How Tall Should a Pergola Be? Here's What You Need to Know

How Tall Should a Pergola Be? Here's What You Need to Know

Adding a pergola to your backyard or patio takes entertaining to the next level. A pergola is an outdoor structure that provides a central area for people to gather, offering partial shelter and shade through their partially open roofs.

The pergola roof breaks up the sunlight, giving you the perfect balance of sun and shade when entertaining, but how high should the top be? Here’s what you need to know about how tall a pergola should be.

How Tall Should a Pergola Be?

A standard pergola is between 8 and 12 feet tall. The height you choose depends on how wide the pergola is. A wider pergola should have a tall roof, so it won't look short and squatty. The right height offers the most protection from the elements while maintaining proper air circulation.

You can choose from freestanding pergolas or attached pergolas, which you secure to a structure, like your patio or garage. An attached pergola should be the same height as the structure it is secured to, not taller or shorter.

How to Choose the Height of a Pergola

You need to know when to choose an 8-foot pergola, 10-foot pergola, or a 12-foot pergola.

8-Foot Tall Pergola

An 8-foot pergola is the minimum height that a pergola should be. You will want to choose an 8-foot pergola if you plan to attach it to a small structure like an outbuilding or garage because attached pergolas should be close to the same height as the support structure.

10-Foot Tall Pergola

A 10-foot pergola is the standard pergola height. Choose a 10-foot pergola for freestanding pergolas because they are tall enough to place a ceiling fan and lighting on the pergola rafter but not so tall that they look out of place in your outdoor living space.

12-Foot Tall Pergola

A 12-foot pergola is the highest pergola height and should be chosen when attaching a pergola to a large structure so that it doesn’t look out of place or too big.

Why is the Height of a Pergola Important?

The height of a pergola is important because it provides shelter, shade, and an enclosed outdoor space for entertaining. A pergola that is too short can leave you feeling cramped and limited on entertaining space, while a pergola that is too tall can create under utilized space. It’s important to choose the right height of a pergola to keep you both sheltered and cozy.

It's important to properly utilize the space you have when choosing the pergola that's right for you. We recommend adding a ceiling fan or light fixture to the pergola rafter when you have a large one with a 12-foot ceiling. This will fill the area of the pergola without making it too cramped.

If you plan on adding a ceiling fan or lighting to your pergola. Just make sure that you have enough clearance overhead to accommodate the fixture.

You can add curtains to your pergola to create privacy and reduce air circulation. Knowing how tall your pergola is will help you determine what curtains you should add. Other pergola ideas are to add hanging or climbing plants to make use of the vertical space or allow them to vine along the pergola rafter.

Things to Consider When Choosing the Height of Your Pergola

HOA regulations, location, and size are just a few of the factors you need to consider when choosing how tall your pergola should be.

HOA Covenants

If you live in a community that has a homeowner’s association, you need to check to see if pergolas are allowed in your community. If so, make sure you know the regulations for how tall the pergola should be so that you don’t inadvertently violate a covenant. HOA covenant violations can result in hefty fines, so make sure you avoid these at all costs before adding a pergola to your property.


The location of your pergola is another factor you need to consider when choosing how tall your pergola should be.

If your pergola is standing alone in your backyard, ensure the pergola's height corresponds with how big the pergola is.

Additionally, if you plan to attach a pergola to a structure or your home, you want the height to match the structure. If attaching the pergola to your house, make sure the beams from the structure aren’t blocking a window or a door.


How big your pergola is will determine how tall the pergola should be.

  • A 10 x 10 pergola should have a ceiling height of 8 or 10 feet
  • A 12 x 12, 14 x 14, or 16 x 16 pergola should have a minimum ceiling height of 10 feet
  • A 20 x 20 or larger pergola should have a ceiling height of 12 feet

Again, just make sure the ceiling height of the pergola is proportional to the area size of the pergola.

Why You Need a Pergola

We’ve talked about how a pergola provides a sheltered space for entertaining and gathering, but there’s another reason you may need a pergola.

A pergola acts as a trellis for vining plants. You can place a vining plant next to the pergola and it will thrive on the sides and ceiling of the pergola as it grows. The thicker the vining plants grow, the more shade and shelter the pergola will provide.

Whether it’s for entertaining, gardening, or just having a cozy place to sit on your patio or in your backyard, a pergola makes the perfect structure.


We hope this guide has helped you know how tall a pergola should be so you know which size pergola you should choose. Take a look at some of the pergolas on our website to find the perfect pergola for you! 

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