You’ll find garden pergolas are commonly made from wood, metal or vinyl. This is often a choice of personal preference; however, you may want to familiarise yourself with the advantages and drawbacks of each before deciding the best pergola material for your space.

A pergola is an outdoor, open-air structure, designed to provide partial shade and shelter for outdoor living and seating areas. Alternatively, pergolas can simply be a design choice for your garden, offering a focal point or acting as a trellis for climbing plants.

We compare the qualities of oak, metal, and vinyl pergolas to help you make the most out of your garden.

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Oak Pergolas

Constructed from oak, these natural looking pergolas provide a truly romantic look for all gardens.

Benefits of Oak Pergolas

When choosing an oak pergola, the timeless and authentic look is desirable for both modern and traditional properties. Oak is particularly customisable, meaning you can attain the size and design you’re after without exceeding your budget.

Oak is also durable and has a natural resistance to pests and rot, making it ideal for outdoor structures.

Out of the three materials, it is the most environmentally considerate to manufacture, ensuring a sustainable choice for your property.

Drawbacks of Oak Pergolas

Whilst oak pergolas can be left untreated, for those that prefer to treat their oak (whether for aesthetics or increased protection), the treatment will have to be reapplied every few years, creating maintenance requirements.

Trendy outdoor patio pergola shade structure, awning and patio roof, garden lounge, chairs, metal grill surrounded by landscaping

Metal Pergola

Made from aluminium or steel, metal pergolas provide a contemporary and sleek look for modern gardens.

Benefits of Metal Pergolas

Due to the hard-wearing nature of steel and aluminium, metal pergolas are durable and low maintenance structures; they are unlikely to need recoating or replacing, meaning you don’t need to worry about upkeep.

Their modern and minimalistic appearance is also favoured by many homes.

Finally, metal is suitable for creating louvred pergolas, which feature adjustable roof slats that open and close for increased or decreased shade and shelter. If you’re looking for a louvred pergola, metal should be the material of choice.

Drawbacks of Metal Pergolas

One of the drawbacks of metal pergolas is the price; choosing steel or aluminium for your pergola will require a larger budget compared to the other materials discussed here.

It will also require simple cleaning (such as a wash down with warm, soapy water) to keep it looking its best.

Vinyl Pergolas

Vinyl is a synthetic material that is more cost-effective than metal, while achieving a similar look.

Benefits of Vinyl Pergolas

Vinyl pergolas are more affordable than metal pergolas, making them great for refurbishing your garden space on a budget. They are often available in a DIY kit which can be installed by the property owner to further save on costs.

For those looking for a clean and simple look, vinyl pergolas can provide this, with low maintenance requirements.

Drawbacks of Vinyl Pergolas

Vinyl pergolas can be vulnerable to fading and discolouration when exposed to the elements over time. Because they cannot be painted or coated, if you wanted to refresh the structure, it would require replacement.

Additionally, vinyl is a type of plastic and is not environmentally friendly, so if keeping your garden green is a priority, then steer clear of vinyl.

Vinyl pergolas, with their sleek and clean design, lack the warmth of oak pergolas. This makes them less suitable for those seeking a more rustic look.

Covered spa pool under a pergola roof sunshade with string lights. Spa pool with steps on a stone tiles ground near the concrete wall blocks below the fence panel on the left and white fence panel.

Best Pergola Material: Which Is Best for You?

To decide the best material for your outdoor space, consider: cost, durability, style and maintenance.


When calculating cost, account for the cost of the material and its design, plus the price of installation. Please note, many pergolas (including Enville Oak’s oak pergolas) are available for delivery in a pack form which can be installed DIY or by a tradesperson of your choice, reducing labour costs.

Vinyl and oak are the most cost-effective materials out of the three options when considering the immediate cost.

For long-term costs, consider the durability of the material, as we discuss below.


Oak is an incredibly strong and reliable material, making for a long-lasting structure. Alongside oak, metal pergolas are also extremely hard-wearing, with both materials offering impact resistance and durability in all weather conditions.

A durable material will ensure you won’t need to replace or repair your pergola for years to come, saving on costs.


All the materials listed above form stunning pergolas. We may be biased, but oak offers one of the most stylish materials to create your pergola from, providing a natural and warm finish suited to outdoor spaces.

If you’re looking for something more industrial, aluminium offers the best aesthetic out of steel, aluminium and vinyl.


Ongoing maintenance should also be considered as this will affect how much care and effort your pergola will require over time.

Metal, vinyl and oak are all low maintenance materials, with metal and untreated oak being amongst the lowest maintenance.

Pergolas make a beautiful addition to your garden. However, choosing the wrong material could result in a costly and time-consuming structure.

As specialists in handcrafted oak spaces, Enville Oak’s oak pergolas are made to perfectly fit your space. For all your oak pergola needs, our team supplies and fits bespoke structures, whether free-standing or adjoined to your home.

Unsure as to whether an oak pergola is suitable for your space? Take a look at our gallery for more inspiration.

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