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Pergolas vs. Awnings: Which One To Choose?

Pergolas vs. Awnings: Which One To Choose?

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Nothing compares to the quality time you spend with your loved ones. And there’s so much potential in your outdoor area that you might be neglecting.

Whether it’s on the deck, patio, or in your backyard, there’s an excellent chance to create an outdoor seating or dining area for quality time with friends and family.

Yet, because it’s hard to predict the weather, you need a protective structure to help you enjoy your time to the maximum. In our pergola vs. awning comparison, we’ll tell you about the differences between the two structures and which one will work for you.

So, let’s dive in.

Is a Pergola an Awning?

No, a pergola isn’t an awning.

Having an outdoor protective structure adds to your property’s curb appeal. It also allows you to use your outdoor living space, customizing it to fit your needs.

Adding a pergola or an awning maximizes your living space by adding an extra outdoor dining or seating area. You can also use it as a place to practice your hobby or grow plants.

Both are outdoor structures, but a pergola can either be attached to the house or a stand-alone structure in your outdoor area. An awning is permanently attached to a house.

What is a Pergola?

A pergola is an outdoor structure that isn’t usually connected to the main property. This means it can be a stand-alone structure in your backyard or garden.

The pergola has supportive pillars or posts that keep its weight upright. These posts feature cross beams and an open-lattice design to create shade in your outdoor area.

In some cases, the pergola will use the house’s structure for support, so it can be part of an open terrace or patio.

Modern pergolas are built using different materials, including wood, metal, polycarbonate, and thatch. Each material has its pros and cons and will work for you according to your landscape design and the materials used in your house’s exterior.

What is an Awning?

An awning is an exterior structure that extends in front of an area to provide shade. It’s attached to your house and covers part of the terrace, deck, patio, window, or door, acting like a roof.

The awning can be fixed or retractable, depending on your needs. Some awnings are also portable, so you can set yours up only when it’s needed.

Awnings are made of different types of fabric, including laminated waterproof fabric, nylon, cotton, acrylic, or polyester. These different fabric types have different UV protection and waterproof properties, so you can pick the right material depending on your needs.

The fabric is stretched over beams made of steel, iron, aluminum, or wood. These materials should be treated to be weather-resistant, and some are heavier, so they will add significant weight to your house’s foundation.

What Are The Differences Between Pergolas and Awnings?

Both the pergola and awning provide shade and protection from the elements in your outdoor area. Yet, some key differences set them apart.

These differences will also help you choose the right one for your property.

Structure

A pergola is a fixed structure, but an awning isn’t always fixed. Each one of them is built differently to serve a different purpose.

The pergola has posts that hold it upright, while an awning is a roof-like cover that extends in front of your property. The pergola can sometimes be attached to your house, but an awning is permanently attached to it.

Some awnings are mechanical, while others are hand-activated. You might have to hold a handle and move it to retract the awning, but in some cases, you only have to press a button.

In this sense, a pergola is considered a permanent structure, while some awnings are temporary structures because they’re retractable.

Materials

Pergolas are usually made of different types of wood, like pine, cedar, or teak. The roof can be made of a lattice design with various patterns.

Bamboo and vines can enhance the structure of the pergola and add to its beauty.

Most pergolas will add a rustic feel to your property, although some new materials like vinyl and fiberglass are currently incorporated into modern pergola designs.

An awning is made of a stretched material over cross beams. Each type of material is designed to provide a different degree of sunlight and rain protection.

Shelter

An awning provides more shelter than a pergola because it has a roof made of canvas. On the other hand, a pergola only has rafters, so it won’t block the sun.

Unless you add a canopy, a pergola will also let the rain pass through.

Purpose

A pergola adds an extra living or dining space in your backyard or next to a pool.

It’s a permanent structure that provides some sunlight with some partial shade. Thanks to its structure, you can also use it to support the growth of trailing plants and vines.

This means that it can be a crucial component of your landscape design.

If you need more shade, you can use a canopy on top of your pergola or add some curtains for more privacy. With some preparation, it can be a great spot to host a summer BBQ.

On the other hand, an awning is designed mainly to provide total protection from sunlight and rain. You can also partially extend it if needed so that some people enjoy the sunlight while others enjoy the shade.

In commercial areas, awnings usually carry the name of the establishment or its logo. Pergolas are not that common in commercial buildings.

Appearance

A pergola adds more beauty and elegance to your property, and there are several designs available to choose from. The lattice design at the top of the pergola also affects the shade in the area under it.

However, awnings basically have the same design with beams that hold the material in place.

Durability

Due to its structure, a pergola is sturdier than an awning. Therefore, the wood should be treated to withstand the elements and last for a long time.

In general, wooden pergolas can last for up to 10 years, while a pergola made of aluminum will be more durable.

The durability of an awning depends on what it’s made of. Most people choose acrylic because it’s waterproof and provides decent protection from sunlight.

Maintenance

Wooden pergolas need wood staining every couple of years to maintain their condition. There are also special stains that you can apply to make the wood more UV and water-resistant.

Aluminum pergolas are rust-resistant. Fiberglass pergolas are also maintenance-free.

Power washing and scrubbing the material are essential to prevent the growth of mold. However, despite the nature of the material, it’s still susceptible to damage and holes.

Regular cleaning and removing any fallen twigs or branches is essential to protect the awning’s structure from being weighted down.

You should also avoid using harsh chemicals that might damage the protective layer on the awning’s fabric.

Cost

A pergola is typically more expensive than an awning. Building a pergola and setting it up is more expensive, regardless of the design.

This also means that it adds more value to your property.

The material and dimensions of your pergola will add to its cost. So, it will cost a lot more if you make it of premium wood. Adding other accessories to your pergola, like a trellis structure, roof, or curtains, will increase its cost.

An awning’s cost depends on its size and the material it’s made of. Acrylic, polyester, and vinyl come in different types and grades, so picking durable and weather-resistant material will cost more.

You should also think about the treatment that makes the awning fabric more durable.

A mechanical awning with a motorized mechanism to extend and retract the fabric will be more expensive.

Which One Should You Pick?

A pergola and an awning will help you use your outdoor area.

If you need a permanent structure to create a seating or dining area near a pool or in the middle of your backyard, you can go for a pergola. This structure will also provide you with space to grow your trailing plants and vines.

An awning will help you make use of the deck, patio, or terrace. In addition, it will work for you if you need a temporary structure that provides more shade and protection from the elements.

Final Thoughts

Both a pergola and an awning will be excellent additions to your property. But each one of them works differently.

A pergola creates an additional seating or dining area next to your house, a pool, or wherever you want in your backyard. On the other hand, an awning helps you make use of a terrace, patio, or deck by providing shade and rain protection.

While you can add both to your property, these structures differ in materials, purpose, durability, and cost.

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