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Do Pergolas Provide Shade?

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For outdoor lovers, a pergola can be extremely useful for creating cool areas on hot days and for covering decks and patios. There are many models with unique and chic designs to complement your beautiful deck, patio, or outdoor living space.

If you cannot decide what kind of pergola suits your outdoor space perfectly, use our in-depth questionnaire for guidance. You’ll find models that can be attached to a wall or roof as well as free-standing designs.

In this article, you’ll find what makes pergolas special and how they make life more comfortable for home and business owners.

What Is a Pergola?

The word "pergola" is derived from the Latin word "pergula," meaning "projective eave." It was later borrowed to describe structures that are built in gardens for shade, but pergolas can do more than that.

A pergola is essentially an outdoor overhead structure that is supported by vertical posts or columns. It can be either connected to your wall or roof or stand separately. It is installed to block sunlight and rain (varies by model), so you can enjoy relaxing outdoors on a sunbed or garden sofa, sipping a refreshing ice-cold drink, or being absorbed in a book with protection from the sun. Some pergolas can even protect you from snowfall.

A pergola has a smart design, generally allowing air to circulate freely between the slats. It normally has a sloped or flat lattice roof that lets some sunlight pass through, and it can be made of various materials such as aluminum, steel, wood, PVC and even aluminum with real wood veneer.

Do Pergolas Provide Shade?

For many owners, the primary reason they have installed a pergola is for protection from the sun. Pergolas are flexible, allowing users to have control over how much sunlight enters the enclosure. They can let the sun in or give you protection from harsh glare, harmful UV rays, rain, hail, and snow.

The efficiency of this structure depends on how your house is situated and where you wish to install a shade cover. The lattice roof will provide shade when the sunlight is directed straight at it. However, the sun will shine at different angles during different times of the day. During certain times, a pergola may not protect you from the sun or elements depending on the direction the pergola is facing.

At RetractableAwnings.com, you will be able to find retractable pergolas for shade made with waterproof (not water-resistant) fabric that will provide protection from any angle. This kind of coverage may not be enough in some environments, especially if you want full control of the interior of your pergola. The solution is fairly simple – we can install optional items like side retractable screens to prevent the sun from disturbing you. Framed and frameless sliding glass doors that block critters, wind, rain, and sun are great options, as are horizontal piston-driven guillotine windows.

What Other Benefits Do Pergolas Provide?

Providing shade is an important benefit, and owners may enjoy more benefits depending on what materials are used and where the pergola is placed.

A typical traditional pergola has a frame made of metal or wood that can be covered with cloth, canvas, metal, or wood. The materials and style should match the location where it is used for maximum cooling efficiency.

Pergola covers, or roofs, are available in many different styles or types, with some styles or types providing more protection than others for specific weather conditions. Protection can be further enhanced with motorized retractable roofs and by installing the structure in strategic locations.

At RetractableAwnings.com you can find many styles of pergolas for shade with different degrees of coverage. Our European products are CE and TÜV-certified for maximum safety and reliability. We also provide options like timers, vertical patio screens, guillotine windows, and framed and frameless sliding glass doors. There are so many different ways to customize your pergola that can increase your level of protection and security without sacrificing your outdoor view or your comfort. Some examples include wind, sun, and rain sensors and even a sensor to melt ice.

Wood and veneer laminated aluminum frame retractable pergola protecting outdoor dining set

Do Pergolas Block UV Light?

Providing shade is a good way to block UVA and UVB (ultraviolet) rays.

UV (ultraviolet) sun rays are very damaging to the skin, and prolonged exposure can even lead to bad sunburn or skin cancer. Depending on the retractable pergola you use for shade, and the type of fabric used, you can fully shade yourself, your family, and your guests from the sun and allow only some of it to pass through.

Even though you cannot see the UV rays, you should always wear sunscreen and extend the pergola shade for better protection. Good fabric material can block up to 99% of damaging UV rays, and RetractableAwnings.com carries a selection of advanced UV-blocking fabrics that will look beautiful with your home or business.

Can They Block Heat?

Pergolas built for shade can block heat in different ways. A dark fabric can block the heat by absorbing the rays before they reach you. The air that flows through the pergola when retracted will later circulate the heat and dissipate it. Pergolas can block solar heat by keeping sunlight from warming the interior. This prevents the floor, furniture, rugs, and other items inside the pergola from absorbing solar energy and turning it into heat.

These features mean that during the hottest hours of the day, you will have no problem spending leisure time on your outdoor patio or anywhere else you install your pergola.

Do They Provide Protection From The Rain?

Pergolas designed for shade may also protect you from the rain, but if you want full heavy rain protection you should choose your model carefully.

RetractableAwnings.com offers waterproof pergolas in various unique designs that will suit the style of your home or business. On the website, you can find pergolas with a closed roof and open sides, which can also be sealed using optional retractable screens, guillotine windows, or sliding glass doors. If you install a pergola connected to a building or house wall, you can opt for a retractable roof style so you can extend it when needed. These options are perfect for light or heavy rain protection, and they are also long-lasting even in bad weather like hail for example.

Do They Stop Insects?

A pergola used for shade can also stop most insects with features like retractable curtains on all sides, and screens that can block insects from flying in and disturbing you. For complete protection from pests, you should cover the roof so nothing can enter through it too.

There are many creative ideas to apply to your pergola's design that will enhance the overall look of your patio. You’ll be able to enjoy a football game or a patio dinner on a warm summer evening without being distracted by mosquitoes, moths, and other pesky bugs.

Do Pergolas Need Special Care?

While they’re good for providing shade and blocking UV rays, bugs, and rain, pergolas don’t require special care (except for wood). They are low-maintenance structures that you or our professional team can install in a single day - it is quick and easy. In the long run, most pergolas require very little maintenance, and all you need to do is clean them periodically.

RetractableAwnings.com has been selling and installing retractable pergolas for decades. Our warrantied retractable pergola covers are designed for low maintenance and are built with non-rusting marine-grade 316 stainless steel parts and 6063 aluminum frames for corrosion resistance.

Pergola Shade Ideas

Pergola with wooden slat roof

When you decide where to install a pergola, you should start planning how you will decorate it and make it unique to complement your outdoor patio. You can stick to traditional ideas and use standard materials, or you can go beyond that and create a truly special place for your friends, family, and customers. Everybody will always look forward to spending some quality time in your newly created outdoor living area. For creative individuals, a shady pergola is a great way to start creating a fully customized structure that can include lights, furniture, mini-bars, and entertainment centers.

Among traditional ideas, there are:

  • Lattice - You can purchase a pergola with a beautiful lattice roof that you can later use to hang flowers or lamps keeping in mind that a lattice does not provide rain protection. You can do more with a pergola roof that provides shade and you can even control it with an app or with a manual switch. Retractable roofs offer the most advantages.
  • Fabric - You can have fabric or curtains on the sides and roof to shade the sitting area from heat, sun, and rain depending on the fabric used. The only downside is that some fabric used for shade in pergolas can be damaged due to weather and other conditions. It’s often best to opt for retractable pergolas with a hood or cover so the fabric can be rolled up and protected.
  • Reeds - Another great idea that is commonly spotted is to cover the pergola roof with reeds, as this provides some shade protection and gives it a pleasant atmosphere but please take note that reeds are not for rain protection.
  • Grape vines - If you are looking for shade and an atypical pergola roof, think about growing grape vines that will grow within the structure. Grape vines cannot be used for rain protection.
  • Flowering vines - To create a stunning design for your pergola, choose the vines that will quickly climb and grow on your structure. Once again, flowering vines cannot be used for rain protection.
    Some of the popular vines are:
    • Honeysuckle
    • Jessamine
    • Climbing rose
    • Clematis
    • Wisteria
    • Trumpet vine

Most pergola plants do not need special care, just provide adequate shade, sunlight, and water. You’ll find many plants that thrive around pergolas, and even a gardening beginner will manage to grow beautiful flowers around an outdoor patio. Make sure to check the color of the vines so they will coordinate with your patio furniture and look harmonious together.


You can use a pergola for shade and protection from heat, rain, hail, and even snow, and it can give you a private place to hide from neighbors (assuming retractable privacy screens are used) when outdoors. And most importantly, they provide the most amount of shade when the sun shines straight on the roof. Their designs can be diverse, from regular retractable fabric pergolas or louvered roof pergolas attached to the wall to fully detached four or more column overhead covers. They come in different designs and materials, and you will surely find your favorite at RetractableAwnings.com.

Pergolas are ideal for shading outdoor furniture, small pools, hot tubs, or restaurant and hotel patios. Once it’s installed you’ll never want to spend a minute inside your house or building again!

Before buying, make sure to do your research, as not all pergolas provide the same amount of shade and rain, hail, or snow protection, and most importantly all pergolas are not created equal.  Be sure to contact our European factory-trained residential and commercial awning, patio cover, screen, and canopy experts. Use our contact form, or call us in the USA or Canada toll-free at (866) 696-7121 or outside the USA or Canada at (786) 738-9489. We can find a new premium shady pergola for your backyard, deck, patio, or outdoor living space today!

eric scop

Eric M. Scop

Eric M. Scop is considered a RETRACTABLE awning industry expert hired by architects, landscape architects, exterior/interior designers, contractors and builders worldwide on a consulting basis

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