Today:23 June, 2024

Pergola vs gazebo vs arbor vs pavilion

Outdoor shade structures are the most sought-for elements when designing a landscape. These include a pergola, gazebo, arbor, and pavilion that are integrated into the design of either a backyard, a farmhouse, or any other commercial setting. These structures add to the aesthetics of your outdoor space and also provide functions such as shelter from sunlight, protection from rain, and various other weather elements.

Many people confuse with the design of these four structures. Primarily the difference lies in the construction. The difference between a pergola and a gazebo: a pergola consists of a slatted roof through which sunlight streams, whereas a gazebo provides complete protection from the sun. A gazebo also serves as a secluded sitting area in your backyard and adds charm to your outdoor space. On the other hand, a pergola is an expansion of your indoor structure, usually to create a deck.

Pergola vs gazebo vs arbor vs pavilion

Coming to the difference between a pergola and an arbor: an arbor serves as an indication of walkways, or pathways. They have a slatted roof and lattice framework sides. Unlike a pergola they have a small structure and are used at events; typically, a wedding, or a party to indicate the entrance. A pavilion – unlike a gazebo – has open sides and an independent roof. The roof is positioned by four columns and provides a ceiling for a seating area.

What is the difference between a pergola, gazebo, arbor, and pavilion? What is their purpose? Which one is most suitable for your backyard? What factors should you consider before installing one in your garden? If you have the following questions, you might want to stick to the end!

What is a pergola?

what is the point of a pergola

The word pergola is derived from the Latin word Pergula meaning projecting roof. As the definition of pergola suggests, it is an outdoor roof structure consisting of vertical posts that support slatted beams and an open lattice framework.

Pergolas are installed in an outdoor space as shaded walkways, passageways, sitting areas, etc. They are often confused with arbors. However, unlike arbors, the pergola has a large open structure that covers the entire patio or deck. Pergolas are also permanent architectural elements and do not feature intimate seating.

Pergolas are also confused with gazebos. In order to differentiate between the two structures, remember that pergola has a slatted roof, whereas a gazebo has an opaque roof.

What is the purpose of a pergola?

If you’re thinking what’s the point of a pergola and, do they provide shade? Well, pergolas allow the sunlight to pass through its roof. They provide partial shelter and open space to sit and relax. Some people, however, opt for shades or canopies on their pergolas to enjoy full coverage from the sun.

Pergolas are also a wise choice for separating your yard from the rest of your property or extending your indoor structure to form a patio with a pergola, or a deck

How to choose a pergola?

There are many different designs of pergolas that are made from varying materials. Generally, pergolas made from woods are treated with preservatives to resist deterioration. However, pergolas made from synthetic materials like vinyl, fiberglass, aluminum and, CPVC can last even longer with lower maintenance.

You can consider the following pergolas while choosing the best one for your house.

Steel pergolas

These pergolas are made of steel and are sturdier and durable than wooden structures. They do not require high maintenance and can be used to cover a large area.

Sail pergolas

The sail pergolas have a fabric (a sail) on top to provide shade in an outdoor space. They are made up of either wood or steel and provide full roof coverage.

Open-top pergolas

This type of pergola allows sufficient air circulation and sunlight to shine through the structure. They are used as an extension of a building or a compound. They allow sunlight to pass through to help the plants grow and create a charming focal point.

Gabled pergolas

Gabled Pergolas are highly functional as well as aesthetic. In summers, a gabled roof doesn’t heat up as quickly as a flat roof. It also provides good ventilation, quick water runoff, and an enclosed place to relax and enjoy.

Solar pergolas

These pergolas allow you to install a solar panel on the roof to cut your energy costs while also providing the functions of a pergola.

Pergola installation tips

Some key tips to consider when installing pergolas include measuring the area beforehand so you buy the correct size for your home. It is also essential to ensure that the installation area is leveled, so the water doesn’t collect when it rains.

Check with the authorities before digging column holes, so you don’t disturb the water, sewer, or utility lines. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding assembling and installation.

At least two people are required to install either anchored, free-standing, or wall-mounted pergolas. Pergolas can be secured to your decks using strap brackets. We advise screwing them on the deck’s beam and not directly to the floorboards. If that’s not possible place an additional board under the deck boards and fasten the brackets into that.

In the case of anchored pergolas, they are anchored into the ground by digging 6 inches deep holes, filling it with concrete, and using hammer-set-fasteners to connect it with the concrete.

Free-standing pergolas are not anchored to the ground and, thus, should be installed in areas guarded against strong winds and hails.

What is an arbor?

What is an arbor?Arbor is derived from the Latin word ‘Herba’ meaning, ‘grass, herb, or tree.’ It is a garden design structure on which plants and vines are grown. A backyard arbor indicates an opening to a backyard and provides the backdrop to a landscape.

Arbor typically consists of four posts with a lattice framework on the side and rafters at the top. The roof of an arbor can be flat or arched based on your preference. The lattice-sides can be used to hang vines and lights. The rafters provide rigidity to the structure and are used for decorative purposes as well.

When incorporated in an outdoor space, an arbor transforms the landscape and creates a cute focal point that immediately grabs the attention of the onlookers.

What is the purpose of an arbor?

Arbors are small in size, but big enough to allow people to pass without bumping their heads in them. An arbor is used at the entrance of a garden, walkaway, or passageway to signal an opening and provide shade. Some arbors, which are large enough to hold a small bench, are convenient to take a quick rest between a walk.

Arbors are also used in small-scale outdoor festivities, such as weddings and parties, to make the setting more charming and eye-catching. Guests use them to chat or take photos for Instagram.

Throughout the year, they are also convenient to prevent outsiders and children from trampling the flower beds.

How to choose an arbor?

Arbors are built from rough-sawn cedar or pressure-treated lumber that will hold against the weather, resist rot and repel water. Other materials like vinyl and metals are also used to construct an arbor. They require low maintenance and give a classic look.

Consider following arbor styles when looking to install one at your home.

Gabled arbor

A gabled arbor – like the gabled pergola – has a triangular arch with a slatted roof and sides to hang flowers and vines. The triangular roof is visible through the plants and displays a crisp look. It is often found in many garden sites.

Formal arbor

This particular arbor has a rectangular shape and flute columns. It gives more of a contemporary look and is a good choice for an entryway towards a fountain.

Arched arbor

Arched arbors are somewhat similar to gabled arbors. However, unlike the latter’s triangular construction, the arched arbors have an oval shape. These arbors have ladder’s rung grids on the sides for the plants to climb.

Moon gate arbor

Moon gate arbors, as the name suggests, resemble a half-moon. These arbors have a semi-circle shape. They are used in large properties owing to their size that ranges from 6-8 feet across. Moon gate arbors originated in Ancient China to symbolize a moon rising from the landscape. The slatted sides of the arbor are adorned with climbing plants. However, the structure itself plays a starring role of a sculpture instead of just being plant support.

Bench arbor

Not all arbors indicate walkways. Some include a built-in bench to create a cozy space, with plants hanging on the grid support. The bench arbor resembles a tiny gazebo where you can sit and look at your plants.

How to install an arbor?

One of the crucial steps when installing an arbor is to ensure that its legs are secured to the ground so that it doesn’t blow over by strong winds or other unprecedented hazards.

It is convenient to use a post-hole digger to dig holes that are 2- 2 ½ ft. below the ground. Insert 2×4 inches treated pressure lumber into the hollow legs of the arbors. Pressure-treated lumber outlasts natural wood because of its moisture and mildew resisting properties. It is also denser than untreated wood.

Usually, two people are required for installing an arbor. Place the legs inside the holes and check the level, whether it is skewing or not. Based on your judgment, adjust the skew by putting the soil back in one hole and taking it out from the other one. Make sure to flatten the soil before you place the post again.

As you fill the holes after placing the post; it is essential to pack the soil with a rod or a stick after adding each layer. If you compromise on this step, your arbor will settle and tilt with the passage of time.

What is a gazebo?

backyard gazebo

A Gazebo combines the word ‘Gaze’ with the Latin suffix ‘ebo’ meaning ‘I shall.’ So, the definition of gazebo becomes ‘gaze I shall.’ A gazebo is a garden house with raised flooring, used for chilling and enjoying extensive views in all directions.

Technically, a gazebo is a free-standing partially-opened structure having a hexagonal or octagonal-shaped roof. Typically, it features 6-8 sides that vary with the shape you choose. It can have a built-in floor or be placed over a concrete foundation.

A gazebo also features a built-in sitting, a fireplace, or a pit for barbecue inside the sheltered area. Some people also prefer incorporating curtains and drapes to make the setting more private.

What is the purpose of a gazebo?

The answer to what is a gazebo used for; a gazebo is a dedicating sitting or dining area in a garden with partially covered sides. It has a fully covered solid roof structure to provide shelter from the heat and other elements. A deck gazebo can be used as a space to wind out with friends, hold a party, or a reunion.

A Gazebo is the center point of any landscape owing to its secluded structure and unique roof designs (dome, pyramidal, etc.)

It is also safe to install electricity and electrical appliances in a gazebo since the structure provides the most protection from hazards.

How to choose a gazebo?

There are different styles of gazebos that are usually made from wood, metal, or vinyl. Some Gazebos have value addition like mesh screens (screened gazebo) or curtains to keep the mosquitos and bugs out. Consider the following Gazebo designs for your backyards.

Folly gazebo

A folly gazebo is a small intimate gazebo used for relaxing, reading, or simply watching the view. It is placed at a private corner of the lawn.

Rotunda gazebo

Rotunda gazebos have a large circular structure. They feature simple pillars supporting a dome-shaped roof They are placed at events, birthdays, or wedding parties and are often referred as backyard gazebos.

Pagoda gazebo

A pagoda gazebo has an intricate design and tiered roof like a Buddhist temple. They are made of wood and are built-in parks and spaces to hold events.

Cottage gazebo

These gazebos are built over a stone base and consist of a flat roof. They can also be built at homes or residential buildings.

Umbrella gazebo

This type of gazebo features an umbrella with a central post holding the umbrella in place. A table and stools surround the post allowing the people to relax and take a breather.

How to install a gazebo?

There are three different types of gazebo based on their installation type, i.e., permanent, portable, and wall-mounted.

The permanent gazebo structure comes with a built-in floor or is directly anchored to the ground. It is crucial to choose a flat surface with proper drainage for installing a permanent gazebo. Always anchor the permanent gazebo in a concrete foundation. When sealing it to the deck, use metal straps to secure it into the beams of the deck.

Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to assemble and install different styles of Gazebos. Professional help is generally appointed when building a gazebo, since the installation requires digging, pouring concrete, placing stones, and building a lumber base.

Check with your local town authorities and building codes to ensure that the size of the structure you are considering is permissible to be placed in your yard. A 100 sq. ft. gazebo doesn’t require special permission; however, it is best to cross-check.

Before digging, contact the authorities to ensure that there aren’t any water or sewer lines in your chosen place.

What is a pavilion?

outdoor pavilion

A pavilion is an open structure with a solid roof, used since the 1800s as a means of shelter and entertainment. The word translates as butterfly or tent. The way the butterfly spreads its wings resembles the folds of a tent.

It is commonly found in parks, hospitals, and other public spaces. A Pavilion has an enclosed structure that is protective and inviting at the same time. People often confuse a pavilion with a Gazebo, but, unlike the Gazebo, a pavilion has open sides and no built-in floor. Therefore, it is built on a concrete foundation, a deck, or a patio.

Technically, a gazebo is more of a self-contained structure, whereas a pavilion is a large rectangular structure built to provide a roof over a patio and seating area beneath.

Pavilions are also confused with pergolas. To identify the two structures correctly, you have to consider their roof. A pergola features a slatted roof, while a pavilion has an opaque and covered roof.

What is the purpose of a pavilion?

A pavilion blends in the landscape more than a gazebo to provide shaded seating for friends and family to gather. An outdoor pavilion is used to hold picnics, exhibits, and parties. Many people set up stalls and kitchens inside a pavilion to entertain the public in a circus or a fair.

Although, a pavilion is not as eye-catching as a gazebo; it provides shelter from sun, rain, and wind. It is installed in parks and resorts to provide great views at lengths.

How to choose a pavilion?

A pavilion is a permanent structure made from metal, cement, or concrete. It offers various designs to choose from. Consider the one that suits your aesthetics.

Bow-top pavilion

This pavilion is used as an entryway to a property. It has a huge semi-circular shape that immediately catches the eye.

Veranda pavilion

A veranda pavilion is an a-frame-style pavilion with a thatched roof. It is commonly attached to the sides of a vacation house to enjoy the cool breeze.

Cottage pavilion

The cottage Pavilion resembles an ancient Chinese pavilion. They have a canopy roof that extends outwards and sides framed with gray stones.

Split-level pavilion

A split-level pavilion is made from timber, featuring an elevated floor that is framed by 4-6 posts. It can be installed in your backyard or garden to accentuate the landscape.

Dining pavilion

A dining pavilion has a flat roof and raised floor. This style is mostly used as an apartment balcony.

How to install a pavilion

To install a pavilion immaculately, it is necessary to devise a step-by-step construction plan. First and foremost, invest in the best quality material you can afford. E.g., choose weather-resistant materials like pressure-treated lumber, pine, or cedar.

Take proper measurements beforehand and cut and assemble the components accordingly. To avoid the wood from splitting, screw pilot holes instead of drilling the screws directly.

Most pavilions can be anchored to a 4” thick concrete foundation with a 12” thick outer edge. If you are installing the pavilion in a place without a concrete base, dig the post holes for concrete footings. The structure will then be fastened to the concrete footers. The size of the footings depends on the size of the unit you purchased.

A simple garden pavilion can be installed by any person having basic carpentry knowledge. However, bigger pavilions like those in parks and vacation homes need to be installed by professionals.

Final thoughts

Outdoor structures, such as pergola, gazebo, arbor, and pavilions are important elements in landscape design. Architects and home designers use them to transform the outdoor space and make it more functional and aesthetically pleasing.

It is important to understand the difference between a pergola and a gazebo, a pergola, and an arbor, and a gazebo and a pavilion to choose the correct structure based on your requirements. For each type, there are various designs options.

Whichever option you choose, always invest in the highest quality materials and do not hesitate to seek professional help. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and consider all the tips to make the most informed decision.

Joseph is the founder and Chief Editor of "Indoor To Outdoor". He is an entrepreneur with experience in sales of household products. He also travels a lot, takes pictures and loves to ride a bike.

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