9 Easy Ways to Cover a Pergola from Rain and Sun

The pergola cover is the perfect way to get outdoors and enjoy some sunshine while also protecting you and your outdoor furniture from the intense heat of the sun. It offers just enough shade that you can retreat to when you need it.

Having some sort of cover will protect your pergola space from rain and sun when you do it right. There are a lot of different options out there for coverage. Take a look at this guide as we walk you through 9 easy ways to cover a pergola from rain and sun.

1.  Buy and Install a Pergola Cover

The first option is pretty self-explanatory. You just need to purchase a pergola cover and then get it installed. You can find covers on Amazon and other marketplaces as well. Most of them are simple to install and will provide you with the perfect coverage from sun and rain. 

Alion Home Waterproof Pergola Covers - Pergola Replacement Canopy - Universal Replacement Canopy for Pergola (12' L x 9' W, Sand)

These covers function very similarly to a canopy. They come with everything you need to connect them. Just be sure to check the listing to find out if you need a pergola structure. You might already have the structure in place but if not, you may need to purchase additional parts for that.

2.  Buy a Louvered Roof Pergola

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The louvered roof pergola is both unique and stunning. The louvered roof uses slats that you can place any direction or placement that you want. These can be angled to ensure you get the best coverage, which is perhaps why they are such a popular choice for many. That angle might also give you just a little bit of extra protection in the rain, show, and other weather elements.

The slats basically will open or close at your instruction so you can open them to let more through or close them to give you complete coverage and protection from anything on the other side of the roof. Some of them change automatically and move with the sun but you can also manually control them how you like.

3.  Install a Sun Shade Sail Above the Pergola Artpuch 10' x 13' Shade Sails 185GSM Rectangle Shade Sail UV Block for Patio Garden Outdoor Facility

If you’re just looking for something small and simple but also shady, a sun shade sail could be a good solution. These are simple but mighty shades that you connect in the corners to hold them above your area.

They are referred to as sails because they are designed very similarly. They are lightweight but still protective in your spade. These are primarily used for sun block and designed to give you some shade in a place that you might not otherwise have any type of UV protection. They’re simple and can be taken down in the seasons you don’t need them as much too.

4.  Build a Retractable Canopy TANG Outdoor Retractable Pergola Replacement Shade Cover for Patio Deck Shade Canopy Awning Polyester Waterproof Fabric Slide on Wire Wave Shade Cover 3’x16’ Beige

A retractable canopy could be a great option. This gives you the ability to put out or retract the canopy as you please. There are several different ways to build a retractable canopy, depending on how fancy you want it to be. You can also purchase retractable options that will retract automatically.

If you want to build your own, you just need the structure and then the canopy materials. Your retraction process will be manual when you go this route, but you can find ways to keep retraction simple by just typing back pieces of the canopy to have as much or as little as you want covered.

When it comes to retracting the canopy, you have a ton of choices.

5.  Go Green with Plants 

Go Green with Plants

You don’t necessarily have to build or purchase some big shade for your pergola. You can keep in natural instead. Some people choose to shade and protect their areas with the use of plants. This is an awesome choice, and it will look great too if you do it right.

You can use a variety of greenery, vines, trees, and more to set the stage. Be sure to do a bit of research and find out what will thrive in your climate. You don’t want to invest in plants and trees that simply won’t live or are going to end up being more work than you really want to handle.

Going green and using plants is a great idea and again you can customize it however you like. This can potentially take some time to establish depending on the plants and trees that you choose.

Take note that using plants will protect you from the sun and provide shade but most likely will not provide much shelter from rain and other weather elements.

6.  Install a Wooden Cover

A wooden cover is another great option to choose from. These are almost like a canopy cover, but they are made completely of wood instead. Use a sturdy wood that is treated for the outdoors in order to make sure it doesn’t end up weakened or degrading when the sun or the rain hit it.

Wooden covers can be made with solid wood, but they are usually slatted instead. The slats are just enough to allow a little bit of light through but still be quite shady when you’re hanging out beneath them. You can also pair a canopy or a sun shade sail with a wooden cover if you want to.

A wooden cover could be made or purchased, it’s really up to you. Choose the design that works for your space.

7.   Fiberglass Cover

A fiberglass cover might be a great way to fill in wood slats or simply just add a bit of extra coverage to an existing structure. Fiberglass cover options are typically not extremely expensive so it might be a budget-friendly solution as well.

The fiberglass materials are thick and solid. Some people choose to use a clear material but that won’t provide you a ton of shade. You can also choose different colors so keep that in mind as you make a decision.

When you use a fiberglass cover, it really is just a cover. You’re going to need a structure to connect it to or set it up with. You likely will only use fiberglass on the ceiling, but people sometimes use it as part of a surround as well. This will be up to your design preferences.

8.  Install a Bamboo Cover ALEKO BBL32X72BR Light Brown Bamboo Roman Wooden Indoor Roll Up Window Blinds Light Filtering Shades Privacy Drape 32 X 72 Inches

A bamboo cover is a great addition to a structure that is already in place. If you have the structure but you need to add some shade or protection, consider bamboo. You simply add it to whatever you have or build a frame to house it. Most bamboo covers can be rolled out so you can open them up if you want more sunshine in.

Some people use bamboo covers not just for top shade but to add shade on the sides when you need extra protection. The sun doesn’t just shine overhead, it will shine from the sides of the pergola as well. Bamboo covers can create a bit of a wall when you need it and again, they can roll up or down so you can use them as needed.

There are different types of bamboo covers out there so look around and figure out what type of solution is best for your needs.

9.  Install a Tin Cover

And for our 9th option, you just need a sheet of tin that is cut to your measurements. Tin is typically inexpensive, and it will provide complete protection from the elements. Whether you need sun shade or protection from rain, it works quite well.

The only downside to a tin cover might be if you’re hanging out in the rain or hail. It could get a bit noisy in those circumstances. However, it will adequately provide you with shade and protection so it’s a small price to pay for the occasional noise.

A tin cover will be like a full roof, but it’s just made of tin. It will need to be secured down to the structure so that it stays in place, but this isn’t too hard to accomplish.

Alternative Pergola Covering Options

These are the top 9 easiest ways to give your pergola some extra coverage. But there are other options you can consider if you want to. Here are a few of those.

Build a Gazebo Instead

You don’t have to just use a pergola. A gazebo might just give you the best of both worlds. The gazebo is a structure that gives you a space for your outdoor enjoyment and gives you the shade and structure for protection as well. They can be made in a lot of different ways, and they are quite spectacular to look at.

Install an Awning Patio Sun Shade Sail Canopy, Rectangle Shade Cloth Block Sunshade Fabric - Outdoor Cover Awning Shelter for Pergola Backyard Garden Yard (10' x 14' Rectangle, Red)

You don’t have to get fancy. An awning will protect you from the sun and the rain if you’re just looking for some shady coverage. It’s very similar to something like a sun shade sail except it’s going to be permanently installed to the space.

Awnings are pretty common over store front entryways so it would be a similar concept but will likely be much larger than these by comparison.

Build a Roof

Forget worrying about a material that might not last and just add a real roof. Your pergola is going to have a structure around it anyway so why not just finish it out and make it a unique space with the ultimate protection.

Add shingles and create a roof that will block the sun and protect you from weather elements at the same time. This will take more work and could add up in costs, but it might be something to consider if you want a lasting structure that won’t require extensive maintenance or upkeep through the years.

Final Thoughts

In closing, there are some really great options for covering a pergola. Protect yourself from the sun or the rain and provide an outdoor space that you can enjoy. You can get creative with a simple fix or go all out with some of these options.

No matter what your design preferences are, there are some great solutions here. Any solution can be customized to your preferences and the design style that you’re trying to portray. In some cases, you could even combine styles if you feel like that is your best solution.

How will you cover your pergola?

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