Can A Pergola Have A Solid Roof?

Jessica Allen
by Jessica Allen

A pergola is a lovely addition to the backyard. It offers a space to gather and enjoy the outdoors while having some protection from the elements. You’ll often see pergolas with lattice coverings and crossbeams, but can a pergola have a solid roof?

Traditional pergolas have slatted roofs, but today’s pergolas can have solid roofs, such as gable roofs and flat roofs. The most important thing when building a flat roof is that it has a pitch of at least five degrees. This causes water to run off the roof, rather than collecting on top of the pergola and causing damage.

This article will talk about the different types of roofs that you can put on a pergola. It’ll also answer many common questions regarding pergola roofs. We’ll cover permits, planning permission, the definition of a temporary structure, and more.

What Kind Of Roof Can You Put On A Pergola?

Pergola designs have shifted over time, but the most consistent design element is the classic slatted roof. Nowadays, though, there are many different options out there.

Louvered Roof

A louvered roof is non-retractable and made from an aluminum alloy. It’s great for protecting from extreme wind and sunlight. Louvered roofs can be adjusted for optimal sunlight penetration and airflow by tilting the rafters or louvers at different angles.

Some louvered roofs are made of wood, but this isn’t the best choice because it’s prone to rotting. Meanwhile, vinyl and plastic louvered roofs tend to distort and fade.

Metals like aluminum are ideal because they’re strong and lightweight. They can even be protected with powder coating to prevent corrosion.

Static Paneled Roof

Static paneling has plenty of contemporary visual appeal, and it’s a quickly-growing trend. The panels are typically built from either transparent acrylic or plexiglass. Polycarbonate is another choice that offers semi-shade but still allows you to enjoy the sun’s rays.

Fabric Paneled Roof

A fabric paneled roof involves material being stretched and pulled straight over the rafters. While fabric can protect you from sun and rain, you’ll definitely want to choose a water-resistant material. Ordinary fabric isn’t durable enough to function as a pergola roof.

Retractable Canopy Roof

The nice thing about a retractable canopy is that it’s versatile. You can have a roof when you need it, or you can retract it as if it was never there. There are even motorized versions available.

What Is A Pergola With A Solid Roof?

The traditional definition of a pergola is a structure that has a crossbeam or lattice covering. Pergolas can be freestanding or attached to buildings.

Technically, a structure that is similar to a pergola but has a solid roof would be a pavilion or a gazebo. There are also specific types of pergolas that have different kinds of roofs.


A pavilion is a freestanding structure. It has a solid roof, but it does not have walls. Pavilions provide sheltered areas for people to gather and enjoy an unobstructed view of the outdoors.


Gazebos are also freestanding structures. They are often situated in a picturesque part of a garden. Gazebos are smaller than pavilions and typically have a round, octagonal, or hexagonal shape.

Gable And Skillion Pergolas

Gable pergolas have two sloping sides that join in the middle at a ridge. Meanwhile, Skillion pergolas (also called flat roof pergolas) have flat roofs that are almost level.

Can I Put A Flat Roof On A Pergola?

Yes, you can put a flat roof on a pergola, and it’s actually very easy to build. Still, there are some aspects of construction that require further consideration.


A flat roof on a pergola needs to slope a bit to one side so water doesn’t collect on the roof. A slight pitch of at least five degrees will ensure the water runs off instead of pooling and causing damage.


While flat roof pergolas are simple to build, their low profile makes them very warm in the summertime. There are various ways to manage the heat, however.

One option is to line the pergola with a timber ceiling that functions as insulation. Another is to install fans to improve ventilation and airflow.

Do You Need Planning Permission For A Pergola With A Roof?

Whether you need planning permission for a pergola with a roof depends on local laws. The state and city you live in determine the types of permits you may need.

You may need a planning permit, which covers boundary regulations and aesthetic aspects of the structure. You may also need a building permit, which can be a little more complicated. Building permits often require visual inspections, and they’re focused on safety.

Before building a pergola with a roof, be sure to look into local laws, zoning rules, and building codes.

Is A Pergola Considered A Roof?

In general, a traditional pergola is not a roof. This is because classic pergolas don’t have solid roofs; they have crossbeams or lattice coverings.

Is A Pergola A Temporary Structure?

Pergolas are usually considered “accessory structures” rather than permanent structures. Still, this can vary, depending on your location.

Some states say an accessory structure is a non-dwelling edifice with a floor area of less than 120 square feet. Others say they can cover 200 feet of ground space.

Meanwhile, some local ordinances say that accessory structures cannot have more than two plumbing fixtures or air conditioning. There are some cities where accessory structures cannot have stovetops, ovens, electric fire pits, built-in grills, or refrigerators. In these cities, an outdoor kitchen with a pergola roof may require a building permit.

Is A Pergola Considered A Patio Cover?

A pergola is typically a freestanding structure. It has an open roof and is supported by posts or columns.

A patio cover is an attached structure that offers shade and rain coverage for a deck or patio. It may have a solid roof or an open roof.

Even though pergolas and patio covers have different definitions, you can use the terms interchangeably.

Jessica Allen
Jessica Allen

With a lifelong passion for writing plus strong enthusiasm for home improvement and DIY projects, joining the team at Upgraded Home was an easy choice. Jessica Allen likes to share helpful information with current and aspiring homeowners. Aside from writing, Jessica loves doing yoga, playing the piano, and dabbling in graphic design.

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