Top Decorative and Waterproof Pergola Covers to Elevate Your Outdoor Space

Updated: Apr. 15, 2024

A pergola cover adds shade, privacy and character to your outdoor living area.

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Table set under a pergola
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A pergola is a great way to add a little shade and a sense of privacy to your patio. But the open latticework doesn’t provide complete shade or any protection from rain. If you’re planning to build a pergola, or want more shade or rain protection than your current pergola provides, consider adding a cover.

What is a pergola cover? The answer depends on your needs. It could be anything from a simple canvas sail to a full metal roof. Here are five pergola cover ideas for shade, privacy and protection from rain and snow.

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Pergola cover
Family Handyman

Fabric Top Pergola Covers

There are several choices of fabric for covering a pergola. Of course, you can’t just throw a piece of cloth over the pergola. You need a way to secure it and — if you live in a snowy climate — a way to easily remove it for the winter.

One obvious method is to put grommets around the perimeter and tie the cover on with cord or rope. If you’re handy with a sewing machine, you may be able to sew a cover yourself. Otherwise, you can order custom-made covers from places like thenaturalhome.com.

The fabric pergola awning in this photo, from the March ’03 issue of The Family Handyman, is easily removable. We sewed a full-length pocket along two edges of the fabric, slid ½-in. metal conduit into the pockets, and held the cover on with the hook-and-loop straps sewn to the awning. The cover is easy to install and remove, and rolls up for storage.

You can also purchase retractable pergola awnings. Keep it closed for a shady escape or open it to catch some sun rays.

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Fabric Sides for Privacy

If you want your patio to be a secluded backyard retreat, consider adding a privacy shade to your pergola. Again, you could DIY this with a sewing machine, grommets and ties, but there are plenty of options available for purchase as well. The Sunshades Depot Exterior Roller Shade comes in many sizes, and it can be opened and closed at will.

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People gathering under a pergola with a plastic cover
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Waterproof Pergola Covers

A fabric cover provides shade, but for rain or snow protection you’ll need something more sturdy. You can purchase a pergola with a metal roof, or you can build your own waterproof cover out of corrugated metal or plastic. As a bonus, the raindrops will sound beautiful as they hit the solid pergola cover.

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Pergola with wire and jasmine flowers
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Decorative and Functional Lattice

Many people add lattice or wire to their pergolas to make vertical gardening easier. The lattice itself will add a little shade. The climbing plants will add even more. Create an aromatic paradise with honeysuckle, star jasmine and other good-smelling flowers.

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Pergola with a shade sail
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Shade Sail

Shade sails are a convenient and affordable way to add shade to any yard. You can stretch them over decks, between trees, across pools and over pergolas. With sizes ranging from six-foot by six-foot to 24-foot by 24-foot, this Amgo shade sail is sure to cover your pergola.

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