Pergola roof ideas and options – what you need to know

Originally published in May 2023

You’ve finally got the perfect pergola for your space, but you might want to protect your investment (and your furniture) with a pergola roof, and there are a few things to consider.

Roofs for pergolas can come in the form of solid metal slats, also known as louvred roofs, or as a retractable pergola canopy, made from material. It is also possible to create a makeshift roof from overhanging plants, if you plan accordingly (see these garden shade ideas).

You’ll need to ensure any replacement canopy for your pergola is compatible with the build and is made to last. Some pergolas have a specific style of frame that requires a custom-built pergola shade or canopy.

Whether you’re looking for a pergola with a roof as an all-in-one solution or just replacement roofs for pergolas, you’ll find some top tips in this article.

oak pergola with twin retraceable shade and outdoor kitchen

A pergola roof can be used to cover an outdoor kitchen or hot tub, provide shade or give shelter from the summer rain.

Outdoor kitchens and hot tubs have become very popular trends, as more people are investing in their garden spaces rather than going abroad. Having a pergola custom-made to fit your space looks a lot more intentional and acts as a focal point to bring all kitchen appliances, counters, seating and the general party atmosphere together. Most pergolas do not come with shelter, so now more people are getting roofs for pergolas to protect their furniture.

outdoor kitchen roof

Outdoor entertaining in any weather...

Our customers come to us because they want the benefit of being able to enjoy their outdoor dining area come rain or shine. As we know, the British weather can turn suddenly; you could be firing up the grill in full sun and by the time the steak is done, it’s raining! That’s why many people are now searching for pergola roof ideas, but you might still want the option of retracting that roof, so when the sun does make an appearance, you can see the whole sky and enjoy it.

Waterproof pergola shade

...and any season

to stretch out the summer we were asked by customers to add infrared patio heaters to their outdoor pergola with retraceable canopies.  This was a problem for standard heaters and normal pergola shades, we have overcome these issues with a bespoke solution that allows the canopy shade to open and close above the infrared patio heaters without any risk or damage.  So now you can take the chill off a summer evening or entertain well into the autumn.
bespoke infrared patio heater in oak pergola with retractablw waterproof shade

A pergola roof can come in different materials and styles.

You should also consider whether or not you want a retractable canopy or one that has fixed panels. By choosing a pergola with a retractable canopy shade, you can choose when you want sun and rain protection and when you want full sun. Our pergola shades are made with weatherproof marine-grade fabric in a range of colours, which divert rain to any chosen side of the pergola.

Bear in mind that many pre-built pergolas have limited size, colour and style options to choose from, so it’s worth seeing what design options are available and getting a free quote with 3D design showing how a custom-built one could fit into your exact space.

See our retractable pergola canopies and transform your outdoor space with a covered pergola – whatever the weather!

Pergola roof and frame materials

Most pergolas are made from wood or aluminium; both have different design aesthetics and provide a strong stable framed structure.

cedar modern pergola frame with waterproof retractable shade

Choosing a wooden pergola with a roof

There is more flexibility in material choice and finish with a wooden pergola – it can be cedar or oak or other harder softwoods, but you should always ensure any wood used is the correct durability class and use class for external frames. Choosing a natural wood can provide a beautiful and elegant finish. Importantly, you will want to know how sustainable your chosen material is and where it comes from. Is it from sustainable sources in the UK or Europe, or imported from much further afield? All of the wood used by Hampshire Shades is from local stock in Hampshire and Dorset and handpicked for our customers. If colour and customisation is important to you, you might want a wooden frame and matching pergola roof. Our pergolas and shades are available in a traditional or modern design and constructed from cedar or oak. They look lovely oiled and the cedar can be painted using a range of colours (which we can do for you). With metal pergolas, they are usually black, white or grey. The surface of our premium wooden pergolas is planed and sanded for a beautiful look and feel, regardless of finish, and if left to weather naturally the wood will go a wonderful silver-grey colour. Our shade fabric is a great pergola roof option because it is rated for outdoor use and  is also available in a range of colours to compliment your patio and furniture, plus – it’s fully waterproof and has a 5 year warranty! See our blog on how to transform your outdoor area

Metal pergolas

Aluminium pergolas are a good option if you’re looking to create a contemporary look, and as with wood, there are a few things to think about. For example, the thickness of the aluminium extrusion (frame) and the powder coating, and how strong the connection is at each corner.

Aluminium frames are naturally more durable than wooden frames, as long as they have a protective coating to prevent oxidisation.

Usually, a metal pergola with a canopy is designed with a louvred roof, which means the slats can only open from closed to vertical. Depending on the orientation of your pergola and the movement of the sun throughout the day, the area under the pergola roof could be in the shade most of the day. By choosing a retractable shade, you can pull the whole pergola roof right back and enjoy as much sun as you want.

It’s also worth noting that if any debris builds up on the metal louvred roof it will fall through onto your furniture when you open the slats. This is worth considering if there are any trees above the structure.

While metal structures may look good aesthetically, consider the placement and noise levels too. If the metal pergola is near your sleeping area, it’s highly likely you will hear the rain on the metal roof when it is heavy, and you’ll have to contend with the noise of the rain hitting the slats when sat under the pergola too. This can be quite loud.

Always do a bit of digging to avoid these pitfalls…

Some of the cheaper off-the-shelf solutions out there have been imported to the UK and made from lower quality materials. A good thing to look out for is the production time; if it’s a suspiciously quick turnaround, be mindful of the quality.

None of our UK-made Hampshire Shades and Pergolas are imported and each are manufactured to each customer’s specifications in our Hampshire workshop, delivered and installed by us.

You might also want to get spare parts in the future, so it’s worth knowing where the frame and shade materials have come from and if it’s going to be a hassle getting replacements.

Speaking of no hassle, check if there’s a warranty with the product and what it covers. Any manufacturer who makes quality products will usually offer some form of warranty. For example, ours is five years.

If you need your pergola shade quickly, check out the delivery time, it can be up to 12 weeks in some cases. Our delivery window is four to six weeks.


We hope this article has given you some pergola roof ideas and highlighted some of the things to watch out for when looking at roofs for pergolas. If you have an existing pergola, Hampshire Shades offers custom-made pergola shades designed and built right here in the UK to fit your existing structure.  Or perhaps you are looking to transform your area with a bespoke pergola and retractable canopy shade.  To request a brochure, email or schedule a call in our calendar
Modern pergola with retractable waterproof pergola shade open at night
We hope you feel inspired to find your own personal style and make the most of your outdoor space.

Contact Hampshire Shades on 01489 290 025 or ‘Book a Discovery Call’ for a bespoke, luxury, covered pergola with a retractable waterproof roof.

We are a member of Made in Britain, and our timber pergolas and bespoke shades are designed and made in the UK.
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