Pergola or Pavilion? What’s the Difference?

When it comes to designing and building your dream outdoor oasis, you may want to consider adding a pergola or pavilion. They add vertical interest and beauty, as well as differing amounts of protection from the elements.

Let’s take a look at the difference between these two structures.

What Is a Pergola?

You’ve probably seen one before. A pergola is a large, open structure with posts or pillars that support an open roof of beams or latticework. They are most commonly built to shelter a patio or deck, but can also shelter a seating area in your garden or pool area.

We can take your ideas and easily turn them into reality. Today’s pergola designs can be customized to meet your needs and aesthetics.

Some of your options for the structure and materials include:

  • Attached pergola (attached to your house)
  • Freestanding pergola
  • Wood
  • Aluminum
  • Vinyl
  • Fiberglass
  • Custom

Of course, a semi-open roof lets in a certain amount of sunshine, rain, and hail, unless you give it some kind of temporary cover. Your options in this area include:

  • Retractable pergola canopy
  • Building a louvered pergola with adjustable roof panels

We can help you sort through all of your options to come up with the best design solution for your space. But don’t forget to also consider a pavilion.


Why choose one or the other when you can have both a pavilion and a pergola?

What Is a Pavilion?

To put it simply, a pavilion is a pergola with a permanent roof. It is still open on all four sides, but rather than using a canopy or louvered system to provide shade or protection from the elements, the roof provides protection without you having to lift a finger.

A backyard pavilion is most common as a structure that covers an outdoor kitchen, and perhaps the outdoor dining room. This allows you to install outdoor lighting fixtures and ceiling fans, which can be a real blessing on a hot summer day.

From pendant lighting to track lighting to chandeliers over the dining table, you can set the tone with the lighting fixtures you choose.

RELATED READING: Set the Mood with These Outdoor Lighting Ideas

Pergola Roof Ideas

By putting a roof on your pergola, you turn it into a pavilion. Some roofing materials include:

  • Wood panels
  • Metal roofing
  • Shingles to match the roof of your home
  • Terracotta roof tile

In addition to choosing the roof materials, you and your pergola builder will determine what roof style you want. The most popular options include:

  • Hip Roof
  • A-Frame Roof
  • Tiered Roof
  • Gable Roof
  • Cross-Gabled Roof

Which roof material and the style of roof you choose depends on your personal aesthetics and the style of your home.

Dream It. Build It. Live It.

To get the outdoor living experience you deserve, you need to work with experienced professionals. Selecting the right pergola contractor is essential to getting quality results that will last for years to come.

At LiveWell Outdoors, we have designed and built pergolas and pavilions for a number of our clients in Maryland, DC, and northern Virginia. Most frequently, this is during a larger project. Visit our Portfolio page to get inspired.

If you want to incorporate a semi-open top pergola or a pergola with a roof into your outdoor living space, we can help. Just fill out the form to schedule a consultation. You can also call us at 301.720.1000.

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