The Difference Between Ramadas, Pergolas and Gazebos

July 13, 2017

Sounds Shady

One of the most popular (and functional) custom backyard features we build at Straight Line Landscape is an outdoor shade structure. Usually that’s a ramada, pergola or gazebo. As you begin dreaming and planning your new backyard landscape structure, you may be asking yourself a handful of questions along the lines of:

  • What is a ramada?
  • Ramada vs gazebo vs pergola, what is the difference?
  • Would a ramada structure, gazebo, or pergola look pest in my outdoor space?

They’re all pretty shady, but here we outline the key differences as well as pros and cons of these three popular backyard shade structures in Phoenix, AZ.

Get the Latest from the Straight Line Blog

Sign up for updates from our Phoenix landscape design blog. As you'd expect, you’ll only get quality content from us, and we'll never share your email for any reason.

Ramadas | Ideal for Complete Shade

ramada vs gazebo

Key Differences

  • Closed roof structure
  • Freestanding or an extension of the home
  • Sometimes called a pavilion

Fully Enclosed

The key characteristic of a ramada is a pitched, fully-covered roof structure, providing complete shade as well as shelter from rain and weather. The closed roof holds heat which can be nice for cooler seasons. In some cases, we build ramadas as an extension of the home, though more often as free-standing structures.

We typically build ramadas with a tile roof to match the home. The ceiling can be vaulted or flat and can be built with one or more walls to accommodate a fireplace or television. Ramadas can be made of different types of materials such as luxurious brick and stone to match Arizona’s arid climate. It’s also not uncommon to see them made of wood or concrete.

Ideal For

  • Complete shade
  • Outdoor kitchens and wet bars
  • Audio/video and electrical
what is a ramada & ramada porch

With it’s closed roof a ramada is ideal for supporting electrical supply for lights, fans, kitchen appliances, outdoor audio/video and more. A ramada is a wonderful addition to any backyard. Whether you have a pool, spa or just a gorgeous garden to overlook, these covered structures work for both relaxing and entertaining.

Pergolas | Let the Sun Shine In

Key Differences

  • Open or latticed roof structure
  • Partial shade
  • Freestanding or an extension of the home
pergola vs ramada


Pergolas are structures with an open, latticed roof that is typically flat, allowing sunlight through but casting a complete shadow at certain times of day. Columns or posts support a trellis structure that is suited for growing vines and vegetation.

At Straight Line we usually build pergolas with aluma lattice, or rough sawn douglas fir that’s painted or stained. Great for extending an existing patio, these can also be designed to look like an extension of the home.

Ideal For

  • Vines & vegetation
  • Open, airy relaxing spaces
  • Poolside spaces

Pergolas make a beautiful addition to a home with a spa or pool. They don’t typically provide shelter from the elements as the lattice design will allow sunshine or rain through, but they are excellent for hanging out beneath after a swim or while entertaining friends and family. String up lights on the roof and you’ll have a romantic setting when the sun sets.


Gazebos | Complete Shade in Smaller Areas

Key Differences

  • Closed roof
  • Complete shade
  • Hexagonal in shape
  • Freestanding


A gazebo is another common shade structure with a fully-covered, pitched roof and vaulted ceiling. They have an overall circular shape with 5 or more sides, often octagonal supported by eight supporting posts.

These structures are typically made with wood, though they can also be built with steel or iron, vinyl or aluminum, depending on the client’s choice. Pretreated material is essential for Arizona’s climate.

Gazebos are usually situated in a space providing an attractive view and can be screened in on all sides to keep bugs out. They can also be fitted with an electrical supply for a fan, lighting or television. Because of their open structure, they make a great addition to a backyard with a garden, man-made pond or colorful landscaping. It’ll give you the perfect place to sit and relax both during the day and at night.

Ideal For

  • Places with a view
  • Smaller enclosed relaxing area

When it comes to choosing a structure for your backyard, there are three main points to consider: location, style and use. The climate plays a large part in which materials are best-suited for longevity because the last thing you want to do is prematurely replace your structure. The style should complement your backyard surroundings and your home.

As for its use, if you want something for cozy entertaining any time of year, you’ll want a closed-roof structure. Open or latticed roofs are excellent for those warm summer days and nights. Based on these three considerations, you should be able to choose the perfect one to accent your backyard.

At Straight Line, we’re experts at building ramadas, pergolas and gazebos, all custom designed to perfectly suit your home, landscape design and how you intend to use your outdoor space.

Want to see more?

See Our Custom Ramadas and Pergolas Gallery


  1. joshua weinholt

    on August 17, 2020

    Truly modern and innovative backyard landscaping ideas you have shared here. Thanks for sharing this informative and detailed article.

  2. Geoffrey Watts

    on June 26, 2020

    We have an existing pool and landscaping. We need to revamp and revitalize the back yard.

Add Your Comment

The attention to detail was great. I wanted things that were even, straight, lined up. When you see something in a magazine you want it to look like that, and that’s what my yard looks like!

Barbara S Phoenix, Arizona
Ready to Talk About Your Project?
Contact Us Start a Quote Financing