How to Choose Between a Pergola, Gazebo, or Ramada


03 Aug How to Choose Between a Pergola, Gazebo, or Ramada

There are three main options when it comes to selecting the right awning to protect your outdoor kitchen. You’ll want to consider a few design and functional elements before planning to build either a pergola, gazebo, or ramada. Here are the main differences between the three structures, and a guide to help you decide how to pick the right overhead covering for your outdoor space.

Pergola, Gazebo, or Ramada

Typically, people use these terms interchangeably; however, there are some distinct architectural differences between each structure.

A pergola is a rectangular structure that has a flat, open roof. The roof is the strongest defining characteristic of a pergola; it is constructed with horizontal beams of wood that have openings, equally spaced between each beam. A pergola is used to cover walkways and seating areas, while providing shade for the outdoor room. These structures don’t provide complete protection from the elements since the roof is open, and are best used in warmer climates.

Now a gazebo is commonly confused with a pergola, but can be very easily differentiated. A true gazebo is always a round or an octagon shape with a domed roof. The structure is typically supported with eight symmetrical columns, and similar to a pergola, is a freestanding structure.

Last, a ramada is another rectangular structure that offers protection for your outdoor kitchen. Unlike a pergola, the roof is closed from the elements. Outdoor kitchens are most commonly protected by ramadas because they provide excellent coverage for the appliances and seating area. The closed roof also traps heat to make for a cozy environment, even during the chillier months of the year.

Selection Process

An outdoor kitchen is a wonderful addition to any home, but without the right overhang you may not get as much use out of the space as you would have liked. Each of these coverings have their time and place, so before you select one simply based on their appearance you should consider the four following elements: location, shape, climate, and function.


Where do you plan to have your outdoor kitchen and seating area, and what part of those structures would you like to have fully covered? Some homeowners already have their outdoor kitchen built underneath a balcony or overhang that is structurally part of their home, there isn’t a need for additional coverage for the seating area. If that is the case, a fabulous gazebo or pergola could be the right option. These structures will provide shade and give the feeling of a true outdoor room, without needing the heavy-duty building process of a ramada. These freestanding structures can also be placed further away from your home, so they visually create a retreat that can be enjoyed without the kitchen prep. When you are considering the three main options keep the location in mind with respect to the proximity to your home, outdoor kitchen needs, and your backyard’s pathways.


While this tends to be a more minor detail, the shape of your structure will come into play during your decision process. Considering gazebos are only round in shape, this may not be the most practical structure for an outdoor kitchen. A fabulous seating area would definitely be supported by a gazebo, but a circular kitchen would tighten the layout’s function. The shape will also be determined by the architecture of your home. If your home is Mediterranean a ramada may lend itself better to the overall design, while if your home is a quaint cottage a pergola with jasmine growing up the side might be a better option.


Since the pergola and the gazebo don’t provide complete protection from rainfall, the climate of your area will determine if they are practical selections. All three structures provide adequate shade from the sun, but when it comes to rain, hail, or snow a ramada is the only structure that will ensure your appliances and seating area stay dry. If you only plan to use your outdoor kitchen and seating area in fair weather conditions, a pergola or gazebo would suffice. Also, if you live in much warmer climates you may not want to install a ramada. The enclosed roof traps heat so if your area tends to be hotter a ramada may not be the most comfortable option without fans or misters.


Keep the function of your structure at the forefront of your mind as you decide. Do you need a closed roof to protect the appliances in your outdoor kitchen, or just some shade for outdoor seating? Do you want to have recessed lighting, fans, and heaters in your outdoor room, or would you prefer fanciful string lights woven across your overhang? The purpose of the room will help guide you towards the right selection. Pergolas and gazebos are typically whimsical structures that are placed at a distance from your home, while a ramada tends to have greater presence in a landscape by creating a true outdoor room. Occasionally, ramadas will be built with a wall for one side of the structure. In this case, the one wall would usually have a fireplace, tv console, and storage built in. If you intend to have an elaborate outdoor kitchen and room, you may need to full protection the ramada’s roof provides, while if you are more of a minimalist a pergola or gazebo will create less construction costs.

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