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Pergola, Pavilion, Or Gazebo—Which One Is Right For You

Pergola, Pavilion, Or Gazebo—Which One Is Right For You

By Rebecca Baum, Forever Redwood
Photographs courtesy of Forever Redwood

An outdoor shade structure can increase the enjoyment, usable space, and value of your home. Popular choices include pergolas, pavilions, and gazebos.

But which one is right for you? The first step is understanding the differences between the three structures:

A pergola has a slatted or latticed roof and no walls. The advantages include partial shade and an open air experience.

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Arched Pergola Kit from Forever Redwood.

Pergolas work well for outdoor lounge areas, patios, and poolside shelters where partial sunlight is desirable. In general, pergolas provide minimal rain protection. Trained climbing or trailing vines can be lovely natural accents for a pergola roof.

A pavilion has a closed roof and no walls. The advantages include substantial shade, shelter from the elements (excluding extreme weather), and full views of the surrounding outdoor space.

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The Loreto Pavilion from Forever Redwood.

The pavilion's closed roof makes it an excellent choice for an outdoor kitchen or dining room. Large pavilions can even function as primary or secondary carports.

A gazebo has partial or complete walls and a closed roof. Often the term "gazebo" is associated with the octagonal structures of the Victorian era. While some of today's gazebos resemble those traditional structures, many are square or rectangular in shape.

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Kikue's Tea House, gazebo design from Forever Redwood.

Advantages of the gazebo include more privacy, shade, and weather protection than either pergolas or pavilions. When designed with walls or sliding doors, a gazebo can serve as a backyard retreat or intimate gathering space.

Of course there are many variations on pergola, pavilion, and gazebo designs. If you're working with a custom woodworking shop like Forever Redwood, often you can sketch out your own design. Forever Redwood will then render drawings and build the structure based on your idea.

Once you’ve decided which shade structure best suits your needs, it's time to move on to other specifications such as size and building materials. Depending on the scope of your project, plumbing and electricity may be additional considerations. The assistance of a designer or architect can be useful for larger projects. 

Whatever design you choose, always check with your HOA and/or local building department before finalizing and ordering your shade structure. A permit may be required.

To learn more about which pergola, pavilion, or gazebo is right for you, visit Forever Redwood’s website or call (866) 332-2403.


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