When you want to enhance the outdoor areas around your home, you have several different design options you can choose from, such as patio coverings and pergolas. Each option has its own unique attributes and functions. It is important to understand how each of these functions, along with the pros and cons of each design, to ensure you select the best ones for your outdoor areas around your home.

table and barbeque in patio What Is a Patio Cover?

A patio cover is a structure that is attached directly to another structure, like your home. The key distinction that makes it different from outdoor structures is it has a roof. The roof could be an extension of your home or it can have its own style of roof that is arched or flat.

Another key feature of patio coverings is they can be left open on three sides or have one or two sides enclosed with one left open. Some designs also feature sliding doors on the side normally left open, so you could close it during inclement or cold weather and still enjoy the use of the outdoor space.

What Is a Pergola?

A pergola is a detached structure that is freestanding. It can be installed over a patio, walkway, driveway, over part of a pool deck, or even in the middle of your yard. Unlike a patio cover, the cross supports the “roof” part of the structure are left open and do not have an actual roof. However, some homeowners do opt for a special style of the pergola that can be attached and secured to the side of the home.

Pros of Patio Covers

wooden patio with covering

• With patio coverings, you have control over protection from sun, rain, cold, and other types of weather.

• The patio is completely covered with a roof.

• If you enclosed two of the sides, you could add retractable shades easily.

• The upper part of the cover can have ceiling fans installed for cooling during the summer.

• If attached to your home, you can install heat and cooling ductwork to heat or cool the patio if your design also features retractable and closeable doors.

• You can add entertainment options, like an outdoor surround sound system or outdoor TV with reduced risks of exposure, compared to a pergola.

• Patio covers are easier to maintain than pergolas.

Cons of Patio Covers

• Since the cover is attached to your home, moving it to a new location is very difficult and costly.

• You have to take extra precautions when using fire pits and outdoor heaters to make sure the roof does not get too hot and there is proper ventilation.

• Changing the design of the structure requires tearing it out and building a new one, while, with a pergola, you can alter it by adding or removing plants or adding other aesthetic features.

• Extending the patio cover requires a major renovation project since the roof has to be extended.

table under pergola

Pros of Pergolas

• You can add retractable canopies to create an enclosed “roof” and provide added shade from sunlight and protection from rain.

• You can grow vine-type plants near the pergola so they grow up and over to create a “natural” canopy over the top of the structure.

• Since a pergola is its own detached structure, it is possible and easier to relocate to another area outdoors.

• You can install curtains, drapes, and other such additions to it for aesthetic reasons, as well as to provide protection from most elements.

• Some pergolas are designed so a ceiling fan and overhead lighting can be installed.

• Pergolas are easier to use with fire pits and outdoor heaters.

• You can erect two or more pergolas next to each other to extend the coverage they provide quickly and easily.

Cons of Pergolas

• Pergolas are harder to heat and cool since all four sides are left open and exposed.

• It is very difficult to connect ductwork for heating and cooling to a pergola.

• You have less flexibility in adding electronic entertainment options due to risks of the equipment being exposed to the elements.

• You have to prune the plants growing on your pergola to keep them looking good.

• Vine-type plants can make resealing wooden pergolas designs rather difficult.


table under canopyWhich Is Better in Texas?

We all know Texas can and does have hot sweltering summers, so one might be inclined to think patio covers would the obvious choice. If you want partial shade or the ability to build a structure that is not attached to your home, then pergolas could be the best choice. On the other hand, if you want a structure that is easy to maintain, then a patio cover could be the way to go.

It really comes down to your own personal preferences and how often you like spending time outdoors relaxing, eating, or visiting with friends. If you are “on the fence,” we recommend checking out what other homeowners in your neighborhood have done and asked them what they like and dislike about their pergola or patio cover.

Some people also opt for what is known as a free-standing patio cover. This type of structure is essentially a patio cover, but it is not secured to the home. Rather, it is built as its own separate structure, set permanently in place.

For instance, you may have an outdoor kitchen next to your pool deck that is not covered, nor near the home, but you still want it covered with a roof. In this case, building a free-standing patio cover would be an ideal solution.


tv and chairs patio

The Foundation Is the Most Important Part of the Structure

No matter whether you want to add a patio cover or a pergola to your home, the foundation is the most vital part of the structure. A solid concrete patio underneath the patio cover or pergola will provide decent support for the structure once it is built.

Each of the support posts of the structure should also be set into concrete to ensure they remain firmly in place on the ground and do not sink. Otherwise, without concrete supports, and a really bad rainy season, you could see your patio cover start to sag or your pergola leaning to one side or the other!

Fortunately, you are no longer stuck with basic gray-colored cement anymore. There are all sorts of colors and designs you can choose from to put your own personal touches on the foundation. There are swirled “marble-style” finished, solid colors, and more to choose from. There are even paintable concrete finishes you can use over the actual foundation to give you even more flexibility if you like to change colors on a regular basis.

concrete patio foundation

Some people also use raised outdoor patio tiles they place directly over the foundation once the structure has been built. One of the benefits of patio tiles is you can choose from wood, composites, and other such materials to give your outdoor areas a more natural look and feel.

To learn more about different cement foundation options and colors or to get help designing and building patio coverings or pergolas, please feel free to contact Cross Construction Services at 713-254-1703 today!

Not only are we concrete experts when it comes to driveways, sidewalks, walkways, and patios, we are also experienced in building beautiful and stunning outdoor structures!