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Pergola Cover Ideas You'll Fall in Love With | RetractableAwnings.com

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Home and business owners with an extra lot or backyards should seek to maximize the use of their property. More and more people are discovering the merits of installing a pergola as a means to extend their outdoor living space and create a relaxing environment.


For homeowners, the ease of installing a pergola cover means less hassle and little to no alteration to their household. This is doubly important if you are just renting since it is also easy to uninstall when moving out.


For business owners, pergolas are quick solutions to extend their usable area with minimal interruption to everyday operations.

Why Pergolas Are So Attractive

Aside from the previously mentioned ease of installation, many interior and exterior designers, landscape architects and backyard DIY enthusiasts find pergolas to be an attractive set piece that can enhance the beauty of any open space. Pergola covers give home and business owners a usable space that is more attuned with nature and outdoor beauty.


This is why it is common to see pergolas made from wood or metal that’s made to look like wood. Unlike all-weather pergola shade canopies and awnings, pergolas are not normally designed to shield you from heavy rain or snow. Although modern louver types have the capability to hold out rain and snow, by and large, pergolas are meant to blend with nature.


This is what makes the idea so attractive - it captures the essence of a dreamy log cabin and mixes it with the usability of a patio or deck. You get the feeling that nature has conspired with the owner to create a cozy and tranquil place for your guests, family or customers.

Pergola Cover Ideas for Optimal Sun Shading

The basic pergola is made of 4 pillars, a roof frame and numerous slats that make up the roofing. The slats provide some protection from the sun while allowing natural sunlight. For some, this design may be enough to provide a comfortable sun shade but people living in sunny regions would need more coverage for their pergola shade canopy. Here are some cover ideas that can provide sun shading.

Thick or long leaves

This is a blast from the past which you might dismiss as too “old world”, but dried leaves from palm trees, anahaw plants, coconut trees, and long reed stems can be woven together to create a natural sun shade.

Live plants and vines

If dried leaves are not to your liking, then maybe you can use live plants and vines as your sun shade. Although it will take months for the plant to cover a sufficient part of the pergola, the resulting natural “roof” may be worth the wait.


Creeping vines with thick foliage like Ivy or arching plants like Honeysuckle are ideal plants to use for pergola covers. Flowering vines like Trumpet Vines and Chinese Wisteria will create an enchanting sun shade, especially when in full bloom.


For some backyard farming, you can even use String Bean plants and Bitter Gourd vines which provides shading and a cache of healthy vegetables.

Wood or bamboo

You can also explore using wood with a diameter of at least an inch or bamboo splits. Lining these “sticks” together can create a woodland type of shading that fits well in any garden.


The uneven spacing between each wood or bamboo segment of the pergola cover creates a sliver of space to let in natural lighting and makes for a rustic atmosphere that’s perfect for an afternoon coffee.

Fabric or canvas

For a more modern approach, you can use fabric or canvas as your roofing material for pergola canopies. Most designers do this in two ways - using one whole piece of fabric or canvas or using long strips to create a pattern.


In using one whole piece of fabric or canvas, the whole material will be attached on top or below the pergola rafters to create a sun and/or rain shade that effectively blocks out the sun and/or rain depending on the fabric type used.


In using multiple strips of fabric or canvas, the designer could weave the strips through the pergola rafters alternating between over and under patterns with the final product looking like a braided “roof”. A braided “roof” can only be used for sun and not for rain protection.


Also, it’s common to use fabrics and canvas with earth or neutral colors like brown, dark green and grey to retain a connection to nature

Retractable canopy

The most modern and usually best approach to adding sun shading and/or heavy rain protection is using a retractable canopy made from waterproof fabric. This is installed below the rafters to provide complete protection from both sun and rain.


This canopy can be retracted whenever you feel enjoying some sunlight or wish to see the stars and moon, and deployed or extended again when the sun gets too hot for comfort or rain/hail protection is needed.


Here’s our recommended selection of retractable pergola canopy covers.

Wall Mounted Pergolas

Pergolas can be bunched into two types - a freestanding pergola or a wall mounted one. When building a pergola right next to your house or an outside wall, it might be best to consider designing a wall mounted pergola.


One side of a wall mounted pergola is attached to an existing structure, and the other side is supported by beams. Unlike freestanding pergolas where you will use 4 or more beams as support posts, wall mounted pergolas normally use just two.


A wall mounted pergola transforms your side yard, front yard, patio or deck into a covered area to entertain guests or customers. Since you are using an existing structure to anchor one side of the pergola, this type is easier and faster to construct. As such, there are pergola kits available for purchase that can be installed in a day or two.

Materials For Installing Wooden Pergola Shade

Below is a list of materials or more accurately, the parts of a wooden pergola shade. It is best to know the makeup of each so you will know the amount of work and material needed for successful pergola construction.

Corner posts

These are wooden beams that will support the weight of the pergola so it is recommended that you use thick posts that are at least 5 inches by 5 inches in diameter. This ensures that the structure is sound and sturdy since the roofing material will also be made of thick wood. The common height of pergolas is about 9 feet from the roof to the floor so the post length should be at least 11 feet to take into consideration the buried foundation of the beams.

Roof support and rafters

The length of the wood support and rafters will depend on the design. It is common to see lengths of 12 feet but this will necessitate the use of lateral support beams in the middle of the roof frame.


Pergola rafters use thick wooden planks with thickness up to 2 inches and a width of up to 5 inches. You can, of course, use a thicker or wider wood plank but the extra weight might warrant using thicker support beams.


These rafters are installed horizontally, meaning the orientation of the wood plank is along its thinnest side. This leaves out more open spaces than covered ones which are a trademark of a wooden pergola.

Electrical Wiring

This is optional if you plan to use lighting or an electric fan on your pergola. You can use black or brown wires to camouflage the wirings or create grooves along the wood panels to house the wiring.

Support anchors

These are metal supports that attach to the bottom of the support beams. Made from metal plates that sit along the surface where the wooden beams are buried or entrenched.


If installing a pergola on open ground, it is common to apply concrete along the beam’s foundation to secure the alignment and hold. A metal anchor will then be used to further augment the foundation by infusing the long metal bolts of the plate while the cement is still wet. When the cement hardens, the metal bolts will permanently hold the beam in place.


If installing on a wooden surface, the metal bolts of the anchor help seal the beam along the wooden floor. Optional wood trim can be used to hide the metal bolt and plates from view or you can simply color the metal with brown or black paint.

Easy To Install Wooden Pergola Shade

There is a number of easy to install wooden pergola kits in the market but you would need to do your research and measurement first before any purchase.


Choose the location of your pergola and picture the amount of space you will need to be covered. Get a measuring tape and record the length, width, and height of your imaginary pergola.


Is this wall mounted or freestanding. Again, if it’s attached to an existing structure, it's wall mounted. If it's not, it's freestanding. A wall mounted pergola is generally less expensive and easier to install than a freestanding one.


Next is to choose which type of material to use. The two most common wood used for pergola kits is Cedar and California Redwood.


Cedar pergola kits are more common and most over the counter kits are made from cedar. Cedar trees are grown abundantly and most cedar species are durable and resistant to decay. It is advisable to treat the wood with a waterproof sealant to extend its durability.


Pergola kits made from California Redwood are more expensive due to limited supply. Designers place a premium on the reddish, dark hue of Redwood. It is also very resistant to decay, often lasting several decades without rotting.


Lastly, determine if you would need professional help from a pergola and awning expert.


Using these steps, you should be able to determine the right wooden pergola for your home or establishment.


You can contact us today if any of these ideas have started to tickle your creativity, and we’ll guide you through the process of finding the best solution.

Modern Louvered Vinyl Or Aluminum Pergolas

The modern louvered vinyl or aluminum pergola is like a traditional open slat pergola where the wooden roof louvers are replaced with vinyl or aluminum louvers.


When left open, the vinyl or aluminum louvers act as regular pergola that allows natural light and gives minimal protection to rain and snow. When the louvers are closed, either mechanically or manually, the pergola is transformed into a closed roof pergola canopy.


This louvered pergola design is a modern variation which not only helps save our forests but gives more flexibility than a regular wooden pergola. The downside in using louvered vinyl or powder coated aluminum is that you lose the element of nature, which is the reason why pergolas are popular in outdoor settings.


The tips and information provided should give you a basic idea of how to plan your pergola project. The knowledge gained should help you understand the concept of pergolas and what is the best design for your current needs.


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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