Guide written by:
Pauline, Self-taught handyman, Leeds
Parasol or gazebo... that is the question! Whether you're looking to cover a balcony, terrace or garden dining area, it's hard to know which structure will best suit your space. Luckily, we've weighed up the main factors to help you decide. Follow our guide and you'll be lazing about in the shade in no time!
- Positioning your structure
- Wind resistance
- Pros and cons
Choosing a structure to fit your space
In general, gazebos work better on larger terraces or in gardens. They can be installed on concrete, straight into the earth or on decking boards. Due to their size and the design of their structure, gazebos are better suited to open spaces.
Parasols can be installed on large balconies as well as smaller ones (thanks to rectangular half-parasols, for example). They're also perfect for garden dining areas, whether placed in a hole in the centre of a table or mounted to the side. Simply put, parasols are pretty versatile.
Parasol or gazebo: which is easier to set up?
Parasols are connected to a special base weighted with concrete sand or water. Some parasols feature a rod which allows you to lock the canopy at your chosen height while others have a similar release system to that of an umbrella. The latter option is handy for people on the smaller side or those with limited upper body strength. The most up-to-date models open and close by means of a crank handle for minimal effort. This option also allows you to set your canopy height down to the centimetre.
Old-fashioned gazebos with tubular structures used to require a number of people and a lot of time to assemble. These days, they do not take nearly as much time to set up. In fact, you can find rain shelter-style gazebos designed to be popped up in no time at all. However, you will still need at least two people to get the feet positioned properly and to avoid bending the relatively delicate structure.
When it comes down to it, there's no doubt about it: parasols can be set up more quickly than gazebos.
Parasol or gazebo: which offers more wind resistance?
Parasols are held in place by a heavy base which prevents the canopy from toppling over. Nonetheless, you might find it necessary to play around with the direction of the parasol to avoid the wind blowing underneath the umbrella.
Gazebos, on the other hand, can act a bit like a hot-air balloon! When the wind blows underneath the topsheet and fills the structure which can lift and even move the structure. This is why gazebos come with a special fixing system used to anchor the feet into soil or screw them into wood. It is important to secure your gazebo properly. Once this has been done, gazebos can easily withstand gentle winds allowing you to make the most of a cool breeze!
When it comes to high winds, it goes without saying that neither type of structure will be able to stand its ground. Err on the side of caution on particularly windy days!
Finally, if you're looking for a wider range of materials and colours, parasols are probably the best option. These come in a multitude of shapes – including round, square and rectangular – as well as various colours and patterns.
Parasol or gazebo: the pros and cons
Better water resistance
Can be closed off with side curtains
Available in a wider range of sizes
Removable topsheet (can be purchased individually)
Rests on four feet; takes up more space
Cannot always be dismantled
Laborious to put up / take down
Limited choice of colours and patterns
Easy to move about and reposition
Space-efficient (stands on one foot)
Tiltable and height-adjustable
Wider choice of colours and patterns
Less water resistance
Canopy usually cannot be replaced
Requires purchase of base or weighted block
Limited decorative impact
As a final word of advice, remember that there are three key factors to consider when choosing between a gazebo or a parasol: surface type, appearance and size. And if you're still not sold on either of these structures, why not consider a pergola?
To find out more about garden design, follow our editors' advice and check out their other guides:
Guide written by:
Pauline, Self-taught handyman, Leeds, 89 guides
With a handyman-father, I grew up with the soft sound of the sander and hammer on weekends. I am both manual and cerebral (yes, it is possible.), I learned the basics of DIY and the customization of furniture because I was passionate. The salvage mentality is a true way of life that allowed me to know how to use all the tools and products needed to give something a second life, from sander to varnish. I have two favorite activities: the transformation of old furniture and decoration tips. I am always ready to lend a helping hand to revamp a table or to restore a mirror that was intended for the trash that will become a friend’s centerpiece. I’m convinced that it’s possible to reinvent an interior by small, regular modifications, I constantly research low-cost, test ideas.