A pergola is an outdoor structure designed to give shade and a place to chill. It’s usually the focal point of a garden, a fancy entrance, or a covered walkway.
In all cases its function is to keep the sun at bay, not to block it completely, that’s why it’s usual to find that some pergola cover ideas are only partial, and in a way ornamental.
Pergola covers come in as many varieties as there are tastes and design styles. They can be plants, fabric, straw, plastic tiles, wood, metal, bamboo, or any other material that would look good on your pergola, and give some reprieve from the sun.
You can also remodel an existing pergola by adding a new cover. If you already have a wooden pergola, but the spaces between the slats are too large, and it feels too sunny, you can weave in roller shades, or grow a creeper.
Each cover material will naturally have pros and cons, some are easy to install and maintain, some require professional work. Some are very durable, and others will need to be changed every other season. Each one of these choices will also come with a price tag.
Design is about good taste, common sense, and a lot of creativity. Pergola covers are part and parcel of the way a pergola ultimately looks. They need the same attention and proper design. It all starts with what you need and what you like.
Here are some of our favorite pergola cover ideas, hopefully, they would give you some inspiration!
Our Favorite Pergola Cover Ideas
Wooden rib panels
This modern house calls for a straight lined pergola, and it can only be covered by a rigid material. A simple geometric shape is the best approach.
The whole area is intended to be a summer spot, so only slight shading is needed.
Juxtaposed wood panels
This is another modern style pergola covering. It’s very decorative, and while you sit under its shade, you will often lift your head up and let your eyes enjoy the pattern.
Plants love climbing over such structures as this walkway pergola, they seem to be benefiting from each other. The pergola gives the plant airy and sunny support, and the plant gives it shade in a lush vibrant manner.
It’s always a pleasure to take a stroll under such beautiful pergolas.
Sheet wood covering
If a more efficient shade is needed, then the covering has to be a bit more tight like this pergola here. Thin wood sheets tightly fitted to the top will give the most shade.
They will also protect the pergola from the rain or frost. It can thus be used in more than just the mellow seasons.
A tiled roof covering
This pergola is designed for the winter. We know that from the fireplace and the fire pit. It’s thus necessary to put a sturdy cover on its top.
A tiled roof is of course as sturdy as they get, and so this nice pergola can be used even in the toughest weather.
Decorative wood pergola cover
This is a cover that provides shade, but lets the light filter in playful patterns. These shadows change throughout the day as the sun changes its position.
It’s not very costly to install, and if you are a bit into tinkering, you can easily acquire the needed materials and do it on your own.
You might want to add a protective layer to the wood, or buy a synthetic kind that resists water and humidity. You wouldn’t want to change it every other season.
Berry creeper cover
There’s something so sweet and romantic about having fruits right above your head, or beside you, as you take a walk. There’s also the shade, of course.
I think that this is one of the nicest and tastiest ways to filter out the sun!
It also comes with the added task of constantly taking care of your plant, and cleaning the walkway from the leaves. But if you are into gardening it would be a pleasure.
Your pergola is sometimes more than a shaded area, it has an actual function as a dining area or an entertainment space. In that case, you wouldn’t want the rain or any seasonal effects to interfere with your activities.
Having a solid covering is occasionally necessary, and there are many options to do so. Wood is a good choice, as long as you add a protective coating to it, and from that point on it’s totally hassle-free, and keeps looking good for several years.
Drop cloth cover
This backyard pergola recreates the beach cabana vibe, and so the covering has to go in the same direction. The airy cloth covering on top and on the sides is a perfect choice.
It wouldn’t keep the sun away completely, and that’s really the point; enjoying summertime lounging, even when the beach is too far away.
The cloth covering would need to be taken down and stored during the winter season, or you can use a water-resistant fabric instead if you want it shaded all year around.
This is a very durable covering, and it would keep the sun out efficiently. It’s great if the weather around you is harsh, or if you’d like to have a cover installed once and then forget about it.
It would need cleaning from time to time of course, but it’s not a big deal, usually, a hose down will get it sparkling and as good as new.
It comes in several colors and can be cut to size, so it’s versatile that way too. It looks quite modern, so if you have a classically styled pergola, vinyl might be a bit of a stretch for it. It looks its best with a straight-lined structure.
The straw cover
Weaved straw is one of the prettiest and simplest covers for pergolas. It’s airy, light, natural, and it has such a lovely texture. It also brings out an exotic quality from the pergola and gives the whole space a leisurely vibe.
It’s not very easy to install and maintain though, but if you live in a mostly dry area, it would be a breeze, and almost maintenance-free.
This cover would be great if you have your pergola beside a pool, or surrounded by greenery. Woven straw chairs and tables would complement this look a lot.
Wood and metal covering
Wood and metal stripes prove a sturdy and weatherproof covering to your pergola. Being open from the other sides will let you enjoy your surroundings and the loveliness of nature. It would keep your seating intact, not just shaded.
It’s a little costly to install, and would probably require the services of a professional, but the neat modern look, and sturdy structure, are worth it.
Once installed, it just needs an occasional clean up to stay in good shape and sparkly condition.
Roller shade covering
This modern pergola looks its best with roller shade covering. The fabric is sturdy and very easy to work with. Also, the curving contours contrast very nicely with the straight lines in the pergola and chairs. It’s always nice to play a little with your design elements. It Adds interest and the result is so pleasing to the eye.
The shading and protection from the sun and rain are also pretty efficient with this covering. It would need cleaning from time to time, and after a few years would probably need replacement. But it will serve you well.
Fabric sail covering
The great thing about fabric sail covering is the large spans of cloth you can have, and the way it spreads over the pergola. It’s durable and lightweight, so you can install yourself, and it’s also a budget-friendly choice.
The sailcloth will keep most of the harshness of the sun away, but some of the sunlight will filter in to let you enjoy a beach cabana vibe.
You might have to remove it for the winter though. But that shouldn’t be too difficult. It’s very suitable to most pergola styles but would look best on a simple modern pergola.
Patterned wood panels
Wood is a rich material, its texture and color add so much value to any structure it’s used in. and it can look even more interesting if you style it into geometric patterns. Each panel is oriented as a mirror to the next, and the light that passes through inside the pergola is absolutely stunning.
It doesn’t provide total sun and rain protection though, so it’s a structure for mellow weather. You just look up and enjoy all the sun and sky from where you are!
Plant coverings on pergolas are a truly lovely idea to provide shade and tasty fruit at your fingertips! And even before you get the grapes, the fragrance of the leaves and the blossoms is so refreshing.
A grapevine covering needs some pre-planning. Gardening is a process, and plants take time to grow. They also need constant tending. Do this if it’s part of your gardening routine. It would be a lovely fit, and you wouldn’t feel it’s any extra work.
Curved wood covering
Working wood into a pavilion, or any other curved shape is much easier than it looks. It gives your pergola a graceful appearance with just a little extra effort.
Wood always needs a protective veneer, it doesn’t weather the rains that much. The woodwork covering is so pretty, you would naturally want to keep it in good shape for as long as possible.
Branch, wire, and creeper covering
You don’t need a very solid wood or metal structure to grow a creeper. That’s why it could be a very economical solution for a budget-friendly pergola. The effect you get, however, is fantastic and fairytale like.
This solution is obviously seasonal, it takes time to grow the creeper, and it needs constant gardening. I have to say though that each and every one of these tasks is a lot of fun, and watching your plant as it grows day by day is total bliss.
This shading choice is lovely in every way!
Straw and creeper covering
Using natural materials in your projects is always lovely and eco-friendly. It automatically gives the vibe of holidays and leisure! It will let in the sun and the air but in a filtered and enjoyable manner.
This covering is easy to construct, and it’s easy on your wallet too. It’s not going to suffer too much in winter, so it’s going to stay with you for a good while. It would also need very little maintenance, just the watering, and tending of the creepers.
Interlaced fabric covering
This fancy and pretty covering is so easy to construct and set up! It gives shade in a lovely and ethereal way. The interlacing is very elegant and aesthetically pleasing. And it would fit almost any design style from the very classic to the very modern.
It’s not a winter choice though and would need cleaning at the beginning of the season. In the meantime, you have the whole summer to enjoy its beauty.
Polycarbonate covers are sturdy, solid, and would keep all the harsh weather conditions at bay. It’s not too costly, but it might need some professional assistance to install. After you set it up, there’s very little you have to do to keep it in good shape. Just a routine clean up and it’s sparkly!
Decorative wood covering
This is another variation of how decorative wood can be shaped and applied. Here the covering is not flat, it’s literally spiraling to the blue sky! When you look up, it’s amazing to see something interesting, right?
Creepers are pretty, but the flowers are absolutely gorgeous! And they look stunning on this brick and wood pergola.
To wrap it all up
Your pergola cover ideas should reflect not only the extra sun but also your style, and match the overall vibe of your home and its surroundings.
There are so many options to choose from, but after going through our gallery, we hope you found the one you like best!