What is The Most Durable Pergola Material: Wood vs. Vinyl vs. Aluminum

aluminum pergola slats

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The best and most durable pergola material you can go with is aluminum. It has the best price to performance ratio when you're trying to build pergolas that last a lifetime.

The main factors that make aluminum the most durable pergola materials are:

  • Aluminum is HIGHLY weather resistant

  • Aluminum won't warp

  • Aluminum has a good price

In this article we will go over what a pergola is and the different materials you can use to make rectangular free standing pergolas.

What is a Pergola and Different Materials

aluminum pergola

The best pergola material can be tough to determine. A pergola is a square or rectangular structure that uses slats our beams overhead to help reduce sunshine and provide shade from uv rays. You may be looking for an all weather pergola and this is what you should consider.

When you are looking for the right material for your pergola, many homeowners have trouble deciding between wood, fiberglass, vinyl, or aluminum pergolas for your outdoor space. There are many pergola kit options to choose from.

When looking for the right outdoor structures, there are many factors to consider. You want a versatile material, that can be properly anchored and potentially span longer distances.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Pergola Material

internal gutter system on louvered pergola

There are big factors to consider when you're choosing the right pergola materials for your pergola project. You need the perfect outdoor space for your outdoor living area. Some people want a louvered pergola, but will ask if a louvered pergola is worth it?

Climate and Weather Conditions to Consider

snow on pergola

When looking for the perfect pergola for your outdoor living space, you should take into account the following criteria:

  • How warm does it get in the summer?

    • This can be rough on vinyl pergolas if there are intense UV

      • In a desert: wood or aluminum pergolas

      • In hot and humid: aluminum

  • How cold does it get in the winter?

    • Will make some materials more brittle in extreme cold

      • In dry cold: wood or aluminum

      • In wet cold: aluminum

  • How much snow or rain do you get?

    • Some materials may flex under heavy snowfall, and other designs won't keep out rain

    • you may have material that can absorb moisture, causing swelling and rot

      • If you get heavy snow or rain: aluminum

  • How are the strong winds in your area?

These factors break are a huge factor to consider. Wooden pergola kit options can be relatively cheap, but require quite a bit of maintenance.

Maintenance Requirements for a Pergola Kit

aluminum pergola kits

When it comes to a maintenance free option, the only way to go is with aluminum pergolas. Your outdoor space can also go with fiberglass pergola kits with fiberglass beams, to handle some extreme temperatures.

Aluminum Pergolas

The best pergola material for outdoor living is going to be aluminum. With aluminum, all you have to do is wipe down dust or debris, but other than that, there's nothing to do.

Cedar Pergola Kits

Cedar offers a great option with minimal maintenance. When comparing cedar to other wood options, is that cedar is the most weather resistant of any wood pergola. Either wood pergolas can be cheap or have great weather resistance.

Cedar may be costly, however.

Vinyl pergolas

Vinyl pergolas don't require much if any maintenance. You may notice some yellowing of the color as the sun beats down on them, but they generally require very little maintenance.

Different Aesthetics and Style in Pergolas

wood pergola with aluminum slats

One of the main differences between all of the similar structures, outside of material, is that the key factors are the installation costs and style. With wood you get a more natural wood look and a bit rustic, but vinyl pergolas look pretty standardized.

With aluminum pergolas, you can get fresh air and a variety of different looks depending on how the aluminum is powder coated. Wood pergolas vs vinyl pergola kit options generally pale in comparison when it comes to style and outdoor entertaining.

Budget to Consider

comparing pergola offerings

When you're looking for pricing, there's a big difference between other materials. If you want a backyard space on a budget this is the order for pricing least expensive to most expensive.

  1. Least Expensive: Vinyl pergolas

  2. Next Least Expensive: Cedar pergola kit

  3. Most Expensive: Aluminum pergolas

Most Durable Pergola Materials

aluminum pergola material

The best pergola material and the most durable material options are summarized below:

Aluminum pergola

  • Resistant to rot

  • Resistant to rust

  • Resistant to fading

  • Almost no upkeep

  • Can be molded into various shapes and styles

Vinyl Pergola

  • Low upkeep

  • Resistant to rot

  • Moderately resistant to fading

  • Comes in variety of colors and style

Wood Pergola

  • Requires quite a bit of maintenance

  • Not resistant to rot

  • Not resistant to fading


When choosing a pergola material, it's important to consider the durability, maintenance requirements, and overall aesthetic that best fits your needs and preferences. Of the different materials available, aluminum, vinyl, and steel are generally considered the most durable options.

Aluminum is resistant to rot, rust, and fading, and is low maintenance. Vinyl is low maintenance, resistant to rot, fading, and warping, and comes in a variety of colors and styles. Steel is strong and durable, resistant to rot, rust, and pests, and can be painted or powder coated for a custom look. Wood and fiberglass are less durable options, with wood requiring regular maintenance to prevent rot and decay and fiberglass prone to fading and discoloration.

Ultimately, the best pergola material for you will depend on your specific needs and preferences.

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