Do Pergolas Provide Shade? (How to Stay Cool With a Pergola)

Do Pergolas Provide Shade

When the weather starts to heat up, many homeowners begin to look for ways to stay cool. If you’re looking for a shady spot in your yard, a pergola might be the answer. But does a pergola provide shade?

Pergolas do offer shade, although it’s never complete shade. The beams’ shape, size, and orientation determine how much shade the pergola offers. So a pergola can offer a lot of shade if designed correctly.

In this article, we’ll discuss some design tips that could influence the amount of shade your pergola offers. We’ll also look at how you can add shade under your pergola for those hot summer days.

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Here’s a Quick Pro Tip!

A pergola offers some shade from the sun, but it also allows for natural light to shine through. However, sometimes we want complete shade, so we have compiled a few products for your pergola that can offer this.

Our Favorite products that provide shade under your pergola:

1. Roller Shade Blinds – Perfect for a modern look, can open or close depending on your desire.

2. Pergola Curtains – Ideal to use if your pergola is on a patio or deck and can add a touch of elegance to your yard.

3. Fabric Sun Shade – An inexpensive solution to have full shade underneath your pergola.

Pergolas and Shade

So you’ve probably seen a pergola in someone’s yard and thought to yourself, ‘does that even offer shade?’ Well, yes and no. It does offer a degree of shade, and it can be customized for complete shade.

Do Pergolas Offer Much Shade?

Pergolas can provide as much shade as you desire as long as you design the pergola to do so. For example, pergolas with a solid roof will provide more shade than slated roofs. Additionally, covers can be added to the slated pergola to increase the amount of shade. 

There are alternative options to get more shade under a pergola, like roller shades. These are ideal if you only want shade at certain times and an open wall at other times.

You can also install a retractable roof over your pergola for more shade.

How Do You Get More Shade on a Pergola?

The placement of a pergola will influence the amount of shade you will have. Installing bigger and wider beams will give you more shade, but you can also purchase roller shades or curtains for the pergola walls.

Traditionally, pergolas are placed with beams running north to south. This gives the best morning and afternoon shade under the pergola.

If you can’t change the placement, you can install pergola curtains or a retractable roof to get more shade.

Does a Pergola Stop the Sun?

Pergolas do block sunlight, contrary to popular belief. However, since their roof has a lattice design, they do not offer complete shade. Usually, it is enough shade to enjoy a meal under.

If your beams are wide and oriented from north to south, they should provide ample shade and block most of the sun.

You can install a complete roof over your pergola if it does not provide enough shade for your needs. 

Should a Pergola Have a Roof?

Traditionally, pergolas do not have a roof included in their design. The pergola is an open structure with a ‘roof’ made of beams for some shade. Garden enthusiasts love to grow wisteria or other vine plants up over the roof of a pergola.

Although it’s not included in the traditional design, many homeowners are modifying their design to include a roof.

Whether it is for shade or protection from natural elements, installing a roof on a pergola is quite popular.

You might also enjoy our post on If a Pergola Can Have a Solid Roof

How Do You Build a Shaded Pergola?

Many different roof options are available for a pergola to give optimal shade. You can install a wooden, polycarbonate, or metal roof. You can also install curtains or privacy screens as walls for even more shade.

It has become very popular in the states to add a roof and curtains to a pergola for more shade. When building a pergola, you can ask the carpenter to install a roof over the pergola or curtains on the side beams. 

What Do Use to Shade a Pergola?

A fabric canopy is a popular and cheap way to shade a pergola, although it might not last as long as you would hope. In ancient times, people used live foliage like wisteria to provide shade in the summer months.

If you live in a dry area like the southwest, you could use branches, sticks, or bamboo to provide shade under your pergola. These blend in with the environment effortlessly.

Many people also enjoy retractable canopies to have the option of shade or no shade.

Pergola Covers

There are multiple ways to get complete shade under your pergola. A cover seems to be the most popular. This section will discuss the details of fabric sun shade covers and how to install one.

What Should I Put On Top of My Pergola for Shade?

You can place a shade cover over the top of your pergola to offer shade and UV protection. Usually, these shade covers are quite easy to install over the top of your pergola.

Pergola shade covers for pergolas are not very expensive, so a new one can be bought yearly or as needed.

Many people also grow wisteria or roses over the top of their pergolas for shade in the summer months.

How Do You Attach a Sun Shade to a Pergola?

Surprisingly, it’s much easier to install a sun shade under the roof of your pergola than over it. You can secure some eye screws into the posts of your pergola and hang the fabric canopy from the screws.

You should make sure that you purchase the correct size sunshade for your pergola. If it’s too big, it might be a nuisance.

If your pergola is next to a fence, you can secure the eye screws into the fence for more shade coverage.

You might also enjoy our post on If Pergola’s are Wind Resistant

How Do I Block the Sun From My Pergola?

Traditional pergolas do not completely block the sun, but you can attach a sun shade right underneath the pergola’s roof. This will block the sun when you don’t want it shining into your pergola.

Other than installing a sunshade canopy, you can install outdoor curtains on your pergola. This gives more elegance to your backyard and allows you to close or open your curtains as needed.

What Is the Cheapest Way to Cover a Pergola?

The cheapest way to cover a pergola is to use a sunshade made of cloth or fabric. These are not expensive and easy to remove when not needed. They can be bought from most department stores too.

Fabric sunshade canopies are not very durable, though. You would probably need to replace it every year or so, depending on how often you put it up.

It’s also not ideal for keeping you dry when it’s raining. It’s better for blocking direct sunlight.

How Do You Install Shade Cloth Under a Pergola?

You can attach the shade cloth to the posts of your pergola. You would need to get a piece of shade cloth that is slightly smaller than your pergola if you want the cloth to have tension.

How to install a shade cloth under your pergola:

  1. Measure your pergola with measuring tape.
  2. Purchase a sun shade that is the same size or slightly smaller.
  3. Look at the environment around your pergola. If you have a fence or something right next to the pergola, you can use that to anchor your pergola. If not, you can use the posts of the structure.
  4. Screw four eye screws into each anchor point, whether that be the pergola posts or a nearby fence.
  5. Your cloth sun shade should have loops at each corner and place a carabiner through each loop.
  6. Attach the carabiner to the eye screw.
  7. If your sunshade is the correct size, it should have enough tension to be flat and cover the whole pergola.

Can You Add Fabric to a Pergola?

You can add a fabric shade cloth to the roof of your pergola to have complete shade underneath the pergola. This is especially popular in the southern states, where it gets scorching hot during the summer months.

You can also add fabric privacy screens to act as pergola walls. These are ideal for privacy reasons or if you have some nosy neighbors. Fabric screens are easy to remove and reinstall, making them very convenient.

Other Pergola Concerns

Now you know exactly how much shade to expect after installing a pergola and how you can add even more shade. Let’s look at other concerns you might not have thought of.

Will a Pergola Make the House Dark?

A pergola attached to your house over a window or door might make the room feel a little dark. This is something that should be taken into account before building a pergola.

Even though it might make the room darker, it might also make it colder during the summer months. So it’s up to your preference to install a pergola in front of a window or door.

Can Roses Grow Under a Pergola?

Roses can grow under a pergola, but they are most known to grow along the walls of a pergola. Specifically, the rambling rose is easy to train and loves to grow along almost anything. It also makes for a beautiful pergola.

Homeowners with a green thumb love to use roses or wisteria to grow a natural canopy over the pergola and offer full shade in the summer months.

These plants give the pergola an ethereal presence, making it feel like part of nature.

You might also enjoy our post on If Pergolas Need to be Anchored

How Much Will It Cost to Put a Roof on a Pergola?

The cost of installing a roof on a pergola varies depending on the material of the roof. A fabric shade canopy would be the least expensive ($50), while a wooden/shingle roof would be the most expensive ($1000).

Wooden or shingle roofs are more durable and blend in more seamlessly with the pergola. However, they do require some maintenance.

A fabric sun shade is less durable and a lot less expensive. 

How Do You Shade a Pergola Without Trees?

You can install a fabric sunshade canopy under the roof of your pergola. This is a very popular method of providing shade under your pergola. It’s also inexpensive and easy to remove.

If you want a more permanent solution, you can install a wooden roof over your pergola. These are more expensive but provide shade and protection from natural elements.

Some manufacturers also design retractable canopies for a pergola.

Can You Add a Shade to a Pergola?

You can add a roof or a canopy to a pergola for complete shade underneath. The traditional pergola does offer some shade, but not complete shade. A canopy can be removed, making it perfect for day and night entertainment.

You can also hang outdoor curtains on your pergola. These also allow you to open or close the curtains, depending on whether you need shade.

If your pergola is built on your patio or deck, curtains will fit in perfectly.

How Do You Block the Sun in a Pergola?

To completely block the sun under your pergola, you can add a fabric sun shade under the roof of your pergola. You can also add curtains to the sides of the pergola to block direct sunlight.

For a more eco-friendly shade option, you could grow vine plants, such as wisteria or roses, over the posts and on the top of the pergola.

It will take a while, but eventually, you will have full shade underneath the pergola.

Related Questions

What Is the Point of Having a Pergola?

The main purpose of a pergola is to protect people from natural elements, albeit the hot direct sunlight or the rain. Although it might not seem like the roof is very much protecting you, it’s better than having no shelter.

Pergolas have a rich design history and were used throughout Europe for thousands of years. Many homeowners install a pergola to sit and drink coffee or read a book in the summertime.

Does a Pergola Keep the Rain Out?

The roof of a pergola is not solid like the roof of a gazebo, so it probably won’t keep all the rain out. However, it will keep you drier than having no shelter. You can add a roof to a pergola to keep the rain completely out.

Some homeowners install a retractable roof over their pergolas to have the option of a fully covered structure when they need it. But they can open the roof easily when they want some natural light.

How Do You Enclose a Pergola for Winter?

If you typically have heavy snowfall in your county or state, installing a metal roof over your pergola would be best. This will be strong enough to keep everything underneath the pergola dry.

If you use a fabric sun shade during the summer months, you should remove it for the winter and remove everything underneath your pergola that can be damaged by rain or snow.

The structure itself can be left standing during the winter months.

Final Thoughts

There you have it! A pergola does offer minimal shade.

This might not be enough during the hottest times of the day, so as an alternative, you could install curtains, roller blinds, or even a sunshade cover over your pergola.

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