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Pergolas vs. Pagodas vs. Pergodas (Similarities and Differences)

Pergolas vs. Pagodas vs. Pergodas (Similarities and Differences)

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Designing your backyard can be an incredibly fun experience. You get to pick out plants, landscaping, and furniture.

One of the crucial elements in any garden is a shaded area. For that, you’ll need to decide between pergola vs. pagoda vs. pergoda.

They all have very similar names, but there are differences between them. So, let’s take a look at some of these distinctions and find out which one suits you best.

What Is a Pergola?

Pergolas are one of the world’s most popular backyard structures. They come in many shapes and sizes and provide shelter from the sun.

Generally, the main construction of pergolas relies on poles. These are vertical supports that carry the weight of the structure.

We secure the columns by planting them straight into the ground. This should provide enough hold to keep the structure in place through windy weather.

For extra support, we connect the poles using beams. These are horizontal planks that run from one column to another to stop the poles from shifting in place.

Then, to add a touch of shade, we place an open roof on top of the pergolas. Usually, this will consist of a few planks laid side by side, with small spaces in between.

That allows some sunlight to shine through the structure.

A traditional pergola won’t have any walls. The columns provide enough of a backbone without the need for extra support.

In fact, some people can even hang different items off the poles.

The lack of walls means there are multiple entryways into the pergolas.


There are a few types of pergolas that we can install. We classify them based on how we support the structures.

1 – Freestanding

One of the most common pergolas out there is the freestanding variety. As you can guess by the name, these structures can support their own weight with no help.

This allows you to place the pergola anywhere on your property. That’s why many people choose to install them as stand-alone features.

It helps you section off your backyard in a seamless way. Because the structures have no walls, it feels like the pergola and garden blend into each other.

Yet, you still get a small private area under the shade.

2 – Attached

These are similar to the freestanding version, but they attach to a wall. Instead of relying on four columns, we replace one or more poles with another structure.

This will ensure that the pergola is much more stable and secure.

The link to the wall makes these structures a perfect way to transition between in and outdoors. That’s why people choose to install these pergolas on their backyard entrances.

Aside from the smooth transition, these structures are also budget-friendly. You can cut down on the materials you use since you’ll be using a wall as support.

Some homeowners even decide to forgo the support columns altogether. They attach one end of the pergola to the wall, and they leave the other free in the air.

This resembles an awning outside your house. The structure will still share many of the traits of attached pergolas, but they’re less stable.

For that reason, awning pergolas are much more suited as a decorative element.

What Is a Pagoda?

Pagodas have been around for hundreds of years. We can trace their origins all the way back to ancient Asia.

The first iteration was most likely the stupa in India and Nepal. These were half-circle structures that resemble mountains.

That’s why pagodas often have multi-tiered constructions.

Traditionally, people would use the buildings as a place of worship. Buddhists and Taoists would gather and pray in pagodas.

Even though the structures look like mountains, they’re usually completely hollow.

The base level of pagodas has a similar construction to pergolas. They both rely on columns for the main support.

However, pagodas have many more stories on top that taper in size as you go up. These upper levels tend to have solid walls and other design elements.

To finish off the structure, there’s a full roof that goes on top. This will completely block the sunlight from peeking through.

Over the years, people began creating their own miniature versions of the temple. Today, we can find these structures in many backyards.


There are a few types of pagodas that we can install. We classify them based on their architectural design.

1 – Han Dynasty

The most basic type of pagoda is the Han Dynasty variety. This structure has a square base and the tiers are all the same size.

That means, from a distance, these pagodas look like a few pergolas stacked on top of each other.

2 – Song, Liao, Jin, and Yuan Dynasties

These pagodas are a little more modern than the Han dynasty versions. Instead of the normal square, they have a little more fun with the base shape.

Some of them have a hexagonal construction, while others have an octagonal one.

Aside from the shape, these will serve the exact same function as the Han dynasty pagodas. They’ll provide identical shade and a similar overall look.

3 – Ming and Qing Dynasties

This style combines the basic two types of pagodas together. Ming and Qing take elements from the previous iterations and join them into one building.

Some of the tiers may be square, while others have more complex shapes. The final look is a hybrid structure with an Asian flair.

What Is a Pergoda?

A pergoda is a sort of combination of pergolas and pagodas. We take some of the elements from each structure and mix them together to make a new one.

From pergolas, these buildings take the base. They both use columns and beams to create the main foundation.

As for the pagodas, they contribute their roof shape. That’s why pergodas have fully covered tapered tops.

This gives you the best of both worlds. You get the simplicity of a pergola and the shade qualities of pagodas.

For that reason, these structures can be versatile and work in many backyards.

Pergola vs. Pagoda vs. Pergoda

Now that you have a little background on the structures, let’s take a look at some of the differences between them.

1 – Appearance

The main distinction between all the structures is their appearance. From a distance, they may all look the same, but up close, you’ll see they’re completely unique.

Starting off, pergolas tend to look like square frames with flat roofs.

On the other hand, pagodas have a variety of foundations and a pointy top. Besides that, these structures generally have more embellishments and design elements.

Moving on, since pergodas are a combination of the two, they can resemble one more than the other. However, more often than not, they’ll have a square base and a pointy roof.

2 – Shade Properties

When people install any of these structures, the aim is to add shade to your backyard. Luckily, all three can provide protection from the sun at different degrees.

Pagodas supply the most shade. The roof is completely solid, which means sunlight can’t get through.

Next in terms of shade are pergodas as they have roofs with incredibly tiny spaces. So, you may be able to see a ray or two shine through.

Finally, pergolas offer minimum sun protection. Since there are gaps between the grates, sunlight can reach every corner of the structure.

3 – Materials

When it comes to materials, all three structures are on equal ground. Traditionally, pergolas, pagodas, and pergodas consist of wood.

This allows them to blend into nature in your backyard. Yet, you can find a few different material options.

For example, the structures come in stone, aluminum, and even fiberglass.

Final Thoughts

Figuring out the best option between pergola vs. pagoda vs. pergoda can be tricky. All of them share the same basic foundation.

However, pergolas provide the least amount of shade. Other than that, pagodas tend to be more ornate and supply the most protection from the sun.

Pergodas are a combination of the two other structures. That means, depending on the model you install, it could look more like pergolas or pagodas.


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