Pergola Vs. Gazebo: Which is Better? Difference Explained

Pergola Vs. Gazebo

Do you want to upgrade your outdoor living space by adding an elegant structure to it?

When it comes to enhancing your outdoor space, Pergolas and Gazebos are among the most popular options.

But it can be challenging to choose between a pergola and a gazebo. Because both share numerous similar features, like providing shade, weather protection, an outdoor oasis for relaxation, and an attractive architectural design.

  • So what makes them two entirely different structures?
  • Which one is right for your outdoor area?

We’ll explain everything about Pergolas and Gazebos in this article, and help you choose the ideal structure for your outdoor space.

What is a Pergola?

A pergola is an outdoor structure characterized by vertical columns and a roof with a lattice-style design, composed of beams and rafters. It is commonly used to provide coverage for outdoor spaces such as patios and backyards.

There are many types of pergolas, like freestanding pergolas, attached pergolas, louvered pergolas, arched pergolas, and awning pergolas.

Pergolas can be constructed from a variety of materials, such as wood, aluminum, PVC, iron, and composite materials, allowing for versatility in design and durability.

In comparison to competing outdoor structures like gazebos, arbors, and pavilions, pergolas enjoy greater popularity, primarily owing to their architectural elegance and versatility.

What is a Gazebo?

Gazebos are outdoor structures characterized by an enclosed roof system that is supported by pillars.

They are available in 3 main styles: Victorian, Modern, and Asian Gazebos, each featuring distinct design elements and aesthetics.

Gazebos are typically made of wood. But vinyl, aluminum, steel, and fabric gazebos are also common.

Their pillars are anchored in concrete footers, so they’re permanent structures, and often have proper water drainage systems in place.

Gazebos have been around for much longer, and are a more traditional choice as compared to pergolas, which are relatively modern in terms of architectural design and functionality.

How to Choose Between a Pergola and Gazebo

When choosing between a pergola and a gazebo, you must ask yourself a few simple questions like:

  • What is the most important to you – style or longevity?
  • Do you need more shade and protection, or are you more into architectural design?
  • How much space do you want to cover?
  • What is your budget?
  • Do you need a freestanding structure or an attached structure?
  • Can you handle a structure with hectic assembly and high maintenance requirements?

Major Differences Between a Pergola and Gazebo

Following are some of the major differences between pergolas and gazebos:

Roof Structure, Protection, and Degree of Shelter

The primary difference between a pergola and a gazebo centers around their roof design and structure.

A pergola roof is usually an open horizontal lattice of interlocking beams, while gazebos have a solid and fully covered roof structure.

Thus, Gazebos offer full protection from the elements. While pergolas generally provide a lower degree of protection. However, it’s worth noting that some modern pergolas can even withstand hurricanes, providing the level of weather protection desired by you.

A gazebo usually provides complete shelter, while pergolas provide partial shelter. Nevertheless, the level of shelter offered by a pergola depends largely on the type of roof it features.

Some pergolas come with a slatted roof, louvers, or a retractable canopy – which can often not only provide shade and shelter, but can also be adjusted according to the prevailing mood and weather conditions.


Generally, pergolas are modern outdoor structures, while gazebos are traditional structures. Gazebos have been around for millennia, while pergolas are only a few centuries old.

People who like sleek and elegant architecture usually love pergolas for their home improvement projects. In contrast, those who prefer a more spacious and private structure, lean towards gazebos.

Since pergolas do not have a fully covered solid roof, they let the sunlight and air to pass through freely; creating an inviting ambiance that allows you to enjoy the weather and function as a perfect backyard oasis.

Gazebos, on the other hand, are more like miniature houses, placing a stronger emphasis on protection and shelter rather than aesthetics.

Both gazebos and pergolas come in various shapes. Pergolas are usually square or rectangular. While gazebos can have 4–8 sides, and often come in octagon, oval, and rectangular shapes.

Freestanding or Attached?

Gazebos are typically freestanding structures, while pergolas can be freestanding as well as attached.

Attached pergolas provide a transition between indoor and outdoor living experience, functioning as an extension of your building, and provide better protection from the elements such as rain and intense sunlight.

They are especially better for smaller homes, because smaller homes often don’t have enough outdoor space.

Thus, you get attached pergolas, but no attached gazebos normally.


When it comes to maintenance, pergolas have a clear advantage over gazebos.

Pergolas are easy to install and maintain. While gazebos, owing to their additional features, often demand more frequent care and maintenance.

The solid roof of a gazebo can potentially trap water, leading to issues like mold growth. Roof leaks are also a common concern for gazebo owners

Pergolas have experienced notable improvements in terms of quality and durability over time, such that they now require minimal maintenance. While gazebos have faced fewer improvements in their quality and design.

Cost and Longevity

Pergolas are a more cost-effective choice compared to gazebos, as gazebos often cost twice as much as pergolas. Moreover, pergolas prove to be a superior long-term investment.

Pergolas not only have a longer lifespan compared to gazebos but also contribute more significantly to increasing the value of your home.

For example, if a 10′ x 10′ aluminum pergola costs $6,000 – $7,000, a 10′ x 10′ aluminum gazebo would cost $9,00-10,000.

Moreover, if the pergola lasts for 20–25 years, the gazebo would probably last for 10–15 years.


Pergolas offer greater flexibility of options compared to gazebos. From designs and innovation to quality, there is a wide range of options available when purchasing a pergola.

But gazebos, on the other hand, are more conventional outdoor structures, characterized by fewer variations and customization options available.

Also, more innovative pergolas with cutting edge technology are being introduced to the market over time, while gazebos lag behind pergolas in this regard.

Pergolas also provide greater flexibility in terms of size and shape.

Pergola Vs Gazebo: Which One Is Better?

 Simple answer: Pergola! 

You might ask, why?

Because pergolas come in various types, and while they all share the same basic design and architectural elegance, certain pergolas are purpose-built for specific needs.

For example, if you need complete shade, you have the option of choosing a gazebo, or a pergola with additional shading features.

Likewise, if you require coverage over a larger area, you can either get a large custom pergola, or get a super pergola (multiple pergolas joined together), that can even up to accommodate 20–25 people at a time. So pergolas provide optimal space coverage.

Thus, Pergolas can provide you nearly everything a gazebo would, but they also have many advantages that gazebos don’t.

So pergolas are the clear winners in the competition!


If you want to install a pergola or a gazebo at your home, make sure you contact the local building codes to verify that the size of your chosen structure complies with regulations.

You might hardly face any hurdle while installing a pergola, but proximity to the road or utility poles can cause some headache.

Also, it’s advisable to get in touch with the local utility company to make sure you don’t interfere with a sewer or electrical line while digging.

Final Words

While both pergolas and gazebos are popular for outdoor structures, and have their own similarities and differences, pergolas are the most trending and clearly outdo gazebos in all aspects.

Which one is better for you depends more on your priorities, requirements, budget, and location. But overall, pergolas provide the best of both worlds.

  • Alex

    Alex is a backyard enthusiast and skilled DIYer. Through his blog, “BusyBuildingThings,” he shares practical tips and creative ideas to help you transform your outdoor space. Join Alex on this journey of backyard improvement and unlock the potential of your oasis.

    Alex P.