A pergola can be the perfect way to adorn your home with a pleasant outdoor space for spending time with family, mingling with friends and neighbors, or just reading outside on a crisp fall afternoon.

But how do you choose the right pergola for your home? One important place to start is with the roof. Do you want something that will provide lots of shade? Something that’s adjustable so you can sit outside anytime without dousing yourself in sunscreen every hour? Maybe you’d like your structure to keep water out so you don’t have to worry about the rain, or you’d like to moderate the temperature so it’s comfortable year round.

This blog will introduce you to a number of different pergola roof designs, features, and technologies.

Best Pergola Roof Ideas

1. Curved Pergola Roof by the Poolside

curved pergola around pool

This pergola defines a semi-circular space with a wide radius stretching along the edges of the property behind this home. The white columns and the unique architectural layout lend the structure an air of classical elegance that elevates the rest of the building and provides dynamic visual interest to the pool area. This pergola can provide shade and structured space not just for a few people in a sitting area but for any number of guests as they walk around the pool.

2. Classic Wooden Pergola Roof

pergola with columns

The roof of this pergola is made from wooden rafters spaced out between white support columns. The long rectangular shape of the structure would be perfect for sheltering a table next to the outdoor grill. The slatted roof could easily allow for vines or a cloth canopy to provide additional shade and visual interest.

3. Pergola with Copper Roof

White pergola with a copper roof

This elongated pergola with a copper roof adds a mix of partial and full coverage from the sun. The classic columns atop the stone barriers provide an elevated aesthetic to the yard. This setup provides great shelter while relaxing by the pool.

4. The Backdoor Patio Pergola

attached white column pergola

This spacious wooden pergola extends out from the back of the house to cover a backyard patio next to the pool. It’s painted white to perfectly match the aesthetic of the home, and it provides ample room to sit and rest beside the water. The broad rafters allow plenty of sunlight to help bathers dry off while not swimming and it would be perfectly suited to a light canopy on the roof and draped over the sides to offer extra shade when needed.

5. Wooden Pergola with Grilling Area

A wooden pergola roof covering a grilling area.

Another classically styled wooden pergola, this structure covers outdoor tables and a grilling area in the backyard. The warm color of the wood is the perfect complement for cozy outdoor gatherings

6. Semi-Circular Pergola

large white curved pergola

This wide, semi-circular pergola establishes an interesting shape for this outdoor space, made all the more visually appealing by the fine lattice work running down the sides of the support columns. It’s a rare instance in which a pergola has clearly defined walls (and windows!) and they add an extra level of privacy and enclosure to the space while remaining open to sunlight and fresh air.

7. Full Shade Pergola

modern wood pool fence and pergola

This unique design provides full shade to sun weary pool visitors looking to escape the heat. With all the benefits of a traditional pergola as well as additional protection from the elements, this is a great design if you want to place something underneath that needs just a little more shelter.

8. The Metal Poolside Pergola

 A metal pergola beside a swimming pool.

Simple. Sleek. Modern. This metal pergola provides a space to relax by the pool. Though the structure was new when this photo was taken, you can see that vines are beginning to grow up along the columns of the structure that will eventually cover the narrow metal slats with overgrowth that shades the sitting area. It’s a perfect place to take a break from swimming.

9. The Back Porch Pergola Roof

A back porch-like pergola roof.

This wooden pergola roof extends out just a few feet from the back of the house. It’s just enough to provide an overhang with a little more shade for people sitting behind the home. The color of the wood also nicely pairs with the bricks.

10. The Arched Pergola

large green pergola

This wooden pergola is painted a slightly greenish gray color and has a number of unusual architectural features, including the lattice work between the double columns and, most strikingly, the arched roof in the middle. The elongated shape defines a pathway across the property and the arched section in the middle provides a sort of crossroads, creating a relaxing environment for a tennis game. It’s an excellent example of how landscape architecture shapes the way people use outdoor space.

11. Simple Curved Pergola Roof

A small curved pergola covers a building’s entrance.

This simple curved design with column supports not only gives shelter to those entering the home, it provides an elegant contrast to the roof line and the tall, rectangular windows. It’s a lovely addition that takes this offset entrance from a sidelined access point to a secret architectural delight.

Everything You Need to Know about Pergola Roof Design

Let’s talk about pergola designs: what makes them distinctive, how you can customize them, and what special features can make them perfect for your outdoor space.

Why put a roof on a pergola?

As anyone who’s ever sat on a porch knows, there’s a unique pleasure that comes from spaces that straddle the border between indoors and outdoors. When done right, they offer the best of both worlds: protection from the elements, a sense of enclosure and comfort, but also fresh air, sunlight, and the sights and sounds of nature.

That’s why pergolas — distinguished by their slatted roofs — have existed since ancient times, dating back to Egypt and classical antiquity. Renaissance pergolas made from stone and marble can still be seen to this day.

Materials for Pergola Roofs

Most modern pergola roofs are mostly made from wood, though depending on the features you want, other materials may be involved as well. At Garon Fence and Bedford Ironworks, we custom-make pergolas in wood, composite, and metal to fit preferences.

Wood brings a special warmth to your pergola. We use western red cedar and mahogany — woods that are known for their durability and resistance to the elements. That said, wood does require a more robust maintenance schedule than some other materials such as aluminum or composite.

Roofs that incorporate some sort of mechanical action — through motorized adjustable louvers, for example — will have to incorporate some metal components, though the louvers themselves can be made from any of the same materials you’d normally consider.

And there are additional options to weigh if you’re considering a cloth canopy for the roof or the sides of the structure, or even glass or polycarbonate: in each of these cases, it’s important to make sure that the material you choose is appropriately resistant to the elements.

Traditional Louvered Roofs

Louvered roofs are a popular choice: somewhat like Venetian blinds, the rafters can be adjusted either manually or mechanically in order to determine the amount of airflow or sunlight coming through. This lets you get more shade on bright sunny days, more light when it’s cloudy, and additional shelter in case of light rain.

Louvers made of a lightweight metal such as aluminum work particularly well. They hold up to the elements with less maintenance than wood and their lightweight construction means they can move quietly if motorized.

Motorized louvers provide a number of benefits: all the rafters can be moved simultaneously with the press of a button rather than adjusted manually. Some systems will also allow you to set the louvers to move on a timer to keep the levels of sunlight optimal over the course of the day.

So much for controlling the amount of sunlight, but what about rain? With dual-walled louvers, the rafters will channel rainwater off the roof of the pergola and into a drainage system away from the space below. This way you can truly stay comfortable outside come rain or shine.

Other Pergola Roof Trends and Styles

Static paneling (i.e. paneling that doesn’t move) is a growing trend in pergola design. Materials such as glass or polycarbonate can be fitted between the rafters to provide consistent shelter from rain and allow a fixed amount of sunlight through depending on the transparency of the material.

Another growing trend is insulated sandwich panels. While these don’t allow light to pass through (and thus bring the pergola closer to being something like a covered patio) these special panels are designed to reflect light away on hot days and help retain warmth on colder ones. They’re a useful addition for customers willing to trade direct sunlight for greater temperature control.

Another way to direct sunlight and airflow is with a retractable canopy. As with a louvered roof, this weather-proofed cloth option provides shade when you want it and can be adjusted for the time of day (either manually or automatically, depending on the set-up) to get the optimal mix of shade and sunlight. A cloth canopy that hangs down the sides of the pergola can also help define the space and add an extra level of grace and elegance to the structure.

Choosing the Right Pergola Roof Design

There are lots of factors to consider when you’re choosing the design for your pergola. Chief among them are how you’ll be using the space and how much sunlight the structure is likely to receive. If you’re designing a pergola to cover deck chairs next to your pool, you’ll probably want an adjustable roof that’s capable of letting in as much sunlight as you want to help you warm up and dry off after a dip in the water. If your pergola is covering a grilling area right outside your home, almost like a patio, you’ll probably be more interested in a roof that keeps out rain and that’s more easily climate controlled.

You’ll also want to consider the aesthetics of the design. Building a pergola that matches or complements the aesthetic of your home is an elegant way to extend your hospitality to guests into the outdoors.

Custom Pergola Designs from our Expert Team at Garon Fence

At Garon Fence and Bedford Ironworks, our skilled artisans have years of experience custom-making pergolas to your exacting requirements. Tell us what you’re imagining for your yard, garden, or outdoor space and we’ll make it happen. Contact us today to get a free on-site estimate — or visit our factory showroom in Bedford Hills, NY to see our expert workmanship firsthand.