Shade & Shelter – How to Add a Roof to Your Pergola

Adding a roof to your pergola means putting a cover on top to provide shade and protection from the weather. It gives you a shelter where you can relax without worrying about too much sun or getting wet if it rains. There are different materials you can use, so choose the right one that suits your needs.

By installing one, you can make it more comfortable and enjoyable to spend time outside. Read on, and let’s get started on making your outdoor space even better, shall we? 

Exploring Roof Materials

When it comes to roofing your pergola, you have a few options to consider:

Polycarbonate sheets

These are lightweight and durable, providing excellent protection from both sun and rain. They come in clear or tinted options, allowing light to filter through while blocking UV rays. However, they can be prone to scratching and may yellow over time with exposure to sunlight.

Fabric canopies

Fabric roofs offer a soft and stylish option, providing just the right amount of shade. They come in a variety of colours and patterns to suit your aesthetic preferences. Plus, they’re relatively easy to install and can be removed for cleaning or storage. However, they may require more maintenance to keep them clean and free from mould or mildew.

Wooden slats

These give a rustic and natural look while providing partial shade and ventilation. They are durable and can withstand outdoor elements well. However, they may require regular maintenance, such as staining, to prevent rot. Tip: Consider treating for ultimate weather resistance.

Metal panels

Sunjoy 4x2m Skuta Arched Pergola with Wood Finish and Tan Shade
Sunjoy 4x2m Skuta Arched Pergola with Wood Finish and Tan Shade

Metal roofing offers durability and low maintenance. It provides protection from rain and can be painted or coated for aesthetics. However, metal panels can be noisy during heavy rain. Plus, they can heat up in direct sunlight, making the area underneath the pergola hotter.

Installation Process

Installing a roof on your garden pergola is a manageable project with the right approach. Here’s a simple guide to help you through the process:

Step 1: Prepare the pergola structure

Before you put on the roof, make sure your pergola is strong enough to handle it. Check to see if any parts are loose or broken, and fix them if necessary. If your pergola needs extra support to hold up the roof, add it now. This might mean adding more wood or metal to make it stronger. Doing so ensures the structure can support the weight of the roof without any problems later on.

Step 2: Choose the appropriate roofing material

Sunjoy 4x2m Skuta Arched Pergola with Wood Finish and Tan Shade
Sunjoy 4x2m Skuta Arched Pergola with Wood Finish and Tan Shade

Choose the right roofing material for your pergola. If you prefer something sturdy and long-lasting, you might opt for polycarbonate sheets. These are strong and can withstand different weather conditions.

If you want a cosy atmosphere, fabric canopies are a great choice. They come in various colours and patterns to match your style. Think about how much maintenance you’re willing to do, too. Wood might need staining every year, while metal panels typically require less upkeep. So, consider what works best for you before making a decision.

Step 3: Install the roof securely

Start by placing the roofing material on top of the pergola. Use the right screws or nails to hold it in place firmly. Make sure it’s spread out evenly and tightly secured to avoid it drooping or moving around later on. If you’re setting up fabric canopies, pull them tight. Make sure they’re well-supported to stop them from sagging, especially when it’s windy. This helps keep everything stable and prevents any problems down the line.

Step 4: Ensure proper drainage and ventilation

No matter which type of roof you pick, it’s important to make sure water doesn’t gather on it. This can cause problems if overlooked. For roofs like plastic sheets or metal panels, add gutters or make the roof a bit slanted so water runs off. This stops water from pooling and causing damage.

Also, think about letting air flow through by adding small holes or gaps. This helps stop the area under the roof from getting too hot. Overall, make sure water can drain away and air can move around to keep your pergola in good shape.

With these steps completed, your pergola will be ready to provide shade and sun shade ideas for years!

Maintenance and Care

Sunjoy 4x2m Skuta Arched Pergola with Wood Finish and Tan Shade
Sunjoy 4x2m Skuta Arched Pergola with Wood Finish and Tan Shade

Keeping your pergola roof in good condition depends on the material you chose:

  • Polycarbonate sheets: Clean them regularly with a mild soap and water solution. Inspect for any cracks or damage and repair them promptly to prevent water leaks. Periodically apply a UV protectant to prevent yellowing and maintain clarity.
  • Fabric canopies: Remove any debris and gently clean with a mild detergent and water. Check for tears or fraying edges and mend them as needed. Store fabric canopies properly during harsh weather to prevent damage from the elements.
  • Wooden slats: Apply a sealant or stain every year to protect the wood from moisture and UV rays. Inspect for signs of rot or insect damage and replace any damaged slats promptly.
  • Metal panels: Clean metal panels regularly to prevent corrosion. Also, inspect for any signs of rust. Apply a protective coating if needed, and repair any scratches or dents right away.


Adding a roof to your pergola makes it even better for spending time outside. Whether you pick plastic sheets, fabric, wood, or metal, each has its own good points and things to watch out for. To keep your roof in top shape, remember to clean it, check it regularly, and fix any problems you find. This way, you can enjoy your outdoor space for a long time to come!

Explore Garden Buildings Direct for our wide range of outdoor shade options, such as pergolas, wooden gazebos and more.

Up next on your reading list: How to Build Your Own Pergola