Gazebos builder Port Jefferson

What Is The Difference Between A Pergola And A Gazebo?

At first, both a pergola and a gazebo appear pretty much the same. They both are built in the backyard and offer shade for your outdoor living space. However, they have many differences which is why they have different names. So, if you consult a pergola contractor and instruct them to build a pergola, it won’t resemble a gazebo. Let’s dive into the world of pergolas and gazebos and learn how are they different from each other.

Pergola Vs Gazebo

The Roof

A major feature that separates pergolas and gazebos from each other is the roof. Pergolas have a flat roof whereas gazebos have a round or canopy-shaped roof where the center part is elevated for an easy flow of water off the roof.

If you ask how does water come off the flat roof of a pergola then the answer is that the roof of a pergola is generally not completely shaded. It’s made with a number of interlocking beams that can be wood, aluminum, PVC, steel, or any other material.

So, a good part of rainwater and snowfall can reach the ground or deck through the roof of a pergola. This is the typical design of a pergola roof and it makes the patio or deck area cool and breezy because most people spend time outside in the summer. However, if want a pergola with a shaded roof, you can have it by installing a retractable shade on an existing pergola or have a fully shaded pergola built from the get-go.

On the other hand, the roof of gazebos is always completely shaded and that’s why its design is rounded.

Protection From The Elements

The above point brings us to this one. The roof design directly impacts the protection from the elements each one provides. As pergolas usually have some space between their beams, rain comes through. So, if it rains and you have a piece of furniture you don’t want wet, you should take the furniture indoors or install a retractable fabric canopy that can be extended for protection against rain. The same is true for the sun’s rays.

Moreover, most pergolas don’t have walls as they have posts for supporting the roof. This makes the semi-shaded living space more breezy, but it gives the structure poor protection against rain, dust, and other elements. However, if your preference is a more closed pergola with a shaded roof and walls on at least three sides, you can have it built by an expert.

Gazebos have a full-fledged roof, so protection against elements is better with a gazebo. However, it also depends widely on the design of the gazebo.

There are popup gazebos that are very similar to tents. You can have them set up when you want and remove them when you don’t need them. A pop-up gazebo is also completely shaded with a waterproof fabric, but it’s usually open from all or most sides. So, its weather protection is quite the same as a pergola with a retractable canopy.

If you have a permanent pergola with a roof and its walls have a mesh screen, the protection from elements will be maximum because the mesh will also keep bugs out. However, many gazebos have a railing on the sides that appear beautiful but are not effective against bugs. They still provide better weather protection than most pergola designs.


The location of the structure in the yard is another difference between a pergola and a gazebo. Pergolas offer more freedom of choice for the selection of the location than gazebos because they can be installed anywhere. You can have it built attached to the structure of your house or build it somewhere else in your yard.

Coming to gazebos, they are almost always installed as a detached structure from the house.


Gazebos are commonly round and circular in shape. You can have a big gazebo installed in your backyard, but it may still be a bit smaller than a medium-sized pergola. Pergolas are big enough to accommodate more people and furniture than a gazebo.

Moreover, the open style of a pergola makes it a better choice if you have an outdoor kitchen or a pool. Because the transition from the pergola (or the patio or deck) to the kitchen or the pool will be seamless.


Gazebos are built as a totally standalone structure not only with their own roof and sides but also the floor. It’s common for a gazebo to have its own floor that is slightly elevated from the yard.

Pergolas are treated differently. A pergola is installed as a shade for a patio or deck. You can install a pergola on an existing deck or patio or get it built as soon as you finish the installation of your patio/deck.

This also explains the, typically, bigger size of a pergola because it’s basically a shade for a patio/deck. Decks are usually bigger and offer a good outdoor living space. So, a pergola covering the deck will also be bigger.


Pergolas are considered less expensive than gazebos because they are made as a shade for a deck/patio. Moreover, it’s considered acceptable for pergolas to be made of materials other than wood like PVC and aluminum. Whereas gazebos are installed in a standalone structure and made of wood.


Pergolas and gazebos have some similarities as well due to which they are considered the same by some people.

Outdoor Living Space

The prime reason for their resemblance is that both of these structures offer outdoor living space. Even though it’s truer for a gazebo because it has its own floor, a pergola is built on top of a deck so it also appears as something that offers outdoor living space.


In most cases, you don’t need a permit for building a pergola or a gazebo in your yard. But you should still never ignore this part. Consult your local authorities to make sure the structure you’re building doesn’t require a permit. Moreover, make sure that the structure is not near utility poles or the street.


The good news for homeowners who have a gazebo or a pergola installed in their yards is that both of these structures add value to your house. You don’t necessarily have to choose a specific one for better resale value.

However, if the structure is bigger and offers more living space, it may help better with the value. Moreover, the material used for the installation of a gazebo or a pergola can also impact the overall value. PVC pergolas or gazebos may have a lesser value than aluminum ones. Most people prefer wood even though it’s high maintenance.

If you want something in the middle, go with an aluminum or steel structure. They are fairly popular and are more low maintenance than wood. Moreover, they are also more durable than many other materials used for building pergolas and gazebos.

But keep in mind that pergolas made of materials other than wood appear cool, but a gazebo made of steel may appear weird because wood is the most popular material used for constructing gazebos.


Now that you know a lot about the differences between a gazebo and a pergola, you can choose the right one for your yard. Discuss your preferences with gazebo builders Port Jefferson to learn more.

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