Patio Umbrella vs. Pergola: What Is Better for Shading

  • By: Mike Hale
  • Date: July 17, 2022
  • Time to read: 5 min.

Who doesn’t love to sit outside on a patio or in a garden with friends and family, enjoying the beautiful rays of the Sun? It is relaxing, revitalizing, and fun, plus it is also free! However, if you don’t like to sit directly in the sunlight but would like some shade in your garden or on your patio, you need a shading system.

Pergolas and patio umbrellas are some of the best options out there due to their style, beauty, and design; however, which one is best for shading?

Pergolas are better for shading since they are larger, more customizable, and more sturdy than most patio umbrellas. However, this is only true if the pergola is equipped with a canopy or is fully grown in by woody vines.

If you are interested in finding out more about pergolas and patio umbrellas and the benefits of installing either, this is the perfect article for you. Having had personal experience choosing between the two and weighing the pros and cons with a professional contractor team, I will run you through some of the main things to look out for when deciding.

For more information on patio umbrellas, pergolas, and their comparison, read on!

Patio Umbrella

A patio umbrella is an umbrella made for the primary function of blocking out much of the Sun’s rays in an outdoor space. It is just like your average umbrella, except a lot larger and made out of sturdier materials to withstand the elements.

Patio umbrellas can be made out of various materials; however, seeing as this household equipment is primarily used outside, there are some additional criteria the materials have to fulfill to live up to the title of a high-quality umbrella.

First, the base has to be heavy and very durable. It is probably the most forgotten element of an outdoor umbrella, but it is crucial. There are generally three different types of bases for patio umbrellas. One is a filled container, another is a solid, heavy base, and the third is a (usually) metal plate screwed to the floor.

It is crucial to consider the base of such umbrellas, and aside from the design and size of the umbrella itself, it is probably the most important box to check. Depending on your patio’s location, the flooring’s material, or your personal preference, the optimal choice of base changes.

 The second component of a patio umbrella is the metal rod protruding from the base, with the canvas/fabric umbrella at the top. This part is always made out of some rigid material like stainless steel or aluminum.

The last is the fabric or the canvas, which is the most immediately important part. It is made out of durable canvas or fabric, with one of the best materials being Sunbrella, for example. Coming in a million shapes, sizes, and designs, everyone can find the perfect one for themselves.

Patio umbrellas are amazing because they are usually mobile. They are versatile and pretty cheap (even the better ones). They are also available in a plethora of different designs and styles, so you can find what is best for you.

For example, this excellent patio umbrella by Abba has a 4.5-star rating on Amazon after more than 10,000 reviews. This is because it is made out of high-quality materials, which make it durable.


The word Pergola came from Late Latin and was borrowed then by English. It refers to a traditional wooden or rock structure that provides shade to an outdoor area, usually a garden or terrace. It usually forms a walkway and is also often home to woody vines and fruits. More modern ones are also made out of metal, plastic materials, and glass, amongst others.

In contrast to umbrellas, Pergolas are stationary and cannot be opened and closed or moved in any way. Once built, they are fixed in place, which makes them a more significant investment in money, time, and commitment than an umbrella.

This might be either positive or negative for some people, depending on their taste and their goals, but there is undoubtedly at least one aspect of a pergola that makes it stand out, and it is its natural look.

Pergolas can be modern, made out of metal and PVC or some similar material. These are also great constructions since they are durable and also easy to maintain; however, a classic wooden pergola with grapevines running all over it, providing some natural, old-fashioned shade, is unparalleled for the people who like more rustic and natural decor.

If you aren’t interested in grapevines or other natural solutions, you can also purchase beautiful canopies for your pergola, which you can stretch out over the structure to provide shade. Here is an excellent example of a pergola canopy from Amazon!


What Is Better for Shading, Pergola, or Patio Umbrella?

In the head-to-head battle between a pergola and a patio umbrella, which one comes out victorious as better shading equipment?

The simple answer is the pergola since it is the better option in terms of the amount of shade it can provide. The largest home-use patio umbrellas are about the size of a smaller pergola, which is generally big enough to fit a whole patio underneath them. They can even be custom-made to be a lot larger than that, though.

Although it is essential to point out that a pergola in itself does not provide the same type or amount of shade that even a patio umbrella can. Pergolas are usually covered with canopies or overgrown with woody vines (often grapes), making them a better option for shade than an umbrella.

It doesn’t mean, however, that a pergola is the best choice for everyone since if you have a smaller garden or perhaps just need a solution throughout the summer but would like your terrace or patio to be uncovered throughout the year, an umbrella is your best bet.

Umbrellas are much more mobile, versatile, and, most often, cheap. However, you trade off some style and grandeur for that lower price and versatility, so the best is to make your own decision based on your personal needs.