A pergola is designed for the purpose of offering protection from the elements so you can enjoy the outdoors more!




Examine and weigh the characteristics and inherent costs of vinyl or aluminum offered commercially as low cost synthetic alternatives for a pergola and why an authentic Western Timber Frame Pergola is optimum.


Vinyl’s initial low cost for a pergola can be attractive to some. For others, vinyl has a cheap aesthetic look spoiling the appearance of the home and procures a cost beyond its value.

Vinyl is often advertised as “maintenance free”. Vinyl is a plastic product, polyvinyl chloride and commonly abbreviated as PVC. All plastics degrade and depreciate in all environmental settings.

The U.S. Department of Energy affirms that vinyl can crack at very low temperatures and can warp at high temperatures and over time vinyl can turn yellowish, losing its color and degrade. When the temperature reaches 140° C it starts to decompose, at 160° C it will melt. UV light stabilizers are added to reduce inevitable weakening and degradation caused from heat and to increase the longevity of vinyl.


Vinyl manufacturers use larger components such as metal stiffeners and wood additives in order to offset the problems vinyl has needing further reinforcements to help it to be a viable product.

The greatest downfall of vinyl is its long term expense being environmentally costly and so difficult to responsibly dispose of it. It cannot be burned because of its extremely toxic dioxin gases. As for a pergola, vinyl does not carry the strength or thermal properties required to withstand strong winds or shield from the harsh elements for a sound, comfortable pergola.

Manufacturers of vinyl products do not warranty providing protection against failure or defects of distortion or melting due to various heat sources which most include simple everyday probable heat sources such as Barbeque grills, fire pits, excessive sky, door or window reflections. Some even recommend landscaping to alleviate reflections. This is due to the instability of vinyl, which will eventually break down in the direct sunlight.


Under the Weight of the Snow; Collapsed Vinyl Pergola


Vinyl Distorts & Melts Procuring a Long Term Expense and is Environmentally Costly


As poorly as vinyl performs however, vinyl does have better insulating and thermal properties than aluminum.


Aluminum is a lightweight, relatively soft and malleable metal, cold to touch. Any aluminum product can scratch, dent or chip with use and aluminum tends to trap dirt, which requires more cleaning and maintenance. Aluminum is sometimes painted to imitate a more natural look of wood but nothing compares to the look or feel of real wood over wood itself. Like vinyl, aluminum does not carry the same security and strength of timber for a pergola. Most importantly when choosing a pergola for quality outdoor living, timber’s has a natural ability to regulate more comfortable temperatures.

Aluminum is the poorest of all choices for a pergola; it is lightweight, malleable, attracts dirt and increases the heat.


On the plus side, aluminum does not decompose like vinyl and is much easier to recycle than vinyl but for shade and cooling off under a pergola, aluminum is the poorest of all choices. Metal cooking pots are often made from aluminum. This is because aluminum is an excellent conductor of heat and transfers the heat energy from the stove to the food so rapidly, whereas the handles of cooking pots are made from wood or plastic. This works well for cooking but not as well for pergolas where a comfortable shade is needed.


Aluminum Pergola Blown Down

A Western Timber Frame Pergola is Unrivaled in Strength, Comfort and Quality.

Western Timber Frame is the Leader in Timber Frame Pergolas
In an ordinary timber frame pergola the joints have begun to separate and gaps are starting to develop and this only after the first season!
dovetail (1)
At Western Timber Frame we use the latest advances in technology and the dovetail from old world responsible architecture proven through centuries architectonics.
Western Timber Frame’s joints system allows for the natural seasonal expansion and contraction of the timber.

Hide Unsightly Hardware and Bolts

Our special mortised joints not only allow for a long lasting perfect joint, but it also virtually eliminates the use of unsightly galvanized brackets, hangers, and bolts. Instead, we are able to hide all of this behind the beams and rafters giving you the beautiful old world craftsmanship. Take note of the extremely tight joints that you see in all of our pictures. These joints are not the exception, but the rule for every timber pergola kit we deliver.

A Western Timber Frame Pergola is more resilient and has a greater margin of safety being physically able to absorb the shock of impact from heavier loads than alternative materials.

Timber is less prone to condensation than aluminum, metal or vinyl and is less affected by temperature extremes. When the air grows warmer wood will hold more moisture and yet it will not invariably or readily move with changes in humidity.

Wood has the ability to expand, contract and move and is more conducive to responsible architectural designs than other inelastic building materials.

The earth invariably has seismic vibrations or ground movement due to natural and sometimes artificial causes. In larger structures the magnificent wonder of wood is in the fact that it does have some give and take.

With other inelastic architectural materials kinematic mechanisms have to be installed on beams to compensate for the structural movement that occurs from the seismic ground movement.

cement-steel-earthquake Earthquake Damage
When properly engineered, the characteristics of wood give timber framing better seismic survivability than any other building material on earth.

Timber framing structures date back thousands of years and are still standing strong. There are historical artifacts and antiquated structures that testify to the value of strength of timber displayed in ancient Medieval Timber Castles and timber buildings throughout the world in places like Japan, Lithuania, Scandinavia, Siberia, Sweden and more. Other ancient examples of timber and its versatility for use can be seen in structures such as roads, machinery, fishing wharves, waterworks, timber walls, wooden foundations and complex waste drainage systems, wooden doors, deep timber wells, and many more amazing artifacts and treasures. The oldest structural earthly remains are oak timber structures dated said to be between 6,500 to 7,000 years old.

That is older than the pyramids of Egypt!

Timber creates a condition for comfort and keeps a natural balance of temperature.
Best of all, a Western Timber Frame pergola is human friendly as well as being earth friendly.

Genuine timber wood is still of the finest, most dependable material known to man with its long lasting benefits and positive influences upon our environment over man made synthetic alternatives. Wood rejuvenates and stimulates our senses with its warmth, smell, texture and variations of colors. Wood has some remarkable characteristics; bacteria will not reproduce itself on wood; it is earth friendly and given the right conditions it contains immortal-like properties that can last indefinitely. Just as amazing wood has the natural ability to regulate itself against the heat or cold. Wood is a poor conductor of heat and yet it is never cold to the touch, constantly keeping a natural balance of temperature.

Using modern technologies, building Western Timber Frame structures are eco-friendly, cost efficient and can be preserved for centuries to come.

Get the Free Ultimate Pergola and Pavilion Guide

Get the Free Ultimate Pergola and Pavilion Guide