Pergola vs. Sunshade?

pergolaIt may not feel like it, but by the end of March spring will have sprung – even for those of us here in the Buckeye State. With late-March and April highs projected to be in the mid-to-upper 60s, things will seem downright balmy.

With the arrival of the sunnier and warmer days of spring comes thoughts of outdoor living and entertaining. A vital part to enjoying your yard during the spring and summer months is providing yourself and your guests with shelter from the sun.  

In this article, we’ll take an in-depth and informative look at two of the most popular options for relief from the vertical rays: pergolas and sunshades.

What is a pergola?

While it can be connected to your house or freestanding, a pergola is an open structure with no walls, but is supported by several posts. Typically square or rectangular in shape, its roof is partially open with a lattice or trellis design that provides you and your guests with a bit of cover. This design makes it easy for air to circulate and for some sunlight to pass through.

The main purpose of a pergola is to establish the perimeters of an outdoor living area. 

How large are pergolas?

While some pergolas are large enough to provide shade for crowds of 30 or more, others can be intimate enough for just two. 

In other words, your pergola will be built to your specific needs.  

What are pergolas made of?

You have a variety of choices for your pergola materials. Popular choices include wood, steel, aluminum, and metal.

How long should my pergola last?

It depends on two things: the material you select and whether or not it’s properly maintained.

For a wood pergola, you should expect to enjoy 10 years or more from your investment. Metal, steel and aluminum pergolas will last even longer.

The trick is to avoid the DIY pergola kits you see in the big box stores. While their prices are appealing, you’ll be fortunate to get more than two years of use out of their products. 

patio paverWhat are the pros and cons of a pergola?

As with just about anything in life, there are pros and cons to installing a pergola.

Among the pros for a pergola are:

  • It will not obstruct the view from inside your home.
  • The necessity of relatively few materials
  • The versatility to add curtains or grow vines along the posts for privacy and decorative tastes and styles
  • Materials can be stained or painted to reflect the appearance of your home.

The cons sometimes associated with a pergola include:

  • Fading of the materials over time
  • The possibility of termites if your pergola is made of wood and proper treatments aren’t made

What is a sunshade?

Often referred to as shade sails, sunshades are another highly effective way to give you and your guests a bit of shade. Sunshades are typically made of specially treated fabric that’s mounted to steel posts and tightened to avoid flapping in high winds. 

How large are sunshades?

While they can be custom-made for your specific needs, sunshades are readily available in sizes as small as 10-feet to over 25-feet. You may need more than one sunshade to cover your outdoor living area.

Are sunshades waterproof?

Not entirely. While a light rain will roll off from the edges of your sunshade, a heavy downpour will likely result in some rainwater passing through.

Can I leave my sunshade up all year?

It’s not recommended. Most sunshades are not capable of supporting heavy snowfalls during the winter months or withstanding hurricane-force winds. 

How long should my sunshade last?

Much of the answer to that question depends on the installation of the sunshade. For example, while it’s not unusual to enjoy as much as 10 years of outdoor living with your sunshade, improper installation can cause it to become loose or even sag – which in turn leads to faster deterioration. 

What are the pros and cons of a sunshade?

While sunshades do provide great ventilation and are relatively easy to install, there are a few negatives to keep in mind.

Among the cons for a sunshade are:

  • They’re not built to withstand heavy weather
  • They present a legitimate fire hazard
  • Your investment can be damaged by birds, large branches and other obstacles. 

The Bottom Line

The decision to go with a pergola or sun shade is obviously your choice. We’re fans of both options, but can help you understand the pros and cons of each as they relate to your situation. That way, you don’t have any buyer’s remorse down the road. 

To find out more about how we can help you, and to get the ball rolling, visit our online Dream Builder page so that we have an idea of what you’ve got in mind. 

You can also give us a call at (614) 779-0846 or get in touch via email

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