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Gazebo vs. Ramada: Which Outdoor Shelter Is Right for You?

Gazebo vs. Ramada: Which Outdoor Shelter Is Right for You?

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Being passionate about yard beautification, I highly regard gazebos and ramadas as excellent additions to any garden or outdoor space.

These two structures differ mainly in building design, where gazebos usually feature a more complex shape and construction, while ramadas are more simplistic.

Despite their architectural differences, both roofed structures are usually made with the same set of materials.

Learn more about the similarities and differences between gazebos and ramadas, their features, and which options are best according to different conditions in this in-depth gazebo vs. ramada guide.

History, Features, and Functions

Outdoor structures such as gazebos and ramadas are timeless exterior space installations that go beyond landscape enhancement—they serve various purposes, too.

One of their essential functions is to protect from elements for a prolonged outdoor experience.

Further, unique feature variations make each option suitable for different environmental conditions and purposes.

Understanding these characteristics is vital in deciding which outdoor structure to build in our property.


Did you know that the earliest records of gazebos date back thousands of years? Interestingly, ancient Egyptians built similar structures in their gardens to function as grapevine support.

Records also show that other civilizations (like Persian, Greek, and Roman) have built gazebos for social gatherings, relaxation, and memorials for gods.

Key Features

Gazebos are freestanding, sheltered structures commonly made of wood. Metal (aluminum or steel) or concrete are excellent material choices for increased durability.

For cost saving and DIY-friendliness, opting for gazebo kits made with fabric is a good option, too.

Meanwhile, most gazebos feature an open design, while some include a semi-enclosure in the form of:

  • screens
  • curtains
  • half walls
  • railings
  • lattice panels

While gazebo styles are subject to personal taste, most styles range from simple and rustic to ornate with intricate carvings. At the same time, gazebos are structured with built-in seating and tables.


Gazebos make refreshing resting and recreational spots, especially in residential spaces.

But if you ask me, I like transforming my gazebo into an al fresco dining space. Turning them into a cozy retreat or a place to socialize, relax, and be creative sounds great, too.

They’re commonly found in backyards, locations with a view, near bodies of water, and gardens.

One creative way to transform your garden gazebo’s look is by growing flowering vines that’ll creep into the structure.

Doing so will incorporate a whimsical touch to your plain gazebo, a technique ideal for fairycore enthusiasts.


We often interchange the terms gazebo and ramada, but the truth is, ramada is a term widely used in the Southwest.

Despite that, ramadas have distinct characteristics that set them apart from gazebos, and here are some interesting facts about them.

Ramadas are an outdoor shelter inspired by the Native American tribes’ temporary shelters. The natives used to construct wooden shelters with roofs made out of twigs or brush.

Key Features

Like most gazebos, ramadas are open-air structures with a wall part, typically supported by four-sided columns or pillars. They also have fully enclosed roofs to protect against the elements.

These structures are usually built with lumber, concrete, or metal structures.


Ramadas are commonly utilized as outdoor kitchen installations or lounging areas that function as entertainment showcases or bars.

Since they’re usually built bigger than other outdoor structures, they can support additional amenities or electrical appliances.

What Is the Difference?

Gazebos and ramadas are closed-roof structures that offer protection from the sun and elements. Both can be found in residential properties or public spaces.

With their closed roof feature, both structures are safe to support electrical systems, with gazebos supporting basic lighting while ramadas can support more complex appliances.

Here, I list the primary variations between gazebos and ramadas:

Shape and Size

The most notable characteristic that sets both structures apart is the shape. Gazebos are mostly circular or octagonal, while ramadas are rectangular or square.

Consequently, gazebos are often smaller than ramadas. They’re incorporated as decorative elements in gardens and tight spaces, while ramadas are built for more functionality.

Design and Structure

Due to its olden-time origin, gazebos mostly feature classic or more traditional architecture. Ramadas, on the other hand, are more modern or minimalistic with a wall feature.

Building Type

Gazebos are mostly freestanding structures, while ramadas can be freestanding or extensions of an existing home or building.

That’s why ramadas are often built as extensions with additional amenities like fireplaces or entertainment showcases.


As free-standing structures, gazebos mainly include elevated flooring or deck, which is non-existent in most ramadas built as building installations.

The Pros and Cons

Both gazebos and ramadas offer adequate shelter to protect against sunlight and rain.

They’re both inviting spaces you can utilize for various functions—be it to accommodate guests, for entertainment and recreation, or as a relaxing outdoor retreat.

For gazebos, one of the notable advantages is they can be installed with screens to protect against bugs and mosquitoes.

Regarding disadvantages, both structures may not be suitable for small outdoor spaces because they can make them appear cramped.

These structures also require regular maintenance, like a typical house.

That said, cleaning and repairs can be challenging for structures with extensive electrical systems or appliances, especially during autumn or winter, when dust, leaves, and snow collects in your space.

Which Is Better?

If you have plenty of outdoor space, building gazebos and ramadas is helpful to transform landscaping.

To decide which of the two is a better choice depends on your unique needs, budget, and available resources.

Whether you opt for a gazebo or ramada, what matters most is the material choice and its compatibility with the location.

Therefore, you should consider the following factors:

  1. Location and landscape
  2. Style
  3. Climate and materials
  4. Use

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the answers to some commonly asked questions about gazebos vs. ramadas:

Are gazebos good for rain?

Gazebos are excellent in providing shade and protection against the elements, but they’re not entirely rainproof. This is because gazebos are open or semi-enclosed structures that are still easily exposed to elements.

How long do outdoor gazebos last?

Outdoor gazebos made with highly durable and rust-resistant metal, like aluminum, can last around ten years with proper maintenance and protective coating.

What is the difference between a ramada, gazebo, and pergola?

Unlike ramadas and gazebos, pergolas are non-enclosed roofed structures, making them simpler to build and maintain.

What does ramada stand for?

The word ramada is of Spanish origin, meaning “a roofed structure with open sides,” according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

Why is it called a gazebo?

The term ‘gazebo’ combines the English word ‘gaze’ and the Latin suffix ‘ebo’ that translates to ‘I shall.’

Altogether, the term translates to ‘I shall gaze,’ which in essence relates to gazebos being considered as a viewing pavilion.

Final Thoughts

Gazebos and ramadas are free-standing structures or building attachments that serve as decorative elements or shelter in your garden or backyard.

The key difference between the two is their shape; while gazebos are circular or feature more sides, ramadas are rectangular and feature simpler designs.

Meanwhile, in the narrative gazebos vs. ramadas, the best choice depends on my personal preference, which resources are readily accessible, and compatibility with my location.


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