What Is The Difference Between A Gazebo, A Cabana, And A Pergola?

What is the difference between a gazebo, a cabana, and a pergola?

what is the difference between a gazebo a cabana and a pergola

While gazebos, cabanas, and pergolas generally serve the same purpose, their structure and design have a few key differences.

The classic gazebo

A gazebo is a covered outdoor structure, most often octagonal. The gazebo dates back to ancient Egypt over 5000 years ago. Back then, gazebos were contained spaces within a garden, thought to be devoted to the gods.

Modern gazebos aren’t that different. They typically stand in gardens or parks, have slanted roofs, and fences along all but one or two sides. Most gazebos are slightly raised and include benches, but some sit flush to the ground and are void of furnishings.

The pergola and how it’s unique

A pergola, from the Latin word pergula, is defined by its projecting eaves, open design, and lattice-like roof. Modern pergolas come in many shapes and forms. Some are built to cover walkways, while others cover sitting areas. The most common pergola design includes four corner pillars, a square shape, and a flat, open-lattice roof.

While most modern pergolas are left bare, the lattice design was created to facilitate woody vines and plants that would help provide shade.

Cabana facts and what they’re all about

Like the other structures mentioned, cabanas have a long history dating back to Egyptian recreation and the Latin language. The Latin word for cabana is capanna, meaning hut.

In the traditional sense, a cabana is a small square structure with a thatched roof and walls on all sides except the one facing a body of water. It provides shade and shelter in between swimming sessions.

Modern cabanas often come stocked with amenities such as lounge chairs, fire pits, and bars.

What is better for me, a cabana, pergola, or gazebo?

what is better for me a cabana pergola or gazebo

Choosing the best structure for your backyard can be tricky. There are two aspects you should consider first before making a decision; size and weatherproofing.

Best for limited space

Pergolas are hands down the best option for limited space. Not only can you find them or have them made to any size, but because they are open structures, you don’t need to worry about which way to set it up.

Pergolas look wonderful in gardens and on patios alike. They can be free-standing or pressed up against a house. They are also more versatile than gazebos and cabanas, as you can add or omit roof and side coverings.

Which is better for weather?

If you’re looking for an outdoor living space that will protect you against the weather, then there’s no point considering a pergola; the competition is gazebo vs. cabana. Whether you are seeking shelter from harmful UV rays, rain, or even snow, a proper canopy is the first step.

One of the most significant considerations in the gazebo vs. cabana competition is whether or not you have a pool. A poolside cabana protects from the sun without compromising visual appeal. They also look great on decks, provide ample shade, and are the perfect retreat on a summer day.

Gazebos, on the other hand, look lovely with backyard gardens. Both wood and vinyl gazebos provide a solid shelter against harsh elements without detracting from the landscape design. The level of protection depends on if you choose closed or open sides.

What is a pergola with a roof called?

what is a pergola with a roof called

Pergolas with roofs are referred to as pavilions. Pavilions retain the general structure of pergolas, but instead of a lattice roof, they have slanted roofs like that of a gazebo.

Pavilions can come in a wide variety of designs. Public pavilions tend towards the more artistic and abstract, while personal and park pavilions resemble traditional pergolas.

What’s the difference between a gazebo and a pavilion?

what’s the difference between a gazebo and a pavilion

It may sound like a covered pergola is just a gazebo, and while the change does bring them closer together, they are still very separate things.

A pavilion is an open structure. There are no walls, and the floor consists of whatever path, walkway, or yard they are covering. Pavilions also have a larger size range, from small backyard shelters to entire buildings. Gazebos have a fairly consistent size range. Most are either garden or park-sized.

Additionally, gazebos are contained structures. The roof, sides, and floor are all one piece; easy to move as a unit. On the other hand, Pavilions are usually built into the ground, whether that be on a concrete pad or straight into the dirt.

How are an arbor and a gazebo different?

how are an arbor and a gazebo different

Arbors are a whole other bag of worms when it comes to garden structures. Both gazebos and arbors are decorative and provide some shelter and shade; however, while a gazebo is a contained unit meant for hanging out in, an arbor is mostly just decorative.

Arbors are a fun cross between a wall lattice and a pergola. They are lattice structures that form an archway, usually over a garden path. Some arbors hold benches, while others are like doorways.

Arbors can mark the entrance to a garden, support climbing plants, and add a small spot of shade, but they are not patio structures.

Gazebos are like outdoor rooms; arbors are purely decorative.

What do you call a gazebo without a roof?

what do you call a gazebo without a roof

Strangely enough, while adding a roof to a pergola makes it a pavilion, taking a roof away from a gazebo makes it a pergola. Traditional octagonal gazebos always have roofs.

It is nearly impossible to find a fenced-in, raised, octagonal gazebo without a roof short of making it yourself. The point of a gazebo is to provide shade and protection from the elements. To remove the roof defeats the purpose and therefore merely turns it into a pergola.

The same issue arises if you try to remove the roof of a cabana. You’d just be left with three walls.

James Marshall

About the author

James is a business management professional and consultant with a former background in maintenance, repair, and hands-on projects. He enjoys DIY tasks and maintenance around the home as well as part-time writing. Read more »