Colorado may be cold, but it offers its residents plenty of sunshine. You may not be excited about going out into those frigid temperatures, but it’s marvelous to be able to look outside and see the golden glint of sun.

It’s also nice to feel it coming in your windows…for now. Come summer, the sun will present challenges. You’ll want to sit outside and read a book or eat lunch, but that full sun will be blinding and so potent you may only last a few minutes before you have to go inside and cool down.

Patio Cover vs Pergola

(marcdenning / pixabay)

Two great options to temper the Colorado sun are patio covers and pergolas.

Patio Covers:

A patio cover can provide the shade that you need, and it’s attached to the house, which means it’s easier to run electricity through it. Other things like drapes or blinds can be used to create more shade. The solid roof of the patio cover is built to keep the sun and rain from ruining your afternoon reverie or your backyard barbecue. You can purchase a kit and build your patio cover yourself. It will likely be made of PVC or aluminum fiberglass if you go with a kit. The challenge with these DIY covers is that they don’t integrate well with the look of your home, so many people in Colorado opt for a custom patio cover. Custom covers incorporate your housing and roofing materials and colors and create a seamless extension from your home.


You could have a pergola attached to the home to cover your patio or you could have it built as a free-standing structure. The slatted pergola roof can come in several different styles that can all provide shade. You can keep it open or cover it with a UV-resistant canopy. There are all kinds of fabrics available that give a chic vibe and resist fading. You can also add curtains or blinds for more sun-resistant options. While a patio cover may limit your shade vs. full sun options, a pergola can provide greater flexibility. Pergolas are potentially less expensive. Your Colorado pergola installer can give you more information on prices.

As you decide which of these two structures is best for your property, here are some questions to ask yourself:

Do I want a free-standing structure?

If you want something detached from the home that creates an outdoor space in your yard, go with the pergola.

Do you want it to match your home?

If you are looking for something that looks like an extension of your home, the patio cover is your best bet. It affords many options for customization with the posts and roof. Talk to a custom builder to find out how you can build a patio cover that coordinates perfectly with your home.

Do you want a decorative ceiling on your patio?

Just as you have a lot of options for a roof for your patio cover, you also have plenty of options if a decorative ceiling is of interest to you. From beadboard to cedar wood tongue-and-groove to stucco, your Colorado patio cover builder can install the ceiling that fits the aesthetic you want.

Do you want full or partial shade?

A covered patio is a sure way to create full shade. This can keep you cool in summer and keep your patio furniture from fading. On the other hand, this can block out light, and if you’re a gardener, you’ll probably want at least some sun to help your potted patio plants thrive.

If you want the ability to have partial sun in summer—or full shade in summer but as much sun as you can get in the winter—a pergola may be your best option. You can get a detachable roof in tin or polycarbonate. You can opt for fabric covers, too, including retractable fabric canopies.

Do you want electrical features?

Are you wanting electrical outlets, fans, heaters, speakers, misters, or lights on your outdoor shade structure? While these may be possible with a pergola, you’ll most likely be looking at exposed wires. On the other hand, if you go with a patio cover, your contractor can run electrical wires through the attic. That way, all of the wiring will be hidden in the ceiling.

Do you want help cooling your house?

If your house gets too hot because of heavy sun exposure, you probably want your shade structure to help bring the temperatures down. A patio cover that is attached to the house will be your best choice for minimizing the sun’s rays (and bringing down your air conditioning bill).

Winter is a great time to start thinking about adding a backyard shade structure. If you wait until spring, your Colorado patio cover or pergola builders may be running a wait list! Start now to get top priority and enjoy your shade through the spring and summer.


  • Nate Barrett

    As the President of SRI Decks, my greatest satisfaction comes from the immediate sense of fulfillment that our work brings. From the initial design discussions with our customers to the moment we capture the final project in photos, I feel an immense pride in my team for their dedicated efforts. My passion for hands-on work and outdoor projects is matched only by the joy I derive from seeing a delighted customer when we’ve successfully completed a job. Fun Facts: I like hot chocolate in my coffee. I’ve been with SRI for 12 years, prior to ownership. I have a daughter, 3 dogs and a loving girlfriend.

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