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how much does a pergola cost in 2023?

How Much Does a Pergola Cost? A Comprehensive Guide to Pergola Costs in 2023

An outdoor louvered pergola can be a beautiful addition to any outdoor space. With its open lattice design and ability to provide shade, pergolas have become increasingly popular enhancements for backyards, patios, and decks. However, before embarking on a pergola project, it is crucial to understand the various factors that affect the cost of building a pergola.

This comprehensive guide will provide you with a deep understanding of the elements that influence pergola pricing. We will break down pergola costs per square foot for different materials and sizes. You will also learn handy tips and tricks to help you save money on your custom pergola project. Let's dive in!

elevated pergola foundation using bricks with outdoor furniture and fireplace on patterned paver

Key Takeaways

  • Pergola costs range from $30 - $65 per square foot installed, with custom designs costing over $100 per square foot. The bigger the size, the higher the overall cost.
  • After fiberglass, wood is the most expensive pergola material but offers natural charm. Vinyl and aluminum are cheaper but have an industrial look. Composites strike a balance between aesthetics and cost.
  • Opt for simple square-shaped designs over elaborate curved or angled shapes to save money. Avoid fancy custom add-ons.
  • DIY pergola kits can cut costs by 30-50% compared to hiring a professional. But have the time and carpentry skills.

Understanding Pergolas and Their Appeal

A pergola is an outdoor garden structure that consists of vertical posts or pillars that support an open roof of beams and rafters. The most common materials used to build pergolas include wood, vinyl, aluminum, and composites.

Pergolas provide shade and cover while allowing maximum air circulation thanks to the open roof design. They are often used as a way of connecting the indoors with an outdoor living area. Pergolas can transform a dull backyard into an enticing entertainment space or a relaxing oasis to enjoy the outdoors.

With their aesthetic appeal and multifunctional nature, it’s no wonder pergolas have become a sought-after backyard upgrade. Homeowners love being able to enjoy the beauty of their gardens from the comfort of a pergola. Their stylish designs also increase curb appeal and home value.

Factors That Affect the Cost of Building a Pergola

Several elements contribute to the overall expense of installing a custom pergola. The major factors that affect the cost include:

Materials and Labor

The materials used for constructing the pergola frame and roof will largely determine the base price. Common options like wood, vinyl, aluminum, and composites have varying price points. More ornate materials like stone and wrought iron can increase costs significantly. Labor costs also depend on material choices.

Size and Design Complexity

The bigger the size of the pergola, the more materials and labor will be required, driving up the final costs. Intricate or lavish designs with additional features will also add to the bottom line. Simple, straightforward styles are more budget-friendly.

Customizations and Add-Ons

Additional attributes like integrated seating, lighting, ceiling fans, and curtains can elevate costs. Modern upgrades like motorized retractable roof covers also impact the overall investment. The more custom features included the more expensive the project.

Location and Installer Expertise

Labor expenses fluctuate based on geographic location and the skill level of the contractor. Professional installation by a reputed local contractor will be on the higher end. DIY projects can help save substantially on labor costs but may require more time and effort.

On average, you can expect to spend $30 to $65 per square foot for a professionally built custom pergola including both materials and installation. More elaborate designs can cost upwards of $100 per square foot.

outdoor living today breeze pergola with outdoor dining set and grill beside a pool

How Much Does it Cost to Build a Pergola?

Let's break down the expected pergola costs for different variations:

Wood Pergolas

For a basic 8x8 backyard cedar pergola built by a professional contractor, your total costs would be:

  • Size: 8 ft x 8 ft = 64 sq ft
  • Average material cost for wood: $30 per sq ft
  • Average labor cost: $15 per sq ft
  • Total estimate = 64 sq ft x ($30 + $15) = $64 x $45 = $2,880

For a larger 12x16 cedar wood pergola with upgraded features like lighting and curtains, your total costs would be:

  • Size: 12 ft x 16 ft = 192 sq ft
  • Material cost with upgrades: $50 per sq ft
  • Labor for custom build: $25 per sq ft
  • Total estimate = 192 sq ft x ($50 + $25) = $192 x $75 = $14,400

As you can see, the cost to build a pergola can vary widely depending on the specifics of your project. Working with accurate area measurements is key to getting a precise estimate.

Vinyl Pergolas

For vinyl pergolas, the material costs tend to be higher, while installation labor is lower. Here are two common cost scenarios:

  • Basic 10x12 vinyl pergola:
    • Size: 10 x 12 = 120 sq ft
    • Vinyl material cost: $55 per sq ft
    • Labor fees: $10 per sq ft
    • Total: 120 sq ft x ($55 + $10) = $65 x 120 = $7,800
  • 20x16 premium vinyl pergola with upgrades:
    • Size: 20 x 16 = 320 sq ft
    • Premium vinyl material: $80 per sq ft
    • Labor for upgrades: $15 per sq ft
    • Total: 320 sq ft x ($80 + $15) = $95 x 320 = $30,400

Luxury vinyl pergolas with high-end finishes and features can cost over $100 per square foot.

Aluminum and Composite Pergolas

These ultra-low maintenance modern materials have the following average costs:

  • Aluminum:
    • Materials: $40 - $60 per sq ft
    • Labor: $10 - $15 per sq ft
  • Composites:
    • Materials: $50 - $65 per sq ft
    • Labor: $15 - $20 per sq ft

Labor costs may increase for more intricate designs. Composite pergolas are normally cheaper than real wood but more expensive than vinyl.

Want to know the pros and cons of each material besides cost, take a look here:

Material Pros Cons
Wood Natural beauty, versatility Requires maintenance
Vinyl Low maintenance, durability Higher upfront cost
Aluminum Structural strength, weather resistance Industrial look, high cost
Composites Looks like wood, low maintenance Limited design options


outdoor living today pergola with outdoor furniture on a wooden deck

Exploring Pergola Kit Costs

For DIYers wanting to save on labor, pergola kits are an excellent option. Here's an overview:

  • Pergola kits come with pre-cut lumber and all hardware needed.
  • Kit prices range from $1,500 for small 8x8 kits to $5,000+ for larger luxury kits.
  • You save professional labor costs by doing it yourself using the kit guidance.
  • Overall cost saving of 30-50% compared to hiring a builder.

Custom Wood Pergola: Aesthetic and Cost Considerations

Custom wood pergolas allow you to create a one-of-a-kind design tailored to your space. But customization comes at a premium price.

The cost to build a custom wood pergola is influenced by:

  • Type of wood like cedar, redwood, pine
  • Pergola size, shape, and layout
  • Design elements like layered roofs, trendy shapes, and decorative beams
  • Performance features like integrated shading sails, curtains, or louvers
  • Skill level of carpentry workforce constructing the pergola

If working with a limited budget, save expenses by opting for simple designs using readily available wood types and limiting extra built-ins.

How to Save Money on Pergola Project

Here are great tips to get a gorgeous pergola built while sticking to your budget:

  • Select pressure-treated lumber which is cheaper than cedar or redwood. Use visually appealing but affordable wood species.
  • Opt for simple square or rectangular shapes rather than trendy curved or angled pergolas.
  • Build a lean-to-pergola attached to an existing wall rather than a freestanding structure.
  • Avoid fancy custom add-ons and keep the design straightforward.
  • Purchase DIY wooden pergola kits and do the manual labor yourself.
  • Hire handymen rather than specialized pergola builders to save on labor fees.
  • Time projects for the off-season when demand is lower to get discounts.
  • Use coupon codes and cashback when ordering materials online.

A bit of creativity and smart planning can help you install an economical yet stunning pergola!

man building pergola using a power tool

Pergola Installation: DIY vs Professional

Installing a pergola yourself can lead to massive cost savings compared to hiring a professional. Here is a look at the DIY vs pro installer scenarios:

DIY Pergola Installation

  • You save significantly on labor costs by doing it yourself.
  • Allows you to work at your own pace, with no rush to finish.
  • Requires you to have carpentry skills and tools.
  • Chance of installation mistakes due to inexperience.
  • DIY kits provide all materials and instructions needed.
  • Overall cost saving of 30% to 60% compared to hiring an installer.

When planning your pergola project, be sure to consult a detailed pergola buyer's guide to help you make the most informed decisions on everything from materials to size to budget.

Professional Pergola Installation

  • Builder has the expertise to construct properly and securely.
  • A licensed contractor has insurance protection.
  • Faster installation time, typically 1 to 3 days.
  • No purchase of tools is needed for a one-time project.
  • Overall increased cost but peace of mind from an expert job.
  • Higher-end design capabilities.

Here is the comparison between DIY vs professional pergola installation:

Factor DIY Professional
Cost Significant labor savings Higher overall cost
Time Self-paced Faster installation
Skills Required Carpentry skills needed No skills needed
Quality Higher risk of mistakes Expert craftsmanship
Customization Limited options More design choices

Whichever route you take, conduct due diligence. For DIY, follow all instructions closely. For professional installers, vet them thoroughly and read reviews.

In today's pergola marketplace, the average cost to build a basic 200 sq ft wooden garden pergola would be around $8000 - $10,000 if done professionally. Here are some cost influencers to be aware of if planning a project in 2023 and beyond:

  • Inflation and rising material costs will drive pergola prices higher.
  • Ongoing lumber shortages due to supply chain disruptions may persist, increasing wood costs.
  • Higher demand for outdoor living spaces may lead to increased contractor labor rates.
  • New technologies and trends like integrated motorized shading systems will come at a premium.
  • Value-added offerings like extended contractor warranties will become more common.

Experts forecast the average cost per sq ft for materials and installation to rise 5% to 7%, but this varies by region. Keep these projections in mind when budgeting. The ideal time to build is during contractor off-seasons when demand is lower.

dark stained pergola with outdoor furniture

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. How much does it typically cost to install a pergola?

The cost of installing a pergola can vary depending on several factors such as the size, design, material, and location. On average, pergolas cost anywhere from $30 to $65 per square foot to install. The cost may be higher for custom pergolas or if additional features are included. It is best to get multiple quotes from contractors to determine the specific cost for your project.

2. Does the type of pergola material affect the cost?

Yes, the choice of pergola material can affect the overall cost. Common materials used for pergolas include wood, aluminum, and vinyl. Wood is often more expensive than aluminum or vinyl, but it can provide a more natural and aesthetic appeal. The cost of materials should be considered when planning the budget for your pergola project.

3. What is the average cost to build a custom pergola?

The average cost to build a custom pergola can range from $50 to $60 per square foot. This cost includes both materials and labor. Custom pergolas offer more flexibility in terms of design and can be tailored to match the unique requirements of your home.

4. Can I build a custom pergola myself to save on costs?

Building a custom pergola yourself may save on labor costs, but it is essential to have the necessary skills and knowledge to undertake such a project. If you have experience in construction and woodworking, building your own pergola can be a cost-effective option. However, if you are not familiar with construction, it is recommended to hire a professional for the installation.

5. What are the factors that affect the cost of a pergola?

The cost of a pergola can be influenced by several factors, including size, pergola design, material selection, and location. Larger and more intricate pergolas tend to cost more due to additional materials and labor required. The choice of materials, such as wood or aluminum, will also impact the cost.


A new pergola can take your outdoor space to the next level, both aesthetically and functionally. But this upgrade does require a significant investment. Prices are impacted by the size, materials, design complexity, customizations, location, and professional vs. DIY installation.

With proper planning, due diligence, design restraint, and smart budgeting, you can build the pergola of your dreams without breaking the bank. This guide covers all the cost considerations involved. Use it as a handy reference point when requesting quotes and making decisions.

With your ideal pergola, you'll be enjoying the beauty of the outdoors in comfort and style for years to come!

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About The Author

Andy Wu - Resident Expert

Andy Wu - Resident Expert

Andy Wu is the resident backyard products expert and hails from Atlanta, Georgia. His passion for crafting outdoor retreats began in 2003.

As a fellow homeowner, he founded Backyard Oasis to provide top-quality furnishings and equipment, collaborating with leading manufacturers.

His main focus is on sheds and generators!

In his spare time he like to hike the tallest mountains in the world and travel with his family.

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