Pergola or Patio Cover … Decisions, Decisions

August 4, 2015 Uncategorized
Texas Custom Patios
We have built our business since 2004 on the idea that we will design and build projects that look original to the home.  We love to create projects that look like they belong on the home and that we know will add value to the home.  Certainly, a homeowner’s budget restrictions, or a difficult tie-in to the home have dictated some compromises over the years, but generally we’ve been able to adhere to our desire to design and build to look original to the home.  This has become our philosophy and it has served us well for over 11 years.


Recently, we designed a project for a homeowner that was a simple patio cover.  We designed a roof with an attractive pitch and the finishes were low-maintenance and would last the life of the home.  Unfortunately, they didn’t pull the trigger on this design, and instead asked me to quote a painted cedar pergola with a clear plastic on top.  They like the look; they had a photograph of a similar project; they felt like this would allow more light in the windows on the back of their home.  This is a project that runs completely contrary to our philosophy.  While we liked this homeowner and they seemed eager to work with our company, we wanted to decline the project and I felt that we owed them an explanation.  We also felt like we should “save them from themselves” and help guide them to a better project for their home, even if they chose a different builder.


If you are weighing the options of a pergola with clear plastic vs. a patio cover with shingles to match your home, here are some things to consider:

– A pergola is a temporary structure as opposed to a permanent structure.  It doesn’t add value to the home and it begins to show signs of wear very soon after being built.  Honestly, our company tears down more pergolas than we build.
– Painting wood instead of staining will result in this project being high-maintenance.  This is why new homes are built with Hardieplank trim and siding instead of wood.
– The see-through plastic on top (Polygal or Lexan are commonly used products) is the primary issue … it will also be high-maintenance, especially with mature landscaping in the backyard.  It will not be clear for very long because it will become very dirty in a short time period.  The constant cleaning and difficulty of cleaning will cause other maintenance issues – it will leak, it will make it difficult to repaint the structure (which will need to be done frequently). It will need to be flashed against the house wall just like a roof … this will be unattractive and will need to be repaired when it is time to replace the pergola.

I closed my email to this prospective client with these thoughts…

“We like to build projects that are intended to last the life of the home.  We feel responsible for everything that we build and we don’t want to be on the hook for something that is destined to have so many problems.  If you want to seriously entertain the project I designed previously, I’d love to work with you.  If you want to go the route of the painted pergola with a see-through top, we believe another builder is better suited for you.”

You learn a few things after building 1,200 projects.  We truly are experts in outdoor living and we should share that knowledge and educate buyers whenever possible!


Have a project in mind? We work throughout the Houston and Dallas - Fort Worth areas.

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I am totally satisfied with my new patio. The whole project was done very well and I recommend Texas Custom Patios to anyone – all my neighbors and friends were impressed.

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