The Difference Between a Pergola and Gazebo, Explained

Over the past several years, Americans have been finding ways to spend more time outside, for an average of 14 hours per week. If you want to spend more of your own time in the great outdoors, updating your backyard is a wonderful place to start. Adding a pergola or a gazebo can give your outdoor living area an instant boost so you can get more use out of it. 

But, which one is right for you? We can help. Learn more about pergolas and gazebos below so you can make the best choice for your backyard.

What Is a Pergola?

Pergola installation in Northern Virginia

A pergola is a tall structure that has four columns supporting an open, crisscross roof. They are often made from wood, but they can also be made from fiberglass, vinyl, and other outdoor building materials. Our team can build a pergola for you in virtually any shape or size, depending on the specifics of your yard and how you plan to use it. 

So, what’s the purpose of a pergola? The open crossbeam roof provides a bit of shade to your yard, without completely blocking out the sun. Beyond that, they add a nice visual to your backyard, creating a perfect gathering spot for guests.

Pros and Cons of Pergolas


  • They’re a relatively low-cost option if you want to update your backyard on a budget
  • They’re durable and made to withstand the elements
  • You can easily attach fabric to them for additional shade or protection from the weather


  • They don’t typically add to your home value 
  • They require some maintenance depending on the material you choose

What Is a Gazebo?

Gazebo Design Sunburst Construction
Gazebo Design

While also a free-standing design, a gazebo is an outdoor structure that has a closed roof. Like pergolas, gazebos can be made from a number of different materials like wood, composite, or vinyl. While pergolas are connected to the ground or another hard surface, like a patio, gazebos are usually raised off the ground a bit, with a few steps up into it. 

You can also add extra features to your gazebo, like built-in bench seating, a bar, or even curtains for extra privacy.

Pros and Cons of Gazebos


  • They’re completely covered, giving you plenty of shade and protection from the elements
  • They’re a comfortable spot for relaxing or entertaining
  • They’re aesthetically pleasing and may appeal to buyers if you decide to sell your home


  • They’re typically more expensive to build and install compared to a pergola
  • Even with maintenance, their roofs can weaken over time and may need to be replaced

How to Choose the Right Option for Your Backyard

When choosing between a pergola and a gazebo, the biggest factor you need to consider is how much coverage you want. If you don’t get a lot of direct sun in your backyard, then a pergola may be perfect for you. If you’d prefer more shade, then a gazebo is probably a better option. 

You should also think about the specifics of your yard. In a smaller yard, a pergola might be a better fit, while a larger yard would be ideal for a gazebo. 

Let Us Help You Transform Your Backyard

Whether you decide to add a pergola or a gazebo to your backyard, the Sunburst Construction team is here to help you transform your outdoor living area. Our team of experts will evaluate your backyard, listen to your feedback about how you plan to use your updated space, and create a plan to bring those ideas to life. 

When you’re ready to take the next step, contact us to request a free quote.

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