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What's the Difference between Ramadas, Gazebos and Pergolas?

Believe it or not shade is a critical consideration for your pool project. While relaxing by the pool and soaking in some rays is great, it can get brutally hot out there and having shade nearby is key to making your poolscape more enjoyable. Pool Pros put together a guide for the different types of shade structures that are commonly implemented to increase the use of your new poolscape.




A ramada is a stand-alone shade structure that is comprised of posts and a roof. Traditionally, they are rectilinear in form and provide total shade beneath with protection from the elements. The most prevalent example of this type of construction is similar to that of a ‘park shelter’ and are sometimes called 'pavilions'. In most cases, ramadas do not include a floor or deck that is tied to the construction of the structure itself. Instead, they are often finished with an independent system of pavers, concrete or compacted gravel/stone below.



Gazebos are very similar to ramadas. They too include posts and a roof in order to provide total shade and protection from the elements underneath the structure. The main difference is the most cases, a gazebo is circular, octagonal, hexagonal or square. Typically, they are open on all sides but may also be fully or partially enclosed with some type of wall feature. In some instances, gazebos may also include a floor or deck that is tied to the structure itself (in that they are a step above the surrounding landscape elevation). Common applications are found in garden settings.



A pergola is a structure that can offer partial to full shade benefits depending on how the roof is finished. Pergolas are constructed of posts, support beams, rafters and battens that produce a dappled light and 'open-air' effect. They can be stand-alone constructions or tied to existing structures by means of a ledger bearer (board). In addition, knitted shade cloths can be secured to the top of a pergola in order to create shadier conditions, if desired. In some cases, climbing vines are used to help soften the structure and provide an extra layer of greenery, flowers and shade. Common vine varieties include Clematis, Grape, Climbing Roses and Trumpet Creeper.


In most cases, ramadas, gazebos and pergolas are constructed with pressure-treated wood, as it is the most cost effective material. For a bit more in material cost, another option may be a cedar construction. Both lumber options should be stained or painted to further protect the material from mold, rot and pests over time. Other materials may include metal and vinyl. Depending on the local climate, metal may be susceptible to corrosion over time whereas vinyl can last a lifetime with minimal maintenance. Vinyl does not require re-staining through the years as it is resistant to fading, chipping and peeling - but consequently comes with the highest price tag.

With respect to roofs- gazebos and ramadas can be finished with a metal roof, polycarbonate sheets or traditional asphalt shingles. Generally speaking, asphalt shingles are the least expensive alternative. The metal roof option comes at a higher initial cost to consumers however, provides a much longer lifespan than a typical asphalt shingle system. Another option for roofing is polycarbonate sheets- which come in different colors, are lightweight and UV resistant. Relative cost comparisons are dependent on quality of the material specified (for example; polycarbonate sheets can be more expensive than cheap metal roofing but less expensive than premium metal products).


Over the past several years, many different types and models of shade structures have been introduced to the market. In general, pre-fabricated options are more affordable, relatively easy to install for DIYers and available in many big-box stores/online outlets. Some disadvantages may be a lesser quality in materials and inability to customize the structure's shape or size. On the other hand, a custom installation by a local carpenter can provide a one of a kind installation that perfectly fits your particluar needs and space within the landscape. In addition, custom builds allow the client to specify exactly which type of material that they prefer, complete with add-on features such as electrical service or gutters to help re-direct stormwater away from the site.


All in all, when considering a new shade structure installation, there are many different options to examine before your purchase. Take the time to research all possible alternatives and contact a local contractor or sales consultant to find the best option for your budget and use. Then you can finally ditch the SPF 50 and kick up your feet under the shade of your brand new structure!

Pool Pros is excited to help you design a new landscape layout that is perfect for you and your family! For more information about your upcoming project call Pool Pros today @ 920-771-0107.


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Green Bay, WI 

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  • This website contains an abundance of information that has been created over the last decade or more. Some of the content on this site may reflect prices, perspectives, processes, entities, and names that were relevant at the time but may not be as relevant today. Consumers should consult a Pool Pros associate for the most accurate and updated information based on the unique conditions of their property. Consumers should verify specifications with the installing Pool Pros rather than relying on the information on this website, which is not intended to be a final specification.

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