Patio Covers vs. Pergolas: Which is Right for Your Outdoor Space?

Your outdoor space is one of the most, if not the most, versatile areas in your property. You can install a deck, put in a swimming pool, plant a flourishing garden, add a firepit, or create a seating area (or any number of these options!).

But what’s more important is installing some form of shade in your outdoor area so you’re protected from sun, rain, and snow all year round. And when it comes to outdoor covers, two of the most popular options are patio covers and pergolas.

What are Patio Covers and Pergolas and how do they Differ?

Patio covers are outdoor structures made up of an overhead cover attached to your house on one side and supported by two posts or columns on the other. They also come in a freestanding variety, so you can install them anywhere in your outdoor space.

Pergolas, have some similar traits as patio covers, but can be a little more on the formal side. A pergola is an outdoor structure with columns that support a roof of beams and rafters. That means the roof can be left open or can be covered to create an area sheltered from the elements. Just like patio covers, pergolas may be freestanding or attached. They may include fabric between the beams and/or on the sides.

Patio covers and pergolas have their advantages, but which one should you choose for your property? We look at several characteristics of both.


Patio covers and pergolas are both durable. They are usually made from aluminum, wood, or vinyl materials. The solid beams anchored to the ground can withstand strong winds and other weather conditions.

While the main structure of patio covers and pergolas are strong, they may have elements like fabric. While the main purpose of the fabric is to provide cover from the sun: fabrics usually aren’t made to withstand heavy storms. Any fabric will fade and degrade from sun exposure, making this element of these structures something you may need to replace.

Size and Shade

Patio covers and pergolas can be built in virtually any size. You can attach a patio cover that spans an entire wall or, since patio covers can also be freestanding and self-supporting, you can install one that covers any size of space in your yard.

Pergolas can be designed to shade a walkway, provide a poolside relaxation area, shade a deck or create a sitting area in the corner of your property. Size will depend on purpose. There are lots of options, all providing some shelter from the elements.

pergola with plants


Like any structure exposed to the elements, both patio covers and pergolas require maintenance to keep them in good condition.

Any fabric parts of these structures may need more regular maintenance, such as checking them for rips, frays, and other types of damage since they’re more fragile. You’ll also need to scrub down the fabric to remove the buildup of dust, algae, and other debris.

Of course, patio covers and pergola main structural pieces may need occasional cleaning too, though they’re much more low maintenance. You can easily wipe down dirt and occasionally rinse them using your garden hose.


When it comes to appearance and variety of design, patio covers and pergolas are equal. They can be built using a variety of different, whether you want them to match the look of your home or make them a standout outdoor feature.

Patio covers can also be made from different materials and painted a variety of colors. But what’s even better is that you can customize your patio cover so it blends seamlessly with the design of your home.

Transform Your Outdoor Space

Considering the factors above, it’s clear that having either a patio cover or a pergola will enhance your outdoor space. They are similar yet have a few differences. Whichever you choose, All Exteriors installs both patio covers and pergolas in Wisconsin so you can protect your outdoor area from the elements and transform it into a multipurpose space at the same time. Check out the details on our website for examples of each structure so you can choose

Call us at 715-781-1696 for a free estimate today.