‘Gimme Shelter’: The Pergola Roof Guide

In the last article, we discussed why pergolas are my favorite outdoor feature. These practical and beautiful structures are a great way to add shade, architectural interest, and define an outdoor room. In the past, pergolas were defined as a structure with an open roof that didn’t offer much protection from the elements. With the increasing popularity of pergolas and the desire to enjoy outdoor living year round, manufacturers are now offering various types of roofs for added comfort and protection.Of course, you want a roof that is aesthetically pleasing, but practical considerations should also be taken into account. What are your options and how do you choose the right one? Listed below are a few of your choices that should be considered before making a decision.

Static Panels or Fabric
Static Panel Pergola Roof
Marcus & Willis Architects

Panel systems are made of clear, semi-clear, colored, and tinted plastic (Plexiglas, acrylic, Lexan, or polycarbonate) and rests on top of the rafters. Static panels provide protection from the rain or snow and come in different thicknesses. This is a fairly inexpensive option; however, some homeowners shy away from panels since they can be noisy in the rain and allow too much sunlight on hot days. In addition, dirt and debris collects on the panels.

Another fixed, non-retractable roof option is fabric stretched over the rafters. Water resistant fabrics can also provide much needed protection from the sun and rain. The downside is that the fabric collects water, dirt, and debris which can contribute to mildew and mold.

Louvered Roofs
Louvere Roofs

These systems are adjustable by tilting the louvers from 0 degrees to almost 180 degrees, a versatile adjustable patio cover that combines style and function. Louvered roofs may be solar-powered or motorized, allowing you to control the amount of sunlight or shade in your outdoor space with the touch of a button. This is a great adjustable pergola roof; however, these systems tend to be pricey.

Roll Retractable Awnings
Roll Retractable Awning
Grady-O-Grady Construction & Development Inc.

Roll retractable awnings offer flexibility and cost savings. Unlike fixed awnings, you can open or roll up retractable awnings during inclement weather. Roll retractable awnings function on two tracks and can be either electrical or manually operated. These awnings do have a few drawbacks. Electric sensors and motorized components tend to need replacement fairly often and manually retractable awnings can easily become stuck on the dual tracks. In addition, if not retracted in time, wind storms can cause wear and damage.

ShadeFX Retractable Canopies
ShadeFX Retractable Awning

Retractable canopies are a practical and elegant option. With the simple push of a button you can be protected from the elements or enjoy open skies, relishing in perfect days to the fullest. A variety of different fabrics are available, not only complimenting your furniture but protecting it as well. You can find an assortment of different retractable canopies, but only ShadeFX offers a monorail track system with both topside and underside mounting options. This highly customizable canopy can be affixed to any shape or sized pergolas with various drive option, the sky is the limit.

Whichever option you choose, a pergola roof will allow you to enjoy your outdoor space year-round. A pergola is wonderful, but with the right roof a pergola is perfection.