Gazebo vs. Pergola: Differences, Ideas & Costs

Gazebo vs. Pergola: Differences, Ideas & Costs

Gazebo vs pergola, the ‘steam room or sauna’ debate of garden planning. At first glance, the two outdoor structures look remarkably similar, both providing a space for entertainment, outdoor seating and garden accessories. However, subtle differences in their design can make a huge difference to your garden.

While pergolas have a latticed or slatted roof, gazebos have a solid, weatherproof roof structure.  For this reason, many people buy a gazebo and pergola together, taking advantage of the gazebo’s weather-proof design and the pergola’s decorative appearance.

A testament to the popularity of pergolas, as of January 2024, there are 1,548,401 pergola hashtags versus 868,370 gazebo hashtags on Instagram. Over a five-year period between 2019 and 2024, the Google search term ‘pergolas’ also received nearly double the number of hits than ‘gazebos’ on a typical summer’s day in the United Kingdom.

These statistics point towards pergolas, photogenic as they are, reigning as the most popular. 

However, as we’ll discuss in this article, there are many things you’ll want to consider before you decide to buy a gazebo or pergola, including appearance, roof and wall structure, the cost and installation. Read on to discover more about the differences between a gazebo and a pergola.


What is a Pergola?  

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A pergola is an outdoor structure that creates a shaded area, made of columns and posts. Just like a gazebo, it can provide a space to relax. However, its roof structure is made up of slats or lattices, where the sun or rain can peek through.

Traditionally, pergolas were constructed from weather-resistant wood. However, they can be made from aluminium, vinyl, metal,  stone or fibreglass.

Often used decoratively, they can act as walkway shelters or a place to let creeping plants grow.

Wall-mounted pergolas can be installed alongside the outdoor walls of your home. However, a typical pergola is rectangular and freestanding.


What is a Gazebo?  

Source - Pinterest


A gazebo is an open-walled canopy which can be installed in your garden. They feature anywhere between four and eight pillars. 

The easiest way to identify a gazebo is to take a look at its roof. The roof of a gazebo is solid and provides complete shelter from the sun, rain, hail and snow. It’s common for gazebos to feature drop sides or railings, which can provide additional weather protection.

Some pergolas double as gazebos, featuring a metal louvred roof. This roof consists of horizontally slanted slats that can be manually opened or closed.



Differences and similarities between Gazebos and Pergolas 

Since gazebos vs. pergolas are so similar, comparing their main features side by side is helpful.








Roof structure

Covered or adjustable

Slats or lattices

Wall structure

Can features railings or drop sides

Can feature drop sides


Square, round, hexagonal or octagonal

Rectangular or square


£1,000 - £5,000

£1,000 - £3,000


Differences in Roof Structure

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Roof structure is the easiest way to distinguish a gazebo from a pergola. While a pergola typically has a slatted or latticed roof, the gazebo normally has a solid waterproof roof.

However, the difference between a gazebo's and a pergola's roof structure isn’t always black and white. Many modern gazebos feature a metal louvre roof with slats that can be manually opened or closed. This offers far more versatility, depending on whether there’s rain or shine.


Differences in Wall Structure

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It’s not typical for a pergola to have walls, although it’s possible to install blinds or screens to add privacy. Some modern pergola models, such as the PergoSTET pergolas, are equipped with built-in textilene blinds.

Gazebo designs are far more likely to have built-in side panels because one of their unique selling points is that they are more weather-resistant. They may have railings, partial walls or drop sides — optional blinds which can be pulled down to create shade upon demand.


Gazebo vs. Pergola: What is the difference in shape?

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Shape is another key difference between a gazebo and a pergola. A gazebo is typically square, although there are also round, hexagonal or octagonal models. On the other hand, pergolas are typically rectangular.


Pergola vs. Gazebo Costs

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Many factors go into pergola vs. gazebo costs, including the materials used, the size and whether the structure is wall-mounted or freestanding.

A very simple, pop-up steel gazebo can cost as little as £100 to £400. However, the average gazebo typically costs between £1,000 and £5,000. 

Due to their complex structure and shape, gazebos can be complex to build. They are usually constructed from durable but expensive weather-proof materials such as weather-resistant wood, vinyl or aluminium.

A pergola is typically less expensive than a gazebo because they have a simpler structure and a slatted or latticed roof. Typically, a modern pergola made from wood, steel or aluminium will cost £1,000 to £3,000. However, very simple wooden pergolas can cost between £100 and £500, providing a cheaper alternative.

A gazebo or pergola with a louvre roof typically costs £2,000 to £5,000. This technology is more expensive.


When to choose a Gazebo vs. Pergola 

When to choose a gazebo vs. a pergola mainly comes down to personal preference. Styles, weather conditions, budget and installation requirements all come into play.


Different styles 

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There are many different styles of gazebos and pergolas. For example:

For those who want a decorative piece in their garden, a wooden pergola is an attractive option.

A wall-mounted pergola is installed parallel to a wall of your home, which can help to add shade and shelter or keep out insects. This is handy if you want to walk straight out of a patio door into shelter.

Pop-up gazebos are portable versions of the gazebo made from lightweight materials. This is a good option if you only want to use a gazebo during dry weather.


Different weather conditions

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If you regularly experience dry or sunny weather, the pergola’s slatted roof will provide partial shade, letting you enjoy the warm weather.

During wet, rainy or snowy weather, a gazebo has a fully covered canopy that protects outdoor furniture and lets you enjoy the outdoors year-round.

A quality gazebo or pergola are both good for average wind, as they have a strong and supportive base. If you regularly experience strong winds, you may want to opt for a gazebo which has drop sides to protect the structure from damage.


Costs on a budget 

Source - Pinterest 


Overall, a pergola is the best option if you’re trying to save pennies, as they typically cost less than a gazebo. A modern wood, steel or aluminium pergola should cost between £1,000 and £3,000. 

If you’re really on a budget, however, a simple wooden pergola or a pop-up gazebo can be purchased for several hundred pounds.


Luxury Gazebos vs. Pergolas 

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Pergolas with louvre roofs and gazebos have more of a reputation for luxury than your typical pergola. Due to their complex designs, they often have built-in features such as screens, shelves, decorative panels and even bars.

The weather-proof space also acts as an invitation for more garden accessories such as hot tubs, firepits, swing sets or rattan furniture suites. Unlike pergolas with slatted roofs, there is no limit to how far you can enhance the space.


Can you put a gazebo and pergola together?

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Putting a gazebo and pergola together means that you can enjoy the best of both worlds. Placing the structures parallel to each other splits your outdoor space into one sheltered seating area and one versatile area with partial shade.

You can also invest in a pergola with a louvre roof with metal slats that can be opened or closed depending on your mood.


Gazebo and Pergola Ideas

Pergolas and gazebos offer some of the best solutions if you’re brainstorming garden shade ideas and outdoor living space ideas, but they also have many more uses. 

Check out the below gazebo and pergola ideas to get some inspiration for your garden space.


Create a cosy corner nook

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As a child, many of us dreamed of creating a cosy corner in our garden where we could curl up with a good book. Enter the pagoda or gazebo: a shaded or sheltered space where you can do just that.


Host garden parties

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A gazebo or pergola can elevate a garden party to the next level. In addition to keeping guests out of the sun or rain, they are photogenic for special occasions such as birthdays or anniversaries.


Design a covered outdoor kitchen

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One of the biggest barriers to creating a quality outdoor kitchen is that the kitchen equipment is prone to weather damage. 

With a fully covered gazebo, you can protect your outdoor kitchen from sun, wind, and rain and continue with important tasks like flipping pancakes or mixing cocktails.


Keep warm in winter with a firepit

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Keeping a fire pit safe from the rain is easier with a fully weather-proof gazebo or louvred pergola.


Which is better: a gazebo or pergola?

Whether you’re planning a garden party, garden feature or the ultimate outdoor seating area, a gazebo or pergola are both great structures to consider. 

For a long time, the pergola has been a  favourite among garden planners due to its decorative appearance, whereas gazebos have the benefit of providing full coverage from the rain and sun. 

With the arrival of pergolas with slats which can be opened or closed, the Harbour Lifestyle range provides a balance between both. Dedicated to functional but stunning spaces, Harbour Lifestyle’s award-winning PergoSTET products are also built to last.

Click here to browse the full Harbour Lifestyle pergola range.