What is the difference between a pergola and a roof?

Kansas City Pergola

This pergola in Kansas City is attached to the home and supported by the concrete patio

Many people think of a pergola as a roofed structure. At least as it relates to building codes, a pergola is almost always not considered a roof. This is because a roof, by it’s nature, prevents water and other elements from passing through it. By design, water and elements pass through a pergola to a varying degree. It’s important to think about building codes and restrictions as well as HOA restrictions when deciding on an outdoor structure for your backyard.

WeatherBest Composite Deck with Painted Treated Wood Pergola with Custom Gate and Lattice

WeatherBest Composite Deck with Painted Treated Wood Pergola with Custom Gate and Lattice

Outside of the technical answer that a pergola is not a roof, from a functional perspective, there are a lot of similarities. For example, a pergola provides shade. The nice thing about a pergola is you can have a good bit of control on the amount of shade protection by the pergola design. Factors like cross beams, layers, and beam spacing will have a very significant impact on the amount of sun protection. Ninety percent of sun will come through pergola at noon whereas, as the sun sets at a certain angle, hitting the bars of the pergola provides varying degrees of shade

Unique Fan-Shaped Pergola

Unique Fan-Shaped Pergola

In addition, although not a roofed structure, a pergola can add limited protection from other elements such as items falling from your trees such as leaves, pine cones and such. And, your pergola will also provide a limited amount of wind protection – again depending on the design.

In order to determine if a pergola is the right structure for you and what type of pergola to design, you really always want to go back to the most basic questions. These are the considerations you need to really think about before ever deciding or even considering what to build in your back yard. It’s so easy to see a beautiful structure in the neighborhood or in a magazine and think of how well that would complement your house or how beautiful that would look. But you want your custom outdoor space to be designed for living. Aesthetics are definitely important but how you live out back is the most important consideration.

EverGrain Deck and Rail with Pergola over Hot Tub

These owners wanted some protection for their hot tub spa. Notice how the pergola allows them to put a ceiling fan over their spa for circulation.

  • How do you want to use it?
  • What do you want to use it for?
  • How much shade do you want?
  • Do you want weather protection?
  • Do you want to get wet?
  • Do you want wind protection?

If you have a decided that a pergola is the right structure for you, then there are a lot of choices again both aesthetically as well as functionally. From a functional standpoint, decide how much light you are looking for and at what times of the day do you want to have light pass through.

Steve Folsom - Kansas City deck and porch builder

Are you considering building a pergola purely for its aesthetic value like a pergola at the end of a long pool? Are you thinking about hanging things from your pergola such as plants?

There are many options, many considerations to take into mind and many benefits in adding a pergola to your back yard. Give us a call to talk about ideas and options. (913) 851 – 3325. kansascity@archadeck.net