Pergola vs Gazebo vs Canopies: Differences (Which to Get)

BBQ area and Gazebo

While many cite the difference between a pergola, gazebo, and canopies as just roofs, which is true, however of these roofs have different uses and qualities that set them apart. Knowing the differences between a pergola, gazebo, and canopies helps you decide which one you need to get.

A pergola has been around for a long while just like a gazebo but both are quite very common in homes. If you are looking to enhance your backyard then choosing between these three roof types is the perfect place to start.

Landscaping is not limited to your front yard garden or backyard though, a roof garden has recently been introduced and it can help add some fancy and personal touch to any structure. However, to create this magic, you need to choose between a pergola, gazebo, and canopies.

These three roofs provide different forms of shelter and it is important to understand these differences. So if you are planning to choose the perfect backyard structure for your home then you need to know which of the three shelters is ideal for you. Hence this article contains the difference between the three including their uses to enable you to choose between the three.

Pergolas Explained

A pergola is designed to provide an area for you and your friends to mingle in. It is an outdoor garden feature that forms a shaded sitting area, walkway, passageway and it can also be used as pillars that support cross beams.

The primary use of a pergola is for designing a specific area in the landscaping and it happens to be a simple design. They can also provide cover for a bench and they open on all sides which means they won’t offer any protection from sun or rain on the sides.

Pergola is completely mobile which means when they are set in a particular place, they can’t be moved. There are three common types of the pergola which include: Wood pergola, Vinyl pergolas, and metal and fiberglass pergola. All these types are simplistic in their designs and can be constructed with different materials.

Gezebos Explained

A gazebo is designed to provide shade just like a pergola. It is typically used in a garden and outdoor area. A gazebo is shaped in the form of an octagon and this structure is often made to be large and immobile which provides you shade or is used to add beauty to an outdoor setting. Gazebos are used to provide shade from rain, sun and it provides you with a place to rest.

The primary purpose of a gazebo is to shelter one particular space, however, it comes with partially open sides. They are also used as a roof over a defined space that can be used for gatherings such as dinner parties or relaxation. The larger gazebos can also be used for events to9 be booked and help.

Canopies Explained

A canopy is an overhead roof that spreads out and covers an area. This type of shelter is designed to rest on columns and doesn’t attach to the house. A canopy also has a support structure, unlike a pergola. Just a gazebo and a pergola, a canopy can provide shelter from weather conditions.

Pergola Vs Gazebo: The Differences

What’s the difference between a pergola and a gazebo? A pergola with a roof is quite similar to that of a gazebo but there are differences between this two that can help you decide which one to buy. The main difference between a pergola and a gazebo is the function of the roof, however, to properly understand these two shelters, we have listed the notable differences between them.


A pergola is much less cluttered and much more elegant.

  • It is relatively easy to build and most homeowners can have it installed themselves
  • Pergolas are also inexpensive
  • They don’t take too much space
  • Pergola look really great as a way to anchor a living space or an outdoor kitchen
  • You can choose between a larger and a smaller pergola
  • Pergola’s add value to your home and property.


  • Gazeboes can be built from a number of different materials and the material you choose depends on your project
  • They are very sturdy and will hardly get damaged in bad weather
  • They offer a great location to photographers
  • You can run electricity to a gazebo
  • Versatile and functional
  • They do not need much maintenance and a well-built gazebo has minimal risk.

Gazebo Vs Canopy: The Differences

The main difference between a pergola and a gazebo si the shape but with a canopy, it is not the same. A gazebo and a pergola are both created to offer your shades but a canopy is considered more a simple structure. Here are the differences between a gazebo and a canopy.


  • A gazebo is mainly used for decorating outdoor events and celebrations such as parties, birthdays, weddings and anniversaries.
  • Gazebos are built to withstand weather and might take up lots of space
  • Gazebos are permanent and convenient whenever there is a need.
  • Gazebos are expensive but are considered reasonable since they are built with durable materials.
  • The sheer weight of gazebo’s means they will be standing firm in a place and they are more expensive than the simple structured canopy.


  • Canopies are simple structure shades made of lightweight
  • Canopy is designed to add value to your home but is not sturdy enough to withstand harsh weather conditions.
  • Canopies are meant to be temporary structures
  • The cost of installing a canopy after a couple of months or years is less favoured than that of a gazebo that is sure to last for a long while.
  • Canopy is a simple structured shade that favours convenience over durability.

Pergola Vs Canopies: The Differences

Image: @tsc0809 via Twenty20.

Pergolas are freestanding structures that are constructed to offer shades from the sun and they are also permanent just like a gazebo but they are considered more similar to a canopy. Most canopies come with soft structures compared to a pergola that is made with more durable material. The roof material is cited as the main difference between a pergola and a canopy.

Canopies are very similar to pergolas and they are both constructed as freestanding structures. But keep in mind that pergolas are well built solid and they can also include a canopy as a covering to offer sun and rain protection.

A pergola is not usually connected to a house as it is simply a structure connected to a roof that is actually the rafts or beams and when it has fabrics hung over the top to offer protection from the sun then it is called a ”Pergola Canopy”.

A pergola canopy is an outdoor structure that is made to define a specific area inside the landscaping. This does not come with a solid roof and it rather has a canopy over the top which offers you protection from rain and sun.

Pergola vs Gazebo vs Canopies: The Differences

Choosing between a pergola, gazebo and a canopy is not complicated, you just need to choose the right style that best suits your home and what you need. Landscaping adds significant value to your home however the kind of roof you use can further heighten the value.

When choosing between these three outdoor structures, you need to consider what the intended use of the backyard structure is and where you want to have it located. Here are some of the highlighted differences between these three.


  • Pergola are permanent backyards structure
  • Pergolas have open structures and slatted roofs which enable plants to climb over and wrap themselves around the open space.
  • Pergolas are expensive shade structures to design and offer fewer shades.
  • A shade structure built with a pergola is a great option if you don’t have a covered patio or extended roof.


  • Gazebos are built with heavy materials which makes them permanent backyard structures.
  • Gazebos have hard roots and are covered at the top, they have tough structures and will keep sun and rain out.
  • Gazebos can be really expensive depending on the material used.
  • The best option if you want to entertain people in an outdoor structure is a gazebo.


  • Canopies are lightweight designed and they are lighter than a gazebo and pergola
  • Although canopies are designed with soft fabrics, they offer more shades compare to a pergola.
  • Canopies are the most inexpensive form of shade.
  • Canopies are great for more usable space that allows you to set up seamlessly underneath them.

A pergola is suitable if you are not into shades and just need an outdoor structure to add value to your home. A gazebo is a well-built structure that will offer you plenty of shade but it’s expensive. Canopies are the least expensive style of outdoor shelter but most are not sturdy enough to withstand outdoor weather conditions. No matter what structure you choose, having any of the outdoor structures is sure to add a decorative touch to your garden and backyard.

Final Thoughts

Pergola, gazebo, and canopy are all outdoor structures that are defined to add a decorative touch to your home. These shades will offer you elegance but each has its own advantage and disadvantages. With the differences and limitations of each of these outdoor shades listed above, you can easily choose one that adds value to your home.

Understanding that each of these structures has its differences and what they are best suited for is sure to make your choice an easier one.

Discover next:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *