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Last updated on September 18th, 2020
Do you sometimes wish your patio had more of a “living-room” feel to it? Or your outdoor dining area had more ambience for those romantic barbeques? A pergola, perhaps covered in bright, fragrant flowers or integrated shade sails, gives you the outdoor living space that you need. The rafters of the roof protect you from the sun and the open sides let you move around comfortably as well as a breeze to pass through, even if you’ve crammed in all your patio furniture or if your lucky you might even have a hot tub positioned under one.
Our Best Kit Pergolas review looks at pergolas that come in kit form for you to put together yourself. If you need to, you can bring these home from the DIY store yourself, unlike ready-assembled pergolas. We look at both wood and at metal pergolas, highlight the pros and cons of each product, and discuss their features. Our Buyer’s Guide explains the features to look for generally in a kit pergola and discusses some of the options that you have.
Our Best Pick is the Arbor Garden Solutions Sculpted Wooden Garden Pergola Kit available from Amazon. This redwood pergola is the largest one in our review and made from highest quality constructional grade CLS C24 timber, pressure-treated and comes with up to 15 years rot-resistant.
The Alethea 3m x 3m Aluminium Pergola is our Runner-up from Wayfair which has its fair share of stunning models to choose from. This metal Alethea pergola is an alternate choice if you want a contemporary design and prefer a low maintenance aluminium design.
If you’re looking for a minimalist and lightweight pergola, look no further than the Alethea 3m x 3m Aluminium Pergola. This square pergola has clean, grey lines. Made of powder-coated aluminium, the pergola is rust, rot, weather, mildew and weather resistant making it very low maintenance compared to wooden alternatives. Unlike with many other pergolas, the corner posts here have metal footplates to distribute the pergola’s (light) weight evenly. And also unlike most other pergolas, this one comes with a canopy that you open and close with a pulley mechanism which is a great plus. If you want a contemporary-looking pergola and think that wood just doesn’t deliver that feel, take a good look at this one.
The 5 best pergolas which we review are listed below
- Arbor Garden Solutions Sculpted Wooden Garden Pergola Kit
- Alethea 3m x 3m Aluminium Pergola
- Rutland County Garden Furniture Wooden Garden Pergola
- Eichner 2.8m x 2.8m Pergola
- Pollitt Lean Pergola
Best Kit Pergolas review
1. Arbor Garden Solutions Sculpted Wooden Garden Pergola Kit
The Arbor Garden Solutions Sculpted Wooden Garden Pergola Kit is the largest wood kit pergola in our review. It’s substantial enough that you can create a large outdoor living space using much of your patio furniture.
High-quality construction-grade pressure-treated timber forms the six rafters and the two runners, and the four corner posts are of redwood. The wood is rot resistant and guaranteed for an impressive 15 years. The “sculpted” part of this pergola’s name refers to the design cut at both ends of each rafter. This adds some style to an otherwise plain rectangular structure. Assembling this Arbor Garden Solutions pergola is straightforward as all the holes are pre-drilled, the timber is pre-cut and all the necessary fittings are included.
The dimensions given for any pergola can be confusing. In this Arbor Garden Solutions one, the height of each of the four (9cm by 9cm) corner posts is 2.7m. You leave the posts at this length if you’re embedding them in concrete; however, you can cut them down to 2.3m if you’re planning to have the pergola freestanding on a patio or lawn. Plan to buy feet for the pergola if you’re using it free-standing, or just put the posts on your ground surface.
Also confusing are the length and width numbers. The 3.6m (length) and the 3m (width) are of the widest points of the rafters; the inside dimensions are slightly less. This manufacturer says to take 1m off the length and 0.8m off the width to find the interior dimensions. You end up with 2.6m by 2.14m of inside floor area to work with. Some online reviewers found the pergola was smaller than the described measurements. But the manufacturer is quite clear about what the numbers apply to.
The Arbor Garden Solutions Sculpted Wooden Garden Pergola Kit doesn’t come with a canopy or sails for shade. If the rafters don’t provide enough shade, consider purchasing any canopy that fits that could be put together with shade sails or even just polycarbonate sheets if you want o provide a dry environment while still letting plenty of light in.
- Dimensions are 3.6m length, 3m width and 2.7m/2.3m height.
- Also available in around 20 other sizes.
- Redwood corner posts and high-grade pressure-treated timber rafters are rot and weather-resistant for low maintenance.
- Light green or rustic brown finish lets you coordinate with your garden design.
- The four corner posts, 6 rafters and the corner cross braces are easy to assemble.
- The warranty covers 15 years of rot resistance so you don’t have to keep re-staining the pergola.
- Good customer service in case you have any questions or need some extra fittings.
- Can be made to measure if this is not the size pergola in this brand that you’re looking for.
- Doesn’t come with feet.
- No canopy.
The Arbor Garden Solutions Sculpted Wooden Garden Pergola Kit is a significantly sized pergola made of high-quality timber and redwood. Its 15-year rot-proof warranty shows how confident the manufacturer is in this high-quality pergola. With a pergola of this size, be sure to carefully measure the garden area you plan to put it in but don’t forget it also comes in around 20 other sizes so you can easily find teh right length and width for your garden.
The Arbor Garden Solutions Sculpted Wooden Garden Pergola Kit is the Best Pick in our review of kit pergolas. We like it for its size and the long warranty on the wood as well as the general high-quality construction.
If you want to create a sizeable outdoors living space with a stylish rustic or back-to-nature vibe, this Arbor Garden Solutions pergola could be what you want.
2. Alethea 3m x 3m Aluminium Pergola
The Alethea 3m x 3m Aluminium Pergola is almost as large as our Best Pick, the Arbor Garden Solutions Sculpted Wooden Garden Pergola Kit. However, it’s very different in that it’s made of aluminium. Aluminium is resistant to weather, rust, rot, mildew, and fading and warping and is probably the best low maintenance alturnative.
This Alethea Aluminium Pergola has measurements of 3m by 3m. But remember that these are the dimensions of the outside of the pergola to the ends of the rafters. The inside space is a bit smaller. The pergola is a standard height of 2.3m so you don’t have to worry about anyone bumping their head on the top as its got plenty of height.
The powder-coated posts (four), runners (two) and rafters (three) are a grey colour to fit any garden design. The corner posts are 10cm by 10cm to give stability to this structure. The bases of the corner posts provide extra stability thorough footplates. These spread the weight of the pergola through a larger area. Another significant advantage to a metal pergola is that it’s much lighter than its wood counterparts are but is just as strong once positioned and fixed in position. This one weighs only 35kg which makes it easy to move.
This square pergola is suitable for installing on lawns (tent pegs provided) and on concrete. However, online users report that you need to buy your own screws to install it on a hard surface but this isn’t a deal-breaker. The roof is flat, which is fairly standard for pergolas. But there’s a difference – this kit comes with a cream-colour canopy. A pulley mechanism smoothly opens and closes the canopy to keep out, or let in, sunlight. Don’t worry about the pergola being made of metal if you’re planning on training greenery up the posts – it’s plant compatible.
- Grey powder-coated aluminium fits into any garden style.
- Four corner posts and five rafters make up this structure.
- Canopy included for bright sunny days or damp rainy ones.
- Pulley mechanism for easily opening and closing the canopy.
- Suitable for lawns and concrete so you can place it almost anywhere in your garden.
- Resistant to mildew, rust and rot as well as fading and warping.
- The installation kit is included so you don’t need to supply anything.
- Very good customer service.
- Vague instructions.
The Alethea 3m x 3m Aluminium Pergola is a highlight in any garden with its contemporary style and grey colour. Although an aluminium pergola is a great deal lighter in weight than wood ones, don’t worry about stability with this pergola. The metal corner posts are 10cm by 10cm and have footplates that give extra stability. This pergola comes with a canopy that works on a pulley system and diffuses the bright sunlight so you don’t need to worry about adding shade sails.
The Alethea 3m x 3m Aluminium Pergola is the Runner-up in our review. We like its lightweight and the easy-opening canopy. It’s also our Best Pick of Metal Pergolas and is available from Wayfair which sell amazing garden products and have an excellent customer service too.
If you’re looking for a minimalist style pergola, and wood doesn’t appeal to you, take a long look at the Alethea 3m x 3m Aluminium Pergola.
3. Rutland County Garden Furniture Wooden Garden Pergola
The Rutland County Garden Furniture Wooden Garden Pergola is completely made out of Northern European Redwood timber that’s certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council. The 15-year warranty on the wood covers insect and fungal attacks.
This Rutland Wooden Pergola is 1.8m by 1.8m and comes in a rustic brown/natural colour. It’s smaller size lets you fit it into any size corners and nooks of your garden. The four corner posts are 2.7m long and you use them at this length if you embed the pergola in cement. You may want to cut them down to the standard length (2.3m) if you place the pergola on a flat surface such as your lawn or a concrete pad. Remember that the length and width dimensions are to the tips of the rafters and runners, not the inside area.
The corner posts are 10cm by 10cm to give the structure the freestanding stability it needs. Extra stability can be provided by metal bolt-down plates or spike feet for the corner posts (both are an added cost).
This pergola kit comes with 20 different components and illustrated step-by-step assembly directions. All the posts come pre-notched to make assembly easier. However, some online users complained about the lack of instructions. They weren’t aware that the instruction book was only available online to download so if you choose this model this is something to worth knowing to make assembly much easier.
- Wood pergola made solely of FSC-certified North European Redwood timber.
- Square and measures 1.8m by 1.8m for a compact pergola.
- Also available in other sizes.
- Rustic brown/natural colour wood to be unobtrusive in your garden.
- Corner posts are 2.7m long but you can cut down to your preferred pergola height.
- 15-year warranty is against insect and fungal attacks on the wood.
- Optional metal plate feet or spikes for added stability.
- Detailed assembly instructions available online.
- Great customer service.
- The manufacturer doesn’t make a canopy for this pergola.
- Not clear that assembly instructions are available online.
- More expensive than larger pergolas in this review.
The Rutland County Garden Furniture Wooden Garden Pergola is the smallest pergola in our review but they do have larger sizes to choose from too. The model we reviewed is a compact 1.8m by 1.8m (outside measurements) that sits easily on your lawn, patio or any other hard surface. Its rustic brown colour suits a more traditional style of garden. Or use it as a contrast to your contemporary, minimal landscape. The 15-year warranty on the wood highlights that this pergola is entirely made out of certified North European Redwood timber.
We like the Rutland County Garden Furniture Wooden Garden Pergola for its efficient size and it’s long-lasting, totally Redwood timber, construction.
If you only have space for a small pergola and want one made from wood, the Rutland County Garden Furniture Wooden Garden Pergola fits the bill.
4. Forest Garden Forest Radial Pergola
The Forest Garden Forest Radial Pergola falls into the middle of the range of sizes of pergolas in this review. But it’s different to the other pergolas we discuss as it’s a corner pergola. It fits, literally, into a corner of your garden. Use it at the intersection of two hedges, walls or fences or perhaps in an awkwardly shaped area.
This Forest garden pergola is made from pressure-treated timber (species unspecified) which is protected from rot, fungal decay, rust and fading. It’s also weatherproof. You don’t need to do anything to the wood after you’ve set up the structure. So confident is the manufacturer of the wood’s durability that the pergola comes with a 15-year warranty and does not need retreating.
Although this is a pergola that primarily fits into corners, it’s not the average triangle shape. The pergola is the shape of a ¼ circle, with a radius of 2.5m. The curve of the runner gives an elegant look to the structure. This plant-compatible framework lets you train climbing plants and vines up the four posts in the traditional way. Also consider trailing plants such as wisteria over the flat roof to create a fragrant, shaded, enclosed space as this kit doesn’t come with a canopy.
The two straight “arms” of this pergola are each 2.5m long; its height is 2.4m. Be aware that all pergola measurements refer to the longest/widest/tallest points of the structure, usually to the tips of the rafters and runners. However, the interior dimensions of this structure are only a little smaller than the outside.
- A wood pergola that fits into a corner to suit the awkward parts of your garden.
- Made from pressure-treated timber of unknown origin.
- Flat roof with rafters arranged like spokes of a wheel for a different look.
- Suitable for lawns or hard surfaces, even on your patio.
- Dimensions are 2.5m radius, length and width of 2.8 height of 2.4m (outside measurements).
- The shape is a ¼ circle that gives a stylish look.
- Classic roof rafters for growing plants over.
- Warranty is for 15-years and covers the wood’s condition.
- No canopy with kit.
The Forest Garden Forest Radial Pergola is a mid-size pergola that fits into a corner of your garden. Whatever’s in that corner (hedges, fences etc.) forms two sides of the pergola. This gives you some privacy and makes the space feel safely enclosed. The curved front of the pergola along with the rafters arranged as wheel spokes give an elegant look and feel to this pergola.
We like the Forest Garden Forest Radial Pergola for its convenience in fitting into the corners of the garden or any strangely shaped places.
If you want to relax in an out-of-the-way corner of your garden, the Forest Garden Forest Radial Pergola is for you.
5. Rutland County Garden Furniture Store Wall Mounted Pergola 3m x 3m
The Rutland County Garden Furniture Store 3m x 3m Wall Mounted Pergola is another square wood pergola but instead of a freestanding structure, it’s a lean-to pergola. This is the only pergola in this review that is directly attached to your house or other structure but we couldn’t write a pergola review without including at least on lean to model.
Lean-to pergolas provide shade for an area just outside your home. Some people place it over their patio or deck. If you install it in front of any room that has French or sliding doors, the outside space becomes a direct extension of your home’s interior. Extend your dining room into the outdoors on warm evenings.
The Pergola is constructed from pressure-treated timber, except for the corner posts that are from long-lasting Redwood timber. This kit comes with only two corner posts as the other side of the pergola is held up by attaching a runner to your house. The posts are 10cm by 10cm for a sturdy frame. You also receive two runners and six rafters; you bolt one of the runners to an outside wall. The rafters are sculpted with a curve at either end to add visual interest. And all the fittings come as well.
This pergola is 2.4m long, 2.4m wide and 2.56m high. These measurements are of the outside of the pergola; the interior dimensions are smaller. The two corner posts are 2.7m long when you receive them. Keep them at this length if you’re going to place them into concrete; cut them down to your desired length/height if you’re going to place the pergola on a hard surface. This model also comes in two larger sizes.
- Square wood lean-to pergola that attaches to an outside wall to directly extend your living space.
- Rustic brown or green for a natural look.
- Made from pressure-treated wood but has Redwood timber posts.
- Sculpted rafters for an attractive appearance.
- Dimensions are: length – 2.4m, width – 2.4m, and height – 2.7m.
- Use on lawn, concrete, wood and other hard surfaces.
- Kit contains all fittings needed.
- No canopy.
- Need some extra tools to assemble this – spanner and screwdriver.
The Rutland County Garden Furniture Store Wall Mounted Pergola is not a freestanding pergola. Like a regular lean-to, you attach it to an exterior wall of your house. It provides shade directly outside your home and will even stop the interior rooms from becoming too warm. The pergola’s rustic green or brown colours compliment many shades of brick.
We like the Rutland County Garden Furniture Store Wall Mounted Pergola because you attach it to your house to give shade over your patio or deck.
If you want to be in shade the instant you step out of your back door, the Pergola provides that for you.
Establish an outdoor living space for yourself, and perhaps your plants as well, with a pergola. Pergolas offer structure to outdoors space without enclosing it. With a pergola, you have protection from the sun, a place to establish outdoors living and a frame to grow your climbing plants up.
This Buyer’s Guide points out the various features of pergolas and explains some of the options that you have. We start by explaining what a pergola is and isn’t.
Pergola vs gazebo vs arbour
People often use the terms pergola, gazebo and arbour interchangeably. But although they each have similar purposes, they are different structures. Here are our general definitions of these, though others may have different descriptions.
A pergola is like an outdoor room that’s light and airy. Four corner posts support a (usually) freestanding framework that doesn’t have any walls. The ceiling/roof is made of slats that cross the interior in one direction. The slats give you shade, though some pergolas also have a canopy for more sun protection. A pergola is large enough to sit under on your outdoor furniture, though the sizes of the structures vary. This garden room draws people’s eyes to it, especially if you grow climbing plants on it.
Think of a gazebo as a pergola with a permanent roof. The roof shelters you from the sun at all times. Some gazebos come with curtains or netting that you pull across all or any of the sides of the framework. This gives you privacy when you’re relaxing. You can also grow flowers over a gazebo.
An arbour is another similar garden structure but is not large enough to sit under. It usually is an open arch with lattice or trellis on its sides. It’s often placed over a path. Flowers and vines can grow all over the arch giving a colourful and fragrant walking experience.
Buying a pergola in a kit has several advantages: you can get it home from the store in your car or van; the delivery person can fit it through your back garden gate, and you can change your mind about where to place it partway through its setup and move it relatively easily.
In a pergola kit, you receive a minimum of the corner posts, the runners that go across on top of them and the rafters. The numbers of each of these vary with the model of the pergolas. You should also find all of the fittings you need and some or all of the tools required.
The pergolas in our article are made of either wood or aluminium. Both of these materials have resistance to the weather and harmful elements such as rust, rot and mildew. Some wood pergola manufacturers, especially if they use certified Redwood timber, give you a 15-year warranty against damage by these factors.
Aluminium pergolas generally have a powder coating as protection. If the coating wears off, you need to repaint that portion of the frame to avoid rust and mildew from forming. These pergolas are significantly lighter than wood ones.
Style, shape and size
Most pergolas are a freestanding structure. This means that they can stand-alone on lawns or hard surfaces, on their corner posts. Most kits have corner posts that are long enough that you can embed them in concrete and still have a standard-height structure. If you place the pergola on the top of the ground, you can cut the posts down to whatever height you want the pergola to be (usually 2.4m).
One pergola in this review (Pollitt Lean Pergola) is not freestanding; it’s a lean-to structure. This attaches to an outside wall of your home or any other structure and looks like a regular lean-to but without walls and a real roof. You only receive two corner posts with this style.
Some pergolas have a sculpted style. This refers to the design element that’s cut out of the ends of the rafters. This is frequently some kind of a curve that serves to soften the geometric look of the structure.
Most pergolas are either rectangular or square. This gives them stability in inclement weather. One pergola in this article (the Eichner 2.8m x 2.8m Pergola) is in the shape of ¼ circle. This model is designed to fit into a corner of your garden.
Pergolas come in a wide range of sizes. The smallest one in our review is 1.8m by 1.8m; the largest is 3.6m by 3m. But beware the dimensions that you’re given about any pergola. They might not be what they seem.
Generally, and for all the pergolas in this article, the measurements given refer to the outside of the structure. These are measured from the tip of one rafter or runner to the tip at the other end. The inside dimensions are smaller and so is the floor area. Some manufacturers explain clearly how much smaller the inside measurements are, generally from 10cm or so to about 1m, while others don’t mention it at all. Look at the pergola’s accurate specifications for a clear answer. This will help you figure out if it has enough interior space for your outdoors living plans.
When you’re deciding where to put your pergola, it’s not only the size of the space that counts. If you want privacy, set up in a secluded part of the garden; if you want to make a design statement, place it on the lawn; if you want it to blend in and be unobtrusive, cover it with flowers and vines.
Wherever you place the pergola, consider if it will affect any plants near it by throwing shade on them. It may even stop some sun from reaching your neighbour’s garden and that’s not helpful to good relations.
Five way to add style to your pergola
Create more shade
The roof rafters of a pergola provide some shade. But the sun still shines down through the spaces between them. Put a canopy or sails over the rafters to add more shade. You can buy a canopy of the right size or make your own from materials such as fabric, Perspex or clear polycarbonate.
Make it personal
The main purpose of a pergola is to be an outdoors living room. Decorate it as you would any room inside your house. Add accessories, artwork, tables, bookshelves or a bar. It causes fewer problems in the rain if these are all waterproof.
Make it shine
Add lanterns, paper lampshades or strings of light to your pergola to create a soft and romantic ambience. If you have a lean-to pergola, plug electric lights into your outdoor socket.
If you’re sure of the sturdiness of your pergola, string a hammock between two posts and sway gently on a summer day. The hammock is easily unhooked if you need to make room for other furniture.
Become a vintner
If you’ve ever had the urge to make your own wine from scratch, you may want to grow your own grapevines over the pergola. It will add a Mediterranean feel to your garden, even if you don’t get enough good grapes to make even one glass of vino.
With a pergola you cannot help but relax in your garden. There’s room for a dining set for entertaining, perhaps a couch and armchair for lazy reading or even a workbench for when you have to move your DIY outside. We’ve reviewed wood and metal pergolas, and freestanding and lean-to models. Wherever you want to establish your outside living space in your garden, the right pergola keeps you in the shade.
Our Best Pick of pergolas is the Arbor Garden Solutions Sculpted Wooden Garden Pergola Kit. This is the largest pergola of our review and has Redwood timber corner posts for strength. They do also manufacture other sizes too.
The Runner-up Pick is an alternative to wood pergolas. The Alethea 3m x 3m Aluminium Pergola from Wayfair is also a large structure but it’s made of metal and is lightweight but very sturdy.
Perhaps you’ve reached this far and have decided that you don’t really want an outdoors room. Maybe you just want a decorative framework on which you grow climbing flowers. Check out our Best Garden Arbours and Arches and Best Garden Arches reviews to find the best of these structures. And we have reviews on what climbing flowers to grow on whichever structure you choose: Best Climbers for Pots and Containers and How to Train a Climbing Rose
Last update on 2021-01-10 at 11:14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API