A Guide To Pergolas: Types, Uses, And Costs

Guide to pergola

Have you ever seen a garden with a beautiful structure made of wood or metal, covered in climbing plants and flowers? That’s probably a pergola! Pergolas are outdoor structures that can turn any backyard into a cozy retreat. In this guide, we’ll explore the different types of pergolas, how they’re used, and what they might cost.

What is a Pergola?

A pergola is an outdoor structure usually made of wood, metal, or vinyl. It has columns that support a roofing grid of beams and rafters. This roof may be left open or covered to provide shade and shelter. Pergolas can be freestanding or attached to a house, serving as an extension of living space.

Types of Pergolas

1. Wooden Pergolas

Wooden pergolas are classic and blend well with nature. They can be made from various types of wood like cedar, redwood, or pressure-treated pine. Cedar is naturally resistant to rot, insects, and weather, making it a popular choice.

2. Metal Pergolas

Metal pergolas, often made of aluminum or steel, offer a modern look and are very durable. Aluminum pergolas are lightweight and resistant to corrosion, while steel ones are sturdier but may need more maintenance to prevent rust.

3. Vinyl Pergolas

Vinyl pergolas are low-maintenance options that don’t require painting or staining. They’re resistant to weather and insects but may not have the same natural look as wood.

4. Custom vs. Kit Pergolas

You can buy pergola kits that come with pre-cut materials and instructions for assembly. These are great for DIY enthusiasts. Custom pergolas are designed by professionals to fit your specific needs and landscape but tend to be more expensive.

Uses for Pergolas

Pergolas serve many purposes. Here are some common uses:

  • Outdoor Living Space: Pergolas create a comfortable area to relax, dine, or entertain guests.
  • Garden Feature: They can act as a stunning focal point in a garden.
  • Support for Plants: Pergolas are perfect for climbing plants like vines, roses, and ivy, which can provide additional shade and beauty.
  • Privacy and Shade: With the addition of drapes or screens, pergolas can offer privacy and protection from the sun.

Costs of Pergolas

The cost of a pergola varies widely based on size, material, and whether it’s a kit or custom-built. Here’s a rough idea of what you might expect to pay:

  • Small Pergola Kits: Starting around $300-$1,000.
  • Large Pergola Kits: Can range from $1,000 to $3,000 or more.
  • Custom Wood Pergolas: Typically start at about $500 and can go up to $4,000 or more.
  • Custom Metal Pergolas: Generally start at $1,000 and can reach $6,000 or higher.
  • Vinyl Pergola Kits: Usually between $800 and $2,000.

Remember, these prices don’t include installation, which can add several hundred dollars to the total cost.

Installation Considerations

When planning for a pergola, consider the following:

  • Location: Choose a flat area that’s easily accessible and where you’d enjoy spending time.
  • Size: Think about how you’ll use the pergola. Will you host large gatherings, or is it just for a small sitting area?
  • Permits: Some areas require building permits for pergolas. Check with your local authorities.
  • Foundation: Pergolas need a solid foundation, which could mean pouring concrete footings.
  • Installation: If you’re not handy, you might want to hire a professional to ensure your pergola is safely and properly installed.


Maintaining your pergola will keep it looking great and extend its life. Here’s what you need to do for different materials:

  • Wood: Stain or seal every couple of years to protect from weather.
  • Metal: Check for rust spots, which should be sanded and repainted.
  • Vinyl: Clean with soap and water to remove dirt and mildew.


Pergolas are versatile structures that enhance outdoor living spaces. Whether you choose a wooden, metal, or vinyl pergola, it can add value and beauty to your home. Consider the type, use, and cost to find the perfect pergola for your backyard oasis. Remember to factor in maintenance and installation when budgeting for your new pergola. With the right care, your pergola will be a cherished part of your home for years to come.