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What Is the Difference Between a Gazebo and a Pergola?

by | Feb 20, 2024 | Pergolas

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If you’re looking for a stylish shield against the sun that makes it comfortable to relax in your backyard, a pergola or gazebo might be the ultimate solution. What is the difference between a gazebo and a pergola? And which one is better?

With Van Nuys Awning Co.®’s years of experience providing custom outdoor canvas covers, the team is well-versed in the differences between gazebos and pergolas. Here’s how to choose between them for a perfect yard addition.

A Pergola Let’s Some Sunshine Into The Space

Here are the notable features of a pergola:

  • Open-air structure
  • Pillars that support a partially open roof system
  • The roof structure usually has slats (sun and air can filter through them) 

There are two options—a freestanding pergola or attaching one or several sides to your house. You can also build your new pergola over another surface, like a patio, deck, or pavers.

A Gazebo Has a More Enclosed Roof

Here are the notable features of a typical garden gazebo:

  • Freestanding structure
  • Pillars that support an enclosed roof system
  • Fuller protection against the elements

You can have a gazebo with sides partially or fully open, depending on the airflow you’d like to enjoy. Most gazebos have a floor, usually slightly raised above ground level. 

What Pergolas and Gazebos Have In Common

So, both gazebos and pergolas will meet most of the same needs in your outdoor area—shade and privacy. They also have the following in common:

  • You can build either structure to include a seating area for up to about 20 people.
  • The building materials are often wood and iron. 
  • Both structures can maximize the use of your outdoor space.
  • Both structures will enhance your property’s overall value. 

Additionally, you may need a permit before building a gazebo or pergola to ensure compliance with local building codes. 

The Major Differences Between a Pergola and a Gazebo

By now, you may be feeling inspired to add one of these structures to your property. What is the difference between a gazebo and a pergola in practice, though? There are three considerations:


While gazebos have enclosed roof systems, pergolas feature partially open roofs. 

Gazebos offer better protection from sun, rain, and other elements, although a pergola’s open roof is rather elegant.


You can attach your pergola to a primary structure. Gazebos are always freestanding structures. 

Thankfully, you can easily design either one to complement your property’s aesthetics. 


Gazebos are usually more durable than pergolas. The enclosed roof system not only offers more protection but also structural strength. 

Still, you can enjoy your pergola for years if you build it properly and give it extra attention.

Reach Out for Custom Outdoor Structures Built to Last

What is the difference between a gazebo and a pergola? If you’re still deciding between the different kinds of pergola and gazebo designs, Van Nuys Awning Co.® has a whole range of successful installation projects behind them they’d love to show you. Call (805) 973-0257 today and request a free quote!

<a href="" target="_self">Don Powell</a>

Don Powell

Hi, I’m Don Powell! I am the 4th generation of the Powell family that started Van Nuys Awning. I am an IFAI Master Craftsmen, served on the board of the WCPA and now CEO of Van Nuys Awning. I worked my way through Van Nuys Awning learning how to install, design and manufacture awnings for the last 48 years. I handle the sales for most of our large and corporate accounts. I take great pride in our client’s happiness and successful installation and manufacturing to our client’s design. One step I take to maintain our company’s quality and client’s request will align is to personally oversee each project’s work order. Thanks for taking time to view, read, and consider working with Van Nuys Awning.
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