Which is Better: A Pergola or Gazebo?

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When it comes to making the yard of your house in Calgary look its best, it’s not always about the deck and the patio (although those definitely do add some style). Sometimes the best thing to tie together your house with the great outdoors is an accent piece, distinct from the other structures around it.

This means that sometimes, going with a pergola or gazebo is the best choice. But which one is better for your property? And what difference does it make in the end?

What’s The Difference Between a Pergola and a Gazebo?

The main difference between the two structures is the roof. Pergolas usually don’t have one – just simple slats or rafters, like 4x4s laid across the frame of the walls and nailed in place. Gazebos have full roofs, providing coverage from rain or direct sunlight. These can be as simple as some metal panels or shingled and weatherproofed like the main house.

Either of these buildings are popular choices for homeowners in Calgary and the surrounding area, thanks to the many sunny days we get every year. As for what they have in common: generally, open-air walls or lattice that allow plenty of air flow on the sides, usually made of wood. You can find PVC or metal versions, too. They can range from a few square feet of space to large structures that can hold a dozen people or more. Many people put vines or plants along the walls, giving a bit of colour and personality, or to help block noise from busy roads (great if you live near Deerfoot Trail or Macleod Trail).

Building a Pergola or Gazebo

If you’re planning to build a pergola or gazebo in Calgary, there are some things you should know before you get to work. Whichever structure you choose, do some research into the area where you are building to determine some basics:

  • Is the ground composition suitable? You don’t want to build on sand, soft clay, or otherwise unstable materials. You might need a professional to determine what the foundation needs.
  • Do you want to prioritize sun and sky, or shade and coverage? This will help you choose between a pergola or a gazebo.
  • Will you be able to keep up with maintenance? Calgary’s weather swings wildly throughout the year, and it seems like every summer a big hailstorm hits communities from Bearspaw to Saddletowne. Making sure your new structure lasts will require some elbow grease now and then (exactly how much will depend on the materials it’s made of).
  • How big will the footprint be? Will it be a simple structure a few feet across, or a large gathering space where the whole family can relax during a barbecue?
  • Think about the orientation. Where does the summer sun shine brightest in the evenings? Are there trees to block the wind? Will you be looking into your neighbour’s yard (and do you need a fence to prevent that)?
  • What is your budget and timeline? Pergolas are usually the less expensive option. And if you’re trying to dig and build as winter is coming, you might be better off waiting til spring when the ground is thawed.

There is no right or wrong choice when it comes to pergolas and gazebos – whatever works best for you and your home is what you should do. Both can be decorated with furniture, plants, lighting, and other items to make them stand out, and alternately both can convey a look of elegance and style with just their plain materials. It’s up to you!

When you are ready to build, though, reach out to a trusted Calgary construction company that specializes in outdoor wooden and composite board structures: Maritime West Construction. With plenty of happy customers and a keen eye for matching either a pergola or gazebo to new or existing decks and fences, we’ve been a favourite builder in southern and central Alberta for over 20 years. We can’t wait to help your next project get off the ground!

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