7 Best Waterproof Pergola Roof Ideas with Real Examples!

Do you want to add a roof to your pergola to protect you and your outdoor area from rain? Luckily there are a several great options! Read this post to find the right one for you!

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Are you searching for ways to protect your pergola from rain and create a comfortable outdoor space? Look no further! In this article, I’ve compiled seven practical and reliable waterproof pergola roof ideas to help you make the most of your backyard, rain or shine.

As homeowners ourselves, we understand the frustration of having outdoor plans disrupted by unexpected weather. That’s why we’ve researched and curated these top-notch roof options, ensuring they offer excellent protection and add style and functionality to your pergola.

From durable polycarbonate roofs to modern louvered options, we’ve got you covered (pun intended!) with a range of choices to suit your preferences and needs. So, let’s dive into these fantastic waterproof pergola roof ideas that will transform your outdoor space into a cozy and weather-resistant haven. Get ready to enjoy your outdoor gatherings without worrying about the rain spoiling the fun!

When you are done reading below, come back and check out these posts:

ūüĎČ If you are considering a DIY option for building a pergola, check out our comparison of popular DIY pergola kits from Toja Grid, Linx, and Bjorn Woodworks.

ūüĎČ Maybe a gazebo is a better choice for your backyard. Check out our comparison of popular gazebos from Yardistry, Backyard Discovery, and Sunjoy.

Waterproof Pergola Roof Ideas

Here is a quick rundown of the seven best waterproof pergola covers:

  • Polycarbonate Panel Roof
  • Adjustable Louver Roof
  • Waterproof Shade Sail
  • Metal Roof
  • Wood Roof
  • Laminated Glass Roof
  • Thatched Roof

There is an additional option that I chose not to list, but you should be aware of: solar panels.¬†Some people might recommend solar panels on top of your pergola as a waterproof option. Solar panels aren’t really a roof option by themselves; rather, it’s the structure underneath and supporting the solar panels that can be waterproof.¬†

#1. Polycarbonate Panel Roof

Are you looking for a waterproof roof option that offers both durability and versatility for your pergola? Look no further than a polycarbonate panel roof. This roofing material is made from strong, lightweight thermoplastic, making it a great way to provide a waterproof cover to your pergola. The UV-resistant properties of polycarbonate panels allow sunlight to pass through but protect you from the harsh sun.


  • Exceptional Durability: One of the standout features of a polycarbonate pergola roof is its exceptional durability. Polycarbonate is highly resistant to impact, making it capable of withstanding inclement weather conditions, including hail and strong winds. In all, you should expect these panels to last 10-20 years!
  • Lightweight: Its lightweight nature reduces the strain on your pergola structure and makes it easy to install if you are going a DIY route.
  • Customizable: Available in a variety of colors, sizes, and shapes, polycarbonate sheets allow for customization to suit your specific design preferences and complement your backyard aesthetics.
  • UV Protection: Polycarbonate roofs are designed to offer effective UV protection. The flat panels are coated with UV inhibitors, preventing yellowing or fading over time due to sun exposure. This ensures that your pergola and its occupants are shielded from harmful UV rays.


  • Potential Noise: During heavy rainfall, the sound of raindrops on the polycarbonate roof may be audible.
  • Cost: Polycarbonate can be pricier than some other roofing materials, but its longevity justifies the investment.
  • Appearance: Polycarbonate roofing can have a less traditional appearance compared to other materials like wood or thatch.

Check out our post on polycarbonate roof panels for more pros and cons of this popular pergola roof option.

#2. Adjustable Louver Roof

Imagine having full control over the amount of sunlight and rain that enters your pergola. With an adjustable louvered pergola roof, you can do just that! This roof type consists of moveable slats or louvers that can be adjusted to open or close, providing the flexibility to adapt to changing weather conditions and your desired level of shade and ventilation. Often you will find many modern pergolas with adjustable louvered roofs.


  • Weather Adaptability: The adjustable louver design allows you to respond effortlessly to changing weather conditions. You can easily open the louvers to control the amount of light in your outdoor area or close them during rain to protect your outdoor area and anyone or anything underneath your pergola’s roof.
  • Customizable Sunlight: Adjust the slats to let in the perfect amount of sunlight throughout the day.
  • Rain Protection: Close the slats during rain showers to keep your outdoor space dry.
  • Enhanced Ventilation:¬†The adjustable nature of the louvers promotes better airflow, keeping your outdoor space well-ventilated and comfortable on warm days.
  • Aesthetically Appealing: The sleek design of an adjustable louvered roof adds a touch of modern elegance to your pergola.


  • Maintenance: Moving parts may require occasional maintenance to ensure smooth operation. In some cases, debris like leaves and twigs may accumulate within the louver mechanisms, requiring periodic cleaning.¬†
  • Installation Complexity: The installation process might be more involved compared to other roofing options.
  • Cost: The initial cost of an adjustable louvered roof can be higher than some other roofing options.
  • Full Rain Protection: In some cases, full protection from heavy rain may not be achieved, as water may still seep through the spaces between the louvers. You will need to discuss this with the company that installs the pergola roof to understand its limit.

#3. Waterproof Shade Sail

For an easy-to-install and visually appealing option, consider a waterproof shade sail made from waterproof fabric for your pergola. These versatile sails come in various sizes, shapes, and colors, allowing you to customize your outdoor space according to your taste. 


  • Easy Installation: Setup is perfect for DIYers out there, and you can choose from a variety of installation options.
  • Budget-Friendly: Waterproof shade sails are relatively affordable compared to some other roofing materials.
  • UV Protection:¬†Waterproof shade sails come with UV-resistant properties, safeguarding you and your outdoor furniture from the harmful effects of prolonged sun exposure. This protection is crucial in preventing sunburn and fading of your furniture and decor.
  • Aesthetic Appeal: Available in a wide array of colors, shapes, and sizes, waterproof shade sails can be customized to match your preferred style and complement your backyard’s aesthetics. The variety of design options allows you to create a unique and visually striking outdoor living space.


  • Shape Considerations: Ensure the sail size and shape align with your pergola’s dimensions for a perfect fit, or else some water may enter through open areas of the fabric roof.
  • Limited Sunlight Control: While you can adjust the position of the sail, it offers less control over sunlight compared to louvered roofs.
  • Maintenance: The fabric may require periodic cleaning and maintenance to prevent mold or mildew growth.
  • Quality Matters: Some lower-quality shade sails may have weaker stitching, reducing their lifespan. Also, lower-quality shade sails may fade due to direct sunlight and constant exposure to strong UV rays.

ūüď£ Important note: make sure you buy a shade sail that is rated as waterproof. If not, you will likely have rainwater seep through the shade sail, even if it is a light rain.

Additionally, there are some popular pergola ideas to make a retractable roof using fabric covers. If you think you want to go this route, make sure you use waterproof fabric and that the retractable option provides enough fabric coverage to prevent water from leaking through any uncovered areas of the retractable canopy cover.

Covers&All Waterproof Shade Sail

Need a waterproof shade sail for your pergola? Check out this one from Covers&All!

View on Covers&All

#4. Metal Roof

If you prioritize water resistance above all else, a metal roof might be the answer. There are many popular material options, like steel, aluminum, or tin roof. And most often, these metal roofs are made from thin sheets of metal that are attached directly to the slats of the pergola. Metal roofs like this provide excellent protection against rain, keeping you and your outdoor furniture dry during wet weather.


  • Exceptional Waterproofing: Metal is a top choice for areas with frequent rain or heavy snowfall.
  • Durability: Metal roofs are known for their outstanding durability, withstanding the test of time and resisting wear and tear caused by weather exposure. They require minimal maintenance, making them a practical and long-lasting choice.
  • Heat Reflective: Some metal roofs have reflective coatings to keep your pergola cooler during hot days.
  • Customizable Design: Metal roofing allows for various design options, from sleek and modern to classic and rustic, to match your preferred style and complement your outdoor aesthetics.


  • Noise Concerns: Rainfall on a metal roof can be loud, but you can mitigate this with insulation.
  • Heat Absorption: Without proper insulation, a metal roof may absorb and retain heat during summer months. This can also potentially raise the temperature under the pergola.
  • Style: Some metal roofs may not suit every homeowner’s style preference due to their modern or industrial appearance.
  • Degradation: Specific metal types, like steel, may rust or degrade over time if not properly maintained.¬†

#5. Wood Roof

A wood roof is a popular choice for a pergola roof due to its natural and rustic feel, creating a warm and inviting outdoor space. A wood roof is constructed using various types of wood, such as cedar, redwood, or pressure-treated lumber. Additionally, wood roofs can be treated to make them waterproof, ensuring they stay looking great for years to come.


  • Aesthetic Appeal: The classic charm of a wooden roof complements various outdoor styles, especially a traditional pergola frame made from wood. Special features like decorative carvings or latticework can add unique details to the pergola.¬†
  • Customization: Wood allows for versatile design options, ranging from simple and minimalist to intricate and decorative. This flexibility allows you to tailor the pergola roof to match your desired style and complement your backyard’s overall look. You can use wood planks, beams, sheets, and other shapes and sizes of wood to match your style preference.
  • Sustainability: If sourced sustainably, wood is an eco-friendly and renewable roofing material.


  • Maintenance: Regular sealing or staining is necessary to keep the wood waterproof and prevent rot. This depends on the type of wood used for the roof.
  • Cost: The initial cost of wood pergola roofs may vary depending on the type of wood chosen. On the other hand, some wood types can represent a good value compared to other options.

#6. Laminated Glass Roof

For an elegant and weatherproof option, a laminated glass roof is one of the best ways to make a waterproof pergola roof. This roofing solution provides a stunning view of the sky while protecting you from rain and other elements.


  • Unmatched Aesthetics: The primary advantage of a laminated glass pergola roof lies in its sleek and sophisticated appearance. The transparent nature of glass allows natural light to flood your outdoor space, creating a bright and inviting atmosphere.
  • Natural Light: Laminated glass roofs offer unobstructed views of the sky and surrounding landscape, allowing abundant natural light to enter your outdoor space.
  • UV Protection: The tempered glass used in laminated glass roofs is designed to block harmful UV rays, safeguarding you and your outdoor furniture from sun damage.
  • Weather Resistance: The glass is highly resistant to rain, hail, and strong winds, making it a great option for rainy days.


  • Cost: Laminated glass can be more expensive than other roofing materials.
  • Weight Consideration: The weight of glass may require additional support for your pergola structure.
  • Heat: Glass roofs may require additional insulation in extreme climates to maintain optimal temperature control.
  • Maintenance: Glass roofs may be prone to showing fingerprints, smudges, and water spots. Glass roofs may be prone to showing fingerprints, smudges, and water spots.
  • Severe Storms: Glass roofs may be more susceptible to breakage during severe weather or storms.

#7. Thatched Roof

For a unique and charming outdoor space, consider a thatched roof for your pergola. Thatched roofs offer a traditional and eco-friendly option with natural insulating properties while providing an excellent choice for a waterproof roof.


  • Unique Appearance: Thatched roofs provide a distinct and exotic look to your pergola. The natural materials used create a warm and inviting ambiance, bringing a touch of nature to your outdoor retreat.
  • Eco-Friendly: Using renewable and biodegradable plant materials, thatched roofs are an eco-friendly and sustainable choice, appealing to environmentally conscious homeowners.
  • Natural Insulation: Thatched roofs offer excellent thermal insulation, keeping your outdoor space cool.
  • Sound Insulation: The densely packed thatch provides sound insulation, reducing noise from raindrops and creating a tranquil outdoor experience.


  • Maintenance: Regular maintenance is required to prevent thatch decay and ensure longevity.
  • Fire Hazards: Thatched roofs are flammable, so proper fire safety measures are essential. In areas with strict fire codes, thatched roofs may not be permissible due to fire risk.
  • Extreme Weather: Thatched roofs may be more susceptible to damage from extreme weather conditions. For example, elements of the thatched roof may come in during high winds.
  • Potential Leaks: Depending on the quality of the thatch materials, some roofs may be more prone to leaks.

General Considerations for Adding a Roof to a Pergola

Before making your final decision, consider these considerations when adding a roof to your pergola:

1. Local Building Codes: Before starting any construction, check with your local building authorities to understand the specific regulations and permits required for adding a roof to your pergola. Compliance with building codes is essential to ensure safety and legality.

2. Structural Integrity:¬†Assess the existing pergola’s structural integrity to determine if it can support the additional weight of a solid roof. If necessary, reinforce the pergola’s frame to ensure it can handle the load of the roofing materials.

3. Material Selection: Choose roofing materials that suit your climate, style preferences, and maintenance capabilities. Consider factors like durability, water resistance, UV protection, and insulation properties.

4. Slope and Drainage: Ensure the roof has an appropriate slope to allow rainwater to drain efficiently. Proper drainage prevents water from pooling on the roof and potentially causing leaks or damage.

5. Wind and Weather Considerations: Take into account the prevailing wind direction and weather patterns in your area. Position the roof and choose materials that can withstand strong winds, heavy rain, and other weather conditions.

6. Waterproofing: For roofs that need to provide rain protection, invest in proper waterproofing to prevent leaks and water damage. Seal seams and connections thoroughly to maintain a water-tight barrier.

7. Ventilation: Ensure proper ventilation under the roof to prevent condensation and maintain a comfortable environment. Adequate airflow prevents moisture buildup and reduces the risk of mold or mildew growth.

8. Professional Installation: Complex roofing systems may require professional installation to ensure structural integrity and proper waterproofing. Hiring experienced contractors can save time, effort, and potential headaches.

9. Maintenance: Consider the long-term maintenance requirements of the chosen roofing material. Some materials may need regular cleaning, sealing, or rethatching, while others may be low maintenance.

10. Safety Precautions: During installation, prioritize safety. Use proper safety equipment and follow manufacturer instructions to avoid accidents and injuries.

11. Aesthetics and Compatibility: The roof should complement the overall design and aesthetics of your pergola and backyard. Consider how the roof will fit with the existing style and decor.

12. Cost-Benefit Analysis: Assess the cost of the roofing materials and installation against the benefits they offer. Balance your budget with the desired functionality and longevity of the roof.

13. Consider Future Use: Anticipate how you plan to use your pergola in the future. Ensure the roof design accommodates potential changes in functionality or additions like outdoor lighting or fans.

Remember, upgrading your pergola with a waterproof roof can transform your outdoor space into a cozy, weather-resistant haven. So, take your time, consider all factors, and enjoy your newly improved backyard!

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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