Patio Cover vs Pergola — What’s Better for your Reno Home?


Adding a shade structure to your property is such a smart move, especially here in northern Nevada. It creates more usable space to enjoy no matter how hot the summer sun gets. These days, you have all sorts of options, which is good and bad. It’s wonderful to have choices to complement your home’s architecture and design aesthetic, but zeroing in on the right shade structure can also feel a little overwhelming. How do you decide between traditional wood and the more modern aluminum? Do you need a patio cover or a pergola? What’s the difference, and what’s better for your Reno home? Here’s what to know about these outdoor shade solutions.

The Difference between a Pergola and a Patio Cover

While the terms are often used interchangeably, there are distinct differences between these types of shade structures.

  • A patio cover is a roof extension with complete coverage that means you can spend time outdoors regardless of the weather (assuming you have an external heat source, like a fireplace, fire pit, or heat lamp!). These structures are usually installed as an extension of the home, which affects the design of the supports. They typically connect directly to an exterior wall over the patio or deck you plan to cover.
  • A pergola uses lattice beams that don’t block out light completely. True pergolas are stand-alone structures that are independently supported and can be placed over a patio or anywhere on your property.

Of course, there’s plenty of wiggle room here. You can use a lattice design on a patio cover, and you can build pergolas that offer complete coverage. If you’re considering some sort of shade structure for your property, don’t get too hung up on the label. Instead, consider your needs and let that guide the design. Here’s what to keep in mind:

  • Materials and design. Shade structures that serve as extensions of your home tend to offer a lot of flexibility in terms of materials. You might incorporate beautiful finish carpentry elements or stone to complement your home, for example. Stand-alone shade structures offer room for creativity as well. In both cases, it’s a good idea to speak with a professional to get an idea of your options.
  • Size and scale. The size of your outdoor space will inform the most appropriate size for your shade structure. The more space you have, the bigger you can go. Keep scale in mind too. Your structure should be sized to match any existing buildings or structures for a cohesive effect. The idea is balance.
  • Budget. A patio cover won’t automatically cost less than a pergola, or vice versa, simply because there are so many factors that affect the final price.

So, which is right for your Reno home? It depends on your property and your goals. If you’d like an idea of pricing for a shade structure on your property, the team here at Golden Eagle Builders is happy to offer information. Contact us today to get started.