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Gazebo vs. Cabana: Purpose, Design, and Cost Comparison

Gazebo vs. Cabana: Purpose, Design, and Cost Comparison

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You’re looking at your backyard one day and realize it has plenty of wasted space. So, you decided to use it and make a fun outdoor retreat your family and friends can enjoy instead.

Two of the most popular backyard architectures are cabanas and gazebos. Both structures offer a space for enjoyment, relaxation, and appealing aesthetics, but you can only choose one.

Don’t worry—I’ve got you covered.

In this post, I’ll explain the similarities and differences between a gazebo and a cabana. I’ll walk you through their purpose, design, and cost to help you decide which addition suits your home.

Gazebo vs. Cabana 101

People often confuse gazebos and cabanas. However, while they share many similarities, these structures have distinct purposes, styles, and cost considerations.


A gazebo and a cabana may seem similar in purpose, but they have essential differences in terms of functionality and general usage.


The primary purpose of a gazebo is to provide shelter and view. The structure protects you from the sun while maintaining a picture-perfect perspective of your home’s surroundings.

Gazebos became popular in the 1800s when people used it as a gathering spot. Although, architecturally speaking, you can trace their origins back to ancient Greece and Rome.

Cities in the 19th and 20th centuries often had massive gazebos in their centers to serve as bandstands—platforms where orchestras and bands played music.

Because of their romantic appeal, gazebos became a distinctive space for weddings and other ceremonies. They were also a favorite spot for photography sessions.

Fast forward to today, gazebos are a usual decoration on home gardens and plazas. They now often serve as the focal point of modern landscape designs.


Cabanas, on the other hand, are commonly found near beaches and pools. These structures offer shelter from the elements while giving a sense of privacy to the users.

If you’ve been to famous beach or pool destinations, you’ve likely seen cabanas erected near bathing areas. Luxurious hotels usually offer cabanas for parties and occasions.

Unlike a gazebo, a cabana doesn’t provide a 360-degree view of your home’s surroundings. Instead, they act as a functional hideaway where you can relax and chill with your friends.

Most people install a cabana as a stylish accent to their home’s pool area. Although, with or without water features, cabanas are a fantastic upgrade to add to your yard or garden.

These fantastic additions make the perfect space for your hobbies and everyday activities. You can huddle and relax inside a cabana while enjoying a meal or reading your favorite book.


The fundamental distinction between a gazebo and a cabana is in their design. The materials used for making both landscaping structures are also different.


Gazebos are typically freestanding with open features to provide the best landscape views. They usually have a solid roof with supporting pillars or columns.

Typical pavilion designs use wood, vinyl, or metal as their primary materials and are either hexagonal, circular, octagonal, or rectangular in shape.

The open sides of gazebos allow the cool breeze to flow through the interior space. But you can also opt for a latticework or drapes to add a sense of enclosure or privacy.

Gazebos usually boast intricate designs with lots of decorative aspects. As such, pavilions are the perfect pick to add elegance and a timeless charm to your outdoor space.


Traditional cabanas use natural materials for their construction. However, modern designs typically utilize metal, fabric, and plastic for a more contemporary appearance.

Cabanas provide a partially enclosed space for protection against outside elements. In a pool or beach setup, most will have three walls and one open space facing the water.

The open section often features retractable screens or curtains for privacy.

There are several design routes you can take with a cabana. Traditional wooden materials bring a cabana’s signature beachy vibe, while metallic and plastic construction makes a more trendy look.

Construction Cost

Landscaping projects often come with considerable expense. Below is a quick breakdown of the expected cost to build a pavilion or a cabana in your backyard.

Gazebo Building Cost

The average cost of building a gazebo ranges from $5,000 to $9,000. The total cost depends on the material, design, size, and complexity of your preference.

For instance, if you opt for an intricate custom gazebo, you can pay as much as $27,000. Conversely, you can spend as little as $325 for a gazebo kit.

Gazebo kits are the most budget-friendly option for homeowners. They deliver the gazebo materials to your home—all you need to do is assemble it.

There are prebuilt gazebos available if you want to avoid labor payments, though. The company delivers and installs the structure without you lifting a finger.

The price of such premade gazebos starts from $5,000 to $14,000.

Cabana Building Cost

Cabanas are a stylish addition to poolsides and gardens. They come in a wide array of designs and price points, so you can freely pick one to suit your style and budget.

The material and design are the primary drivers of a cabana’s price. But they’re usually cheaper compared to gazebos.

If you’re looking for the most affordable choice, go for metallic cabanas. They usually sit at a friendlier price point between $1,000 and $2,000.

Of course, you can also opt for premium design and material. Cabanas that use premium wood, such as teak, start at $2,000 up to $8,000.

Gazebo: Pros and Cons

There are a lot of advantages to having a gazebo in your home. For one, it offers an expansive space for cozy family gatherings and other recreational purposes.

Gazebos also make an excellent centerpiece for home gardens. And there are various elegant and attractive designs available to match your house’s landscape.

Another advantage of gazebos is their robust construction that can withstand severe weather conditions. Since most of them use metal frames and sturdy wooden beams, they can easily survive 10 to 15 years of outdoor abuse.

The problem with setting up a pavilion is it requires a more costly investment. Although, it’s understandable for permanent structures with both decorative and practical functions.

Moreover, building a gazebo involves considerable time and effort. The complex installation process might require hiring professionals, which means additional costs.

Cabana: Pros and Cons

The charm of cabanas is their compact size, which creates an intimately cozy ambiance. Their stylish designs will remind you of luxurious beachside or pool settings.

Cabanas provide added privacy for those who prefer to avoid prying eyes. It’s the perfect private retreat where you and your loved ones can relax away from others.

One advantage of cabanas is that they use lightweight materials. So, compared to gazebos, these structures are cheaper and easier to maintain.

Setting a cabana up by yourself won’t require professional help. Installation won’t need specialized tools or knowledge, which can save time and labor costs.

The issue I have with cabanas is they’re generally less durable. The fabric and screens of some models can tear from violent weather conditions.

Which Should You Choose?

At the end of the day, whether you choose a gazebo or cabana should depend on your needs and preferences.

If you want to upgrade your backyard’s look with a classic and elegant structure, go for a gazebo. It’s the ideal choice for homeowners who like to enjoy their surroundings with friends and family.

On the flip side, if you prefer landscaping additions boasting a more contemporary and versatile appeal, aim for a cabana. It’s the perfect structure for people who enjoy privacy and protection more than most.

Final Thoughts

Pavilions and cabanas offer unique features and advantages for your outdoor retreat project. A gazebo presents elegance and durability, while a cabana boasts a modern flair and affordability.

That said, don’t forget to consider your budget, backyard space, and home’s aesthetic. Choose wisely, and enjoy every moment with your family in your transformed backyard haven!


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