Pergolas: A Beautiful and Functional Addition to Your Outdoor Space

About the Author

About the Author

Mike Mitchell

Mike Mitchell is an award-winning deck builder and designer who specializes in urban decking, transforming cityscapes with his creative constructions. He is a second-generation deck builder.

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Are you dreaming of creating a beautiful outdoor space that offers comfort and style? If so, a pergola may be just what you’re looking for. Pergolas are a fantastic way to add structure and character to your garden, patio, or deck. Not only are they visually stunning, but they also provide many practical benefits. In this article, we’ll explore the different types of pergolas, materials available, design options, and why a pergola is such a great addition to your outdoor space. Let’s get started!

What Makes Pergolas Different From Other Structures?

Pergolas are outdoor structures with four columns supporting a roof of beams and rafters. Like gazebos or patio covers, pergolas protect from the elements and make your outdoor space more comfortable. The big difference? Pergolas have an open roofing grid, which allows for air circulation, natural light, and a great view of the stars at night.

Benefits of Adding a Pergola to Your Outdoor Space


pergola for outdoor space

Increased outdoor living space

Adding a pergola to your outdoor space provides the perfect opportunity to extend your living space and make the most of your outdoor area. You can use your pergola to add seating, a dining area, or an outdoor kitchen. The extra shade and protection from the elements will make these areas more enjoyable. 

Sets the mood of your outdoor space

Pergolas can create an atmosphere of tranquility or a lively party ambiance. During the day, your pergola will provide just the right amount of shade. You can hang string lights or get integrated lighting to keep the party alive at night. Pair it with other features like a fire pit and an outdoor kitchen, and you’ve got the perfect spot for entertaining guests. 

Improved privacy

Pergolas are a great way to add privacy and reduce noise from surrounding areas. It is essential to work with a qualified contractor to ensure the pergola’s height, the orientation of posts, and features are optimized to maximize privacy. Furthermore, plants, privacy panels, and hardscaping features like walls can enhance privacy.

Enhanced curb appeal

Pergolas can dramatically affect the aesthetics of a deck or patio. With the right materials and design, a pergola can provide an attractive focal point to an outdoor area and enhance its curb appeal. From natural wood’s rustic charm to powder-coated aluminum’s sleek look, these structures offer various options for achieving the desired aesthetic. 

Increased property value

A well-designed pergola can add charm and beauty to your home. It’s an investment that, in many cases, can increase the value of your property. The material of your pergola plays a vital role in determining how much value it adds. For example, some buyers may see wooden pergolas as a liability due to the ongoing maintenance required. On the other hand, a low-maintenance aluminum pergola could be seen as a valuable asset.


Pergolas are relatively affordable compared to other outdoor structures and offer great value for the money. Depending on the materials used and the size of the structure, the cost of a pergola can range from $3,000 to $10,000. 

Freestanding vs. Attached Pergolas

Depending on your needs and preferences, you can choose between two types of pergolas – freestanding or attached.

Freestanding pergolas have four posts. They are independent structures that don’t attach to your home or other buildings. Instead, they’re often used as focal points in gardens and outdoor spaces, as they can be placed nearly anywhere.

pergola installation


Attached pergolas have one side connected to a wall or structure for additional support. Attached models are often the best choice for smaller outdoor spaces, as they only have vertical posts on one side. Choose them to save space or to bring focus to an existing feature in your yard (like a pool).

attached pergola

Types of Pergola Materials

Pergolas can be made from various materials, including wood, vinyl, and aluminum. The material you choose will depend on your budget, preferences, and the look you’re trying to achieve. 

Wood Pergolas 

Wood is a classic choice that provides a natural aesthetic and can be stained or painted to customize its appearance. Wood is more affordable upfront but requires regular maintenance to protect it from the elements. Wooden pergolas have a lifespan of around 7 -12 years.

Vinyl Pergolas

Vinyl is a popular option because it’s low maintenance and comes in various colors and styles. You won’t need to paint or seal it, and it’s more resistant to rot and insects. However, it can be more costly upfront than wood. It’s also less durable than aluminum, as it can start to warp over time if exposed to extreme temperatures or wind. Nevertheless, you can expect your vinyl pergola to last 15 – 20 years with minimal maintenance.

Aluminum Pergolas

Aluminum is an excellent material for pergolas because it’s strong, durable, and low maintenance. Motorized pergola manufacturers often use aluminum to construct their adjustable pergolas since it’s less prone to warping or cracking due to extreme weather. 


Aluminum pergolas are a once-in-a-lifetime investment and can last for many decades. Not only are they the most durable option, but they can also be powder coated in almost any color you can imagine.


Should You Get A Motorized Pergola?

modern aluminum pergolaA retractable, motorized pergola is an excellent investment if you’re looking to maximize your outdoor space. By giving you complete control over your outdoor space, motorized pergolas offer convenience and comfort you won’t find with other structures. 

The louvers on a motorized pergola can be opened and closed with a handheld remote, allowing you to control the amount of sun, shade, and breeze that enters your outdoor space. 

When the adjustable louvers are closed, they protect from rain and reduce noise from surrounding areas. When fully open, they allow for maximum light and airflow, as well as the opportunity to enjoy the stars at night.

Some models allow you to control the louvers from the comfort of your couch with a handheld remote, a smartphone app, or even voice commands. 


What About A Manually Adjustable Pergola?

adjustable pergola

Manual pergolas are a great option if you’re looking for an affordable solution. Although you don’t get the convenience of a handheld remote, you can still enjoy the benefits of a retractable pergola. These pergolas use a crank or lever system to open and close the louvers. Adjusting the louvers is done by hand, but it’s still a relatively simple process that doesn’t require much effort. 


Whether you’re looking to add an extra layer of protection from the elements, enhance the aesthetics of your outdoor space, or create a cozy spot for entertaining guests, a pergola is an excellent choice. With various materials and design options, it’s easy to find the perfect pergola to match the style of your outdoor area. 

Now that you know more about pergolas and their benefits, you can continue planning your ideal outdoor space. Read our article “The Pros and Cons of Popular Patio Materials” to learn more about the different materials available for patio surfaces.

Are you looking to add one of these beauties to your outdoor space in the Chicago suburbs? Our pergola installation experts are ready to help. We build all sorts of custom pergolas, including garden pergolas, pergolas for decks, front yard pergolas, and more. Request an estimate today to start creating your dream outdoor living space.