.

Gazebos may also include additional features such as built-in seating, lighting, and mosquito netting to provide a more comfortable outdoor experience.

Built-in Seating

Some gazebos come with built-in seating, making them perfect for lounging or enjoying a meal outdoors. The seating is typically constructed from the same material as the gazebo and can be customized to fit specific needs.


Gazebo lighting can be achieved through a variety of options, including hanging lanterns, chandeliers, and string lights. Lighting adds to the ambiance of a gazebo and allows for use of the structure after dark.

Mosquito Netting

To ward off pesky insects, gazebos can be fitted with mosquito netting. The netting keeps bugs out while still allowing for ventilation, making it a great addition for outdoor dining and entertaining.

Exploring Pergolas

Pergolas are outdoor structures that are becoming increasingly popular among homeowners. They differ from gazebos in that they typically have an open roof, featuring crossbeams or lattice on top that provides filtered shade and lets in natural light.

Pergolas are typically used to create an open and airy outdoor living space, adding both beauty and function to any backyard or garden.

When it comes to design, pergolas are highly customizable, making it easy to match them with the existing style of your home.

The most popular materials used for building pergolas are wood, vinyl and metal. Wood is a classic choice that adds a natural look and feel to any outdoor space. Vinyl and metal, on the other hand, are more durable and require less maintenance, making them a popular choice for homeowners who prefer a low-maintenance option.

One of the key features that distinguish pergolas from gazebos is their open design. This allows for plenty of natural airflow, making pergolas a great option for entertaining guests outdoors.

They also provide a natural focal point in the garden, adding a touch of elegance and sophistication to any outdoor setting. Pergolas can be used for a variety of purposes, such as providing shade, creating an outdoor dining area, or housing a hot tub.

Pros Cons
  • Open design allows for plenty of natural airflow.
  • Highly customizable to match the style of your home.
  • Can be used for a variety of purposes, such as providing shade or creating an outdoor dining area.
  • Offers less shade compared to gazebos.
  • Does not offer protection from rain like a gazebo does.

In conclusion, pergolas are a beautiful and functional addition to any outdoor space.

While they may not offer as much protection from the elements as gazebos do, their open design and versatility make them a popular choice among homeowners looking to create a stylish and functional outdoor living area.

Comparing Gazebos and Pergolas

While both gazebos and pergolas provide a beautiful addition to any outdoor space, there are some key differences to consider when deciding between the two.

Gazebo vs Pergola: Design

The design of a gazebo typically features a complete roof, providing full coverage from the elements. On the other hand, pergolas typically have an open roof design with beams or rafters spaced apart to provide partial shade. Gazebos typically have a round or octagonal shape, while pergolas have a rectangular or square shape, although the latter can be custom-designed.

Gazebo vs Pergola: Materials

  • Gazebos are constructed with a variety of materials such as wood, vinyl, or metal. The roof is typically made of shingles or metal sheets for durability.
  • Pergolas are typically made of wood or vinyl, with wooden pergolas being the more popular choice. The roof can be made of the same material or left open to allow for natural light to pass through.

Gazebo vs Pergola: Features


Gazebos often feature built-in seating, which makes them a great option for those who want to use their outdoor space for entertaining.

They can also be screened in to keep away bugs and other pests. Pergolas, on the other hand, add beauty and depth to a garden or backyard. They can support climbing plants to create a lush, green atmosphere.

Gazebo vs Pergola: Similarities


Despite their differences, gazebos and pergolas share some similarities. They both provide a great outdoor space for relaxation and entertainment.

Both can add value to a property and increase its curb appeal. They also provide some protection from the sun’s harmful rays.

Ultimately, the decision between a gazebo and a pergola comes down to personal preference and the specific needs of the outdoor space. Consider the design, materials, features, and purpose of each structure to determine which one is the best fit.

Factors to Consider when Choosing

Choosing between a gazebo and a pergola can be a daunting task. Factors such as your outdoor space, budget, and intended use should be taken into consideration. Here are some key points to keep in mind when making your decision:


Consider the location of your outdoor space. Gazebos are better suited for flat, even surfaces, while pergolas can be built on uneven terrain.


What do you want to use your outdoor space for? If you are looking for a space to entertain guests, a gazebo may be a better option due to its enclosed design. If you are looking for a space to relax and enjoy the outdoors, a pergola may be more suitable as it offers an open design.

Personal Preference

It ultimately comes down to personal preference. Consider which outdoor structure fits the aesthetic of your property and which design you find most appealing.



Both gazebos and pergolas require some degree of maintenance. Gazebos typically require more upkeep as they have a roof and walls that can collect debris and require cleaning. Pergolas, on the other hand, may require more frequent staining or sealing to protect against the elements.

By considering these key factors, you can make an informed decision between a gazebo and a pergola that best suits your outdoor space and personal preference.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


In this section, we will address some of the most frequently asked questions about gazebos and pergolas.

Can a gazebo be converted into a pergola?


Yes, it is possible to convert a gazebo into a pergola. However, it may require some modifications to the structure and design. It’s important to consult a professional to ensure a smooth conversion process.

Which is more expensive, a gazebo or a pergola?


The cost of a gazebo or pergola can vary depending on factors such as size, materials, and design. Typically, gazebos tend to be more expensive than pergolas due to their more complex structure and additional features such as a roof and flooring.

What materials are commonly used to build gazebos and pergolas?


Wood, metal, and vinyl are common materials used to build gazebos and pergolas. Each material has its own unique advantages and disadvantages, such as durability and maintenance requirements.

It’s important to consider factors such as weather conditions and personal preferences when deciding on the best material for your outdoor structure.

Do I need a permit to build a gazebo or pergola?


The need for a permit can vary depending on local building codes and regulations. It’s important to consult with your local building authority before starting any construction on your property.

Which is better for shade, a gazebo or a pergola?

Both gazebos and pergolas can provide shade, but pergolas are typically better suited for creating a semi-shaded outdoor space.

This is because pergolas typically have an open roof design, allowing for sunlight to filter through while still providing some shade.

Can I install a ceiling fan in my gazebo or pergola?


Yes, it is possible to install a ceiling fan in your gazebo or pergola. However, it’s important to ensure that the structure can support the additional weight and that electrical wiring is installed safely and properly.

It’s best to consult a professional for assistance with this type of installation.

How long does it take to build a gazebo or pergola?


The time it takes to build a gazebo or pergola can vary depending on factors such as size, materials, and design. A smaller, simpler structure can typically be built within a few days, while a larger, more complex structure may take several weeks.

Can I customize the design of my gazebo or pergola?


Yes, both gazebos and pergolas can be customized to fit your specific design preferences. This can include factors such as size, materials, and features such as lighting and decorations. Talk to a professional to ensure that your customized design is both functional and safe.

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