How to enclose a pergola for winter ( Easy DIY Tips)

Last updated on December 5th, 2022

A pergola structure makes a beautiful addition to your home. But your outdoor structure will limit access during the cold months only if you don’t know how to enclose a pergola for winter.

Winter season will roll around sooner or later, and the thought of covering your pergola can seem daunting.

But don’t worry. It’s not as hard as it seems. We’ll share our tried-and-tested methods of enclosing a pergola for winter and the basic supplies you will need to help you make it happen with little trouble.

Let’s get started.

Benefits of enclosing a pergola

Enclosed pergola design ideas today are gaining popularity among many homeowners for good reasons. First, an enclosed pergola offers a sense of privacy to your outdoor space. That way, you can enjoy your private moments without the prying eyes of neighbors.

Enclosing a pergola also makes it warmer and livable all year round, especially during cold winter.

Enclosed pergolas also promote the flow between the house and outdoor living space, reducing noise for or from your neighbors.

How to enclose a pergola for the winter months

There are several ways to enclose your pergola during the cold winter to ensure it remains intact and usable. The methods we’ll discuss below will ensure your pergola remains dry and warm enough if you want to spend time outdoors.

Method 1: Use clear vinyl siding

Enclosing your pergola with clear vinyl is an excellent way to winterize your pergola but still be able to see the expanse of your yard or other beautiful scenes around your home. This is a cheap and less obtrusive method; it doesn’t block out sunshine.

You can hire a professional to help you cover your pergola with clear vinyl or DIY the installation process from scratch.

This would require you to measure the size of your pergola before cutting the vinyl sheets. You’ll also need to hammer nails into your pergola frames.

Punch eyelets on the vinyl sheets and run a rope through them. This makes it easier to hang them over your pergola and secure them tightly against wind, rain, and snow.

You can use this clear vinyl siding over the pergola roof and the sides.

Method 2: Install insulated curtains

This is another way you can weatherproof your pergola, especially if the winter season is around the corner. This option is also great if your region experiences strong winds.

Insulated curtains can be installed on an adjustable curtain rod or the ceiling joists of your pergola frame. Think of them like household curtains but designed with a thick material to withstand extreme outdoor weather conditions while providing reliable protection on the inside.

These curtains are retractable, and you can choose from various colors and patterns.

The only downside to using these curtains is that they completely block the outside view. So, this would be a disadvantage if you have an extensive lawn with a gorgeous garden view.

However, this option is the best at guaranteeing absolute privacy while going about your business in your pergola space.

Method 3: Use shade screens 

Shade screens are perfect for blocking direct sunlight during the height of the summer months. If you already have them installed, these shade screens will also block rain, snow, and winter cold from terrorizing your pergola.

If you drew them during the summer months, then you just have to release and secure them to keep them from flying away with the wind.

If you’re yet to get the shade screens, ensure you get the correct measurements before making your purchase. Remember, you can always get a professional to help install these shade screens on the rails.

You can also install privacy screens on the sides of your pergola using old doors fastened with hinges or added to your trellis. This makes them easier to fold or move out of the way when the weather gets warmer.

Method 4: Use Pre-made patio enclosures

Most pre-made enclosures for patios or pergolas are made of clear vinyl or cloth fabric materials. Regardless of the material you choose, both guarantee protection for your outdoor space during winter.

The installation process of pre-made patio covers won’t break a sweat; however, ensure you buy the right size that will fit comfortably on your pergolas.

Like anything pre-made, these enclosures cost slightly more than cutting and putting these materials together from scratch.

Also, whether you prefer opaque or translucent enclosures, make sure the material you choose blends well with your surroundings and enhances the ambiance.

Method 5: Install a roof panel

A roof is a permanent solution for enclosing a pergola, and this could be done for your outdoor structure only if none was previously installed.

A roof goes overhead the pergola frames. When roofing a pergola, you can choose the roofing material between galvanized steel or tin roof, plastic pergola panels, or Plexiglas.

A galvanized steel roof will provide a solid cover over the wood pergola. This tin roof will completely block out the wind, sun, rain, solid-colored, and snow. This roofing material will give your backyard a fascinating industrial vibe, depending on your chosen color.

If you go for plastic pergola panels, you can choose solid-colored panels or clear ones to waterproof the pergola but still let in partial sunlight and keep the space bright and cozy.

The Plexiglas roof will also shelter your pergolas from getting soaked during the erratic winter months. It will, however, let the sun in and keep the space warm and bright.

Still, you can go for one of the enclosed pergola options today that utilizes solar energy to motorize a flexible, louvered roof. This is a great option for your outdoor structure because it lets you customize the amount of light and shade you want in your space. Using a solar-powered remote, you can also close up the roof and completely block out the elements.

Whichever roofing material you choose, install it with a tilt backward, so it drains water instead of pooling on top. Also, remember to cover the sides of your pergola to keep the space 100% dry.

Add a source of heat to the enclosed pergolas.

Once your enclosed pergola structure is ready to host you when the winter hits, you can make it cozier by adding a heat source. Since the space is fully enclosed, using infrared heaters powered by electricity or propane makes the most sense and is also safe.

Fire pits are also safe for use under a pergola, like natural gas or propane fire pits. Read our detailed article for tips on installing a fire pit under a pergola.

How to enclose a pergola

This section introduces you to various DIY pergola enclosures you can use to cover your pergola during typical weather. The best part is that they are affordable options and are easy to create and install.

Method 1: Add outdoor blinds

Adding outdoor blinds is a great option for enclosing your pergola and giving it some edge in privacy and aesthetics. Outdoor blinds make it easy to open and close up your outdoor space as necessary.

Ensure that the curtain you pick out is a weatherproof, heavy-duty material. This will ensure that the blinds can withstand the elements and provide protection for your patio furniture.

Method 2: Use shade screens

Another modern method of enclosing your pergola is using shade screens. These shade screens are made of heavy-duty material and are easy to open and close.

You can also build removable screen panels for either side of the pergola. This allows you to attach the screens and remove them whenever they aren’t in use.

They will shelter your pergola structure while giving a refreshing, airy vibe to your covered pergola.

Method 3: Build a privacy wall

Privacy walls are another way of enclosing your pergola. A privacy wall is often a static wall made of a solid block to provide absolute privacy. The stationary wall can also be louvered to provide privacy while promoting sufficient air circulation.

Still, you can permanently set the solid block wall in place while the louvered wall is set on a rail system. This will make it easy to slide it open to let in more light or close it to block the outside view of your covered patio.

You can build a privacy wall using wooden planks. However, make certain that the wood planks are cedar or pressure-treated. This is to keep your structure from rotting and wasting away prematurely.

A cheaper alternative involves using bamboo or straws; make sure to tie them to the pergola slats using a sturdy string.

Method 4: Install a Pergola canopy

Installing a canopy is one of the modern ways of enclosing a pergola structure, and this can be done using a stationary or retractable canopy.

Stationery canopies are heavy-duty fabrics installed on the pergola frames using upholstery staples and a staple gun. They can be installed in various ways depending on the amount of shelter you require for your space.

Installing stationary Canopy

First, put up the fabric and staple it under the beams with a spacing of approximately 2 feet to ensure that it hangs evenly on all sides. It will provide shelter against the sun but won’t hold up to heavy winds or rain, much less snow.

The second option involves stapling the canopy fabric flat under the pergola beams. This type will also work against the sun, medium rain, and wind.

The third installation design involves looping the fabric loosely over the structure and stapling it on top of every beam to secure it. Since the fabric hangs loosely, it will not hold up well against heavy rain and wind.

Another method involves weaving the fabric in and out of the beams in close and tight rows. Next, pull the fabric tightly on either end before securing it with upholstery staples. This type of canopy installation will protect your space from direct sun, moderate rain, and even heavy wind.

Alternatively, you can buy all-weather custom patio covers installed over your metal pergola structure with eyelets (grommets).

Retractable canopy

This option gives you the liberty to open up your pergola, let in more light, and then close it up when in need of privacy and warmth or to keep rain and wind out. You can DIY the whole process or buy the already-made retractable canopy kit.

Method 5: Use shade sails

Shade sails are ready-made fabrics in custom sizes designed to shelter your pergola space from the sun, rain, and wind. Get a fabric sail suitable for the size of your structure. Installing them is simple; attach them under the beams of your pergola so that it provides sufficient coverage.

If winter is coming, you’ll need to remove the shade sails and store them well.

Method 6: Utilize a shade cloth

Using a shade cloth is an affordable option for covering your wooden pergola. If you have a pergola attached to your deck or the back of your house, enclose it with a shade cloth to provide shade and repel insects.

Once you have your pergola measurements, cut out the fabric and then attach it to your outdoor structures using a staple gun. Ensure that the shade cloth material is thick to withstand harsh outdoor weather.

Method 7: Add plants

Adding plants to your pergola will provide the needed cover and add more fresh air, aroma, and sophistication to your ambiance. You can plant honeysuckles or star jasmine in a vertical garden with the aid of functional and decorative lattices.

Alternatively, you can plant climbers like grape vines or trumpet vines; they grow fast, creating shade or even full coverage over the top and sides of the pergola.

FAQs – How to enclose a pergola 

Can you turn a pergola into a sunroom?

Yes, you can turn your pergola into a sunroom regardless of the material of the pergola structure. Once you understand how the rafters and purlins work with the insulation material, the installation process is easier. If in doubt, contact an expert to get the job done so you can enjoy your sunroom.

Can you screen in a pergola?

Yes, you can screen in a pergola by adding a shade screen over the rafters to provide shade from the sun and rain but also let in sufficient light when opened. You can also add privacy screens to the side of your pergola using old wooden doors fastened with hinges or added to the trellis.

Can you winterize a pergola?

You can winterize your pergola by installing roof panels, clear vinyl siding, insulated curtains, shade screens, or pre-made patio enclosures. These additions will keep your pergola space dry and calm. You could also add a heat source like a fire pit or infrared heater to warm up your enclosed pergola space during the winter months.

How do you cover a pergola for cheap?

Several cheap options cover up your pergola from an outsider’s view or direct sunlight. You can begin by adding outdoor blinds, shade screens, sail cloths, installing a portable canopy, roller shades, or adding plants through vertical gardening or planting climbers like vines.

Final thoughts on how to enclose a pergola for winter

We hope you enjoyed our article on how to enclose a pergola for winter. These pergola covers will keep your pergola dry, warm, and safe for you and your family.

Enclose your pergola for winter by adding insulated curtains, shade screens, a roof, pre-made patio enclosures, or clear vinyl siding.

We also have ideas you can borrow if you want to enclose your pergola for some privacy and shade from direct sunlight, moderate rain, and wind. Most of these pergola enclosure options are affordable and DIY-friendly.

Have fun making your backyard more comfortable with the aid of different textures and colors.

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