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Pergola or folding-arm awning Pergola or folding-arm awning

Pergola or folding-arm awning: which one should you choose to enjoy the outdoors?

To make your house look beautiful and enlarge your living space by converting your patio into a real additional living room, you're unsure between a pergola and a folding-arm awning. How do you know which installation will work best for your outdoor space? Dickson gives you an overview of the advantages of each of these solutions for protection against the sun or bad weather.

Pergola: good reasons to install a pergola on the patio

Pergola: a fixed structure for the patio or garden

The pergola has a fixed structure with horizontal bars fixed to vertical poles. It is very stable and can be leaned against the front wall of the house, with a structure on three sides. The pergola can also be free-standing and installed completely independently of the house: it can be placed on the patio, in the garden or near the swimming pool. It should however be noted that once installed, its structure remains in place, even during the winter.


Planning permission is required for a pergola installation when its dimensions exceed 20m² on the ground. There is no maximum surface area limit for a pergola, but it is more suitable for large patios or open spaces.


Choosing the pergola structure is essential for good resistance: there are light pergolas on the market, made of wood, PVC or wrought iron, and more stable pergolas with a very durable aluminium structure.

A large choice of materials, which determines the performance of your pergola

Pergolas differ in the equipment and materials offered. There are pergolas made of rigid materials, with glazed roofs and walls (polycarbonate windows, rotating slats for bioclimatic pergolas), and pergolas fitted with flexible materials (screen, acrylic and sheer fabrics etc.)


Pergolas made from rigid materials have the advantage of remaining in place all year round and providing a closed space sheltered from bad weather. Some can be fitted with rotating slats to help regulate ventilation and heat. Their glazed walls and roofs allow light to pass through, and it is important to fit them with suitable awnings or canopies to limit glare.


Pergolas made of flexible materials have very good ventilation and are 100% customisable thanks to a very wide range of colours. They also have excellent visual and thermal comfort. Roll-up systems allow the fabric to be stored in winter, or the pergola roof to be opened completely for evenings under the stars.

Recommended products for pergola systems:


Among the suitable solar protection fabrics, several products are specifically recommended for pergolas:


  • Fabrics from Dickson’s Orchestra and Infinity ranges. Infinity fabrics have the advantage of being available in large widths (up to 320 cm) for the perfect finish.
  • SWK TOP technical fabric is translucent, so it maintains a good amount of light under the awning while remaining perfectly waterproof.
  • The other technical fabrics in the SWK6 range strike the ideal balance between visual and thermal comfort, as well as ensuring good ventilation.

Side closure:

  • The fabrics from the SWK6, SWK15 and Orchestra ranges are ideal for use as side closures to create a more intimate space that is sheltered from the wind, sunlight and even light rain.
Recommended products Recommended products
Advantages of a pergola Advantages of a pergola

Advantages of a pergola

  • Resistance to bad weather: when it rains, the water is channelled directly through the side gutters often included in the structure’s uprights.
  • Modularity: the pergola will adapt to your needs and the weather. It is usable in any season, creating a cool space open to the outdoors in the summer or a private, sheltered cocoon in the winter. It therefore provides more space for family and friends.
  • The pergola will adapt to all styles of home, whether modern or traditional, and add a stylish, aesthetically pleasing touch to your outdoor space.
  • This robust, long-lasting addition to the home stays up all year round, thanks to its sturdy, weather-resistant structure. It can create an extra living space that adjusts to seasonal conditions

Disadvantages of a pergola

  • Requires a statement of work and planning permission if over 20m².
  • More expensive than a folding-arm awning.
  • Solid, fixed structure that prevents heat and natural light from getting in during the winter months
  • A free-standing pergola, independent of the house, doesn't regulate the temperature inside the house.
Disadvantages of a pergola Disadvantages of a pergola

Folding arm awning: good reasons to install it on your patio

An easy-to-install structure

A folding-arm awning is a structure that can be installed directly on the outside wall of the house, without any particular permit or authorisation (you will nevertheless have to comply with co-ownership regulations if there is one). It is therefore a minor and quick job to plan. We recommend calling on a professional blind manufacturer, or better yet, a Dickson-approved blind manufacturer, to guarantee perfect installation and a long material life. Note that folding-arm awnings can be installed on all types of façades: it's up to you to find the size and shades that will best enhance your home.

Folding-arm awnings are inconspicuous and also adjustable

The folding-arm awning can be completely hidden in its cassette, or partially hidden in a semi-cassette. In both cases, it remains inconspicuous and doesn't detract from the aesthetics of your façade. It is also well protected from bad weather or the sun when it is folded away, which extends its life.

Whether it is motorised or manual, the folding-arm awning is completely adjustable: you can open it a little, a lot or not at all depending on the weather, the temperature and the sun's position throughout the day. This possibility to control the opening is a real plus as the awning adapts perfectly to your lifestyle.

If your folding-arm awning is automated, with a home automation module, you can even control the opening of your awning when you are not there.

The folding-arm awning can be adjusted to your outside area

The folding-arm awning doesn't get in the way as it doesn't rest on the ground: it frees up space and facilitates the layout of your patio (garden furniture, potted plants, children's games) while making it easier to move around. It is also the perfect solution for shading your balcony. Don't forget that the surface area of your folding-arm awning must be larger than the patio surface area you want to protect, as the sun is never vertical, even at midday.

A perfect compromise between solar protection and light

The fabric is one of the most important parts of your folding-arm awning, as its quality determines the quality of your protection against glare and heat, as well as the aesthetics of your installation. Dickson has a very wide range of awning fabrics with its OrchestraMax and Infinity acrylic fabric ranges. Thanks to its technical woven fabric, it provides excellent solar protection: protection against UVA and UVB rays, protection against brightness and protection against heat. With its water-repellent treatment, it also protects you from short-lived showers and isolates you from the neighbours, so that you can maintain your privacy on your patio.

Advantages of a folding-arm awning Advantages of a folding-arm awning

Advantages of a folding-arm awning

  • Modularity and adaptability: the folding-arm awning can open whenever you want, as soon as the sun comes out. It can cover a whole terrace or just part of it, is suitable for small spaces, and can even be installed on a balcony. 
  • Easy to install and use: the folding-arm awning can be installed quickly and easily by an awning specialist. It can be manual or motorised and operated by a corded device or a remote control.
  • Thermal and acoustic comfort: the folding-arm awning regulates the temperature under it while protecting against UV rays in the home. Awning fabric reduces noise and even protects anyone not directly under it.
  • Visual comfort and discretion: in the winter, once it is folded up in its full cassette or semi-cassette, the folding-arm awning is almost invisible. It will not block out any light or the view in your home when it is folded away in its cassette. Then, in the summer, the folding-arm awning will protect your terrace from prying eyes while offering excellent visual comfort inside the house.
  • Wide range of folding-arm awning fabrics, including classic or modern material, colour and motif options, as well as different structures (arms and cassettes).

Disadvantages of a folding-arm awning

  • It can be more fragile in regions that are highly exposed to winds or bad weather, but the sensors help protect the equipment by activating its automatic folding;
  • To make sure they last as long as possible, folding-arm awnings must be maintained properly.
Disadvantages of a folding-arm awning Disadvantages of a folding-arm awning

Our recommendations


Choosing between a folding-arm awning and a pergola depends on several criteria: the size of your patio and garden, the area to be shaded, the aesthetics of your house, as well as how much sunshine you like and your expectations for the desired solar protection. Between a pergola and a folding-arm awning, the best choice is one that suits you and allows you to enjoy the outdoors as you please. To finally convince you of this, imagine yourself in the middle of summer: a deckchair, generous shade, a big table with those you love... You're almost there!

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