Benefits of Awnings vs Pergolas

Retractable Motorized Awnin

Awnings or Pergolas - Which is Best for You?

Outdoor living space has become one of the most sought after home improvements over the past few years.  Accordingly, there are many options: Awnings, pergolas, sunrooms, shade sails, or solid patio covers.  The two most popular to emerge are retractable awning and pergolas, particularly adjustable pergolas.

The reason is obvious.  Both retractable awnings and adjustable louver pergolas allow the homeowner to fully control how much exposure they have to the elements.

Let’s take a look at each of these options.


Adjustable Pergolas

Pergolas come in a variety of styles, materials, and functionality.  No two are ever alike.  Depending on their size, they often require a building permit from the local municipality.  Here in the Portland Metro area, many municipalities require going through the long and expensive permitting process for any accessory pergola over 120 sf (10ft x 12ft is an example size that would require a permit.)

A currently popular trend is for motorized, adjustable pergolas.  They offer the ability to open and close their pergola louvers to your own liking.  These are commonly made out of aluminum but sometime other metals.  They tend to be very durable because of the all metal construction.  They also are very permanent so if you ever want to change the look of your patio or deck area, they must be demolished.   Motorized pergolas tend to be full 3 season, possibly 3.5 season structures.  While you can be outside in a downpour or snowstorm, it really isn’t outdoor weather one typically cares to be outside in.

There are several downfalls of adjustable pergolas.  First and foremost is the cost.  They tend to cost from $30,000 at the entry level and can easily exceed $100,000.  While they can be customized to look different, they all still have an ultra modern style.  Being constructed of metal wedged against metal and being highly dependent on caulk, persistent leaks are not uncommon.  There are also a considerable amount of moving parts that are subject to requiring maintenance.

Retractable Awnings

Retractable awnings are one of, if not the single most popular type of outdoor living cover.  They come is a variety of materials, colors, and styles.  Unlike pergolas and fixed, solid roof patio covers, pergolas do not require building permits.  With the slow and costly permitting process present in the Portland Metro area, that is a feature many prospective outdoor cover consumers find very attractive.

Awnings consist of a heavy, waterproof fabric covering an aluminum frame.  It is the fully retractable functionality that makes retractable awning a viable option for outdoor living.  For the type of weather present in Portland, Vancouver, Hillsboro, Gresham or Wilsonville, they are an ideal match.  They can quickly and easily come in within a few seconds if severe weather is coming.  Automatic wind-sensors allow for awnings to close up if the weather picks up even if the homeowner is not present.  While not as heavy duty as a metal pergola, their ability to retract makes the need for an excessively heavy duty and bulky structure unnecessary.  They are easily a 3 season coverings due to this flexibility.

The single more attractive advantage of awnings over adjustable pergolas is their price.  For approximately 1/9th the cost, you can get 90% of the functionality of a motorized pergola.  A good quality, highly functional and attractive retractable awning can be installed from approximately $3000 to $7000.  There are very few moving parts and most awnings can often go  15-20 years before considering a fabric change.  And if any changes get made to your patio or deck, an awning can easily be removed or even relocated to a different area or home!

SunSetter Motorized XL

With this comparison, we think you can see that a high quality, retractable awning is worthy of serious consideration if you are thinking about an adjustable pergola.  To still get so much control (at your fingertips) over your outdoor living environment, and at a fraction of the cost, with much less maintenance, creates a strong, compelling reason to call us and get a free estimate.

We’ve been serving Portland Metro and SW Washington homeowners for over 20 years and have installed hundred upon hundreds of awnings.  We think you’ll be happy you inquired with us to learn more.