What is a Polycarbonate Pergola Roof? 10 Pros and Cons

Would you like overhead protection for your pergola? Then you should consider adding polycarbonate panels. Read this post to learn more about this material and its pros and cons.

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Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to use your pergola year-round? As you know (if have a pergola or considering building a pergola in your backyard), pergolas have a slatted roof that won’t provide complete protection from rain or sun.

Luckily, if you want to increase the usability of your pergola, or if you want to build a pergola that offers more shade and privacy than traditional structures, you have an option: polycarbonate pergola roof panels. Offering UV protection and protection against the elements without sacrificing the appearance of the structure, a polycarbonate roof is a popular trend among pergola owners.

To help you decide if this is something you may be interested in, we will dive deeper into what polycarbonate pergola roof panels are and their pros and cons below. By the end, you will hopefully be able to make a decision about whether a polycarbonate pergola roof is a perfect fit for your backyard!

What is a Polycarbonate Pergola Roof

Polycarbonate Panels

Pros & Cons Summary



What are polycarbonate pergola roof panels?

Polycarbonate roofing panels for pergolas are made from durable, lightweight, and affordable thermoplastic material. This material is designed to withstand virtually any weather and climate. In fact, it has an impact strength that’s approximately 30 times stronger than acrylic and about 250 times stronger than glass. These panels are great for pergolas, pavilions, carports, and a variety of other outdoor structures.

Why are polycarbonate pergola roofs becoming popular?

As you may know, a pergola has an open, slatted roof. Some may like the look of this but, at the same time, want more protection without giving away the aesthetic of the open slated roof. Polycarbonate roof panels are the perfect fit for this need.

Believe it or not, polycarbonate roofing panels are among the fastest-growing commercial roofing products right now. These panels are less expensive than metal roofing options, and they’re more durable than traditional shingles. Plus, they’re easy to install, even for the average homeowner.

Polycarbonate pergola roof panels are able to improve the overall structural integrity of a pergola. One reason for this is that they are so lightweight, which places less stress on the support beams.

These roofing panels also come in a variety of color options and variants, lending to their versatility. You can get them in clear or multi-color, as well as corrugated or foam-backed. In addition, this variety of panels can help you pick the right option to fit the style you want to achieve with your pergola: traditional, contemporary, or modern.

How many polycarbonate sheets does a pergola need?

The number of polycarbonate sheets your pergola needs will depend greatly on the size of your pergola and the sheets provided by the polycarbonate supplier. Each manufacturer provides polycarbonate sheets at different widths and lengths, and there is no one standard size for pergolas. Therefore, this must be taken into consideration when determining how many polycarbonate roof panels will be needed to cover your pergola.

For a typical 12×12 pergola, you will generally find that you need about 3 sheets.

How thick should polycarbonate sheets be for a pergola?

It is important to consider the thickness of the polycarbonate sheet that will be used for your pergola roof. The thickness will play a significant role in the roof’s functionality.

You don’t want a sheet that’s too thin, as it may be too lightweight and small to provide the right overhead protection. However, sheets of larger thicknesses, like 25 mm, may be too big and heavy. Therefore, you want to find some form of middle ground. Generally, 10mm is sufficient for most backyard environments, as it offers the ideal amount of durability and size.

However, make sure to consider snow loading, high winds, overhead limbs, and rain, as the recommended thickness will vary from one area to the next. For instance, if you live in a particularly rainy or windy area, you may want to opt for 16mm polycarbonate panels for increased strength.

We recommend talking to the manufacturer or other roofing specialist about your pergola needs to identify the right thickness and installation needs.

10 Pros and Cons of polycarbonate pergola roof panels

To help you figure out if a polycarbonate roof is right for your pergola, we have developed a list of some common pros and cons to help you decide.

The Pros

#1: Provides Great Overhead Protection

Although many homeowners love the look of pergolas, they may not opt to get one because of the lack of overhead protection. Polycarbonate provides these people with a great option to get overhead protection without sacrificing the aesthetics of the structure.

#2: Highly Durable

When it comes to strength, polycarbonate is by far the best material to use. It has the ability to withstand harsh weather and extreme temperatures (both high and low). It can also endure hard impacts without sustaining damage. Due to its durability and resiliency, polycarbonate panels are a great choice for your pergola roof. In addition, polycarbonate pergola roof panels can last between 20 and 30 years, so they are long-lasting too.

#3: Waterproof

When a pergola doesn’t have a roof, you will get soaked while sitting underneath it during a rainstorm (if you choose to sit there for some reason). Rather than having to head indoors to protect yourself from the rain, the addition of polycarbonate roof panels can make your pergola a perfect place to shelter in the rain because polycarbonate panels are waterproof.

#4: Block UV Rays

Many people like pergolas because of the slatted roof look. The downside is that you won’t get a lot of shade under a pergola, meaning you will get a lot of harmful UV rays. Polycarbonate will allow more natural light to flow through than other materials like glass. However, it will also block the harmful UV rays, ensuring you are protected from the sun—and the heat—while outdoors on a sunny day.

#5: Available in Many Colors

While the majority of people opt for clear polycarbonate roof panels for their pergolas, there are options to tint the panels or get them in different colors. For instance, they are available in grey and black for those who want something less transparent.

#6: Relatively Inexpensive

When compared to other roofing materials like glass, polycarbonate is more affordable. The best part is that you don’t have to sacrifice the quality of the product to get something that is great quality.

#7: Easy to Install

Unlike some forms of roofing materials, polycarbonate panels are easy to handle and lightweight. For this reason, the installation of these panels can easily be a DIY job. To make it even easier, DIY pergola kits are available.

#8: Allows Sunlight to Pass Through

As previously mentioned, natural sunlight can still pass through the polycarbonate panels. This level of light transmission makes them great for people who still want natural lighting to come through their pergola roof panels without the concern of the damage that UV rays can cause.

The Cons

#1: Easy to Scratch

While polycarbonate is strong, resilient, versatile, and weather-resistant, it is vulnerable to scratches. Over time, this may detract from the overall appearance.

#2: Panels May Detract from the Look of the Pergola

Even though many people find polycarbonate panels a great option, it won’t be right for everyone because some might not like the panels’ look (even though minimal) on top of the pergola. Some may find that the panels detract from the classic look of a pergola. Make sure you check out examples before you purchase to make sure you will like the look of a polycarbonate pergola roof before you make a purchase.

Other Considerations

  • A polycarbonate roof will need a slope, generally 5 degrees. This helps keep water from pooling and other debris from collecting on top of the roof. Make sure to consult with the manufacturer’s guidelines before installing the panels on your pergola.
  • Additional brackets and hardware will be needed to install polycarbonate pergola roof panels. Consult the manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure that your pergola has the required support for this hardware and to support a roof.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are more pros than cons when it comes to using polycarbonate pergola roof panels to add a roof to your pergola. For most people, the pros tend to outweigh the cons.

Polycarbonate panels are an excellent roofing material, as they are transparent in the same way glass is, but they are much better in terms of durability and strength. Polycarbonate is low maintenance, long-lasting, impact-resistant, virtually unbreakable, and resistant to various elements, making it a much better material than others like glass and wood. All in all, it is a good choice of material to use on the roof of your pergola if you would like to add overhead protection.

Hi, I'm Ashley!

Hi, I'm Ashley!

I started Live Your Best Backyard to share my (and my family's) hands-on experience and countless hours of research on all things backyard to help you find the best products, ideas, tips, and information for your backyard!

Read More About Me
Hi, I'm Ashley!

Hi, I'm Ashley!

I started Live Your Best Backyard to share my (and my family's) hands-on experience and countless hours of research on all things backyard to help you find the best products, ideas, tips, and information for your backyard!

Read More About Me
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