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What's the Difference Between a Pergola and a Pavilion?

A shade structure is highly desired in creating an outdoor living space. So lately I've been asked What's a pergola? What's a pavilion? What's the difference between the two? Which is better for my outdoor living space?

Let me explain.

A pergola is a structure that provides filtered shade. Although it can be attached to a house, it is generally free standing with four cedar or wood posts to which multiple layers of headers and rafters are attached to create the shade. Pergola's are used to create visual appeal in the outdoor living area and a comfortable sitting environment that maintains the open, airy feeling while providing some filtered shade protection from the sun. Pergolas are often found by a pool side. However, pergolas do not have a solid roof so it does not protect you from rain. Here are some pergola pictures.


Pergola by pool side to provide great drying off area!


This pergola creates intimate outdoor living area but still maintains the openess.

Ok, now let's talk about pavilions. A pavilion is similar to a pergola but it has one main difference -- it has a closed roof just like your house and it is generally made with shingles. Why is this important? No rain or direct sun which means it is safe for electronics such as a tv to be outside. Also, if you want to cook outside, you will not get wet cooking under a pavilion. Pavilions are better for creating outdoor kitchens or for watching football games outside when the weather cools. Here are some pavilion pictures.


Note the solid roof of this pavilion which provides rain protection.


This pavilion was the beginning of an outdoor kitchen area, great for outdoor living.