Vinyl vs Wood Pergola Compared – Which Material Is Better?

  • By: CarlBroadbent
  • Time to read: 5 min.
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Ever since Covid-19 kept us locked away in our own homes, people are more and interested in investing in their outdoor spaces.

As a result, there has been a big increase in people looking to sort out their decks, patios, and other outdoor living areas that add shade and definition like pergolas.

Pergolas have seen an upward growth and there are more varieties and styles than ever. One question that homeowners frequently question is which material is the best.

Vinyl vs wood pergola explained
Vinyl vs wood pergola

More specifically, people want to compare vinyl Vs wood pergolas.

Traditionally, of course, pergolas have been made of wood. However, these days many other pergola materials are available – including vinyl.

Compared to wood, vinyl is seen as a material with much less maintenance and its popularity as a garden structure material has increased considerably.

In This Article – We’ll discuss vinyl Vs wood pergolas to help potential buyers decide which material they should choose for their next garden structure.

Wood pergolas – the advantages and disadvantages

Wood is visually appealing as well as being very versatile.

It’s also readily available. For these reasons, this material has been used for constructions for centuries.

Since pergolas have existed, they’ve typically been constructed out of wood.

However, it isn’t just due to tradition and familiarity that wood is a popular choice of material for pergolas.

Pergola vs arbor explained
Pergola backyard

Carpenters and craftsmen are used to working with this versatile material and can make them in all sorts of shapes and sizes.

It’s also quite easy to find a woodworker who is capable of building a custom wood pergola for your unique garden space and tastes.

Finally – Wood is also not as expensive as some other materials – especially if the design has been created from scratch with standard lumber.

Beauty Vs Maintenance

Wood is a beautiful material for your backyard.

After all, you can’t get much more natural than this natural material. However, this beauty comes at a price over time and requires maintenance.

All wooden structures are susceptive to:

  • UV light
  • insect activity
  • and moisture

To protect it from these issues, wooden garden structures are usually treated or painted, which prolongs its life.

UV rays can cause the sun to denature the structure.

In turn, this can cause the paint to peel. This then needs to be retreated again to prevent moisture from penetrating the structure and rotting it.

Of course, all repairs and maintenance take time and money.

Beautiful pergola backyard

And you can’t just decide they’re not needed as this will mean your structure will eventually rot and won’t be structurally sound anymore. It will also lose its charm.

In some destinations, wood maintenance will be minimal, especially in places where there isn’t a lot of rain, for instance.

However, a lack of rain also comes with higher chances of UV exposure, which means that the wood would still need to be painted to maintain its color.

The maintenance problem is one reason why wood pergolas can be frustrating to have in your backyard.

Though it’s a versatile and beautiful material, it needs care to keep its esthetics and strength over time. So, if this sort of maintenance puts you off, vinyl could be a viable alternative.

Vinyl pergolas – the advantages and disadvantages

Since the mid-20th century, vinyl has been a popular construction material in outbuildings and homes.

It was created to be a wood alternative that freed up homeowners from onerous maintenance while being attractive.

Pergola Vs Arbor difference

One reason why vinyl is such low maintenance is that the color isn’t just on the surface.

This means that it doesn’t peel, chip or fade. It also doesn’t need maintenance and touch-ups, unlike wood.

Good News – One of the most important benefits of a vinyl pergola is that it doesn’t need upkeep or special care. The only thing you’ll need to do is pressure wash it from time to time to clean it.

An all-weather material

Build A DIY Pergola At Home - Garde...
Build A DIY Pergola At Home - Garden Structures

A vinyl pergola will hold up well no matter the weather.

They can withstand rain, high winds, high UV levels, and extreme cold alike – especially if they have a reinforced aluminum core.

Vinyl material pergola advantages
Vinyl material

This means that vinyl pergolas are perfect for any place and will last a long time.

One of the worries about a vinyl pergola is that it’s not customizable. Even though vinyl isn’t as customizable as wood, there are still a lot of choices out there.

You can choose different shapes or widths of columns and can have the pergola attached or freestanding. You can even find a style to match your property. 

DIY Vinyl Pergolas

If you like to get hands-on – or just want to save a few bucks – you can get vinyl pergola kits.

These don’t need a lot of expertise or special tools and you’ll be able to erect the pergola pretty quickly.

DIY vinyl pergolas or wood pergolas explained
DIY vinyl pergolas

Though you might worry that a vinyl pergola kit is more expensive than a wood pergola, you’ll save a lot of money by the fact that you can install it yourself.

One of the downsides of pergolas for some people is the color limitations.

Compared to wood, which you can paint, there isn’t an awful lot of choice when it comes to vinyl.

Vinyl Vs Wood Pergola Comparison

If you’re still undecided, take a look at our side-by-side comparison table to help you.

Vinyl Pergola Wood Pergola
Initial cost30% more expensive than wood (but no maintenance costs)30% cheaper than vinyl (but maintenance costs further down the line)
DIY installationEasyMore difficult
Best suited toAnywhereDrier climates (to be longer lasting)
MaintenanceLow maintenance (an occasional wash)High maintenance (repainting)
Potential problems Insects, rotting, warping
AdvantagesCan withstand extreme weather, no maintenance, strongNatural material, traditional look, can be painted any color, less expensive, naturally beautiful
LifespanLifetime10 to 15 years with good maintenance
Vinyl Vs Wood Pergola

Final thoughts on Vinyl Vs Wood Pergola

A pergola is an investment that will add interest and style to your backyard.

What’s more, it can truly define your space and bring some shade on sunny days.

For anyone considering investing in a pergola, you should weigh up vinyl Vs wood pergolas to see which type suits your needs best.

If you want something long-lasting that requires little to no maintenance, the vinyl pergola is a great choice.

Conversely, if you want a natural, traditional pergola and don’t mind the added work to maintain it, a wood pergola will be a good investment.

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