Waterproof Pergola Roof Ideas (No 7 Is Our Favorite!)


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If you want to add a bit of character to your deck or patio then a pergola is an excellent idea.

However, unlike other outdoor structures, the open roof doesn’t allow you to make the most of your garden when the weather gets bad.

Waterproof pergola roof ideas guide
Waterproof pergola roof ideas

What’s more, without a waterproof roof, any furniture you put under the pergola stands to be battered by the rain and sun.

But don’t worry, there are some great ways to improve the function of your pergola for all types of weather.

In this guide, we’ve put together some great waterproof pergola roof ideas.

1. Vines

We are starting with an option that provides a degree of waterproofing if it is used only for light rain.

Vines are one of the best ways to give a natural look to your pergola but you have to choose the right ones if you want to keep out any excess moisture. 

Pergola roof vines idea
Pergola roof vines

Things like grape vines or wisteria are perfect for keeping out drizzle as they are much denser in terms of foliage.

They won’t keep out rain in a heavy storm but for a light shower, they work very well. 

But where they aren’t the most effective where rain is concerned, they are perfect if you’re looking for a spot of shade.

Do keep in mind that some vines, such as the aforementioned wisteria can be quite invasive. Moreover, you will have some mess to clean up when the vines drop their leaves.

If you’ve created a cooking area under the pergola then this might not be the ideal option. 

But one thing that really makes vines stand out from the crowd is how beautiful they look.

If you want to adorn your patio and make it look incredible, they’re definitely worth considering. 

2. Shade Sails

If you don’t want to go for the minimum waterproofing that vines offer then you might opt for shade sails.

These are a great choice for light rain but you have to get the angle just right otherwise they won’t be effective at all. 

This type of fabric does have very minute holes in it but they’re certainly more than enough to keep rain out.

As long as it isn’t torrential, of course.

Instead, the water will bead on top of the shade sail and simply roll off which is why you need to install it at an angle.

Also keep in mind that very heavy rain will be more likely to drip through before it has a chance to roll off so you probably still won’t be able to sit out in this type of weather.

It’s also worth considering that this is a more semi-permanent option that cannot be retracted unlike some of the other methods we are going to show you.

That’s ok if you’re happy sitting in shade all the time but if you want versatility then this might not be the right choice for you. 

3. Rolling Canopy

If you have ever seen a retractable awning for a patio, you will instantly recognise a rolling canopy as they’re pretty much the same thing.

Instead of the arms you would see on a patio awning, these canopies have tracks and cables to move them back and forth. 

What’s great about them is they change with the weather.

When It’s Sunny – You can move them back and enjoy the weather but when the heavens open, you’ll be able to cover up and keep dry.

However, it is important to only use them in light rain as once things start to get a bit heavier, you will find that water pools making it difficult for it to roll off. 

4. Single Or Multi-Track Canopy

There are very few single-track canopies out there at the moment.

One notable company is ShadeFX which does offer them.

There is one track that runs down the middle of the cover to which a series of battens are attached.

The good thing about these canopies is that there is a clear peak which means the water is much more easily able to roll off so there won’t be any problems with pooling like a rolling canopy. 

If you prefer, you could choose a multi-track canopy.

First of all, these are a little more expensive so you’ll need to be willing to make a more substantial investment.

Keep In Mind: The curved battens mean that water will very easily roll off and most of these designs have gutters built into the pergola frame so everything drains away easily. 

5. Tin Roof

A tin roof is going to cost a little more than some of the options we have looked at already but if you want a permanent fixture, it’s an excellent choice.

Tin is durable and aesthetically-pleasing especially if you are going for an eclectic or industrial garden theme. 

You will need to make sure that when installing the tin roof, you do so with a slight slant in order to allow the water to roll off.

Pergola tin roof idea
Pergola tin roof

If you don’t, then you will quickly find that it pools and you’ll have no way of removing it.

While tin doesn’t corrode easily, if it is constantly exposed to resting water, you’re going to have problems sooner rather than later.

Although if you wanted a metal roof that is really resistant you might choose galvanised steel.

This is super strong and long lasting and it does come in a choice of colors so you can spice up the appearance of your garden even more.

From Experience – This will keep shade off exceptionally well but it might get a little hot under a metal roof so it is worth leaving some ventilation holes.

Rather than installing these in the middle of the structure, keep them to the corners so that when it does rain, you won’t get dripped on. 

6. Wooden Roof

Wood is used for a whole host of outdoor applications because it is so durable.

It also does an excellent job at resisting water provided it has been correctly treated.

Pergola wooden roof tips
Pergola wooden roof

The only real downside is that you will have to maintain the wood and continue to apply treatments and stains for as long as you have it. 

It’s also important to choose the right type of wood.

Things like cedar work well and always look for products that have been pressure treated.

As with other types of solid roof, you will need to make sure to install your wooden roof at an angle.

Other than that, it’s just the same as installing decking, only higher up. 

7. Louvred Roof

Some people might call this an adjustable cover, a motorized pergola or an opening roof.

In any case, what you’re looking at is a type of roof that has shutters or blinds and can be opened at an angle.

This is totally different to how a rolling or retractable canopy would work and you have more options as to how open or closed the roof remains. 

Pergola Vs Arbor difference
Pergola open

The louvred roof is perfect for regulating how much light you let in but when the weather turns bad, it can be completely closed so nobody gets wet.

When the roof is closed, the slant will ensure that any rain water rolls directly onto the ground. 

What’s great about them is that they come in all different patterns, materials, sizes and colors so you can really find something that fits in with the aesthetic of your garden.

The mechanical parts of the roof are usually made from resistant materials so they’re perfect for outdoor use and won’t become rotten or moldy. 

The louvred roof is also much more user-friendly since they are controlled by a remote control and some even have a compatible phone app so they’re hugely convenient. 

8. Corrugated Roof

It is also possible to install a corrugated roof onto a pergola which can be made from a variety of different materials.

These might include:

  • PVC
  • fiberglass
  • or polycarbonate

Although if you wanted something affordable, it’s probably best to go for fiberglass.

That said, some people report problems with clouding which can ruin the aesthetic of your pergola as well as affecting how much light gets through. 

If you want to maintain an attractive appearance then PVC panels work well but these are not as robust and may break more easily.

To get the balance of both, you would choose polycarbonate but with this comes a much higher price tag.

That said, they’re also great at blocking UV rays so are safer for you to sit under. 

There are a variety of panels that are not clear but solid and opaque.

These might look good but they will limit the amount of light that gets through and may spoil your view.

Since they are a fixed structure you won’t have the option to retract them but they’re excellent at keeping out rain and snow. 


Your pergola is likely the focal point of your deck or patio.

However, you can’t enjoy it in all types of weather if it isn’t covered over.

That’s why finding the best waterproof pergola roof is essential and we’ve got some excellent ideas.

From solid fixed roofs through to natural vines and everything in between, there’s something to suit every taste and budget.

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