There is nothing like spending time outside on a warm summer’s day, but oftentimes, the intense heat is enough to send you and your family inside to seek shelter from the scorching conditions. The summer is one of the best times to enjoy your backyard, patio, or outdoor living space, and installing a shaded structure can help provide an ample amount of shade for portions of your outdoor space.

Outdoor Shade Solutions: Pergolas vs. Covered Patios

When it comes to shade solutions for your outdoor living area, there are two main categories of shaded structures you can choose from: pergolas or covered structures such as a covered patio or deck. While we have covered both of these structures in the past, choosing the best one for your space requires an understanding of the differences between these structures as well as a clear idea of what you envision for your outdoor space, so we decided to share some insight on the two to make planning your new outdoor living addition a little easier.

What’s the Difference Between a Pergola and a Covered Patio?

A patio cover is essentially an open-air roof extension that allows you to essentially allows you and your guests to spend time in nearly all types of weather. These structures provide plenty of shade to keep you comfortable even during the hottest summer days.

A pergola is a structure that features lattice beams on its roof that, rather than blocking out sunlight completely, block out a proportion of the sunlight that hits them, although the actual amount of available shade depends heavily on the angle of the sun.

Still wondering what the differences between these two structures are? Continue reading below!


One of the biggest differences between a pergola and a covered patio is the way they are supported. A covered patio is actually installed as an extension of your home.

The structure connects directly to an outdoor wall nearest the patio or deck you wish to cover. Pergolas, on the other hand, do not attach to your home. Instead, it is an independently supported structure that can be placed on your patio or anywhere in your yard.


Another key difference between the two structures is the overall look and design. One of the benefits of covered outdoor living spaces or patios is that they are a true extension of your home, and you can really get creative with the materials you choose to incorporate to the structure. Pergolas, in comparison, are built out of wood, vinyl, or another high-quality material and can be tailored to the design of your choosing. Plus, if you are someone with a green thumb, these structures are notorious for being aesthetically pleasing and offer a foundation for climbing plants.


As mentioned, unlike covered patios, pergolas do not have a roof. If you plan on using outdoor furniture in your space and want to protect it from the unpredictable weather, a covered outdoor living space may be the best option for you. Both options, however, can offer more privacy with the addition of curtains or shades.


Because pergolas are simple, individual structures they typically tend to be cheaper than covered patios. Plus, covered patios will take longer to build as they are built as an extension of your home — both the cost and project timeline will be more for a covered patio than a pergola, simply because these structures are larger and provide more protection.

Which Option Is Best For Your Outdoor Living Space?

The right shade structure for your backyard heavily depends on your wants and needs. If shade, comfort, and protection from the elements are your main goals, investing in a covered structure would be the best option. If you have a room that is blasted by the intense heat from the sun, placing the covered structure adjacent to that area can even help with energy costs. You can also incorporate lighting, fans, and furniture which makes the space more comfortable and like a living area.

Pergolas, on the other hand, are much more design conscious. These structures bring beauty to a backyard space and can be customized to fit to perfectly fit your style. When well maintained, their solid structure can bring shade to your outdoor area. You can even attach lighting fixtures to utilize the area at any time of day.

Start Planning For Your Shade Structure

If you are interested in installing a shaded structure in your Dallas outdoor living space, Compass Outdoor Design has extensive experience building beautiful and solid pergolas and covered patios. Our team of experienced patio designers can work with you to create a detailed vision for your space, guaranteeing your satisfaction when the job is complete.

To learn more about our Dallas patio design services, contact us today!