Why Do Pergolas Not Have Covered Roofs?

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Written By Charlotte Miller

For anyone that is in the process of renovating their home and is a fan of indoor / outdoor living, then a pergola is an addition that needs to be introduced in order to really make the most of the beautiful summer weather. This is the perfect thing for those homes that have children or pets living in them as it provides them with a great deal of protection from the harmful rays of the sun. That being said, with pergolas not having completely covered roofs, questions are often raised about just how much sun they do block out.

How much sun do they block out?

Believe it or not, pergolas are actually really good at blocking the sun out, thus making them the ideal place to seek solace from the sun or to entertain guests. When they are styled correctly, they can also act as a focal point that adds a certain level of interest to an outdoor space. 

The exact amount of sun that a pergola blocks out is very much dependent on the type of structure and so can vary greatly from pergola to pergola. In fact, some pergolas are capable of blocking out as much as 80 percent of sunlight – depending on the specific design of the roof and where it is located in relation to the position of the sun. Additionally, when covered in plants and vines, pergolas can provide an even greater amount of shade from the sun.

As well as blocking out the sun, pergolas are also equally good at blocking out those prying eyes whilst you are sitting underneath it either relaxing or socialising with friends and family.

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Pergolas with roofs

The typical pergola does not come with a roof of sorts and has all open sides. Where they do have some sort of roof, it is made up of either cross beams that are flat or trellis in a lattice formation, thus providing a certain level of protection from weather conditions. Although because they have open sides, the protection that they do provide can be lacking somewhat, especially when harsh weather conditions hit. This is why some people opt for installing a rain proof pergola in their yard instead.

Another option for a greater level of protection is a pavilion. This is because these typically cover much larger areas, such as complete patios, so can keep more people protected from harsh weather conditions, such as sun, wind, or rain. Pavilions also usually have high walls on the side, thus providing an extra level of protection and privacy for both you and your guests to benefit from. However, because they are bigger, they do require much more maintenance and cleaning in order to keep them in good condition.

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Covering pergolas for more shade

If lots of shade is something that is important for you and when your pergola is just not delivering in this respect, there are a number of things that you can do to keep you better protected from the sun whilst sitting underneath it.

  • Solid panels – whilst it may be true that these panels can be somewhat expensive to purchase and install, they do provide a hassle free way of blocking out the sun in order to keep you covered and cool during even the hottest of summer days. They do not need to be taken off and stored away during the winter months, and nor do they need to be replaced each summer season. The materials that these solid panels are typically made from include wood, tin, aluminum, and steel. However, the key to staying dry whilst not blocking out too much of the sun is by using polycarbonate.
  • Fabric – covering the roof of a pergola with fabric is a relatively inexpensive way of providing some much needed shade. However, these materials must be specialist ones that can handle any and all of the weather elements that may come its way. If you possess any sort of sewing skills then you can even customise the fabric to perfectly fit your own pergola. These fabrics come in a wide range of colors and patterns, meaning that you can easily find one that suits your own personal style as well as matching the aesthetic of your outdoor space and property.
  • Climbing plants – a common and more natural way of adding shade to your pergola is by introducing climbing plants and vines that grow up and along the structure. Doing this means that you have a pergola that is lush, lively, and changes as the seasons do. The exact size of your pergola will have a direct impact on the specific species of plants that you are able to use. For the best level of coverage, opt for using those climbing plants that produce large leaves and that grow in a dense formation.


The reason why pergolas do not come with fully covered roofs is because they do not have the purpose of providing you with protection from all of the weather conditions. Rather they exist to provide you with a certain level of shade and protection whilst also acting as a nice space to relax in and enjoy with friends and family. However, for anyone that wants a garden structure with a roof in order to provide a greater level of protection, there are alternative structures out there that offer this solution.

When purchasing a pergola for your yard, think about where it will be placed and what its purpose is in order to ensure that you make the right choice. When it comes to the cost of a pergola, this comes down to two main factors – the size of the structure and the material that it is made out of. You also need to consider the cost of covering the roof if that is something that sounds like it might be of benefit to you. The main materials used for their construction include metal, fiberglass, vinyl, and wood. Out of these materials, vinyl and wood are the two cheapest.