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Gazebos vs. Pavilions: Which One Is Right for You?

Gazebos vs. Pavilions: Which One Is Right for You?

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Look, I know most people don’t like to stay inside their houses all day. Sometimes, you just want to go outside and enjoy quality time in your garden/yard. That’s not always an option, though, especially in extreme weather.

Installing a shade structure can help you go outside whenever you want. The question is: Should you install a gazebo or a pavilion?

Although most people use those two words interchangeably, both structures bring something different to the table. What are these differences? Which one is suitable for you? That’s what I aim to cover in this post.

What Is a Gazebo?

A gazebo is an outdoor stand-alone shade structure. Think of it as a minimal living room where you can sit back and enjoy fresh air. Sounds fun, right? Well, there’s more to it than that. Let’s see what that means.

1 – Design

All gazebos aren’t created equal. However, they usually follow a similar design formula. For instance, most of them come in an oval, octagonal, or hexagonal shape.

That’s not a definitive rule, though, as a few types, like pop-up and hardtop gazebos, come in a squarish design. The most distinctive features of gazebos are the dedicated floors and partially open sides.

They usually also include railings and balusters, which help make the space more secluded. I know that may not sound appealing to some, but the enclosed design offers a private experience that you won’t find in pavilions.

Here’s the best part: Gazebos are more flexible than you think. If you don’t like the conventional designs on the market, you can have one custom-built for you. Various companies, like Country Lane Gazebos or Fifthroom, offer that service.

2 – Materials

Gazebos come in different materials. Each one offers something different to the table. One of the most common materials used to build them is wood.

Not only is it affordable (depending on its type), but it also provides a sense of sturdiness and stability. Wooden gazebos are aesthetically flexible. They offer an authentic, rustic charm and can match different environments.

You can even build them yourself if you have some construction experience, and it won’t take more than a few days.

Besides wood, gazebos come in stone, canvas, and metal. Metal gazebos are more durable than wooden ones, and you won’t have to worry about accumulating weather damage. They also add modern aesthetics to the surrounding environment.

Portable gazebos usually come in various materials, as they’re made of several parts. For example, the frames can be aluminum or steel, while the roof can be polyester, canvas, or metal.

3 – Floor and Ceiling

What sets gazebos apart from pavilions is the dedicated decking. While it seems like a simple design element, it makes the placement process easier.

The solid, enclosed roof is the bread and butter of a gazebo. While that structure has much to offer, its ability to block out sun rays and rain might be its big selling point.

4 – Placement Options

As I’ve already established, gazebos are flexible in their placement options. The built-in floors allow you to place them anywhere outside your house, provided you have enough space.

So, you can place them in the middle of your yard, which is the most common position people opt for. However, you can also attach them directly to your house.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Installing Gazebos?

You probably think that gazebos are these magical structures that every house should have. That’s not entirely true, though.

Despite everything I’ve said, gazebos aren’t perfect by any means. So, you should know the pros and cons of installing one before making any decisions.


  • A visually pleasing, well-sized gazebo can make your house more appealing and increase its resale value.
  • They’re suitable to host family gatherings and spend some quality time alone.
  • You can add electricity to gazebos, making them convenient spots to enjoy beautiful scenery while using your gadgets.


  • While it depends on the type of gazebo you install, high-quality ones are usually expensive. If you don’t have construction experience, you’ll have to pay a professional to install it, which would cost you more money.
  • Gazebos, especially wooden ones, won’t stay in top shape forever, as they’re more susceptible to mold. So besides their installation fees, you’ll also pay for maintenance and repairs.
  • Determining the right size and position of a gazebo isn’t easy. You have to account for the space of your yard, the nature of the ground, and the purpose of the gazebo.

What Is a Pavilion?

A pavilion is an outdoor structure that looks like a small room with open sides. At first glance, it may not look any different from a gazebo. However, it offers a different experience than a gazebo. Let’s see how.

1 – Design

While gazebos come in octagonal and hexagonal shapes, pavilions only have squarish and rectangular designs. That’s not a big deal, though, as a few gazebos come in rectangular shapes, too.

The most influential difference between the two is the open sides. Yes, the sides of a pavilion don’t have these visually appealing railings.

However, the open nature of that structure helps it blend well with the rest of the house, making it more welcoming than a gazebo.

Additionally, the absence of railings gives you a clear view of the surrounding environment, which makes for a more enjoyable experience.

The simple design of pavilions makes them more flexible. You can add various types of furniture, an outdoor kitchen, and a lounge to them.

2 – Materials

When it comes to the materials used to build pavilions, they’re not that different from gazebos. The most common material used for these structures is also wood. Besides being affordable, it’s aesthetically flexible.

Wooden pavilions add a rustic look to your yard, but you can also add your personal touch to make it look more appealing.

Another common material for building pavilions is vinyl. It’s more durable than wood and resistant to warping, rotting, and deteriorating.

Additionally, vinyl pavilions don’t require any effort to stay in good shape, so you won’t have to pay much for maintenance.

Pavilions also come in stone, suitable for humid climates, and fabric, great for drier weather.

3 – Floors and Ceilings

Unlike gazebos, pavilions don’t have a dedicated floor. While that may take away from its visual appeal, it still complements the openness and hospitality of the space.

Pavilions have a few common characteristics with gazebos, though. Despite being an open space, they still come with an enclosed roof, which offers protection from the sun and rain.

Sloped roofs are the most common type, but they can also be in a pyramid or a triangular shape. And if you want to add more pizazz to your yard, go with a double roof. The classy appearance will add to the visual appeal of your yard.

4 – Placement Options

As you can tell by now, pavilions aren’t as flexible in their placement options because they don’t have a dedicated floor. While they can stand separately, being attached to the house in some way is the traditional way to install them.

Pavilions work great as deck extensions because they’re easier to attach to your house than gazebos. You can also use them to add visual interest to your paver patio.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Installing Pavilions?

While they create a soothing, welcoming atmosphere, pavilions aren’t without flaws. Understanding the pros and cons of pavilions can help you determine if they’re suitable for you.


  • Installing pavilions is easier than gazebos because of their simple design. If you have some construction experience, you won’t need to hire a professional
  • An outdoor pavilion can be a storage for your lawn equipment tools, power washer, or garden supplies.
  • You can use it as a workstation, as you have enough space to set up your desks and devices.


  • Although the open sides create a welcoming environment, they lack the sense of privacy that gazebos offer.
  • In certain areas, you need a permit to build a pavilion, which would cost you more.

How Do Gazebos and Pavilions Compare Against Each Other?

Now that you know the basic differences between gazebos and pavilions, let’s make a few specific comparisons.


Pavilions are usually bigger than gazebos, which is natural, given that gazebos are all about offering privacy and coziness.

So, if you have a large yard or are looking to host large gatherings, pavilions are the way to go. It also helps that their simple design allows you to put chairs and couches inside them.


There isn’t a clear winner in this category because it depends on the size and features of your structure. On average, though, pavilions tend to be more expensive. However, if you’re looking to install an independent structure in the middle of your yard, gazebos are the more suitable option.

Remember, pavilions aren’t made to be self-standing. If that’s what you’re going for, you’ll have to pay extra to install them that way. You won’t have to go that far with gazebos, though.


Gazebos usually offer more protection from external elements because of they’re enclosed nature. Sun and rain are more likely to penetrate a pavilion due to its open sides. That makes it safer to add electricity to gazebos than pavilions.

Final Thoughts

So, when it comes to gazebos and pavilions, both structures have pros and cons. Gazebos are famous for creating a unique sense of privacy and coziness, while pavilions provide a welcoming, open environment.

If you want to host large gatherings, pavilions are the way to go. However, gazebos are more flexible in their placement. So, choose whichever suits your circumstances and caters to your needs.


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