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What Is The Difference Between A Pergola And A Pavilion?

If you’re looking to spice up your backyard that’s a bit boring, then you have two options. Pavilions and pergolas are two of the most beautiful and common outdoor structures that are going to transform your home for the better. But how do you know which one is the best? Do you need to hire a pergola builder or a pavilion builder? Well, this comparison will give you all of the details.

Pergola Vs Pavilion

The Structure

The structure of pavilions and pergolas are quite different, even though some people might think that they’re strikingly similar.


Backyard pavilions are roofed structures, supported with four, or more pillars or posts. The roof can sometimes be arched, straight, or even dome-shaped and one of the main characteristics of a pavilion is that the roof has no slots. It’s completely covered and the main purpose of a pavilion is to provide necessary shade. Pavilions are very welcoming structures and they’re going to add that bit of oomph to your garden or backyard.


Pergolas also have 4 or more pillars to support the structure, but the roof is what’s the game changer. Pergolas have a slotted roof and has a lot of cavities in it. Think of the roof of a pergola as kind of like a lattice, where the material is woven in different directions to let the sun peek through.

One might think that this structure is quite insignificant because it possibly can’t provide shelter, but the reality is contrary to the typical thinking. Yes, a pergola will let the sun peek through, but the design is extremely functional and it can let rainwater drain from the side if you’re smart with the design.

The Cost

When going for outdoor structures, it’s important to keep the price in mind. Having an idea of how much a pavilion or pergola costs will put so many things into perspective for you, and depending on the budget and the overall practicality of the structure, you can choose the best one from the lot.


Pergolas are generally considered to be pretty inexpensive, especially if you combine all of the factors like the material, the add-ons, and other features. A pergola will cost you anywhere between $4000 to $8000 depending on the size of the structure and the material you use. If you’re using wood or composite, then the pergola will lean more towards the expensive side of the spectrum.


A pavilion is generally a bit more expensive because it has an integrated roof that needs to be installed, unlike the lattice roof of a pergola. Pavilions require more time and materials to be built and installed, so they can cost anywhere between $5000 to $11,000. Keep in mind that the size and material of choice will impact the price, so it’s good to have a budget according to your preferences.

Key Differences

There are a lot of differences between a pavilion and a pergola if you look closely at the structures and how they look, side by side.


Pergolas are made in a variety of shapes, like circular, rectangular, and even abstract roofs. Pergolas can also be an extension of the exterior of your home and can be connected with decks and patios to give your home an elevated look.

The main feature of a pergola is the slotted roof, which gives the structure a very intricate and beautiful appeal. It’s something a lot of people love because it’s unique and there’s just something so delicate and romantic about a pergola that convinces people to fall in love with the design. You can also ask your custom pergola builder Long Island for unique designs as well for making your backyard standout.


Pavilions are also unique, but they have a bit more of a Victorian feel to them. The structure of a pavilion is very simple, but it’s equally as inviting as well. For larger pavilions, the number of pillars can exceed 6 and 8, because the heavy roof needs support to stand tall and give necessary shelter. A pavilion is a perfect place to chill and relax, while taking shelter from the weather, whereas a pergola is more of a picturesque structure.

Design & Placement

Lastly, the design and the placement of the two structures are factors that can’t be overlooked, no matter what.


For pergolas, there are plenty of designs to choose from and if you’re feeling extra edgy, then you can even opt for more modern and sporadic designs because something about a pergola can make any design look beautiful. The general placement of pergolas is usually by the deck, patio, or even the poolside to give your backyard a resort-like feel and the result looks out of this world.


As far as pavilions are concerned, they’re more of a central structure and they look the best when situated in the center of your garden or backyard. The roofed design and the rugged appearance of a pavilion is going to make heads turn and it gives something to look at, in your garden or backyard.

Sometimes, people can also use the space of a pavilion as an outdoor dining or lounging area and these ideas are nothing less than perfect, because a pavilion is functional, safe, and practical, no matter what the weather is like outside.

The Functionality

This is a quite practical thing to keep in mind. A lot of the time, people won’t think too much about the use of a certain outdoor structure, whether it be a pergola or a pavilion, but it’s one of the most crucial things to go over if you don’t want your garden structure to be a useless addition.


Pavilions are considered to be more practical and functional than pergolas and for a couple of good reasons. Firstly, a pavilion is covered from the top, so there’s a lot of shelter and if it’s big enough, then you can even host parties and dinners under this structure. It will be a nice scenery change and the guests will also feel comfortable and refreshed.


On the other hand, pergolas don’t give you a lot of security from the weather because of the roofing design. This can cut off a lot of points and give pavilions an upper hand. Pergolas have more of a physical appeal than anything and they’re a great addition if you want your yard to look show-stopping.


The battle of the backyard structures just got intense. This comparative guide covers everything; from the looks to the cost of pergolas and pavilions and now the decision is solely up to you. The type of structure you choose, at the end of the day, depends on what you’re looking for and how useful the space, in general, is going to be. If you want to go for a practical structure that can be used as a lounging and dining area, then pavilions are perfect for you, but if you’re looking for an option that’s pleasing to the eye, then pergolas are right up your alley.

Now you know all of the ins and outs of two very famous outdoor structures and this comparison guide will make things easier for you down the road. If not satisfied, connect with pergola contractors Port Jefferson to ask questions.

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