By providing partial coverage to your patio or backyard, pergolas protect you from sun and rain while adding to the design aesthetic of your outdoor space.
We considered dozens of pergola kits, evaluating each on ease of assembly, sturdiness, added features, and value. A great pergola will be able to stand up to wind and rain, while creating a new, dramatic space in your backyard for grilling, entertaining, or just relaxing. A pergola is a romantic space, whether you use for growing honeysuckle or dinner parties. Our best overall pick is the Backyard Discovery 12' by 10' Cedar Pergola which features a classic style, thoughtful design details, and extra-strength hardware for added sturdiness. But we also have picks that might better suit your own pergola ideas.
Ahead, find the best pergola kits to assemble on your own to elevate your backyard experience.
Best Overall: Backyard Discovery 12' by 10' Cedar Pergola
Easy to assemble with app
Cedar is strong and rot-resistant
Foot covers hide anchors
Solid construction should stand for years
The Backyard Discovery 12 x 10 Cedar Pergola provides sun protection but maintains the open and airy feeling that comes with being outdoors, making it our top pick. This kit comes pre-cut, pre-stained, and ready to assemble and includes extra durable Safe-T-Fuse hardware and powder-coated metal brackets. It should take about a day to install this pergola and is easy to do with the 3D assembly instructions via the BILT app.
This pergola kit provides ample shade and shelter and stands sturdy. With 63 square feet of interior space (A little less than the size of a small living room), it fits outdoor furniture of all sizes with plenty of room to relax. The structure's traditional cross-beam style invites you to easily string lights, or use this pergola as a lattice for vines and other plants. The durable 100% cedar wood can withstand moisture in the air, has a lovely wood aroma, and resists rot and decay. One of the nice features of this pergola is its unique resin feet to hide the concrete anchors. Note that this pergola lacks any kind of canopy, although you could purchase one separately and attach it to the beams for shade.
Best Aluminum: Paragon-Outdoor Aluminum Pergola with Canopy
Included retractable canopy
Good for year-round use
Clear instructions and included ground bolts makes for easy assembly
Not visually appealing
If you’re in search of a low-maintenance pergola, the Paragon-Outdoor Aluminum Pergola is a top pick, and ready to use straight out of the box. The aluminum is heavy to lift, but once up and installed, you shouldn't have to worry about it again. It includes the ground stakes and bolts to secure to a wooden deck or concrete slab. You need not stain or add any varnishes to this aluminum pergola kit.
This pergola kit features a convertible top you can manually open and close, giving you the freedom to decide how much sun coverage you desire. It resists rust and weather.
Best Cedar: Backyard Discovery Ashland Cedar Pergola
Trellis design for growing flowers
Built-in outlet and serving bar
Cedar can last a long time outdoors
Posts are not solid
Heavy when assembled
A cedar pergola offers a unique appeal because of the wood's natural aroma and beauty. More than just your basic structure, the Ashland Cedar Pergola teems with features such as built-in 120-volt electrical outlets, making it convenient to plug in lighting, charge your phone or mix up a beverage with a blender. The pergola's built-in serving bar is a great additional feature, with a spacious 20 x 84-inch table surface.
This pergola's high interior height and trellis design provide plenty of space to hang lights, flower baskets, or outdoor chandeliers. Assembly is easy, guided by the step-by-step support of the interactive app. The kit includes a set of concrete anchors to help prevent movement and get maximum years out of this pergola by Ashland.
Best for Beginners: Toja Grid Pergola Kit with Shade Sail
Modular—you can make it your own
Easy to install and assemble
Stylish and modern
High quality metal components can be paired with lumber of choice for long-lasting value
Must purchase wood separately
The setup for the 12 x 12-foot Toja Grid Pergola Kit is straightforward, with no complicated instructions. To make it even easier, the manufacturer offers step-by-step tutorial videos on their website. This kit includes the shade sail, brackets, and all hardware to attach the wood, and requires no special tools to install. Toja Grid has a modern feel to it, with its minimalistic style and limited pieces. Because it is modular, you can change or add on to your design to make it your own.
One thing to note is the wood pieces are not included, which gives you the flexibility to purchase lumber that suits your budget and climate. Before purchasing, the manufacturer suggests taking a bracket with you to the store to test the fit of the wood. Although easy to install, it may take as many as six people to lift and install the leg posts safely.
Best Budget: PURPLE LEAF Retractable Pergola with Sun Shade Canopy
UV and water-resistant fabric
Aluminum frame is powder-coated for longevity
Needs to be reinforced
The Purple Leaf pergola kit has a stylish design, rust-resistant aluminum frame, and adjustable canopy, all at an affordable price. The awning, which covers a 10 x 12-foot space when closed, features UV and rain protection. The polyester canopy comes in four colors, so you have options to find the right one to match the exterior of your home.
If you live in an area with high winds or frequent inclement weather, you may want to affix this structure to the ground for safety and sturdiness.
Best Splurge: Bon Pergola 10 Ft. W x 10 Ft. D Aluminum Pergola
All-aluminum construction for low-maintenance durability
Includes brackets and anchoring tools for easy assembly
Lacks bells and whistles
Add value to your home with a truly high-end pergola, made of high-quality materials that don’t distract from the beauty of your home or yard. The Bon Pergola features adjustable, motorized louvers for just the right amount of shade and lighting. LED lighting is included.
This pergola's rust-resistant, weather-tested aluminum can handle winds up to 80 mph. You can install this pergola on concrete, pavement, or cement and enjoy stability, as well as sun and rain protection. This pergola is stylish, simple, dependable, and worth its high cost.
Best with Canopy: Hampton Bay 10 ft. x 12 ft. Longford Wood Outdoor Patio Pergola with Sling Canopy
Sturdy steel frame for durability
Bland architectural detail
Canopy isn't water-resistant
Sometimes, pergola users want the option of a retractable canopy to take advantage of a sunny day. The Longford Wood Outdoor Pergola's easy-to-use retractable canopy can be extended or retracted within minutes. Assembly is relatively straightforward, and there's plenty of space underneath for a table and chairs, a grouping of lounge chairs, or a conversation area with a fire pit or low table. It is the perfect addition for yards that experience both sun and shade throughout the day or year.
Best Large Pergola: Vita Regency Grande 12' x 24' Vinyl Pergola
Large coverage area
Slender supports don’t detract from look
Easier to maintain over time than wood
Only available in white
Requires multiple people for assembly
If you want to provide shade and comfort to a large space, this pergola kit is a whopping 12 feet by 24 feet. It has multiple supports to ensure it can withstand weather and wind, and a detailed lattice design overhead. It only comes in white, which offers a clean and modern look to your yard.
As expected with such a large piece, the assembly process is lengthy. It arrives in 11 boxes and requires multiple people to move and assemble. To finish the assembly you need tools such as a power drill, and cement to install it in-ground. Once you build the pergola, it weighs over 400 pounds, so it’s best to get it set up exactly where you plan to use it.
Best Budget: Sunjoy Meadow 9.5 Ft. W x 11 Ft. D Metal Pergola with Canopy
Powder-coated steel for added durability
Metal may show wear faster than wood
Not mildew resistant
This pergola kit is just as easy on the eyes as it is on the wallet. Made of rust-resistant, powder-coated metal, the Sunjoy Metal Pergola kit is great for year-round use, no matter the weather. It offers 104.5 square feet of coverage, with plenty of space for a table and chairs, firepit, or space to lounge. Although pergola kits are a sizable investment for any backyard, this pick is more affordable than most.
The shape is slightly arched, which provides an additional architectural detail that many homeowners look for when upgrading their outdoor spaces. You can use the included canopy to provide shade or assemble it without, especially if you plan to use your pergola to grow climbing plants.
The Backyard Discovery 12' by 10' Cedar Pergola is our top choice because it assembles easily with help from an app, doubles as a trellis or lighting frame, and holds up well against the elements with resin feet and concrete anchors on the posts. If you're looking for a versatile structure, consider the Toja Grid Pergola Kit, a modular system that is affordable and easy for beginners to use.
What to Look For in a Pergola Kit
The first factor you need to consider when selecting a pergola kit is the size of your space. Generally, pergolas are rectangular, square, or triangular and come in a variety of sizes. Rectangular pergolas often look best with the long side parallel to your home, although setting up your pergola is all about personal preference.
If you want to use your pergola for a dining area, choose a size that is large enough for your table and chairs to set comfortably underneath. Allow extra space for people to push chairs out from the table, ensuring they can do so without bumping into the pergola frame. It helps to set up your space and then mark out the ideal pergola size with paint, chalk, or string.
If you plan to use your pergola over a paver patio, most manufacturers recommend a larger pergola than your space. This sizing allows you to anchor the pergola structure into the ground, which is very important to help it withstand wind.
A pergola kit can be vinyl, wood, or metal. Vinyl is one of the most popular options because of its low maintenance, but it can be more expensive or include fewer craftsman-like details. Often, wood pergolas are constructed from cedar, which has an attractive look and resists mildew. If you choose a metal pergola, make sure that it is powder-coated to increase its longevity. Powder-coated metal prevents rust, which can quickly make your pergola unsafe as well as unattractive.
Ease of installation
Due to their size and the requirement for heavy overhead pieces, a pergola kit almost always requires two or more people to assemble. Having a ladder or two nearby can make the process easier, as people don’t have to hold heavy beams high overhead.
The easiest pergola kits to install have pre-drilled holes and pre-cut pieces. Assembly instructions, supplemented with diagrams, online tutorials, and company support, also can make installation much more straightforward. For the trickiest setups, it may be worth hiring a professional to do the literal heavy lifting.
A pergola kit with built-in seating or a table creates not just a comfortable place in the shade but also an all-inclusive retreat for you or your guests to enjoy. Other extra features worth considering include architectural details on the support columns, decorative privacy screens, and intricate latticework overhead.
What are Pros and Cons of pergolas?
A pergola adds shade to your yard or patio, but it has many other Pros as well. A pergola creates a well-defined space, with a distinct aesthetic. It can enhance privacy and are particularly useful for gardeners or anyone interested in vines and other elevated plants. Whether you use a pergola for relaxing or gathering, it's easy to appreciate the extra outdoor living space.
Of course, there are some tradeoffs. Unlike retractable awnings or umbrellas, pergolas are permanent installations. Also, unlike gazebos, the typical pergola only offers partial shade. But maybe the main Con of owning a pergola is that they require the same maintenance that any permanent outdoor installation will need, such as refreshed paint, stain, or rust treatment.
How do you anchor a pergola to pavers?
When you take advantage of a pergola kit, the first task is anchoring the frame to the ground below. Exactly how you secure a pergola to a paved patio depends on a number of factors such as the type of pergola legs. Installation may involve drilling holes in the pavers and pouring concrete around the drilled area. If you're not confident with power tools and complex DIY projects, consider hiring a professional hardscaping company to help you install your pergola.
How do you hang string lights on a pergola?
Hanging string lights on a pergola adds a magical feel to your outdoor living space, but it takes some work. First, measure the pergola to determine how many strings of lights you need. Opt for heavy-duty or commercial string lights, which are made to withstand the elements and easier to hang. (Commercial-grade string lights have molded loops, which you can hang with a clip on the screw hooks.) If your pergola lacks hooks, screw eye hooks into the frame.
What is the difference between pergolas and gazebos?
Pergolas and gazebos have some similar utility, but have strikingly different designs. A pergola is typically rectangular, and is built directly atop your existing yard or concrete surface. A pergola is also made of open slats, so it's designed to only provide partial Shade. A pergola is often used as a platform for plants and other partial-shade elements.
A gazebo, on the other hand, is more of a distinct architectural piece. It is typically built elevated off the ground, and may even have a few steps to get to the central platform. Gazebos also have a different shape than pergolas, and are typically round. Finally, a gazebo is fully roofed in, providing full shade coverage beneath.
Is it cheaper to build or buy a pergola?
In most cases, building a pergola from scratch will be cheaper than buying a pre-made one, but this depends a lot on the cost of construction material. When lumber prices are very high, a pergola kit from manufacturers who can take advantage of economies of scale may end up cheaper than buying all of the lumber and other equipment separately. Several pergola kits we recommend are designed to be budget-conscious, sometimes using aluminum or vinyl to save on construction costs.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was researched and written by Deanna McCormack, a freelance writer specializing in home and family with expertise in the outdoor category. She lives in Arizona, where she enjoys indoor/outliving and knows the importance of shade and protection in her backyard. She considered dozens of pergola kits for this roundup, evaluating each model on ease of assembly, sturdiness, and design aesthetic.