What Is The Difference Between A Pavilion And A Pergola. Which One Is Right For You?

The Ultimate Guide to Choosing Between a Pavilion and a Pergola

Adding a structure to your outdoor living space is a great way to make it more functional, aesthetically appealing, and comfortable. Pavilions and pergolas are two of the most popular types of outdoor structures that people often consider when they are looking to create a cozy and shaded space in their backyard or patio. In this article, we will explore the key differences between a pavilion and a pergola and help you figure out which one is right for you.

Both pavilions and pergolas are outdoor structures that come in a wide range of sizes and styles. They are an excellent way to enhance the beauty and functionality of your backyard or patio. However, the difference between the two lies in their design and functionality.


Pavilions are typically larger, more substantial structures with a solid roof. This means you can add different features like lighting, ceiling fans and other amenities to make your outdoor space more comfortable and functional. Pavilions provide full coverage from the elements; hence, you can entertain guests, grill, or dine even if it rains or in hot weather conditions. They can be fully customized to blend with your home’s architecture and come in a variety of styles and building materials. Some of the pavilion designs are available in sizes up to 20’x40’ vs most pergola designs go up to 16’x32’.

Pavilions can really become an entertainment haven by adding a floor to roof fireplace, or a complete kitchen or lounge area. So, one thing to consider is that with a pavilion you can have furniture and TV’s all under protection, while with a pergola you’ll need to have some storage for cushions and items that you don’t want to get rained on.


On the other hand, pergolas have a slat beam roof and are designed to provide partial shade and a striking architectural element. While they are open on all sides, they offer an exciting and elegant way to draw the eye upward and accentuate the surrounding landscape. Typically, pergolas can be used to cover decks, pool side lounging, open-air walkways, or as entries to gardens. They are perfect for entertaining, relaxing and creating a relaxing ambiance.

Something to also consider with choosing a pergola vs a pavilion is do you want shade all year long? Some months of the year are a bit cooler outside, so would you prefer the open slat beams that still allow some sunshine to peak through all year? And maybe add some fabric over the roof during hotter weather?

Which Is Right For Your Backyard?

Choosing between a pavilion and pergola ultimately boils down to your unique needs. If you are looking for a sheltered space where you can host events or entertain guests, then a pavilion is an excellent option. A pavilion will provide you with the privacy, protection from the elements, and ample space you need. With the ability to add amenities like ceiling fans, heaters, and lighting systems, you can create a comfortable and functional outdoor living space.

However, if you are purely looking for an outdoor shading option, then a pergola is an excellent choice. Pergolas offer both functionality and style. They offer partial shade while allowing natural light and air to flow. They are perfect for creating an intimate space for small gatherings, afternoon barbecue or relaxing with your family. Plus, you can choose from a variety of designs to match your home’s exterior, and they are made from materials of wood, or vinyl with choice of paint color or stain.

When choosing between the two structures, consider the location of the site, the size of the area, and how you plan to use the structure. For instance, a pavilion is an ideal option for larger outdoor spaces, pool shelter or backyard where there will be frequent grilling, outdoor games, and dinners. Although pergolas are also used poolside, pergolas, are suitable for smaller spaces, decks, walkways, small garden, and patio, giving them a distinct and stylish appearance.

What’s The Cost Difference

Looking to add an outdoor structure to your backyard but not sure about the cost difference between a pavilion and a pergola? It’s important to consider the materials used for the roof and structure. Pavilions typically come with a solid roof that requires more materials, resulting in a higher cost compared to the open roof of a pergola that requires less materials. However, another factor to consider is the material of the structure itself. Vinyl is often less expensive and requires less maintenance compared to wood, but some homeowners prefer the natural look of wood. Ultimately, your decision will depend on your desired look and budget, but whichever structure you choose, it’s sure to add character and value to your outdoor space.


Both pavilions and pergolas can add value to your outdoor living space. Choosing between the two structures comes down to your space, budget, and preferences. Ensure you weigh your options before making the final decision. A pavilion offers full shelter and protection while a pergola provides elegance and partial shading. No matter the option you choose, both structures provide an excellent way to add outdoor charm and create a comfortable and functional outdoor space.