Should You Buy a Pergola From Costco?
At Water and Earth, we’re usually spending our time building or designing custom pergolas for our clients. But not everybody has the time, budget, or simply the desire to get a custom pergola built in their backyard living space. For that reason we find ourselves fielding a fair amount of questions about cheaper alternatives. One of these affordable and highly accessible options is buying a pergola from Costco.
Yes, you heard us right–you can buy a pergola from Costco! If this is news to you, it shouldn’t be. Coscto has had a foothold in outdoor living spaces for a while. As the COVID-19 pandemic stretched on, more and more families across the country began to look for affordable options to make their own backyards more livable.
From pergolas, to playground equipment, to a wildly popular Costco Yardistry gazebo, the “Patio, Lawn, & Garden” section of Costco has everything you’re looking for at a price you can probably afford. So yes, it is entirely possible and realistic to find a pergola from Costco. But is it worth the money?
Well, that depends on what you’re looking for, and your pergola priorities. There are pros and cons to every budget-friendly approach to a backyard living project. So before you go running out to buy a pergola from Costco, consider both the upsides and downsides.
The Pros of Buying a Pergola From Costco
Avoid Material Cost Fluctuations
As we’ve witnessed with the ongoing supply chain issues and price fluctuations on materials and goods, it can be hard to predict how much you’ll pay for something at any given moment. This inconsistency is only heightened when you’re building something like a pergola from scratch. Material cost can fluctuate quickly, and a pergola that was estimated to cost X amount to build last month may have a different price tag on it by the time you are finished building it.
Buying a pergola from Costco or any big box store eliminates this unpredictability. The price you see on the tag is the price you will pay at the counter. There is no wait and see. There is no fluctuating price of raw materials to keep your eye on. From cart, to counter, to backyard, you can buy your entire unit for the price you found it at. And speaking of the price you found it at…
Speaking of price tags, custom pergolas can get pricey. While the finished result is pretty much always worth the money and is a direct reflection of the time and effort put into a custom design, not everyone has the desire to budget for a custom unit. A Costco pergola can deliver what you want at a cost that may feel easier to justify.
While none of these options are necessarily “cheap”, they are reliably less expensive than a custom build while providing a guaranteed end result.
Ease of Assembly / Time to Construct
Custom pergolas are considered custom and costly for a reason–they require skilled contractors to put together, and are often more time consuming projects than building from a kit. Whether you’re waiting on materials, or working around schedules, getting your custom pergola build could take a little longer than a single afternoon.
A pergola kit from Costco is designed for the opposite experience. While you still may want to hire someone to help you put it together (not everyone is comfortable with power tools or simple construction!), the amount of time it takes to put together a kit-based pergola is going to be significantly lower than a custom build. Assuming you have the right tools for the job, a standard model can be up and ready to throw shade within a day or two.
Decent Warranty, Lasting Customer Service
One of the benefits of buying a pergola from Costco is their self-proclaimed warranty. Though the warranty by model seems to have an “ask-and-see” note, Costco’s main outdoor pergola page boasts a baseline “7 year warranty” on all products. So if you’re feeling nervous about the lasting power of pergola purchased from a big-box store, this is good news.
Additionally, a benefit of buying from a large chain is continued customer service. If you aren’t happy with your product, or something is out of order you are well within your power to call customer service and solicit a return. Working with contractors can get more complicated. If you are unhappy with something, or there is a snag in the process, it may take more legwork to get the end result straightened out. When you’re buying from a Fortune 500 company like Costco, however, you’re likely to be met consistently with people whose motto is “the customer is always right”. That’s not a bad place to be.
One Stop Costco Shop
Lots of people love Costco because it truly is a one stop shop. From groceries, to extra socks, to outdoor furniture, you can pretty much buy it all. If you don’t have time to spare, or just hate the hassle of shopping around, then Costco allows you to put together a mostly complete covered patio space without too much shopping around. Full seating layouts, fire pits, and even after-thought items like umbrellas are all available for purchase at the same time. And if you don’t want to actually go to the store, you can order it all online.
The Cons of Buying a Pergola From Costco
As a landscape design company who specializes in making exceptionally beautiful, custom outdoor living spaces, the last thing we want to do is leave you with the impression that a pergola from Costco can hit all of the marks of a custom design. There are absolutely reasons that so many people steer away from buying mass-produced pergola kits from big box stores. From style limitations, to sizing issues, to potential construction snafus, here are some reasons you might want to avoid buying your next pergola from Costco or similar stores.
The old saying goes, “you get what you pay for”. In the case of Costco pergolas, this means you are paying for a workhorse, general use pergola that is meant to last you long enough to outlive their 7 year warranty, but makes no real promises about what may happen after that.
Costco pergola models differ in materiality, but come down to three main makeups: vinyl, aluminum, and wood (usually cedar). These can all be great options for homeowners looking for something that will simply do the job. But in terms of longevity, style, or overall aesthetic, they may leave something to be desired.
Going custom means you can upgrade materials where desired. Swap a standard pine or cedar for IPE or aluminum for black coated steel. Materiality of Costco pergolas is fine, but it is difficult to achieve an upscale or strikingly modern look with any of these models.
Speaking of aesthetic appeal, a pergola from Costco is naturally going to be limiting when it comes to style. The company has two main styles available, including an incredibly traditional design style, and their take on a “modern” aesthetic, which mainly means cleaner lines and using aluminum instead of wood or vinyl.
There are very few options for homeowners looking to do anything visually interesting or experimental. Colors and shades are limited by material, and you shouldn’t plan to get anything groundbreaking when it comes to design. Because of this, if you’re planning on buying a pergola from Costco, you are only going to be able to shop to fit your current space.
With custom pergola designs like the one’s created by Water and Earth, the pergola is designed into your future dream living space. Buying from a Big Box store, you are only going to be able to choose an option that “best fits” the space you already have. It’s hard to plan ahead, or find an option that could be used seamlessly in a future design, should the rest of your backyard space change.
Inability to Customize
Along these same lines, there is very little ability to customize a Costco pergola. This goes beyond simple style limitations. When you build something custom, you are opening yourself up to the idea of all of the “bells and whistles” available in a custom design. This includes inlaid lighting, fans, misters, etc.
Sure, you can buy string lights. You can clip on a fan, or set up a bug net. But incorporating any of these elements into the product itself is unlikely. This can be frustrating when the entire purpose of buying a pergola in the first place is to make your backyard space as multi-functional as possible.
The final customization issue caused by buying mass-produced pergolas is the sizing constraints. All in all, what you see is what you get. There is a list of sizes to choose from, and one is either going to make sense in your space or it won't.
In a custom build, there are no set sizes. We can create something that will fit your specific backyard living space without worrying about getting something home, only to begin to put it up and realize the sizing is all wrong for your space.
Finally, as we mentioned earlier, not everybody is comfortable with DIY construction. Most people can get through the discomfort and get their pergola put together. Others may know someone who is willing to help. Usually after a bit of a learning curve, you can figure it out. But this is not always the case.
For those who aren’t ready to take on a minor construction project, don’t have the available tools, don’t know people who can help, or have mobility issues, DIY is not always possible. In this case, you may be eager to find someone in the business to help put your pergola together.
Unfortunately, most professionals will not be willing to work on something like a pergola from Costco. It simply isn’t realistic for them to invest time into something they didn’t design or build, and they definitely will not warranty it. For these reasons, finding someone with the proper skill set to help you out might be a bigger challenge than you anticipated.
So, should you buy a pergola from Costco?
Like so many things in outdoor design, there is no black and white, yes or no answer to this. Instead, we encourage all homeowners to take their time and evaluate what they are looking for in an outdoor space.
Ask yourself–how much do you value a custom look and feel? How prepared are you to construct a pergola from a kit? Are you ready to deal with the potential that what you buy might not end up being perfect for your space? How much are you really willing to spend? Answering all of these questions honestly will help you determine what approach is the right approach for your backyard living space.