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Last updated on June 14, 2024

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If you’re looking to add some shade and protection to your outdoor space, you might find yourself debating between a pergola and a patio cover. Both options offer excellent shelter from the elements, but there are some key differences to consider before making your decision.

Choosing between a patio cover and a pergola is like picking between two fantastic summer adventures! Before you embark on this outdoor upgrade, think about a few crucial factors. How large is your backyard paradise? What do the HOA gatekeepers say? And just how sturdy do you want this new structure to be?

The main difference between a pergola and a patio cover is that a pergola offers natural light with shade while a patio cover offers complete shade with protection from the elements. Modern pergolas can even boast a polycarbonate system that blocks hail, rain, and harmful UV rays, all while letting natural light stream in. Both structures can either be attached to your home or stand alone. Pergolas can be connected to your roof using Skylifts, while a patio cover can be constructed as a free-standing structure. Imagine lounging in comfort, enjoying temperatures up to 15 degrees cooler, and knowing your outdoor space and belongings are well-protected from the elements. It’s the best of both worlds!

Before diving into the comparison, let’s briefly define pergolas and patio covers.

What is a Pergola?

Ever seen a charming structure in someone’s backyard and wondered what it is? That’s a pergola! Think four vertical posts supporting a series of horizontal beams, often draped in climbing plants. It’s like an open-air room, offering both shade and style.


Pergolas can be made from wood, metal, or vinyl. Wood (cedar) is a popular, budget-friendly choice, while metal and vinyl offer a modern, durable option, though they come at a higher cost.

Size Matters

Pergolas come in various sizes, from a cozy 4×4 foot nook to a grand 20×20 foot hangout. Feeling creative? Design a pergola that curves along your garden path or floats above your pool. The only limit is your imagination!

Does a Pergola Add Value to a Home?

Are pergolas worth it? Absolutely! They enhance your home’s beauty, provide functional outdoor space, and can boost your property value by up to 15%. They add unique charm, making your home more attractive to buyers and giving it that final touch of character.

What is a Patio Cover?

While a pergola gives your backyard a touch of charm, a patio cover is like your home’s best friend who always has you covered—literally! Think of a patio cover as an extension of your home’s roof, seamlessly blending with your house’s exterior. Typically, the roof of a patio cover sports asphalt shingles to match your home or garage, creating a unified look. A good contractor will make it look as it was always a part of the house.

Patio covers are customizable marvels. You can choose from various designs, materials, and finishes. Whether you rustic wood stains, elegant stone pillars, or sleek built-in light fixtures, there’s a patio cover to suit your style. Plus, you can play with height to add a touch of grandeur or coziness to your outdoor space.

A patio cover is perfect for adding shade and rain protection to your outdoor areas. It’s an excellent addition to outdoor kitchens, living spaces, and dining areas. Imagine cooking up a storm in your outdoor kitchen, lounging in your living area, or hosting a dinner party—all under the cozy shelter of your patio cover. It brings all your outdoor elements together under one stylish roof, making your backyard the ultimate hangout spot, rain or shine.

Patio Cover vs. Pergolas: Choosing Your Shade Solution

Covered Comfort: For those prioritizing practicality and protection, a patio cover offers shade and shelter from the elements. With the addition of lighting, fans, and comfortable furniture, it transforms into an inviting outdoor living space.

Pergolas: If aesthetics and customization are your focus, pergolas steal the spotlight. These stylish structures not only provide shade but also add beauty to your backyard. With endless design possibilities, they create a charming outdoor retreat, perfect for relaxation and entertainment.

Decision Time: When making your choice between covered comfort and posh pergolas, consider your preferences and needs. Whether it’s functionality or style, both options promise to enhance your outdoor living experience. Finally, make sure you choose a contractor that understands your vision and can bring it to life.

Submitted by: Doris and Tom Richards, Owners of T&D Construction

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