Retractable-Roof Pergolas: Made for the Sun and Shade

ShadeTree retractable roof pergola canopy

Retractable-roof pergolas can provide the best of both worlds in outdoor living -- sunshine when you want it and shade when you don't. By creating a space that feels like an outdoor room, a retractable-roof pergola can add a sense of privacy while dropping the temperature as much as 25 degrees during the summer. But before buying a retractable-roof pergola, you should know what to look for.

The best type of wood for a pergola is cedar that's stained with a finisher every five years, says Nathan Boyles, landscape division manager at Blue Haven Pools in Oklahoma City, which designs and builds pergolas. A cedar pergola that's stained every five years will last 40 to 50 years, Boyles says. Without the staining, it might last 10 years. "It doesn't rot and bugs don't like it," Boyles, 28, says of cedar. "Termites don't get into it."

The worst type of wood is pine, which isn't meant to be out in the elements, he says. Pine pergolas might last two to three years, he says.

For a pergola with a clear roof, you might choose a shade material such as a polycarbonite, that blocks the sun's UV rays but is transparent, Boyles says. Such coverings can provide shade that will drop the temperature 20 to 25 degrees, he says. Other common shade materials for retractable-roof pergolas are durable and sun-resistant fabrics, or light-weight metals such as aluminum.

The slideshow below shows some of the variety of materials and uses that can make retractable-roof pergolas so adaptably appealing.

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