The Top Rated Pergolas and Kits to Buy

outoodr pergola
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Backyards and outdoor rooms increasingly are becoming areas of additional functional living space for activities like cooking, relaxing and entertaining. A pergola can define or extend outdoor space by establishing boundaries, walls, and putting a roof over it all. Often used interchangeably with the words gazebo and cabana, a pergola is basically an outdoor shelter or structure with columns or posts and an open roof.

The word originates from the Italian word of the same name from the mid-1600s, meaning a latticework structure for climbing plants, and from the Latin word pergula, which means something that projects or overhangs. It can be attached to a building—in this case, a house--or freestanding, and was originally intended to support and train vines, which would climb up the columns and up and over the open beams of the roof, creating more shade and a green roof.

A Brief History

Pergola-like structures were also used in ancient Egypt and consisted of roughly shaped pillars, but with each generation, the structures were better constructed and often painted or featured sculpted details. During the Italian Renaissance of the16th century, architects revived and improved upon the pergola concept as they paid homage to villas of ancient Rome, often sporting marble columns and supporting grape vines in the process.

The influential British garden designer Gertrude Jekyll is credited with using and documenting pergolas in her beautiful English gardens of the late 19th and early 20th century. She wrote;

"For our English gardens, we have the choice of various materials for the main structure. If the pergola is to be near enough to the house to be of some importance, the piers should be of the same material as the house walls—brick or stone as the case may be. Fourteen-inch brick piers laid in cement are excellent choices and easily made."

Modern Pergolas: What to Look For

Freestanding or connected to a house, a pergola should be made of similar materials as the main structure, especially the roof, for consistency. This can also be achieved with color, particularly if the house is stucco and the look is carried through somewhere on the pergola's columns, posts, or walls.

While the ideal pergola is one that is built by a contractor or landscape professional, that is not always in every homeowner's budget. Many prefabricated or simple-build kits and models are available at a variety of prices—literally something for every budget.

Here's what to look for:

  • Reputation of brand or manufacturer, including consumer reviews
  • Instructions, which should be clear and easy to understand
  • Materials, which need to be well made, whether the pergola is wood, metal, or something else
  • Size: measure the space where the pergola will go, and make sure the one you are buying will fit. Also look at the space surrounding the structure, leaving room for traffic, landscaping, and existing garden features

The following pergolas were selected based on reviews and popularity

  • 01 of 06

    Backyard Discovery

    backyard discovery pergola
    Backyard Discovery pergola. Amazon.com

    What: Cedar pergola by Backyard Discovery

    Size: Arbor top is 12 feet wide x 10 feet deep; post-to-post inside is 7 feet, 10 inches high.

    Details:

    • Sturdy 5½ cedar upright posts with diagonal braces make a strong structure
    • Decorative foot covers hide anchors that keep the pergola firmly secured to the ground or patio
    • Pre-stained and ready to assemble
  • 02 of 06

    Ipe Pergola

    pergola kit
    Amazon

    What: Valencia pergola from Paragon Outdoor

    Size: 11 x 11 feet

    Details:

    • Frame is constructed of Chilean ipe
    • Features a retractable canopy
    • Powder-coated aluminum which is rust and maintenance free
    • Includes ground stakes and bolts to affix pergola to a deck or concrete foundation
  • 03 of 06

    New England Arbors Pergola

    best pergolas to buy
    Amazon

    What: Regency Grande by New England Arbors

    Size: 12 x 24 feet

    Details:

    • Features columns and slats that look like wood but are made of vinyl
    • Weather resistant and easy to maintain
    • Classic white finish with molded columns and scroll-worked edges
  • 04 of 06

    Coolaroo

    coolaroo pergola
    Coolaroo pergola. Amazon.com

    What: Coolaroo Constantine Pergola

    Size: 9 x 9 feet

    Details:

    • Provides 90 percent UV block from the sun's harsh rays
    • Can lower temperature by 32 degrees
    • Mocha colored
    • Weather-resistant fabric that will not fade, crack or rot
    • Easy to clean and maintain
    • Lightweight, sturdy, powder-coated aluminum frame
    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Yardistry Arched Roof Pergola

    yardistry arched roof pergola
    Yardistry arched roof pergola. Amazon.com

    What: Yardistry Pergola Room with Snap-On Sunshade

    Size: 12 feet long x 12 feet wide x 9½ feet high or 12 feet long x 14 feet wide x 9½ feet high.

    Details:

    • Made of 100 percent pre-stained cedar (Cunninghamia lanceolata), which will withstand elements and insects
    • Pre-cut and pre-drilled lumber
    • Contemporary design adds stylish look to any setting
    • Easy-to-follow step-by-step instructions ensure quick assembly
    • Product comes as a ready to assemble kit with all wood pre-cut and includes all hardware and metal components
  • 06 of 06

    Pergola with Swing Set

    all things cedar pergola and swing
    All Things Cedar pergola and swing. Amazon.com

    What: All Things Cedar pergola with swing

    Size: 84 inches wide, 72 inches deep and 75 inches high.

    Details:

    • Made of Western red cedar
    • Features preassembled panels
    • Sanded finish
    • Chain and hanging bolts included