Roofing materials for pergolas – When you design your pergola, give some thought to whether you want to roof it and, if so, the type of roofing materials for pergolas. Do you want protection from the rain or only partial shade cover? Would you prefer to add a green touch and grow a leafy vine across the top of your pergola? Some useful roofing materials are described below.
In the last few years, the availability of polycarbonate sheeting (which includes UV protection in clear finishes) has widened the choice of transparent and translucent roofing materials – so this may be worth considering in preference to other, more traditional materials.
1. Trellis – Crossed wooden slats will produce a trellis effect across the top of a pergola, providing good support for climbing plants. The strips can be left to weather, or can be painted or stained.
2. Shade battens – Nail battens (usually 38 x 38 mm) to the rafters, using one batten as a spacer. Use wider or narrower battens and space them according to the amount of shade required or for a decorative effect. Alternatively, you can use long and short battens to create a fringed look.
3. Shadecloth – Fabric mesh coverings filter strong sunlight, and they let air and moisture through. As roofing material for pergola, shadecloth is a good alternative to the traditional canvas and makes an ideal covering. It is light, maintenance-free and comes in a range of densities (from light shade to extra heavy). It is normally available in green, although other colors may be available from some suppliers.
4. Reed or bamboo – These inexpensive materials have a limited lifespan. Prolong their use by rolling them up and storing them inside during winter.
5. Canvas – Heavy cotton duck provides some protection against rain, but it is essential that it be stretched taut so that it won’t sag and allow water to collect on it.
6. Polycarbonate sheeting – New advances in the manufacture of polycarbonate sheeting (made from polymers) offer an attractive roofing alternative. This roofing material for pergolas is stronger than glass or acrylic of equal weight. Polycarbonate sheeting is flexible, light, highly resistant to UV degradation and able to screen out nearly all the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. A range of tints is available, which will help reduce glare.
7. Fiberglass (also called glass-reinforced plastic) – Corrugated GRP panels are easy to cut and fix with screws. Slope the canopy so that water will run off.
8. Climbing plants – Grape vines, other climbing plants and deciduous creepers continue to be popular coverings for pergolas. They give shelter from the sun in summer, yet allow the winter sunlight to penetrate.