How Tall Should a Pergola Be?

A pergola is a solid investment to make your yard the perfect place to host parties or to have a simple yet classy hangout spot with your gang. The simplicity of the structure makes it an ideal setting for an outdoor but semi-enclosed space. 

The partial/semi-open structure makes sure enough summer sunlight makes you feel warm and comfy without compromising on luxury. 

A perfectly designed pergola blends with the surroundings seamlessly and complements the design of your house. 

Before we get into the construction details, a key component to consider that contributes to the perfectly designed “ideal” pergola is the height. It is important to get the height right, as it helps decide everything from the functionality to the composition and material of the pergola. 

If you are not sure what might be the ideal height for your pergola, read on to learn more. We’ve put together this blog post, where we’ll be shedding light on the ideal height of a pergola and dimensions you should avoid.

The Ideal Height for a Pergola: Factors to Consider

An optimal pergola architecturally is one that is proportionately built. Now when we mention proportionately, we mean the length and height are in proportion to the roofline and architecture of your house. 

The scale also matters as to make the design of the pergola work well with the surroundings, it needs to match the scale of the bounding areas. 

There are two types of pergola designs that are used universally:

  • A pergola can be an extension of your house
  • Free standing pergolas or gazebos

A Pergola Can be an Extension of Your House

The function and location of the pergola also play a major role in deciding the ideal height. Some pergolas are designed as an extension of the house where the roofline is extended, forming the roofing of the pergola. 

In such cases, the ideal height would be the roof height of the house. This would be the case when a pergola is built right next to a wall or adjacent to the house. The roof heights need to match to get the aesthetic quality.

Similarly, it would be ideal to consider any eaves extending from the house and also the location of windows to position your pergolas in such a way that it doesn’t block any views or have any height constraints. 

In these situations, the ideal height of the pergola could be anywhere between 8 feet to 10 feet, depending on your house roof line. 

If your house is double-storeyed, the optimal height can be 12 feet or higher. The maximum height also depends on the eaves of the house structure. If you are planning to hang plants or lights from the purlins, ensure that the pergola roof is slightly lower than the eaves. 

Free-Standing Pergolas or Gazebos

Now, if you are thinking of a free-standing pergola or a gazebo, the height constraints slightly vary. A free-standing gazebo is a model designed to host large parties and gatherings in your backyard area and is a definitive structure itself. Regardless of its independent structure, landscape continuity is an important factor to consider.

To maintain the aesthetic quality and to ensure a seamless blend with the surrounding structure, it is important to maintain a certain height level that matches your house’s rooflines.

If you are looking at a small comfy pergola just to hang out in the evenings, a 10’x10’ pergola would do the job perfectly. If you are looking at a pompous pergola/gazebo with a large span, say 15 feet to host parties, the ideal height range would be 12 feet. 

When we say height range, we mean the clearance inside the pergola. Twelve feet in height is ideal for hanging grand chandeliers or plants and would make enough room for proper light and ventilation. 

What is Not the Ideal Height for a Pergola

Higher End

Anything more than 12 feet would require additional structural support and might become too heavy. There are a number of height restrictions guided by the local ordinances as well. Some pergolas can span up to 30 feet from column to column. 

But these would require to be proportionally built and hence a taller roof structure. It is important to consult with a local authority to check what height restrictions are allowed.

Lower End

Anything lower than 7 feet is a definite no-go. A pergola is a semi-open structure that requires a lot of natural light and ventilation. A form lower than 7 feet will prevent natural ventilation and would be extremely uncomfortable. Ideally, a standing 6 feet tall person should feel comfortable inside. 

Given below is a table of the most common sizes of a pergola built universally and the corresponding deal height based on the golden ratio of proportionality:

Width Proportioned Height Based On The Golden Mean Ratio
16’×16′   10 feet
16’x20′ 10.5 feet
20’x20′         12 feet

It is evident from the table that the ideal height is between 10 feet to 12 feet. Depending upon the span of the interiors, the model height range is between 8 feet to 12 feet. 

A pergola can be a fantastic addition for someone looking to elevate their barren backyard/outdoor space. For example, our MOCKWOOD pergolas are ideal for any outdoor setting. 

That being said, an archetypal pergola would be the one with the optimal width and height. The pergola, free-standing or not, must blend with the surroundings and match the scale of the built structure. Following local height restrictions also adds another constraint to the whole pergola scenario. 

Remember, the optimal elevation needs proper height planning. 

Proportionality is the key waiting to be unlocked when it comes to building your ideal pergola. 

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