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Gazebo vs. Pergola: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on November 28, 2023
A Gazebo is a freestanding, roofed structure, often hexagonal or octagonal, while a Pergola is an outdoor structure with vertical posts and an open lattice or cross-beamed roof.

Key Differences

A Gazebo is a distinct outdoor structure, usually round or octagonal in shape, with a solid roof and partially open sides. Gazebos often provide panoramic views of the surrounding area and serve as focal points in gardens or parks. They're designed to offer shelter, a place of rest, or a spot for entertainment.
Contrastingly, a Pergola is a rectangular or square outdoor garden feature that forms a shaded walkway or sitting area. Pergolas have vertical posts supporting an open lattice or cross-beamed roof, often adorned with climbing plants or vines. They provide partial sun protection and can link pavilions or extend from a building's door to create a protected walkway.
While Gazebos are primarily closed structures offering protection from the sun and light rain, Pergolas are open-aired, allowing sunlight and elements through their spaced beams. The primary purpose of a Pergola is not to shield users from weather but to define outdoor space and support plants.
Both Gazebos and Pergolas enhance the aesthetic appeal of outdoor spaces. A Gazebo, with its distinct shape and solid roof, offers a cozy, sheltered space for relaxation. In contrast, the linear design of a Pergola makes it suitable for framing garden paths, patio areas, or decks.

Comparison Chart


Round/Octagonal, roofed
Rectangular/Square, open lattice or beams


Shelter, relaxation, entertainment
Define outdoor space, support plants


Open lattice or cross-beams


Offers more protection from elements
Provides limited sun protection

Typical Uses

Gardens, parks, viewpoints
Gardens, pathways, patios, decks

Gazebo and Pergola Definitions


A freestanding pavilion often found in parks or gardens.
The Gazebo in the center of the park hosts summer concerts.


An outdoor structure with an open-beamed roof.
We planted roses to climb the Pergola.


A covered space for outdoor gatherings or entertainment.
We're hosting the party in the Gazebo if it rains.


A structure supporting climbing plants.
Grapes dangle from the Pergola in their vineyard.


An outdoor structure with a roof and open sides.
We enjoyed our picnic lunch under the Gazebo.


A design element defining or dividing outdoor spaces.
The dining area is under the wooden Pergola.


A round or octagonal structure offering outdoor relaxation.
Their backyard features a wooden Gazebo near the pond.


A garden feature providing a shaded walkway.
The stone path is framed by a long Pergola.


A sheltered space providing panoramic views.
From the Gazebo, we admired the entire garden's layout.


A linked extension from a building or structure.
The Pergola extends from the house to the pool.


A freestanding, roofed, usually open-sided structure providing a shady resting place.


An arbor or a passageway of columns supporting a roof of trelliswork on which climbing plants are trained to grow.


A belvedere.


A framework in the form of a passageway of columns that supports a trelliswork roof; used to support and train climbing plants.


A belvedere, either a type of summer-house or a roofed, detached porch-like structure, usually in a yard, park or lawn.


Such a framework employed to provide shade, especially over a patio.


A small roofed building affording shade and rest


Lit., an arbor or bower;


A framework that supports climbing plants;
The arbor provided a shady resting place in the park


Is a Gazebo typically larger than a Pergola?

Not necessarily; size varies for both structures.

Do Gazebos always have a closed roof?

Typically, yes. Gazebos have solid roofs for protection.

Can a Gazebo have a built-in seating?

Yes, many Gazebos feature built-in benches or seating.

Can you attach a Pergola to a house?

Yes, Pergolas can be freestanding or attached to structures.

Are Pergolas suitable for climbing plants?

Yes, Pergolas often support climbing plants or vines.

Which provides better rain protection, Gazebo or Pergola?

A Gazebo, due to its solid roof.

Can I put a hot tub under a Pergola?

Yes, but ensure the Pergola's structure can support the weight.

How do I maintain a Gazebo?

Regular cleaning, treating wood, and checking for damages.

What materials are Pergolas usually made of?

Pergolas can be made of wood, metal, vinyl, or fiberglass.

Can Gazebos be screened?

Yes, some come with or can be fitted with screens.

How long does a wooden Gazebo last?

With proper maintenance, it can last several decades.

Can Pergolas be portable?

Some designs are portable, but many are permanent structures.

Does a Pergola add home value?

Yes, it can enhance outdoor appeal and increase property value.

How is a Gazebo anchored?

It can be anchored using concrete, pavers, or anchored to the ground.

Do I need a permit to build a Gazebo?

It depends on local regulations; always check before building.

Are Pergolas waterproof?

No, they're not designed to be fully waterproof.

Is a Pergola more affordable than a Gazebo?

Often, yes, due to its simpler, open design.

Can Pergolas offer shade?

While not fully shaded, they can offer partial shade with fabric or plants.

What's the best wood for a Gazebo?

Cedar or redwood, due to their durability and resistance.

Do Pergolas require a lot of maintenance?

Generally, they require minimal upkeep, depending on the material.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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