Homeowners and homebuyers have been putting more emphasis on outdoor living spaces for the last few years. This has included an uptick in patios, decks, outdoor living rooms and structures that can add definition and shade, such as pergolas.
With the growth in popularity of the pergola has come new scrutiny by homeowners: What material would be best to build the pergola from?
While, traditionally, pergolas were built of wood, today they’re available in a variety of other materials, including vinyl. Vinyl has a long history of being a lower maintenance alternative to wood when used on other areas of a property, such as siding or fencing.
Vinyl also makes a good option for homeowners that want convenience, style and lower maintenance for their pergola long term. Let’s take a look at wood vs. vinyl pergolas to help you pick the right material for your next outdoor project.
The Pros and Cons of Wood Pergolas
Because wood has a lot of versatility and visual appeal, it’s been a popular building material for centuries. And because people are familiar with wood and what it can do, it is commonly chosen for pergolas.
It’s not just familiarity that makes it a popular material choice, though. The ability to build bespoke wood pergolas in varying sizes and shapes, including arches and other custom designs that may not be readily available in other materials, helps as well.
Plus, wood tends to be a little less expensive than some other materials, especially when building from scratch using standard lumber.
Long-Term Maintenance Required
While wood does have a beauty that attracts many people to it, that beauty comes at a high cost over time.
Wood is susceptible to moisture, UV light and insect activity. To help protect the wood and prolong its lifespan, it’s usually painted or stained. The UV rays from the sun eventually denature the wood, however, which causes the paint or stain to peel. It then needs to be scraped, sanded and painted again every few years. If not, moisture can penetrate the wood, leading to rot and structural problems for the pergola.
This all leads to additional costs for the pergola long term, as well as a lot of care, maintenance and potential repairs to keep it structurally sound and looking its best.
In some climates, this may be less of an issue than in others. For example in climates that see little rainfall, you may be able to leave the wood bare. However, the flip side is that if you want the wood painted, the high UV index will mean you need to paint more often, as the sun will bleach the color over time.
These issues often mean that while wood is beautiful and versatile in the beginning, it’s also often frustrating, time-consuming and less aesthetically pleasing in the long run. If you don’t want to spend your weekends cleaning your pergola, it may be time to look for alternative materials, such as vinyl.
The Pros and Cons of Vinyl Pergolas
Vinyl has been used in homes and outbuildings since the 1950s. It was first created as an alternative to wood, to give homeowners a durable, attractive material that was lower in maintenance.
Vinyl Is Low Maintenance
The color of vinyl goes right through the material, so it is resistant to peeling, chipping and fading. It doesn’t require a lot of touch-ups and maintenance like wood.
This is one of the biggest benefits of using vinyl for your pergola; it won’t require the same level of care, upkeep or maintenance as wood. The only real care that a vinyl pergola needs is to be pressure washed occasionally to keep it clean.
Durable in All Weather Climates
Vinyl pergolas, particularly those that have been reinforced by an inner core of aluminum, are also extremely durable. They hold up well in all weather conditions, including high winds and rain, and aren’t impacted by extreme cold or a high UV index. This makes them ideal for installing in all climates without worry about long term durability.
Custom Design Options
Vinyl is also customizable. Although not to the extent of wood, there are still a lot of options out there for style. Vinyl pergolas can be freestanding or attached, and they can have several different column shapes and widths, so it’s possible to match the style of the pergola to the rest of the property fairly easily.
Vinyl pergolas from Heartland Pergolas also have options for the top of the pergola, such as purlins, that can be spaced closely together enough to offer as much as 90% shade (most companies only offer 20-30% shade!). While it’s possible to get a similar look with wood, doing so would require a lot of effort and expense. Instead, a vinyl pergola kit is a more affordable and easier to assemble option.
Ready to Install kits
Vinyl pergola kits are also extremely easy to assemble, even for DIY homeowners. They don’t require a lot of experience or specialty tools, so the pergola goes up quickly, saving a lot on installation costs. While a pergola kit may be initially more expensive than lumber, there’s often a significant savings when it comes to the installation costs.
For most homeowners, the only true drawback to vinyl is the limit in color. Most vinyl pergolas are only available in white, though some companies will also offer a darker color such as cream or tan as well. However, with white being one of the most popular colors for pergolas, this may not even be a concern for many homeowners when weighed against the benefits that vinyl can bring.
Get the Best Material for Your Pergola
Pergolas can define spaces, add style and interest, and can bring some much-needed shade to an area on a hot day. If you’re considering a pergola project, make sure that you take a look at vinyl pergolas, such as those from Heartland Pergolas.
Aluminum reinforced vinyl pergolas are durable, low maintenance and come in many different style and size options, so you can customize your end result. Consider a vinyl pergola for your next project to get the best material available for the job.