What type of pergola to choose for the patio: best styles and their main benefits

Pergola is quite a commonly used term when it comes to the decoration of the patio or backyard, although those unfamiliar with its peculiarities can easily mistake it with other structures of this kind, considering the variety of shapes and sizes it can come in. Let’s make it clear! For a start, it is worth mentioning the role of a pergola for the overall look of your backyard, enhancing the landscape, adding value to your exterior, showing off your good taste outside your interior borders, and increasing the relaxing effect of this area. So far, so good! Now, it is time to get more specific. 

What is a pergola? A pergola is a structure used within the exterior that includes columns whose role is to support an open roof made of rafters and beams. Quite easy to remember but as easy to mistake with other structures of the kind. One should not that a pergola is not an arbor, which is much smaller and usually used to frame an outside entrance or walkway; a gazebo, which implies a raised ground, comprising a closed roof and a low wall around its perimeter; a pavilion, which is similar to the previous one, although with open sides; a trellis, which is a panel of lattice used to decorate a wall or any other structure alike. 

Now that you can make a difference between a pergola and other similar structures, let’s dive into the specifics of the former. We prepared a list of pergola types, pointing out their main features to help you decide which one suits you better, accompanied by a few tips on the subject. Enjoy the reading, get informed and inspired for a new approach to your exterior design!

Pergola components

  • Columns – the roof-supporting pillars that used to frame the exterior, whose number depends on the pergola size;
  • Rafters and beams – the elements of the pergola roof with the beams going on top of the columns and the rafters – on top of the beams;
  • Ledger board – the part that connects an attached pergola to the building by replacing the beam that stands on the side attached to the wall, which is fully optional;
  • Stringers – optional elements, also known as purlins, which go on top of the rafters for more shade.

Tips on choosing the best pergola

  • Decide between a traditional and modern pergola depending on the type and design, which is whether a timeless or contemporary one;
  • Go with a specific type, considering particular materials, colors, and design that suit your exterior;
  • Consider the general picture of your patio, where the pergola has to integrate into the overall exterior design, even when slightly standing out;
  • Add individuality to your pergola by personalizing the structure with elements that meet your standards of comfort and style.

Now that we have covered some general aspects, it is time to dive into the most interesting part and define various types of pergolas, which is the first decision you have to make when decorating the patio with a structure of this kind. Let’s find out the best pergola types and their defining features!

Open-top pergola

Most pergolas come with an open top, and we suggest opting for one if you strive for authentic beauty. Besides air circulation and access to sunlight, open-top pergolas are a perfect way to enhance your exterior without bringing in too many changes. This way, your patio pergola will not just be a continuation of your interior but a standout element of the exterior that works in harmony with the natural background. 

Closed-top pergola

No less impressive and much functional are closed-top pergolas. Besides the fact that your patio will not get wet during rain or frozen during snowfall, a closed roof is a perfect option to keep this space protected from sun rays in areas with hot weather. Furthermore, you can opt for various materials depending on the shade level you want, from a thin piece of cloth to an indeed thick one or removable screening with a slightly transparent effect. Nevertheless, if ensuring a bit of shade for this space is not a priority, and a closed roof would definitely be of help in rainy weather, a great option is glass, which will enhance the aesthetics of this structure and add functionality. 

Retractable pergola

Regardless of the material, you can always opt for the retractable system mounted to almost any structure. Such an approach makes it possible to enrich your exterior with a pergola that can be both open and closed-roof, adapting it to particular weather conditions. Keep it closed for a perfect shade effect during a sunny day and open for a fabulous show of stars at night. Therefore, a simple push of a switch will make your pergola a perfect structure that adapts to your needs and keeps pace with the latest trends in this sense. 

Bioclimatic pergola

Not far from the previous option stand the bioclimatic pergolas – the definition of an indeed contemporary structure of the kind. The bioclimatic pergola is also a retractable system consisting of motorized blades that can adjust the whole structure to your desires of shade and light. Ensure comfort during all seasons with an aluminum system of motorized slats to maintain clarity during winter and regulate heat in summer. Among its benefits is a full aluminum composition that is recyclable and resistant to corrosion, adjustable blades that can be controlled remotely, side blinds that protect from wind and insects, integrated LED lights for additional comfort, water drainage system that ensures a 100% rainwater recovery. A pergola like this is a perfect structure for your patio that is not only easy to use but also adds a contemporary feel to your exterior.

Gable pergola

Following the same range of ideas, we come to another great option for areas with extreme weather conditions – a gable pergola, another type of closed-top roof pergola, although with a well-built structure similar to the house roof. This is the case when a continuation of the main roof looks extremely well. The result will be an additional harmonious element to the house that offers you a perfect space for relaxation, protected by unpredictable weather conditions and preserving access to the natural landscape. 

Sail pergola

If neither of the earlier mentioned options feels close to you, consider an easier variant to work with that adds functionality to this space. Sail implies a stretchable fabric that ensures a higher shade level. In contrast with an open-roof pergola, sail offers a more contemporary look, while the variety of colors available opens up a wide range of possibilities to adapt this structure both to the exterior style and your preferences. 

Which material to choose for the structure of your pergola?


Regardless of your house exterior style, wood will never spoil the picture but rather enhance it with a subtle touch of nature-inspired beauty and make this space go in harmony with the natural background. Particularly impressive looks natural wood, unpainted, which brings its richness of texture to the surface. Sometimes, it is enough to just go with a few wooden pillars and wooden slats on the top for an outstanding effect. Your patio will instantly acquire a point of interest that will fill the space with an exquisite sense of stylish simplicity that cannot help but add individuality to your exterior. Besides that, wood is easy to work with and personalizes the design of your pergola, being quite affordable, although it depends on the type of wood.


Considering that steel is durable, it works perfectly for areas with harsh weather, lasting longer. Nevertheless, a particular chemical treatment should be considered before the steel pergola is exposed to outside conditions. As regards the rest, this material is easy to work with, adapting to your preferences. One should consider that steel can also be combined with wood, such as for the roof. Furthermore, one can opt for a particular paint color to cover the rough steel surface. Nevertheless, a quite popular option is to let steel as it is, even if it corrodes over time, which will offer it an industrial feel. However, such an approach suits contemporary exteriors in particular.


This is another perfect option for outdoors in areas with extreme weather conditions. Vinyl is durable, quite affordable, and adapting to any preferences of yours regarding the design. It works with any style, from the most traditional to the most modern one. It is a go-to option if you cannot decide which material to choose for the pergola. Furthermore, it will suit any direction of yours when it comes to other elements of your patio, such as the furniture and decor. In a few words, it is a perfect match for your house exterior and a source of harmony with the natural background due to its simplicity, which is nothing else but a feature of taking into consideration within contemporary designs.


It is a great alternative to steel, considering that it doesn’t rust and suits those who live on the coast particularly. Regardless of its ability to stay the same in any weather conditions, aluminum is low maintenance. Furthermore, you can paint it any color you want for better integration. In a word – perfect for a pergola. Well, there is one thing one should consider; this material is not that flexible when it comes to design. In contrast with other materials, you are a bit limited here, but this is just a tiny inconvenience compared to its benefits.

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