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Syzygy Pergolas & Pool Covers in Palm Beach
Syzygy Pergolas & Pool Covers in Palm Beach

How Patio Covers Compare to a Pergola

News   >  Knowledge Base   >  How Patio Covers Compare to a Pergola
Jason Herring
January 18 2022

Are the advantages of a pergola the best fit for your outdoor living lifestyle compared to alternatives like a shade sail, canopy or gazebo?

Creating an outdoor living space where you can relax regardless of the blazing sun or chilling rain necessitates a flexible patio cover that can help you get the most out of your deck, patio or pool deck. The brutal mid-day sun we get here in Palm Beach County can certainly hobble even the most vigorous sun bathers. To truly enjoy time with family and friends here in South Florida, a shade solution is a must for your outdoor space. If that same patio cover can also protect you from the daily afternoon downpours, then you’ve found the ideal system.

In this article we’ll break down the pros and cons of popular patio covers.

Patio Cover Options

So, let’s take a look at some common patio covers and see which is ideal for your outdoor living lifestyle. Whether you’re considering a patio gazebo, shade sail, a patio canopy, or a pergola, each has its own unique advantages and disadvantages. Some options are more permanent and require the help of a professional installer while others are better options for DIYers seeking a shade solution that can be taken down.

Patio Canopy

Canopies are usually pretty affordable options ranging from $35 to $1,000 depending on the square footage you need to cover. The lightweight pop-up tent provides a moveable shade cover that can shift around your yard to where the party is being hosted so it can serve as a patio canopy or a deck canopy, and with optional side curtains that can block out some wind and rain.

The main limitation of the portable patio canopy is its durability. These covers can rip easily, especially if it's being put up and taken down often. The thin tent material creates shade but the heat from the sun still radiates through, so the shaded space may still be uncomfortably warm. Of course, from an aesthetic perspective, these pop-up tents won’t deliver much in the style department.

Shade Sail

Similar to a canopy, a shade sail connects to support posts or eye hooks attached to your home. Shaped like a boat sail, the canvas does bring a little more architectural style to the party. Though they create shade, the billowing sail can be ravaged by high winds and do little to block out the rain. If you are interested in adding lighting or cooling fans, you’ll need to explore other options.

The Benefits of a Pergola

Pergolas stand out from these other patio covers in that they combine all the best features of a gazebo with a flexible roof system that can adjust to the changing environment. Historically, pergolas were fabricated from wood with stationary louvers mounted on a frame. The wooden structures were susceptible to rot, and the static louvers merely created partial shade for the patio below.

Today’s modern pergolas are light years ahead. Leveraging advanced aluminum, modern pergolas are both lightweight and strong, so they are light enough to be built on a roof deck and strong enough to stand up to heavy winds. With hidden assembly hardware they have sleek exterior lines that can compliment the most contemporary architectural designs, and the hollow support columns can hide internal drainage, embedded lighting or heating systems, etc. With cutting edge powder coating materials and techniques, these pergolas resist rust for life-long durability, and the coating can be customized to match any imaginable color, even wood grains for a rustic look.

Pergola Patio Covers

Pergolas can be erected as standalone structures in a garden or on a pool deck, or can be attached to the home to create a seamless indoor/outdoor entertainment space. What really stands out from traditional patio covers is the adjustable louvered roof of today’s modern pergolas. They put you in control of the sun/shade balance on your patio, or allow you to close the louvers completely to block out the rain. The pergolas that SYZYGY Global employs are unique in the market. With a specialized dual-walled louver design, they trap the rain so you can relax during a rain shower.

Pergolas can also be augmented with some truly intuitive smart features, such as:

  • Motorized louvers that can be controlled with a touch of a button, or be totally autonomous simply by setting your preferences in the companion app
  • Rain sensors are set to close the louvers automatically at the first drops of rain
  • Wind sensors monitor for high winds and open the louvers to protect against wind damage
  • Temperature sensors look out for freezing conditions to automatically open the roof in case of accumulating snow
  • Hidden gutter systems collect rainwater and direct it away from the patio space below
  • Integrated heating systems can be added to support beams and columns so an evening chill is zapped with the push of a button
  • Embedded LED lights can cast down-light to illuminate evening soirees, or angled as accent lights to showcase the pergola’s architectural features
  • Retractable solar shades and/or insect screens can create added shade and protection from the buzzing nuisances
  • And more…

Wooden pergolas usually cost anywhere between $2,500 and $20,000. Budgets for modern aluminum pergolas are truly dynamic based on the size and level of customization your outdoor lifestyle demands. Pricing varies greatly depending on the job specifications, scope of work and local building codes, so any interested homeowners or contractors should contact SYZYGY Global for accurate project budgets.

Ultimately, these advanced pergolas are more than just basic patio covers, they become a year-round outdoor destination where you can host parties or simply relax regardless of the strength of the mid-day sun or veracity of an afternoon downpour.


Patio covers can be fabricated from aluminum, fiberglass, wood, cloth or canvas, or a combination of these materials. An awning is a perfect example of these materials joining forces to create some flexible shade solutions. Awnings can be fixed structures with canvas stretched over a metal tube frame, or retractable with a manual or motorized crank. A retractable awning will usually cost around $2,000 or upwards of $3,500. The major downside of a fixed awning is the canvas needs to be taken down in high winds and can be damaged under snow loads in colder climates, while the hinged arms of a retractable awnings can break down over time. Gazebos are typically freestanding structures, so you have to walk in the rain to get to their coverage areas, so they are not ideal for adding functional living space to your backyard.

Gazebo Patio Covers

The gazebo steps into the realm of permanent patio cover options. Traditionally, gazebo patio covers stand separate from the house adjoining a pool or as part of a garden space. Comparing the shade sail vs gazebo, the latter is defined by its fixed roof. With pillars or columns supporting an octagonal roof structure, a gazebo provides shade and is built to stand up to high winds, and will keep the entertainment space below dry in the rain. Optional heating and lighting systems can increase the usability of the space, and roll-down curtains can further block wind and rain.

Gazebo costs can fluctuate depending on the size of the structure. A no-frills gazebo can range from $1,500 to $7,000. Start adding optional lighting and heating systems or patio fans, and the price will climb. Bespoke gazebo kits start around $5,000 and reach $10,000, while the budget for a fully custom-built gazebo can be virtually limitless. Whether choosing a basic or high-end kit, or a custom build, most gazebos will require permitting, so take those added costs into mind when evaluating these structures.

Greenhouse Gazebos

For green thumbs that love to be surrounded by plants and flowers, a glass-paneled greenhouse gazebo can be a nice addition to an outdoor space. A greenhouse can be built as a standalone structure or attached to the home. They can be outfitted with combinations of clear and tinted glass to keep the direct sun from becoming too harsh, but they are designed to be warm and full of light, so not ideal shade solutions for the patio. Greenhouse budgets can range from simple hoop-style gazebos for around $1,000, all the way up to $35,000 for gabled roofs covering monster 20’ X 100’ heated greenhouses.


The ramada is similar to a pergola in that they are both freestanding structures, but ramadas usually feature solid pitched roofs clad in tiles or shingles. Delivering full-time shade like a gazebo, the ramada is often chosen to house an outdoor kitchen or entertainment space. Obviously, the downside to ramada style patio covers is their static nature. They do not allow any sunlight to reach the patio ever. These large scale structures usually require extensive planning and permitting too. Budgets for a ramada can vary depending upon the design and added options, but it averages $9000 for a small no-frills starter package.


As you are evaluating which of these patio covers will be the most ideal fit for you and your family’s unique outdoor living lifestyle, contact SYZYGY Global to learn more about how we can fully-customize your outdoor space.

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