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What is a Pergola and What is it Used for?

What is a pergola and what is it used for

Dreaming about summer and sunny days spent out in a backyard space? Well, spring is just around the corner and now is the high time you start thinking about your outdoor space.

Perhaps you’ve already invested in landscaping your grounds but would like to extend your living space for a more pleasant hospitable outdoor spot. So why not consider a Pergola?

What are Pergolas?

What are Pergolas

With their distinctive Italian fused form, pergolas have got centuries behind them. In fact, their early roots can be traced back to Roman times, when structures were projected from externals walls and secured by posts or columns, to mimic the villas of Imperial Rome.

In simple terms, a pergola refers to an outdoor feature built from posts and beams to create a shaded walkway or sitting/dining area area, usually over a patio or deck.

This open-air structure may be freestanding or bound to a building, but its general purpose is to create a focal point in an outdoor space.

They are often confused with arbors but unlike pergolas, arbors are mostly free-standing and with an arched roof and are often used as doorways. They are generally built with a more open design and with a more solid roof as opposed to arbors.

Historically, pergolas were built from stones, bricks, and wood, but people have gotten more creative nowadays with their outdoor spaces, leading to backyard structures that combine various elements to match individual requirements.

Modern features are typically made of, vinyl, wood, aluminum, and fiberglass, and are normally installed on pavers/concrete patios, allowing outdoor furniture to be set below them. Pergolas can be an awesome way to turn your outdoor space into a central hangout spot.

What Are Pergolas Used For?

What Are Pergolas Used For

There are many ways you can use a pergola, but today they are commonly used on decks and patios. The primary purpose of a pergola is shading, although you may have one just to “frame in” an area, probably to provide a sense of height or define certain areas architecturally.

Pergolas have become a staple among homeowners and backyard enthusiasts alike as they add to the visual aperance visual of the backyard, creating endless possibilities for enjoyment.

These charming enhancements also help to create a mood or character for your home while extending your family’s warmth and hospitality. So if you’re thinking about the next addition to your outdoor area, consider building a pergola. Here’s why:

Creating A Versatile Shade

You could be wondering, how can open-air structures like pergolas offer shade? Well, it turns out that pergolas were built to provide shade to an outdoor area. They are excellent for bringing relief from fierce, direct sun rays while allowing daylight to take over the space.

Pergolas do not offer full shade as a stand-alone feature, but their versatile creation gives room for many shade options. In the event that full coverage, you can install a rectangular canopy. This way, you can achieve various levels of shade subject to the time and day or sun’s location.

Rectangular canopies aren’t the only way to maximum coverage, though. Many options are available that you can use to attach sunblocks to your pergola that can showcase your personal taste or preferences such as fabric sales or plants like bamboo.

Pergolas Can Extend Your Living Space

If you have realized that you like your backyard space but also you find it not quite so great on those hot afternoons when the sun is thrashing down, or you simply want to have some protection from the harsh climate, a pergola may be your best.

You can use a pergola to advance your living space and improve the amount of time and experience you have outside. Developed and customized properly in your yard, a pergola can provide enough light shade, making an even hotter afternoon pleasurable.

Besides, you can install a rectangular shade cover to achieve additional protection against direct sunlight and elements. Some shade covers are even made to provide protection against rain, making them perfect for those unpredictable summer rainfalls.

Adding Beauty Your Outdoor space

Adding Beauty Your Outdoor space

With their elegant structure, pergolas can effectively depict unmistakable beauty on your patio. Remember their design is meant to give a stylish touch to any outdoor living area.

Aside from stand-alone beauties, pergolas give a wonderful framework to introduce your desired special beautifying touches. The formation alone can be charming enough, yet the possibilities for fine-tuning the beauty or style are endless.

More importantly, you have the option of what materials should be employed in the making of your pergola. This could be vinyl, fiberglass, wood, or aluminum. Depending on the preferred style, these materials can add modern, rustic, graceful, or luxury beauty to your pergola feature.

Alternatively, you can add an extra perk to your custom pergola by growing or hanging plants such as grapes, vines, roses, honeysuckle, wisteria, and other potted plants through the beams.

Then give it a romantic essence and some cool dusk lighting by setting lights around the columns or pieces of garnished linen fabric around the exterior of the cross beams.

Creating a Nice Hospitable Outdoor Spot

Whether you are planning to host a barbeque, create a stunning, memorable spot for a small wedding, or simply delight in a cup of hot coffee all alone, pergolas are meant for these exact moments.

These charming spots draw people in with their beauty and shade, offering a central location for family and friends to come together.

In other words, you will have a perfect dining area. While pergolas’ designs are all about inclusion, you can always add privacy with some patterns, drapes, or screens. So when you look at your window, you will see your pergola as a spectacular spot that makes people smile.

Improve the Value of Your Home

Are pergolas really worth the investment? Well, yes. In addition to their shade, beauty, and amiable hospitable nature, pergolas are planned to add value to your home. According to experts, the landscape of your outdoor space has the ability to increase the value of your property by 15%.

These structures also add special makeup to your outdoor design while remaining resourceful and enjoyable. They are developed to be either that one missing piece that fine-tunes your backyard area or the special piece that prompts you to extend the creativity of your outdoor design.

Coming down to longevity, pergolas are said to have a lifetime of use with proper maintenance. Whether you choose vinyl, wood, or fiberglass, you can rest easy knowing that your structure isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

That said, though, vinyl is associated with less maintenance overall. The thing with wood is that you would need to stain or repaint every two years or so, based on how much your pergola is exposed to the sun. There are many factors that go into choosing between a vinyl pergola and a wooden one.

How to Create a Shade with a Pergola

How to Create a Shade with a Pergola

As you already know, pergolas are not built to entirely block the sun; they are designed to offer relief from direct sunlight while letting air circulate freely.

While beam roof structures will only give partial shade, you could hang plants across the top or put a bamboo cover to have more shade on a hot day. Also, you can install fence panels, trellis, or sheer curtains on the sides to get a more enclosed pergola.

Pergola Design Options

In terms of designs, there are a number of options available. Low-maintenance pergolas are usually more limited but with the woods, you can achieve a highly customized pergola with specific spans and details.

You could use the help of a professional to design your custom pergola from the start and have it built right in your outdoor living space. Alternatively, you can simply buy a kit from one of the many home improvements companies available.

However, in the second case, you won’t have the same design options as you would with a custom structure. You are typically limited to rectangles and fixed certain dimensions.

On the bright side, however, all the parts will be delivered to your place for your landscape experts to assemble and install.


The next thing to consider will be the materials; there are a variety of options to consider and all come with their pros and cons.

Despite the variety of materials available, pergolas fall into two major categories; low-maintenance and woods. While the low-maintenance designs have become gained popularity over the years, wood options are considered the most common. Here’s a breakdown.

Pressure-Treated Wood

This is probably the least expensive option available. Pergolas built with pressure-treated wood do have a considerable lifespan, but the lumber can warp, crack, and check over time. These types of pergolas generally look best when painted or stained.

Cedar Wood

Cedar wood is yet another common choice for pergolas. Typically Western Red Cedar, this material is naturally resistant to insects. You can stain and seal it to retain its color, or leave it untreated to turn a subtle silver gray.

However, options made from this type of wood are a bit expensive compared to a pressure-treated pergola, but you’ll most likely get a longer serviceable duration from cedar.


The best part about vinyl pergolas is they require very little maintenance. However, it is generally difficult to repaint vinyl structures, meaning you will have limited color choices.


Although fiberglass pergolas are often the most expensive, they are associated with significant benefits. The fact that fiberglass is so strong makes it easy to span longer distances without posts, providing a cleaner, more elegant style.

These options are ideal for adding either deck or an existing patio. Given their lightweight, fiberglass pergolas don’t demand the same deep footers, which is usually the case with other materials.



If there’s one thing that makes creating and designing pergolas so fun, it is the rich variety of creative solutions available.

Backyard enthusiasts and homeowners can now enjoy both form and function in their outdoor spaces. So if you’re looking for a way to achieve an outdoor oasis, something that offers energy and harmony, a pergola might be an excellent addition.

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Miranda Sharp

Miranda Sharp

I'm an Editorial Assistant based in South East Asia having travelled all over the world. I mostly cover the LATAM timezones managing the content side of things here. On weekends, you will find me watching Grey's Anatomy and plethora of Netflix soppy dramas or munching on dishes I would have doled out from MasterChef

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