When you are choosing a cover for your patio, you should choose an option that makes a visual impact and gives you versatility. You can easily throw up a shelter by welding together a metal frame and then attaching metal roofing, but your shelter will do little to improve the looks of your yard, and the roof will be more or less permanent. If you want a shelter that will enhance the aesthetics of your yard and give you the option to remove the roof if you want a little more sun, then go with a pergola.

What Is a Pergola?

A pergola typically comes as a timber frame made in a rectangular or square pattern. You will have horizontal beams connecting the wooden posts which are placed in the corners of the pergola. You will then have smaller wooden beams running from one side of the beams to the other without forming a solid roof. This is the most basic form of a pergola, and in this configuration, it does little more than define the space of your patio as separate from the rest of your yard. It is a sort of outdoor room that provides you with ample views of the surrounding area. 

Bringing in the Versatility

If you want a pergola that provides shelter from the sun and/or the weather, then you have a couple of options:

1. You can use wooden louvres which will allow you to open the louvres just like you would the blinds in your home to provide light, or close the louvres to provide shade. As you might suspect, rainwater can still run down between the gaps in your louvres, so they provide shelter from the sun, but not necessarily from precipitation. 

2. Your second option is to have a canvas tarp made to fit your pergola. When treated with the right oils, the canvas will provide protection from the sun and from precipitation. It is a little harder to put the canvas in place and take it down, so it won't provide as much versatility as a louvre system, but it will provide more protection. 

Pergolas can make a beautiful addition to your yard. For one thing, they have been in use for centuries, so they lend a little classic beauty to your slice of suburbia, and for another, they offer you the versatility to add more or less shelter as your needs dictate. Talk to a landscaping contractor (or companies like Aluminum  Builders Home Center) about options for covering your patio to help decide if a pergola is right for you.