Pergola vs. Gazebo: Which Is Better For Your Yard?

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Gazebo, pool, and hot tub with sun chairs on a pool deck and patio


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Patio & Yard


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Pergolas and gazebos are two of the most popular ways of improving your yard. Both can provide a shady place to connect with friends and family.

But there are some significant differences in structure and cost. So, should you choose a pergola or gazebo for your backyard

It’s best to choose a pergola. It will be cheaper, easier to install, and simpler to maintain overall. They tend to be larger, which makes them better suited for entertaining guests, and there are more ways to customize a pergola, like adding a heater, where a gazebo can provide more shade and shelter.

Choosing between a pergola and a gazebo can be tough. There is no right or wrong answer. It will come down to what you are looking for and how much you can afford.

Keep reading to learn more about the differences between the two and how you can find something that will suit your space. 

Gazebo, pool, and hot tub with sun chairs on a pool deck and patio

Is A Pergola Better Than A Gazebo?

Pergolas are a better choice than a gazebo. They will be easier to build and maintain. Since a pergola can be an outdoor entertaining area, it offers more functionality. However, a gazebo will be better suited for those with a small backyard due to its compact size. 

Before discussing which approach is best for your backyard, discussing the key differences is a good idea. They are: 

  • Roof structure. It’s common for a pergola to use beams across the roof. However, a gazebo will often have a closed roof structure. This features a more ornate shingled roof structure. 
  • Shape. It’s common for gazebos to be in the form of a polygon. They also have some stairs that lead up into the gazebo. On the other hand, a pergola will be rectangular in shape. 
  • Inclusions. It’s common for a gazebo to have a bench. However, they tend to be fairly minimalistic. On the other hand, pergolas can be highly customized, with some people opting to add outdoor furniture. You can also include electronic devices, like speakers or electric heaters. 
  • Flooring. It’s common for a gazebo to have a raised concrete floor. On the other hand, pergola flooring can be concrete, stone pavers, or grass. 
  • Freestanding. Gazebos have to be freestanding structures. However, pergolas can be attached to an existing structure, like your house. This can create more flexibility, like allowing you to a deck.  

Which one is best will depend on what you are looking for. Let’s compare them across a few key areas.


Pergolas tend to have more functionality. You can include more things like fans, heaters, or speakers. Though these electrical elements can be found in a gazebo, this is rare.

Furthermore, pergolas tend to be larger . This makes them more suited to hosting larger events, like family dinners. 

However, a gazebo might be better if you live in a wetter area. It has a closed-in roof, which will offer more protection from the rain.

If you want, you can add screens. This will increase privacy and protect you from bugs. 

metal gazebo surrounded by grass and woods


If you have limited space, choosing a gazebo might be best. They can still look good in a compact space, providing enough space for one person to relax.

On the other hand, you’ll need a six-foot by eight-foot pergola to comfortably house two people. 


Pergolas are easier to style than a gazebo. You can change the materials that you are using. For example, cedar will have a different style than aluminum.

There are a few other ways that you can style a pergola. This includes: 

  • Planting climbing vines
  • Changing the furniture
  • Adding lights
  • Incorporating shades or screens
  • Add pot plants or planters

Plus, pergolas are simple yet elegant. This is why they are considered modern and increasingly used outdoors. Gazebos, though, are viewed more as outdated. 


Usually, a pergola will be easier to maintain. You won’t need to repaint or restain them to keep looking good. You can use a hose to spray off any dirt from the pergola.

Then, you can wipe it down with a cloth. If you are growing vines from your pergola, you’ll need to take steps to stop it from becoming too overgrown. 

Gazebos are also relatively easy to maintain, and in most cases, you will need to wipe them down with just warm water as this will remove any dirt from the railings and posts.

You will also need to check the corners of the pergola as they can sometimes be a fertile environment for wasps and bees to make their nests. 

wooden pergola in a backyard space with trees

Is A Pergola Or A Gazebo Cheaper To Build?

A pergola will be cheaper . It usually costs between $1,000 to $3,000, though a custom-built pergola can cost $5,000. Gazebos will usually start at $2,000 for the kit, though it will cost between $2,000 to $5,000 to install.  A custom-built luxury gazebo can cost $20,000. 

One of the most important aspects is how much you must pay to build each structure. Because a pergola is an easy project , you can make it yourself. All you need to do is purchase the raw materials. 

On the other hand, you can use a pergola kit. Depending on the material and size, these costs will vary a little, though they will cost between $1,000 to $3,000.

You should be able to build and install these yourself. On the upper hand, a custom pergola can cost around $5,000. This includes construction costs. 

By comparison, a gazebo will be more expensive. There are two ways that you can install a gazebo in your backyard:

  • Build it yourself. There are gazebo kits that you can buy from the hardware store. These can cost around $2,000. But they will be more difficult to assemble than a pergola. 
  • Get it custom built. The other option is to hire a professional to build and install the pergola for you. If you take this approach, the costs can increase dramatically. This can cost between $5,000 to $11,000. At the top of the line, you could be paying around $20,000 for a luxury pavilion. 

Don’t forget that you will need to pay extra for any additional items you want to install, such as speakers. These can often cost a few thousand dollars.

If you are working with electrical items, you must contact an electrician to install them. This can cost a few hundred dollars in labor costs.  

What Are the Benefits of Solar Pergolas and Gazebos for Your Yard?

Solar pergolas and gazebos are a beautiful and functional addition to your yard. Not only do they provide shade and a place to relax, but they also have the added benefit of harnessing solar power. This means you can reduce your energy bills while enjoying your outdoor space.

Final Thoughts

Both pergolas and gazebos are a great way of adding shade to your backyard and providing a place to relax after a busy day.

Generally, you can get more flexibility at a lower cost by installing a pergola.