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How to put a roof on a pergola?

You might be wondering: Why are pergolas so popular?

Well, outdoor pergolas are wonderful constructions that add charming detail to your deck. They provide a bit of cover for the area beneath it, but not quite enough. Because of this, a lot of homeowners wish to install a roof for their backyard pavilion, but they don’t know how to do it or what materials to use.

Read our post about how to put a roof on a pergola to learn everything about it.

Why get a pergola roof?

Your pergola might not be well-equipped to handle every kind of weather.

A lot of them don’t come with any kind of shades or covers.

This means that rain will go through them rather easily and you’re going to end up with a drenched patio. Snow will be just as annoying during the winter, assuming you like spending time in your backyard on colder days.

Covering your pergola with some kind of roofing material can do wonders for your patio.

It will allow you to enjoy a good cup of coffee in the morning, even if it’s raining heavily. Most people opt for pergola roofs because of rain, but some people might want to keep out the pesky sun as well. Too much sunlight might annoy you during the summer months.

The things you need

For starters, you will need a bunch of tools to help your DIY pergola roof project.

A couple of ladders might come in handy unless you consider yourself tall enough to reach everything on your own.

You will also need to bring a hammer and some nails along with you if you want to use a tarp or some other kind of fabric for your roof. There’s going to be a lot of handiwork involved with fastening the fabric part of your cover, so try to practice your nailing technique so you don’t end up hitting your thumbs.

Screws and screwdrivers are the bread and butter of construction. If you plan to have a solid roof, installing the panels and connecting them will require a lot of screws. If the panels aren’t already filled with holes designed for the screws, you might need a drill to help you create them. Either way, you should get ready to spend a lot of time perfectly setting those panels up.

Last, but not least, you will need to pick out a material for your new pergola roof. There are lots of them to choose from.

ladder leaning on the pergola roof

What to choose for a pergola roof?

Now, let’s move to the next part of the How To Put A Roof On A Pergola task: What roof material to choose?

Metal roofing

There’s no material out there that can match the practicality of metals. They’re extremely durable roofing options that will outlast anything else. If you thought fiberglass was tough, the durability of most metals will exceed your expectations.

The most common choices for pergola metal roofing include copper, lead and steel.

They all have their benefits and drawbacks, such as being more expensive and may be harder to install.

However, they all function relatively well in protecting the pergola. People often ask experts like Architectural Leadwork if they should install copper or lead roof. They’re both very effective and easy to install, while also being pretty affordable to boot. Whichever metal you pick, it will cover your pergola enough to protect you from the elements.

Fiberglass and plastic

Both fiberglass and plastic roofs are in demand right now.

They provide customers with a quick and relatively cheap way to cover their pergola and protect it from rain. When properly installed, they can last quite a while and they don’t need a lot of maintenance. In fact, once you have one, you’re pretty much set until you want to replace your whole construction.

One of the best benefits of these roofing materials is that they can be transparent and thus can let in quite a bit of sunlight. This can be great if you don’t your pergola to block too much natural sunlight.

However, there are a couple of drawbacks to these materials.

Fiberglass isn’t easy to find inadequately shaped panels, and plastic isn’t very good for the environment. It’s not biodegradable and every time you purchase a plastic panel, you’re guaranteeing that it will one day become part of a landfill.

Pergola facing the pool


If you’re looking for something to cover the sun and not much else, a tarp might just be the material for you.

You can secure it on top of the pergola when the sun is out and remove it when you’re finished relaxing on your patio.

Just make sure you fasten it to the edges of the pergola with some nails or rope, just in case. You never know when a windy day might want to ruin your perfect shade oasis.

It doesn’t require special instructions to install and you won’t have to worry about it getting damaged. It’s a great temporary cover for those who don’t want a permanent roof over their pergola.

Installing the roof

Once you’ve obtained all the necessary materials, you can get down to business. Installing a pergola roof isn’t all that complicated.

You start with taking the dimensions of your pergola and writing them down. This will allow you to align the panels correctly later on or measure your fabric if you decided to go with a soft roof.

Then, take the material that you picked and lay it on top of the pergola.

For a soft pergola roof, you can leave it as is or fix the material with nails.

For a solid panel roof, you have to drill some holes where the screws should be and carefully connect the roof panels. A couple more additional screws and nails should keep it in place and then you can call it a job well done.

metal pergola without roof

How to put a roof on a pergola: Final words

Installing a roof on top of your pergola is a pretty simple task. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to get the job done. Pick out the right material, get your screwdriver ready, and you’ll have a functional roof in no time.

If you don’t want to bother, you may want to consider getting a gazebo instead. Just read our post explaining the differences between a gazebo and pergola beforehand and make your choice!

Photo of author

About The Author

Ron Wolf

Ron is a hobby designer and a DIY enthusiast, and, above all, a very blessed father of two. Besides that, he has a strong passion for writing. If he is not working he enjoys being outside with his family. Hiking, bike riding, and BBQing are always a thing for him. In the evening, he likes to watch documentaries or build something with kids in their lego corner. Check out his Facebook.

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