A wood pergola is a great way to spice up your backyard patio with a bit of rustic charm mixed with natural wood design. Traditionally used to separate various areas of a backyard garden, pergolas are now primarily used as shady patio retreats and outdoor entertainment areas. While a patio pergola can be made from virtually any material, we’d recommend a cedar pergola for its enhanced weather resistance, natural insect repellent, and durable construction. Based on our experience and testing, the Backyard Discovery Cedar Pergola is by far the best choice for most homeowners. Made from sturdy, pre-stained cedar, this easy to assembly pergola is perfect for outdoor entertaining or for simply relaxing on your patio with a good book.
We’ve put together the below table so you can quickly compare our top choices side by side. Alternatively, you can click here to skip straight to our number one choice or scroll down to read the full article and reviews.
Wood Pergola Review Criteria
Our goal is to ensure you get the best patio pergola that not only fits with the overall look and style of your backyard, but is built from high quality, long lasting materials as well. When it comes to choosing the right pergola kit, the key factors listed in the table above are some of the most important for making an informed decision. However, a few short words hardly do many of them justice. As such, the goal of our reviews is to touch on each of the factors in order to fully explain why we chose the below items and how the compare to the others on our list.
Tip: Most wood pergolas require initial sealing and at least once or twice a year afterwards to keep their warranties valid. When water stops beading up on wood it’s time to get some Thompson’s Water Seal to protect your investment.
#1 Backyard Discovery Cedar Pergola
This elegantly crafted patio pergola is hands down the best wood pergola on the market. Available in either 12’x10’ or 10’x10’ sizes and made from durable Chinese cedar, the Backyard Discovery Cedar Pergola ships ready to assemble with pre-drill, stained and numbered components. We were very pleased with the high quality coated hardware and loved the fact a few spares were included in case of accidents. For a wood pergola, the Backyard Discovery was extremely simple to assemble, with the included easy to follow instructions it only took a pair of us five hours from start to finish. Just make sure you have a high powered drill or hammer drill available during assembly. The outdoor pergola is secured via the use of four included anchor pads which attach to the legs and then to either a wooden deck or concrete slab for enhanced stability.
We did notice the legs were 1” cedar boards wrapped around an internally treated hardwood. To an outside observer however, it looks perfect, while still shaving a bit of cost of this unit and makes it much more budget friendly. After all, a custom built cedar pergola would be about three times the cost and frankly wouldn’t look any better. Once assembled the Backyard Discovery Cedar Pergola looks jaw droppingly stunning. The 5-½” thick cedar posts offer a durable yet natural design that are the perfect compliment to the classic criss-crossed top beams. Plus, with 6’7” of headroom there is more than enough space for even the tallest of guests. Whether you’re planning to install a retractable pergola shade or a set of cozy decorative string lights this wood pergola is the perfect option for either.
Upgrade Option: Brightown 50Ft G40 Globe String Lights
In summary, the Backyard Discovery Cedar Pergola is the absolute best wood pergola hands down. It is an excellent unit made from high quality materials, easy to assemble, and built to last. Plus, it screams high-end and is easily comparable to far more expensive custom built cedar pergolas at only a fraction of the cost.
What makes it great
- Sturdy 5-½” thick post construction
- Gorgeous pre-stained cedar
- Classic criss-crossed beam pattern
- 6’7” of headroom
- Easy to assemble with pre-cut and pre-drilled lumber
- Incredible 5 year warranty
#2 Leisure Time Cedar Pergola
Whether you’re looking for a contemporary or traditionally designed pergola, the Leisure Time Cedar Pergola will fill either role perfectly. Boasting solid 6”x6” main posts that are securely anchored to the top cross woven beams, this wood pergola is built to last. The included hardware is well labeled and does an excellent job of holding everything together and with a gorgeous black coating looks wonderful once assembled. Even at its lowest point the this outdoor pergola stands at 6’7” and is great for a little bit of extra headroom to really open up your outdoor entertainment space. Plus, the 10’ x 12’ wood canopy provide a wide area of shade to keep you cool on even the hottest of summer days.
While assembly wasn’t quite a quick as the Backyard Discovery Cedar Pergola, the clear directions, pre-drilled lumber and numbered components allowed two of us to have the wood pergola up in around seven hours, which really isn’t all that bad. We made sure to apply a layer of Thompson’s Water Seal to everything before getting it up for added weather resistance fight from the start. Also you’ll want to have a cordless drill handy as tightening everything by hand would more or less cause your fingers to fall off. The unit also comes with footpads that attach to the legs and are used to anchor the whole structure to the ground. After assembly the Leisure Time Cedar Pergola was an incredible addition to our backyard. The pre-stained walnut finish immediately made our patio seem like an upscale resort and nothing can beat that fresh cedar scent.
Upgrade with: Cast Aluminium Chiminea
Overall the Leisure Time Cedar Pergola is an excellent 12’ x 10’ patio pergola and great at making a statement in your backyard. The high end look of the walnut finish and the fresh scent of cedar go long way into transforming your patio into an outdoor paradise. It came in at #2 because we feel the price is a tad to high for what you get where as our #1 choice hits the sweet spot. Either way though, if you’re looking for that pre-stained walnut look, this is the wood pergola to get.
What makes it great
- Durable all season design
- Made from 100% natural cedar
- Pre-stained walnut color
- Pre-drilled and pre-cut for easy assembly
- Safe and easy to install hardware
#3 Backyard Discovery Oasis Pergola
If you’re looking for a contemporary designed outdoor retreat that has room to spare, the Backyard Discovery Oasis Pergola has got you covered. With an incredible multilevel look and a classic archway design build from 100% cedar, this is the most stunning large outdoor pergola on the market. The sizable 14’ x 10’ shade zone has more than enough room for even the biggest of parties and festive gatherings. The unit is delivered in three large boxes, each weighing just under 200 pounds, so be sure to have someone available after delivery to move them into place (or just slip the delivery guys a $20). Assembly was fairly straightforward with the clear included instructions although it did take quite a while simply due to the larger size and complexity of the pergola. We were impressed with the durable resin feet that attach to the legs as they are excellent at preventing wood decay due to ground moisture seeping into the cedar. Once assembled it’s not hard to see why this a stunning example of a wood pergola with it’s classic cedar smell and incredible visual appeal.
What really sets this pergola apart however, are the built in bar and double benches. The bar has a awesome 30”x86” tabletop which is great for food, drinks and more. We hate having to eat on our laps or balance food precariously on small end tables and the brilliantly designed built-in bar solves this issue perfectly. Meanwhile the benches are the perfect area to kick back and relax after a long day in the office or standing behind a hot BBQ grill. With the included armrests and stretching out over a 10’ length they can fit upwards of 6 people in comfort and are incredibly stable as well. Additionally the 7’ ¾” clearance provide an excellent overall height that makes the Backyard Discovery Oasis Pergola a great choice for a backyard centerpiece.
Protect with: Thompson’s Water Seal
In summary, the Backyard Discovery Oasis Pergola is one of the largest non-custom built wood pergolas out there and is an incredible blend of form and function. With the included bar, benches and solid cedar design, it makes for a wonderful backyard pergola that will please your guests and family for many seasons to come.
What makes it great
- Perfect size for larger outdoor spaces
- Included stylish double benches with armrests
- Working 30” x 86” entertainment bar
- Classic arched design
- Solid cedar construction
#4 Suncast PA1012 Wood Pergola
Manufactured in the USA, the Suncast PA1012 Wood Pergola is the perfect compliment to any backyard patio or garden setting. As with our other top choices, it’s made from extremely durable cedar wood and built to withstand even the harshest of conditions. However, this 10’ x 12’ backyard pergola does take a slightly different approach in that it comes unfinished and ready to stain. This allows you to customize it based on your desired color and style, whether you want a high end redwood look or a more natural dark cedar stain, the sky’s the limit. We’d recommend that you stain and seal all of the pieces prior to assembly as it is much easier to do on the ground and you’ll be less prone to mistakes. As you’d expect it comes with all the required hardware for assembly and the pieces are all pre-cut and pre-drilled for convenience. The illustrated step by step instruction manual also makes assembly as easy as can be. After staining or painting, you should expect to spend between 4 and 6 hours for the final assembly process
Due to the exquisitely crafted trim pieces and arched design the Suncast PA1012 Wood Pergola easily looks like it costs three times as much and is clearly built from high quality components. Similar sized patio pergolas can go anywhere from $3,000 to upwards of $6,000 for the exact same design, so this is a great bargain. We loved the oversized bottom post, and even though they are hollow and made from layered lumber, they look incredible and still hold up very well to strong winds and weather. The open and attractive arched design really gives the Suncast outdoor pergola an open and inviting feel that is perfect for entertaining guests. Plus, weighing in at 346 pounds it has more than enough bulk to be able to hold hanging plants, vines or decorative string lights.
Upgrade with: Maggift Hanging Solar Lantern Lights
After it’s all said and done the Suncast PA1012 Wood Pergola is an excellent runner up to our top choices. It offers very similar features at a great price point. While most people would opt for pre-stained pergolas, this does allow for a unique bit of customization as the expensive of increased set up time. Overall though it is would make an excellent shady entertainment space in any backyard.
What makes it great
- Personalizable due to unfinished ready to stain design
- Oversized posts offer stable footprint and unique look
- Open and attractive arched design
- Made from natural cedar
- Easy to follow assembly instructions.
What is the Best Wood Pergola Kit?
If you just looking for an amazing cedar pergola that is easy to assembly, budget friendly and ready for all outdoor weather just go ahead and buy the Backyard Discovery Cedar Pergola it’s our number one pick for to host of reasons as stated in the review.
If you want something a bit more upscale and have the additional room we’d recommend the Backyard Discovery Oasis Pergola for it’s awesome bar and bench design, larger entertaining area and solid build.
If after reading this review you’re interested in some other shade options, you can always check our our reviews of the best hardtop gazebos or the more budget friendly canopy gazebos to spice up your backyard with a bit of much needed shade. Whichever option you end up choosing, you can rest assured it’ll be high quality and built to last.