Outdoor living spaces have been growing in popularity for the last several years, with more homeowners looking to invest in their properties for relaxation and entertainment, rather than going elsewhere. This has meant a big boost in things like outdoor kitchens and living rooms, and the types of structures that help define them, like pergolas.
Pergolas are the hottest hardscaping idea going right now, offering people the ability to add shade, structure, and definition to their yards or patios, without the closed in feeling of most gazebos. Pergolas can be custom built to fit your yard, but many people choose to use prefab pergola kits instead.
Pergola kits come with everything you need to build your perfect pergola right at home. They’re ideal for people who don’t mind a little DIY, but who don’t want to start drawing up blueprints and ordering lumber.
Note: if you’re in a rush and looking for the best pergola kits in terms of cost, shade, aesthetics, and long-term durability, here are our top picks within each category:
Best overall: Coolaroo Aurora Pergola | Check Price on Amazon
“Easy installation, three color options, high-durable powder-coated aluminum frame, and weather-resistant fabric makes this pergola an excellent choice for a lovely outdoor experience.”
Best bang for the buck: Purple Leaf Aluminum Retractable Pergola | Check Price on Amazon
“A UV and water-resistant retractable canopy paired with an aluminum frame, this pergola comes in four different colors to accommodate any backyard while providing immense value for its price.”
Best chill: Paragon Outdoor Valencia Pergola | Check Price on Amazon
“A wood-like rust-free frame combined with tropical cocoa design and a balanced retractable canopy provides excellent durability and just the right amount of shading for a pleasant chill experience all year round.”
Best wood: Backyard Discovery Cedar Pergola | Check Price on Amazon
“Made from 100% durable cedar, this charming wood pergola is highly resistant to natural decay and rot while staying easy to assemble with the pre-cuts and 3D-guidance app.”
Best vinyl: New England Regency Vinyl Pergola | Check Price on Amazon
“This vinyl pergola is crafted to last, with a durable PVC construction that eliminates rot, cracks, warping, yellowing, and weather damage. A perfect choice for large yards.”
Best metal: Sojaq Yamba Aluminum Pergola | Check Price on Amazon
“With custom shade protection out of adjustable grey mesh canopy, this all-season aluminum frame pergola is a perfect choice for elegant romantic dinners and relaxing family getaways alike.”
Pergola kits come in a range of sizes, styles, and materials, offering you a lot of options and even some customization without having to go the full custom build route.
Here’s everything you need to know about pergola kits and how to choose the one that fits you backyard the most.
Prefab Pergola Kits VS Building Your Own
For many people, pergola kits make a good alternative to building one from scratch, but for others the custom route might be the best way to go. Comparing the pros and cons of each type of pergola can help you determine which method may be the best for your home.
Prefab Pergola Kit Pros
Prefab kits have a lot of positive attributes to consider. They come in a wide range of sizes, styles, and materials so you can easily find one that will fit with your style and your budget. All of the pieces arrive ready to assemble, and you don’t need to measure, cut, plan, and spend a great deal of time sanding, staining, and readying the lumber.
Many prefab kits are available in low maintenance materials that simply screw together, so they’re both easy to put up and easy to care for over time. Many kits also have options for things like shade, lights, screens, heaters, and other attributes that you can simply add on as you go.
Prefab Pergola Kit Cons
Like all materials, prefab pergola kits do have some drawbacks. While they come ready to assemble, you do need to have at least a general understanding of the tools and materials needed to assemble them, and you may need assistance as well, so they aren’t meant for people with no experience at all, although it is possible to hire someone to assemble it for you.
Prefab kits can also be expensive, since all the pieces are cut, finished, and ready for assembly. Sometimes building something yourself from scratch can be significantly cheaper, as long as you know what you’re doing.
The biggest con, however, is the fact that the kits don’t allow a great deal of customization. If you have an oddly shaped patio, want to build in a bench, want an extra tall pergola or one that can match the exact style and type of wood as your deck, then building a custom pergola is definitely the better option. Some companies will allow customization of a kit, but for a truly one of a kind pergola, your best bet is to build it yourself.
Custom Pergola Kits Pros
Custom pergolas are often less expensive if you plan to design and build them yourself. They also offer a nearly endless array of sizes and styles, so you can fit a pergola into oddly shaped areas, or create something unique just for your yard. They can also be constructed out of unique hardwoods or materials that you can’t find in kits, so if you want to perfectly match your teak deck, it’s possible to do so with a custom pergola.
Custom Pergola Kits Cons
Building your own pergola from scratch does have some downsides. You will be limited in the number of materials that you have at your disposal. You’ll also need to do the measuring, cutting, sanding, and finish work as well as the assembly. Even if you’re well versed in this type of work, it will still take significantly longer than simply assembling a ready made kit.
If you hire someone to build a custom pergola for you, it does eliminate this issue, but can often significantly increase costs, which mitigates any savings you may have gotten by going this route.
5 Considerations When Buying Pergola Kits
While there are many types and styles of pergola kits, and many that are easy to assemble as well, it’s still important to pay attention to some specific things to ensure that your installation goes smoothly.
1. Space and Area
Consider the space that you will be installing the pergola in, and make sure that the option you are looking at will fit well there. This is particularly true if you are using an attached version or if you’ll be adding your pergola to a deck or patio; you want to ensure that it will fit the dimension of the space, and not be far too large or too small.
You’ll also want to see how it will interact with the area; how does the sun slant over that section? Will the amount of shade you are choosing for your pergola be enough?
2. Pergola Kit Size
Most pergola kits come in a range of sizes, so it’s important to make sure that you have the size correct for the space. In your planning of the area, you should make sure that you have the dimensions correct, and know what size of pergola will fit there. Try to be as close as you can, without going over.
3. How to Calculate for Pergola Dimensions
Most pergolas are sized in length and width. Measure both the length and width of the space, as well as the height to make sure there are no obstructions. You’ll want your kit fit within the length and depth of the area, and not exceed the boundaries you place.
4. Pergola Kit Type
Pergola kits can be attached or freestanding, traditional or contemporary, offer plenty of shade or very little. Think carefully about what it is you want from your pergola, as well as what style will best fit your home. If you have a very contemporary yard, then a contemporary pergola will fit much better than some traditional styles. Likewise, pay attention to material; you can match other structures or you can go for something low maintenance and long lasting like cPVC.
5. Pergola Kit Usage
How do you intend to use your pergola? If it’s a defining structure, then you’ll want it as open as possible. If you’ll use it for sitting and relaxing, does it have the right amount of shade? What about light or heat fixtures? You’ll need to think about how you’ll be using the space to make sure that the kit you order is going to meet your needs.
Invest in the Right Kit for You
There are a lot of choices on the market today for pergola kits from high end and semi-custom models to very basic kits you can put together yourself in a few hours. Make sure you do you due diligence in determining which Pergola kit will work best for you, so you can enjoy your new pergola or the longest amount of time.