With the warmer weather and beautiful sunshine, most of us spend even more time outdoors in the fresh air. In many cases, this has encouraged us to reconsider our backyard or deck spaces. Whether you are looking to improve the aesthetic of your yard or searching for a way to add to the functionality, a pergola can be a great addition.
In this guide, I’ll look at the different types of pergola kits on the market, show you how to choose the best pergola for your outdoor space, and share our top 5 choices for the best pergola kit available for any décor.
The Backyard Boss Top Pergolas for 2021
|Paragon Outdoor Backyard Soft Top Valencia Pergola||Check The Price!|
|Regency Grande 12’ x 24’ Vinyl Pergola||Check The Price!|
|Hawthorne 16’ x 12’ White Steel Traditional Pergola||Check The Price!|
|Backyard Discovery 12’ by 10’ Cedar Pergola||Check The Price!|
|Dura-Trel Queensbrook Pergola||Check The Price!|
Why You Can Trust Us
One of the biggest factors that influenced the house that my husband and I chose was the backyard space. We are both outdoor lovers and enjoy entertaining friends and family in this space. It meant finding something that was not only eye-catching but also a deck and backyard space that would be fully functional for our many uses.
Like many other considerations when choosing a home, we couldn’t find a yard that already had everything we wanted. However, this didn’t mean that we couldn’t have our backyard oasis. Instead, we started researching and learning about different products and DIY projects that could turn our space into everything we dreamt of. It included the addition of a pergola or sun shelter by the pool.
After researching available options, we experienced firsthand how to assemble and install one of these structures. I am taking the knowledge from this process and combining it with the years of experience shared amongst the Backyard Boss team to bring you an easy-to-follow guide for choosing the best pergola and taking your outdoor space to the next level.
Best Pergola with A Canopy
With a powder-coated aluminum frame and sliding canopy, this pergola provides style and functionality as it protects you from the elements.
Why We Like It: With a frame made from powder-coated aluminum, the Paragon Outdoor Backyard Soft Top Valencia Pergola is a lightweight solution for your new pergola, which makes it easier to set up with just two people.
The solid frame shows no weld marks and is designed to stand up to the elements with its rest-free coating. However, it doesn’t have the weight necessary to remain freestanding during heavy storms or high winds. You can mitigate it using the included anchoring hardware to secure the pergola on your deck or patio. With a wood grain finish, this structure allows you to enjoy the low-maintenance benefits of an aluminum frame with the aesthetic of a wood frame.
On top of the pergola, a convertible canopy can be manually closed to provide shelter from the rain or the dangerous UV rays. When the weather permits, open it back up manually to reveal the stars above you or bask in the warmth of the sunshine. It means that it is fully functional across a variety of different situations. Covering 121 square feet, this square-shaped pergola is a medium-sized option suitable for most yards.
Who Should Buy It: If you’re looking for a pergola that will look great in your yard and offer protection from the elements, this is a great option.
Best Vinyl Pergola
Why We Like It: Covering 288 square feet, this is the largest pergola included on the list, with plenty of room for patio furniture and other outdoor features.
While it requires a significant amount of space, measuring 12’ x 24’, it works as a statement piece with its elegant and detailed design. The frame is made from weather-resistant vinyl, with a texture that both looks and feels like wood and held up by decorative columns.
Due to its large size, the Regency Grande 12’ x 24’ Vinyl Pergola requires more assembly than the smaller options. The company estimates that it takes two people approximately 12 to 16 hours. However, the high-quality vinyl is maintenance-free. It means that once it has been set up, it is built to last without any additional work.
Who Should Buy It: For those with a large backyard or deck, the Regency Grande 12’x24’ Vinyl Pergola will help to elevate the space to the next level with its detailed design.
Best Steel Pergola
Constructed with heavy-duty galvanized steel, this pergola provides a traditional look with a modern finish and a PowerPort to support your outdoor electrical needs.
Why We Like It: The Hawthorne 16’ x 12’ White Steel Traditional Pergola is constructed from heavy-duty 100% galvanized steel, providing it with a sturdy frame that can stand up to the elements over time.
It’s fully welded and rust-resistant, finished off with a smooth, sleek exterior in black, brown, or white. Measuring 16’ x 12’, it covers a total of 192 square feet, allowing enough room for your patio furniture and another outdoor décor. However, if your deck, patio, or backyard is too small to accommodate this size, it can also be purchased in 12’ x 10’ or 14’ x 10’ sizes.
In addition to providing you with a durable pergola, this model also includes an exclusive PowerPort with three electrical outlets and three USB ports. The customizable installation allows you to set up your PowerPort as needed to provide power for outdoor lights, a television, or to charge your devices. The structure comes with a 5-year limited warranty.
Who Should Buy It: Outdoor lovers searching for a durable and maintenance-free pergola for their deck or backyard recreation space should consider the Hawthorne 16’ x 12’ White Steel Traditional Pergola.
Best Wooden Pergola
Why We Like It: For traditionalists that can’t help but love the look of a wooden pergola, the Backyard Discovery 12’ by 10’ Cedar Pergola is a great solution.
Made from 100% durable, pre-stained cedarwood, this pergola is made from proven wood to be rot and natural decay-resistant. It means that your pergola will stand securely over time. At the base of each column, a durable resin foot with concrete anchors provides additional support.
It’s a medium-sized option which means that it’s suitable for most yards, decks, and outdoor spaces. It requires 120 square feet of surface area and, with 6’7” clearance beneath the structure itself, is perfectly sized for your patio furniture or even some children’s play equipment.
This particular pergola kit requires a more in-depth assembly process than many of the kits on the market. However, there is an easy-to-follow 3D-guided installation on the BILT app to make the process easier. Ongoing maintenance is needed to stain and seal the wood every 1-2 years.
Who Should Buy It: The Backyard Discovery 12’ by 10’ Cedar Pergola is a great choice for those who prefer a more traditional wooden pergola aesthetic combined with the ease of assembly that comes with a kit.
Best Pergola on A Budget
Why We Like It: Constructed with durable vinyl, the Dura-Trel Queensbrook Pergola is lightweight, low-cost, and capable of standing up to the elements for many seasons.
This structure requires only 90 square feet of space, making it a great option for those working with a smaller deck, patio, or living space. While it isn’t large enough for an extensive outdoor recreation area, it creates a comfortable seating area.
The sleek, white vinyl of the pergola contains a high concentration of titanium dioxide, which protects it against the effects of the sun’s UV rays. It ensures that it won’t peel, warm, rot, or yellow over time.
At the same time, the pergola is lightweight at 150 lbs, making it easier to move or adjust the location of your outdoor space. Use the included anchors to secure it against storms or heavy winds. These structures are constructed in the USA and backed with a twenty-year limited warranty.
Who Should Buy It: For those that would like to elevate their outdoor space with a pergola on a budget, the Dura-Trel Queensbrook Pergola is a great solution.
Pergola Kits vs DIY Pergolas
If you’ve been shopping for different pergola options, you’ve likely seen a lot of different pergola kits available online. For those who aren’t familiar with these products, it may leave you wondering whether the right choice would be to build your new pergola using a pergola kit or tackling the project from scratch. To make this decision, you must first look at what a pergola kit contains and the limitations of using a kit.
A pergola kit supplies you with all the parts of your desired pergola precut, drilled, and noticed for easy assembly. They come with instructions and tutorials that explain how to take this collection of pieces and put it together to create a beautiful and structurally sound structure.
They are available in different sizes and materials, including aluminum, steel, vinyl, and wood. Additionally, some kits include extra features such as a built-in bench or a canopy to shield you from the sun’s dangerous UV rays.
The biggest drawback of using a kit is that it is a generic shape and design versus creating something unique for your space. You’re forced to choose the best fit available for your space, which may not optimize the available room on your deck or in your yard. It also restricts the patio furniture that can comfortably fit in the area unnecessarily. You also have to stick to the features that each company offers.
When you create your DIY pergola from scratch, you can measure out the perfect size for your space and add any combination of features that you desire. It gives you complete freedom to create a pergola that matches your aesthetic and location, including incorporating decorative landscaping, highlighting special features of your space, and ensuring that your backyard or patio will function in every way you want.
How to Choose the Right Pergola Kit for Your Yard or Outdoor Space
If you’ve decided that the ease of a pergola kit is the best choice for your project, the next step is to narrow down what you’re looking for in a pergola. It includes careful consideration of the space available, your style, the features you desire, and the amount of ongoing maintenance.
Surface Area and Measurements
The first and most important consideration is the space that you’re working with. The ideal size of pergola won’t overwhelm your space by being too large, but it’ll also have enough space to be fully functional.
To start, measure out the space where you’re planning on installing your pergola. Take into consideration the furniture that you like to place underneath the pergola, and any additional décor or landscaping that you want to install around the perimeter.
Next, look at the height of the pergola and whether there are any obstacles to consider, such as low-hanging tree branches.
The most common materials used in pergola kits are vinyl, wood, and aluminum/steel. To choose the best option for your yard, consider the budget, the desired longevity of your pergola, and the overall appearance.
A steel or aluminum pergola will stand up to the test of time better than vinyl due to its ability to hold up against even the more extreme elements. They’re solid and durable, making them a great investment. Some are even designed to have the appearance of the wood grain with the strength of steel.
However, these pergolas often come at a higher price point than those of the same size made from vinyl. Wooden pergolas are traditionally the most common choice due to their aesthetic appearance. With the right care, they offer a long lifespan while adding a beautiful design element to your space.
Ease of Assembly and Ongoing Maintenance
Some pergola kits are incredibly easy to put together, allowing even a beginner to set them up in no time without any unnecessary stress. However, other kits require more work on your part.
For example, if you purchase an untreated wood pergola kit, you’re going to have to go through the process of staining or treating the wood before assembling anything. It adds to the assembly time and cost. Read through the reviews from other customers to assess the quality of the instructions that are provided with the kit. Some are easy to follow regardless of your experience level, while others can be unclear or confusing.
Finally, make sure to consider your work to properly maintain your pergola moving forward. A steel pergola requires a quick wipe down from time to time to keep it looking clean and new, while a wooden model needs to be re-stained or treated every couple of years.
In addition to the basic construction of the pergola itself, there are a variety of different features that you can add to your pergola to improve its function based on your desired use.
Anchors and Supports
Even though pergolas are generally large structures, they don’t have enough weight to prevent them from being blown over or damaged during high winds or storms. By selecting a kit that includes anchors or supports, you can secure the pergola, both for safety and prevent unnecessary property damage.
Some different types of anchors and supports that you may consider include anchors on the feet of the pergola that are then bolted into your wooden deck or brick patio to hold it in place or structural supports that allow you to permanently affix your pergola to a fence or wall of your home.
Canopies and Sunshades
Purchasing a pergola kit with a canopy or sunshade included, or even one that offers the option to easily add a canopy down the road can add to the overall functionality of your pergola. Not only do these canopies create a shaded area to help you stay cool on a hot summer day, but they are also constructed using UV-resistant fabrics to prevent fading and protect you from the sun’s dangerous UV rays. Depending on the style of the canopy, they provide shelter from the rain.
Built-In Bars, Benches, Planters, and More
These features are often considered a luxury addition. However, a built-in can add character to your outdoor space. Some popular built-in options include a bench or seating area, a functional bar, planters located around the perimeter of the pergola for decorative plants and flowers, or even a built-in swing.
When considering whether you want to include built-in features on your pergola, pay attention to the space they’re going to take up. A built-in swing will restrict your ability to put things directly where that swing hangs. Consider the spaces in front and behind it for when it moves.
If you’re limited on space, trade-in that square footage for a built-in planter box in place of additional patio furniture. On the other hand, a built-in bar may offer comfortable seating and surface space in a smaller footprint.
How We Picked
With so many different sizes and styles of pergolas currently on the market, we had many factors to examine. Some of the top considerations included durability, functionality, aesthetics, and the overall value of the pergolas. We also looked at the different features that are available and how they can add to your experience.
To ensure that we had a better understanding of how each pergola performed over time, I considered the opinions of the Backyard Boss team and read through various customer reviews. I combined all of this information to identify the best pergola kits currently available on the market.
Choosing the Best Pergola for Your Yard
While I am confident that each of the pergolas highlighted in this guide would be an excellent addition to any deck or backyard, you need to take a step back and look at your unique needs. Are you looking for a simple pergola to tie into the design of your deck or something more elaborate to protect you from the elements? Each of the designs we explored has its list of pros and cons for your consideration.
Paragon Outdoor Backyard Soft Top Valencia Pergola stood out above the competition the most for us. It provides durability and reliability despite the elements with the powder-coated frame and a sharp aesthetic with the faux woodgrain finish. It also offers a sliding canopy that can keep you shielded from the rain or sun while also moving aside when desired. In this way, it’s the best of both worlds.