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How To Choose a Pergola Shade Cover

Updated: Nov 29, 2021

Add the perfect touch to your outdoor area with a pergola shade cover. Whether you’re planning a DIY construction or are already enjoying a beautiful outdoor structure from Bjørn Woodworks, explore the benefits of shade covers and popular materials you can use in your own backyard.

Update your outdoor seating or kitchen with a comfortable cover of stylish material.

Explore the benefits of shade covers and other popular materials for a pergola that you can use in your own backyard.

How To Choose a Shade Cover

A pergola is a free-standing structure with a grid of beams or rafters. These beams are designed to offer shade at certain times of day but don’t always offer the protection you need.

Consider these reasons to have a hard or soft cover for your structure.


Exposed beams offer shade at a particular angle, but that noonday sun will still stream down into your outdoor seating area. A cover offers shade throughout the day and can shield you from rain. A little more coverage may be all it takes to enjoy more time in your backyard.

Before you invest in a rigid roof and four wall panels, remember that one of the perks of a pergola is open seating or cooking. Too much coverage can make your structure feel claustrophobic or prevent you from enjoying the sunlight and a great breeze.


Are you ready to invest in state-of-the-art pergola designs, or are you looking for a budget-friendly option? Consider your budget as you explore coverage options. Some fabric options are very affordable, while a retractable pergola canopy or a hardcover may be more of an investment.

Don’t let an upfront investment stop you from covering your seating area. If you’re unhappy with the amount of sunlight or wind you experience while sitting under your structure, investing in a cover can help you get more out of your investment.


Choose a material that encourages you to spend more time outdoors. A durable cover is a convenient option because it’s a low-maintenance choice that extends the amount of time you can comfortably sit under your pergola.

Another convenient option is a retractable pergola canopy or a removable design. You may wish to enjoy the summer sun as you sit in your backyard, which isn’t possible with a fixed cover. Retractable designs offer an easy way to cover or uncover your seating area as you wish.


Stain, sealant, and paint can help you personalize your structure, but a shade cover offers another way to create an iconic outdoor area. Explore patterns, textures, and colors that accent your wood structure and your landscaping.

Walls or screens are another way to create an eye-catching outdoor space. Use them to provide privacy, block the wind, or create a calming backdrop to your gathering.

Popular Pergola Shade Cover Options

Explore popular pergola shade ideas as you prepare to construct or update your structure. These options are all compatible with DIY kits, whether installed during construction or afterward. Consider how each material and design of shade cover affects the coverage, cost, convenience, and creativity of your new favorite outdoor structure.

Canvas Canopy

One of the most popular, modern options is a canvas canopy. Choose a simple white, off-white, or black canopy and stretch it over the top of your pergola. The monotone look works well with a busy outdoor design or as the finishing touch to a minimalist design.

Canvas is a durable material that shields you from rain, sun, and strong winds. It’s a more lightweight option than a hard roof, so you may be able to install it on your own with proper safety precautions. A little maintenance is all you need to enjoy your canvas canopy for years.

Fixed Roof

Protect your outdoor area with a durable alternative. A hard material may offer a longer lifetime and can shield you from falling sticks and other debris. Choose a material that’s durable enough to withstand direct sunlight, rain, falling debris, and even snow for a secure structure.

Polycarbonate panels are a popular option for a rigid roof. These panels are relatively lightweight, easy to install, and strong enough to shield an outdoor sitting area or kitchen.

Retractable Pergola Canopy

A truly state-of-the-art design, a retractable canopy is powered by a motor or crank and can be opened or closed as you wish. This style of canopy may be more of an investment than a fixed structure but offers a convenient and personalized alternative for any weather.

Be sure you choose a canopy that fits your structure. If you’re preparing to build a Bjørn Woodworks pergola, follow the kit installation instructions to customize the dimensions of your outdoor area. This allows you to design your structure around your retractable canopy or design both the structure and canopy around your outdoor area.

Fabric Walls or Screens

Even a roof cover may not be enough to shield your outdoor space from the wind, rain, and sun. Consider including walls or screens for even more protection. Choose a matching fabric or lattice walls to give your structure a trellis look.

These features can be removable or fixed, just like your roof. They also dramatically change the look and feel of your pergola, so carefully consider your design options for a stunning gathering space.

Personalize Your Pergola With Bjørn Woodworks

Prepare to install a pergola shade cover today with these inspirational ideas. If you don’t have a pergola yet, choose a fully customizable option. Check out Bjørn Woodworks pergola kits today to see how you can install a DIY kit to match your landscaping and style.

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