5 Best Aluminium Pergolas For Your Garden (2024 Review UK) (2024)

Pergolas help you make the most of your garden, providing light shade in the hotter months whilst also creating an inviting focal point – an area perfect for socialising and relaxing. Some pergolas will even protect you and your garden furniture in a rain shower, meaning you can enjoy your outdoor space even when the weather turns!

These easy-to-assemble, aesthetically-attractive garden structures can totally transform your outdoor space. Aluminium pergolas are loved for their ease of assembly and contemporary look. There’s a huge range on the market in various styles and designs.

Not sure what to look for when it comes to the best aluminium pergola? Take a look at the following guide.

What is a Pergola?

Pergolas, often confused with arbours, awnings and even gazebos, are outdoor structures consisting of vertical columns that support a ceiling grid. This grid can either be left open, or covered with a canopy. Whilst a canopy will provide full shade, leaving the ceiling grid open will offer more sun.

Pergolas can be either freestanding or attached to the side of your home. A ‘lean-to’ pergola is one that attaches to the side of the house, using an existing wall for support.

The traditional pergola design relates back to the Italian Renaissance, but now the term is used a little more loosely.

Pergola vs Arbour vs Gazebo

Pergolas, arbours and gazebos can appear similar, but there are a few key differences between these outdoor structures.

As mentioned, pergolas consist of vertical columns and a roofing grid. They are usually relatively large with flat tops.

Arbours are also built with posts that support an open roof of either beams or a lattice, so in this sense they are very similar to pergolas. However they are more like ‘bridges’ laid over a pathway.

The difference is that arbours are freestanding structures that usually mark an entranceway. The roof is often arched, and they usually have plants climbing up and overhead. The sides can either be open or covered with lattice. Arbours are usually smaller than pergolas and not intended to offer much shelter.

Pergolas can either be freestanding or attached to a house. These create a shaded or semi-shaded space. The roof is traditionally flat, and they tend to have more vertical posts than arbours. The roof of a pergola can be left open or covered with a waterproof fabric. They are intended to offer some shelter, particularly from the sun.

Finally, there are gazebos. Wooden gazebos are more solid in appearance than both arbours and pergolas, with four thick posts that support a solid roof. You can also get temporary, pop-up gazebos of course.

They often house seating areas or hot tubs, and have a fully waterproof roof so that you can shelter from bad weather.

Getting the Right Pergola Construction Material

Pergolas are usually made from either wood, vinyl or aluminium, and there are pros and cons to each of these materials.

Wooden Pergolas

Wooden pergolas are usually made from pressure-treated wood to help resist rot, mould and bugs. Whilst they look beautiful, these garden pergolas still require a lot of maintenance. Even if the wood is pressure treated, it will need further treatments to prevent it rotting. With the right maintenance, wooden pergolas can last a long time.

Pros of a Wooden Pergola:

  • Timeless design looks good in most gardens
  • Lasts a very long time with the right maintenance
  • Can be painted or stained in a colour of your choice to suit your garden
  • Generally very stable thanks to its weight

Cons of a Wooden Pergola:

  • Needs to be stained or painted to protect it from the elements
  • Wood is combustible so fires may be a risk – especially if you are using a fire pit or BBQ near the pergola
  • Very heavy so can be difficult to assemble a wooden pergola, particularly without help

Vinyl Pergolas

Vinyl is another good option when it comes to pergola construction. It’s become very popular in recent years thanks to vinyl’s low-maintenance properties. The downside to vinyl is that it’s less sturdy than either aluminium or wood. If you live in an area with strong winds or a high chance of heavy snow, you may find that a vinyl pergola gets damaged.

However, another benefit of vinyl is that it’s generally very affordable. It can also be easily painted to match any colour schemes present in your garden.

Pros of a Vinyl Pergola:

  • Requires virtually no maintenance
  • Often available in a bright white or beige finish which looks smart and modern
  • Usually very easy to assemble thanks to the light weight
  • Very affordable

Cons of a Vinyl Pergola:

  • Not particularly stable – may weaken under heavy snow or rainfall
  • Often quite a modern appearance that may look out of place in more ‘traditional’ gardens

Aluminium Pergolas

Finally, we come to aluminium pergolas. These are our top choice for garden pergolas, for good reason. Aluminium offers the stability of a wood coupled with far less maintenance. They are rust-resistant and are available in a range of colours to suit both traditional and contemporary gardens.

Pros of an Aluminium Pergola:

  • Very easy to maintain
  • Have a beautiful contemporary look that suits most modern gardens
  • Can either have an adjustable canopy or a louvred roof
  • Very lightweight so should be relatively easy to get set up
  • Although lightweight, aluminium is strong so pergolas tend to be very stable
  • Can be painted or covered in any colour you like

Cons of an Aluminium Pergola:

  • Some people prefer the look of wood as it’s more traditional
  • More expensive than wooden pergolas

Selecting the Right Size Pergola

Length and Width

Garden pergolas are available in a range of sizes, they can form the main focal point of a garden, or be slightly more tucked away to create a cosy shaded area.

Some of the smallest pagodas measure 2 x 2 m. These are best for small gardens, patios and decks. This pergola size should provide enough shade for a coffee table and a couple of chairs, without overshadowing the entire garden. It won’t leave a lot of space around the sides though, so if it rains people may get wet!

If you’ve got a little more space, 3 x 3 m pergolas can also be suitable for small and medium gardens. As a rough guide, you can probably seat four to six people under a 3 x 3 m pergola.

If you’ve got the space for a large pergola, pergolas of around 5 x 5 m offer a bit more space for entertaining. These are more suitable for hosting a group of guests – you’ll be able to fit a larger dining table or furniture set underneath.

Height of Pergola

The pergola’s height is also important to consider. Standard pergolas have a height of approximately 2.5 m (around 8 ft). Some pergolas aren’t as tall as this, so double check the height to make sure that it’s suitable.

If you want to include lighting or other accessories, you may wish to purchase a pergola with a higher interior. Taller pergolas will feel more spacious inside (even if the width and length are smaller), but they will be a lot more visible in your garden.

If your pergola is near to your property boundary, you’ll need to ensure it doesn’t affect your neighbours. Oftentimes in the UK, structures that are within 2 m of the property line need to be under 2.5 m high. Otherwise, planning permission may be required. If you’re unsure, it’s worth reading the regulations for your local area.

Measuring the Space

It’s important that you carefully measure the space you have available before investing in a pergola. If your pergola is too small, you’ll find it difficult to arrange your furniture in the shade. If it’s too large, the rest of your garden may look small.

Once you’ve got the potential dimensions in mind, use markers to work out where the corners of the pergola will go.

Then, put your existing garden furniture into the space and see how it looks. The furniture should fit comfortably underneath.

Choosing the Right Style

Pergola Design

Garden pergolas are either freestanding or lean-to (attached to an existing wall).

Freestanding pergolas can be placed anywhere in your garden. In fact, having a pergola at the end of the garden is becoming a very popular garden feature.

Freestanding pergolas are generally used as stylish seating areas. They don’t need to be installed near your home, although many people choose to place them here in order to extend their inside space. Freestanding pergolas have at least four posts. These need to be attached to the ground either by drilling, cement or sinking them into the ground.

Attached or lean-to pergolas are extensions of your living space. These attach to the wall of your home, so you are restricted when it comes to their location. If you have a large decking area or patio outside your home, a lean-to pergola can perfectly frame it, adding dimension.

Style of Roof

Aluminium pergolas usually have either an open roof, a louvred roof or an adjustable fabric canopy. Some pergolas can have a static fabric canopy which can’t be moved.

Open roofs keep a sense of open air, and pergolas with this style of roof can look very stylish. Whilst these pergolas are simple, easy to install and will be bright inside, they don’t offer you much shade. The only coverage offered is from the slatted beams.

Louvred roofs are made up of individual slats laid a small space apart. They work in a similar way to slatted window blinds. They can be tilted open or closed, depending on whether you want shade or sun. When the louvres are tilted open, you can enjoy fresh air and sunshine underneath the pergola. If you’re after full shade, the louvres can be tilted shut. Closing the louvres should also protect the inside of your pergola from rain. Some designs are completely waterproof.

If you’re planning to use your pergola year-round, a louvred roof is a good option. In the warmer months, the louvre system will protect against heat, but it can also help keep the rain at bay in cooler seasons.

Most louvred pergolas can be opened or closed by the simple press of a button or by turning a handle. Therefore, you can adjust the amount of shade you receive in seconds. The most advanced louvre systems have built in sensors that close the shutters when rain is sensed.

The downside to a louvred roof is that you can’t accommodate different people’s preferences under the same roof. This is because all the louvre slats move together, creating the same level of shade for everyone sitting underneath. Adjustable fabric canopies, on the other hand, can be pulled part-way across (providing a small amount of shade at one end).

This moves us neatly to the next pergola roof type – an adjustable fabric canopy. These can look very modern and stylish, although don’t generally offer as much protection as louvres. This style of pergola has a canopy cover that can be pulled across or retracted depending on whether you’d like to sit in the shade or sun.

Whilst fabric canopies are often UV resistant and water resistant, they aren’t generally fully waterproof. This is important to bear in mind if you are planning on leaving your garden furniture underneath your pergola.

Some adjustable canopies are motorised (which will cost more!), while others can be adjusted using a simple pull cord and secured in place.


Your pergola should provide some protection against bad weather without altering your experience of your garden. The majority of fabric canopies will be shower resistant but won’t offer full protection from rain. Some louvred roofs can be fully waterproof – look out for a streamlined gutter system to allow rainwater to drain away.

Wind protection is also very important. A high quality pergola that’s correctly put together should be stable and strong. Freestanding pergolas tend to be less wind resistant than lean-to pergolas, but unless you live in an extremely exposed area, both styles are considered appropriate.

It’s also worth considering that too much sunlight and UV exposure can not only harm you, it can also weaken your garden furniture! If your pergola has a roof, you should ensure it’s UV resistant. UV resistant materials won’t degrade in sunlight. If the roof or canopy also blocks UV rays, this will offer protection to you and your furniture underneath.

Ease of Construction

One of the key benefits of a pergola made from aluminium is that they tend to be relatively straightforward to construct. I hesitate to use the word ‘easy’, as these are still large structures that require a lot of care, but most come with pre-drilled holes and all the tools required for construction.

The ease of construction is further helped by the lightweight nature of aluminium. You shouldn’t have too much trouble lifting the posts (unlike wooden pergolas, which can be very heavy). Even so, it’s recommended that you read the instructions a few times before beginning assembly, and you’ll certainly need an extra pair of hands (or two!).

5 Best Aluminium Pergolas For Your Garden (2024 Review UK) (2024)
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