Pergola Plans & Ideas – Outdoor Living in Style (Infographic)

Creating a comfortable and cool outdoor space can be challenging, especially if you have no shade trees to block the sun. Thankfully a pergola is easy to build and can be lots of fun to decorate. Today we’ll take a look at some unique pergola plans and ideas to help you create a stylish outdoor living space!

Though the concept for pergolas is ancient, many people have been adding them to their modern homes. These stylish shelters have no walls but do feature a roof for protection from rain and the sun’s harmful rays.

What Is The Point Of Having A Pergola?

Of course, pergolas are visually appealing, but do they really block the shade and provide benefits? The short answer is yes! While most of them aren’t designed to block the sun completely, there are additional items such as retractable canopies that can be added. Here are some other reasons to have a pergola:

  • They help make your backyard beautiful and provide the perfect backdrop for new outdoor decor such as hanging plants, tapestries, etc.
  • Pergolas make the best spot for outdoor entertainment and hospitality.
  • They add value to your home.

Is It Cheaper To Buy Or Build A Pergola?

If you’re considering this, then you must already know that there are many options when it comes to building a pergola. In terms of the most cost-effective option, it’s cheaper to build a pergola from scratch than it is to hire a professional or buy a prefabricated kit. Of course, you will need the expertise, tools, and time to properly build one that’ll last for years and add value to your home.

In the U.S., the average cost of a pergola is around $3,500. However, the price will vary depending on building from scratch, buying a kit, or hiring someone. For example, if you hire a professional, it can cost anywhere from $2,500 to $6,000, whereas a pergola kit can cost between $400 and $800.

What Should I Look For When Buying A Pergola?

As with any other big purchase, there are some decisions required when buying a pergola. Here are the top things to keep in mind:

Attached or Freestanding?

The first option you’ll have will depend on if you’re looking to attach the pergola to your house or other structure or if it will be a freestanding version. Freestanding pergolas are the perfect option for those with large backyards who are looking for a larger area to host more people.

What Type of Roof?

Both types of pergolas can be built with various styles of roofs that can be created with more or fewer slats to achieve a desired amount of shade. Here are some roof styles:

  • Big Kahuna
  • Sombrero
  • Fedora
  • Brim
  • Visor

What Size Pergola?

Since landscapes and patios come in unlimited sizes, most manufacturers offer sizes and styles to fit most needs. In fact, some provide pergola kits in up to 90 different sizes, such as 20×20, 13×13, 10×16, etc.

The Type of Wood

Next, we come to the type of wood from which your pergola will be constructed. Be sure to consider your local climate with other personal preferences. For example, do you want wood that can be stained? Do you want smooth lines or a rustic look? Is your home prone to severe weather? All of these things should be considered when choosing the type of pergola wood.

Large house with landscaped backyard and pergola
A large house with landscaped backyard and pergola


Finally, consider the types of customizations you’d like to add in the future. Some pergola kits may have limitations on this, but if you build a custom pergola, the sky’s the limit.

What Are The Different Types Of Pergolas?

As we mentioned, there are many styles and types of pergolas. Let’s take a closer look at each one:

Vinyl Pergolas

While wood can succumb to mildew and mold over time, vinyl pergolas are more durable. These are perfect for the outdoors, especially in regions with extreme weather and temperatures. They are also very customizable and affordable.

Open-Top Pergolas

These pergolas are built with open roofs, so they allow for the most sunlight and air flow. These are primarily used to beautify a garden or backyard area.

Gable Pergolas

Gable pergolas have roofs that work to protect you from elements such as rain and sun. This type is commonly found over hot tubs, patios, dining areas, and decks.

Steel Pergolas

Another great option if you live in an area with extreme weather is a steel pergola. By nature, steel is a very durable building material and holds up well when subjected to different weather patterns. Steel also lasts longer than other materials but isn’t as popular because of its appearance.

Sail Pergolas

Rather than a traditional lattice roof, sail pergolas are topped with a piece of stretchable fabric. These are perfect for anyone looking for more shade and a modern, clean look.

What Is The Best Type Of Wood To Use For A Pergola?

There are four main types of wood used for pergolas, and the right choice for you will depend on a few factors. So, let’s take a look at each kind of wood:

  • Redwood and Red Cedar: Cedar pergolas are beautiful but are expensive because you’re dealing with naturally protected wood.
  • Pressure Treated Wood: This is a common option as it’s the most affordable option. However, it’s only good when there are fewer demands in terms of appearance.
  • Thermally Modified Wood: This is the best overall option because the price is more affordable than other options, but these pergolas still look good.
  • Tropical Hardwood: This is the most expensive option because it is hard to source as it must be FSC certified.

The Bottom Line

In the end, while there are many decisions to consider when planning to build a pergola, it’s well worth it in the future. Not only will your new structure help beautify your backyard, but it also serves as a great place to host family and friends. So, finalize your building plans and get started today!

Next read: How to Waterproof a Deck

Original infographic via in 2012, content updated January 2022.

Pergolas - Outdoor Living in Style (Infographic)

1 thought on “Pergola Plans & Ideas – Outdoor Living in Style (Infographic)”

  1. I’ve always wanted a pergola! Pergolas are such a great enhancement to any building or open space.

    This gorgeous infographic perfectly executes all the information I need to know! Thanks!


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