Frequently Asked Questions


Whether you’re contemplating enhancing your outdoor space with a stylish pergola or simply looking to gather more information, you’ll find answers to common queries and essential insights to guide your decision-making process right here.

Garden Pergolas

This is one of the first questions most customers ask and can be complicated to answer due to the range of pergola types and options available. It is similar to buying a new house or car. 

Would you like to understand why pergolas on the market range so much in price, when in photographs they all look similar? Please contact us to find out more or visit our insights page where we have lots of blogs to explain more. 

For simplicity though, typically, a budget price for a high-quality Bio-Climatic pergola family sized, with lights, sides and heaters would be between £20,000 and £29,000 installed and including VAT.

Please see more costings below which should help you build your budget.

The example prices include VAT, design, delivery and installation by us.

Timber: These are traditional pergola and will be budget friendly and relatively easy to repair. Most will not be waterproof and will have relatively high maintenance requirements. Wood is a natural material and as such will move and weather. They can add structure to a garden and can be used to support climbing plants and create an occasional space in your garden. Budget around £500 – £5000.

Standard Sized / Off the shelf: Aluminium louvred roof pergolas are available as a click and buy option from numerous internet companies, garden centres etc. Offered in standard sizes and colours, these would be self-installed and arrive with you flat packed. Typically, they are manufactured in China and use thinner aluminium sections, single skin louvres and possibly some mild steel components. When assembled they will have numerous exposed fixings. Lights and screens can be added as options when purchasing, these would usually be fitted at the end of the installation and not integral. They can be supplied to retailers in their own branding and packaging. Some companies may offer a video or a helpline support number to help you during the installation. Budgets for this option are between £2500 and £10,000.

If you are looking for a space that you will use and is useable 90% of the year and your budget allows; this could be the solution for you. These pergolas are built to your design and will offer you the most options for size, colour, sides, heating, lighting, sound, and media. These make a multi-functional room outside which can be opened up to enjoy on the warmer days and fully closed to make a watertight comfortable space to be used when the evening or poorer weather arrives.

A bio-climatic pergola allows you to control the amount of direct sunlight, shade and heat through rotating/retracting louvred roofs and allows you to control the microclimate within the pergola. To enhance the space, options are available such as lights, heaters, sides, heating, sound and visual media.

In general terms they will be a better quality compared to any off the shelf option and subsequently will offer a longer life expectancy and would be bought on a supply and install basis. Some companies offer a complete in-house service to include, design, survey and installation whilst other companies may subcontract out parts of the process.

Manufacturers of bespoke pergolas generally offer a few variations of pergolas at different price points and it’s important to consider the finer details before committing to a company. Discuss the detail of your pergola with the supplier before committing to a purchase. They should be open and honest at this stage of the process and be willing to share any information you request.

Main points for consideration:

  • Louvre construction – this adds strength and durability to your pergola, single skin type louvres do not offer the same properties as double skinned. Also, how do the louvres transport water to the gutter system?
  • Leg and frame cross sections – Generally a slimmer leg and frame will not offer the same stability as a broader one. Also, what thickness aluminium is the pergola constructed from? Some manufacturers will use a lower grade aluminium which will have a negative impact on stability, durability, and life span.
  • Are the screens integrated into the beam? – If screens are fitted in an additional ‘cassette’ type system, this will increase the depth of the beam and reduce head room and the overall aesthetic will be compromised. Larger cross section beams provide a space for the screen to be retracted into, this means they are virtually invisible when retracted and do not compromise the elegance of the design.
  • How is the pergola anchored to the floor? – Visible fixings can have a detrimental effect to the overall look of your pergola. Better quality manufacturers have been able to design all fixings within the structure to be invisible when the pergola is fully installed giving the cleanest most elegant lines.
  • Maximum size of a pergola – Generally this is an indicator of quality, higher quality pergolas should span a larger space with one frame minimising the amount of legs and giving a better aesthetic. Pergolas can also be coupled together in various combinations to cover larger spaces and more complex shapes.
  • Discuss with the retailer the full process from start to finish, ask them for details on who installs the pergola, the process for installing your pergola, how is it transported etc. You can also consider asking to view their previous installs and testimonials from previous customers.

This is probably most customer’s second question. When considering what size pergola you want, consider what area you want to cover and why? Think ‘what will I use this space for?’ For example, if you plan to spend a lot of time in your pergola with family all year round then covering the maximum available space may be the best option, however, if it is for very infrequent use for a small amount of people then a smaller pergola might suffice and be more cost effective.

The most common types of roof are:

  • Aluminium louvres can rotate to allow light through and can be manual or motorised. Some models offer a rotating and retracting louvred roof. Either option when fully closed will be waterproof.
  • Fabric roofs can be waterproof and even retractable. On the downside, unless retracted they do not let a lot of sunlight through.
  • Glass has excellent waterproofing properties and allows sunlight through across the whole roof. It does add weight, cost and does not retract.
  • Aluminium Louvres and Glass combination roof. Offer a unique solution for pergolas that are required to be wall mounted and where light into the windows or doors beneath the pergola is a concern, but where the customer still wants the flexibility of a louvred roof for the other part of the pergola.
  • Plastic roofs such as polycarbonate have some of the benefits of glass with less weight and cost. They can be prone to discolouration.

We would recommend that in most cases a concrete footing 350mm x 350mm and 350mm deep will be substantial enough to support your pergola. It can then be bolted securely into this footing. It is possible to secure decking or even roofs however these situations would require specialist fixings/expertise.

Pergolas can be installed all year round with only a small amount of extreme weather conditions preventing a safe and suitable working environment. You may want to consider having your pergola installed in winter or early spring so that it is ready for you to use before summer arrives.

This will vary depending upon your choice of pergola style, size, options and whether it is a self-install. You should expect that a professional installation for a quality aluminium pergola take between 1 to 3 days.

If you opt for either a bespoke aluminium or ‘off the shelf’ aluminium/timber pergola, these will be either square or rectangular in shape. You can combine individual pergolas to achieve different shapes such as an L shape. If you were to choose to build your own pergola, you can of course make it any shape you wish!

This again depends on the type/quality of pergola you choose. For maximum waterproofing a solid roof such as glass would possibly be the best choice. Glass would add cost and weight to your pergola though. Good quality aluminium louvres are fully waterproof if they are installed correctly and also offer the benefit of being able to rotate and some models can also retract. In most cases, timber pergolas would have an open style roof with several wooden cross members.

Most aluminium pergolas would have internal gutters which would take the water within a leg to either an internal or external rainwater pipe. When considered before the finished flooring is installed bespoke pergolas can be connected to sub surface drainage which allows the water to disappear out of view.

There are hundreds of RAL colours that aluminium can be powder coated in. Both bespoke and ‘off the shelf’ aluminium pergolas will be offered in standard colours at no additional cost.  Suppliers of bespoke pergolas will be able to offer most other RAL colours, however this will normally be at an extra cost typically around 10% of the cost of the pergola.

Yes, many pergola manufacturers offer the option to wall mount and some types of pergola would require wall mounting to aid with stability for example when adding a glass roof. ‘Lean to’ type pergolas with a sloping roof are also available.

The good news is that most good quality aluminium pergolas require little maintenance. Generally, a clean to prevent dirt build up is all that will be required. Over the years we have noticed that if your pergola is installed close to trees then it may need a little more attention to remove debris such as leaves and twigs. If your chosen pergola requires silicone type sealants at install, these can fail over the life of the pergola and require attention. Timber being a natural material will generally require regular treatments to keep it at its best.

Wherever you buy your pergola from, your pergola supplier should provide a guarantee for the pergola itself and if you are having your pergola professionally installed then your installer should provide a guarantee for their work too.

A pergola is treated as a temporary structure under planning laws so as a general guide, no.

Providing your pergola is less than 2.5m high if its within 2m of your boundary or no higher than 3m if it is further into your garden, you would not need planning permission. There may be other considerations if you live in an a conservation area for example. If you are concerned about this we would always advise customers to speak to their local planners before placing an order.

A pergola design can combine one or more of the following options:

  • Fabric screens (Woven fibre glass) – These can be a more cost effective screening solution and retract into the beam of a bespoke aluminium pergola. These can be manually operated, motorised and remote controlled if required.
  • Solid side panels – These can be a good option to stop wind and rain driving in if you are going to use your pergola all year round as a living area, for example if you had an outdoor kitchen.
  • Sliding glass panels – Similar to above but with more flexibility. Allows greater light in and also can be used for access but can be more costly.
  • Fixed glass panels – Solid construction that doesn’t allow for any movement or opening.
  • Guillotine Glass – Glass which can be lowered vertically onto the floor to part open 2/3rd’s of a side of a pergola.
  • Timber sliding panels – Solid panels that move along a guide rail allowing part of the side to be partly opened or fully closed.
  • Aluminium Louvred panels – Panels that move along a guide rail allowing part of the side to be partly opened or fully closed. These can be a fixed louvre design within the panel or a tilting louvre system which allows the side to be closed when required.
  • Bespoke RAL colours, RAL is just a standard of colour management that ensures consistency.
  • Lighting – lights can really enhance the feel of your pergola. They can be mounted externally, recessed into the frame and fitted into louvres as strips, spots and star patterns.
  • Speakers – external speakers can be mounted discreetly within the frame of the pergola or if you are looking for festival sound consider adding larger speakers onto the frame. Either option will allow you to listen to your favourite music whilst enjoying your outdoor space.
  • Heaters – Integrated and remote controlled infrared electric heaters allow you to enjoy your pergola later into the evenings or into the cooler spring and autumn months.

It is important that you understand how you will use your new space before you decide which option to go for, it is going to be with you for years to come. If you need a completely waterproof extension to your home that does not need to have a lot of flexibility, then a traditional conservatory type structure might be the best option for you.

If you only need a decorative structure to define and add height to a section of your garden then a simple timber pergola may suffice.

If you want to create a space with the maximum amount of flexibility and virtually all year round use then a bio-climatic pergola is well worth considering.

Outdoor Heating

The most common fuel sources are natural gas, electric, LPG, burning logs or using bioethanol liquid fuel.

A natural gas supply is fed from your house, usually direct from the gas meter, sometimes known as mains gas. This will generally be the cheapest gas option. LPG (propane) is supplied in red cylinders such as for use in BBQ.

Some fires rely on electricity to power them and some rely on it to ignite them. Log burners and bioethanol can be simply lit with a remote flame.

EcoSmart Fire’s freestanding ethanol fireplaces are designed to be placed into the desired location, secured into position, and operated immediately. We have outlined guidelines that include minimum room size requirements and clearance recommendations for flammable materials and movable objects. Ask us for a model spec of your favourite fireplace.

The cost to run EcoSmart Fire’s ethanol fireplace depends on how much ethanol fuel is used and the size of the fireplace. Typically between £1 and £3 per hour.

Burn times for our ethanol fireplaces vary based on flame size and fuel capacity of the burner. EcoSmart Fire’s ethanol fireplaces will burn between 8-13 hours when full.

Unlike gas fireplaces or traditional wood-burning fireplaces, our ethanol fireplace inserts require no venting, no gas line, and no electricity – eliminating the need and cost of three subcontractors. They are simply mounted into the constructed main wall framework with the appropriate opening size for the fireplace insert selected.

EcoSmart Fire’s ethanol fireplace inserts are extremely flexible and can be incorporated at any stage of your interior decorating, renovating, or building works.

Yes, our bioethanol fires can produce in excess of 5kw. Most bioethanol fireplaces are designed as a decorative item whilst offering some additional, supplementary heat from a warming flame. 

What to consider when using a bioethanol fireplace as a heating source?

  • Heating capacity: Bioethanol fireplaces generate radiant heat, which can warm up immediate surroundings and create a cosy atmosphere.
  • Supplemental use: They are most effective when used as a supplemental heat source in conjunction with other heating methods.
  • Ideal for smaller spaces: Bioethanol fireplaces are well-suited for smaller rooms or well-insulated areas where they can make a noticeable difference.

It is very simple. You fill the burner box with bioethanol fuel, light our unique lighting rod and then touch this to the fuel which will instantly ignite.

The only emissions produced from burning bioethanol fuel are heat, water vapour, and carbon dioxide. Burning bioethanol uses oxygen from the air and emits a small amount of carbon dioxide. The amount of carbon dioxide is very small and poses no risk.

No. You don’t need a chimney with a bioethanol fireplace because bioethanol fuel burns cleanly — without smoke, soot, or ash. This makes bioethanol the ideal alternative energy source for buildings that don’t have chimneys, such as flats, conservatories, and many modern homes.

No, bioethanol fuel burns without creating any harmful emissions. It uses a little oxygen from the room and emits heat, water vapour and a tiny amount of CO2.

Yes, however it may be worth ‘blocking’ your chimney with a suitable material to prevent heat loss.

All of our bioethanol burners are safe for use on most flooring.

The burners do not require a hearth as the heat is not generated at the bottom of the fireplace but you may choose to have one.

It’s possible to burn wood in your garden, so long as any smoke doesn’t cause a nuisance. If neighbours complain, the local authority can ask that you stop. An outside fireplace burning wood will need a factory-made chimney, but you can burn logs directly in a suitable wall fire, fire pit or fire bowl.

A fire pit is typically square or rectangular in shape and open on all sides.​ A fire table is also usually rectangular, open on all sides but with the tabletop overhanging the base structure. A wall fire is mounted in an enclosure, typically at seating height for maximum heating effect.

Our bioethanol fireplaces are really the only option if you want a fire that you can use outside and also move it indoors and use it safely.​

Infrared or radiant heating technology is simply the transfer of heat from a warm object to a cooler object. HEATSCOPE® radiant heaters emit a pleasant sun-like warmth reaching the people, floors, and furniture below rather than heating the air. The result is comfortable, odourless, and silent warmth.

Other radiant heaters produce an uncomfortable, high heat and disrupt the ambience of a space with an aggressive red light. HEATSCOPE® radiant heaters produce a very modest light and a comfortable sun-like warmth. HEATSCOPE® radiant heaters are convenient and intuitive with smart-home system integration and smartphone pairing with a WiFi wall switch.

All infrared heaters must be installed by a licensed electrician and in accordance with the installation and instruction manual.

Outdoor Kitchen

The first thing to consider, look at your garden layout to see how big your outdoor kitchen can be and where to place it within your garden. Your space may well dictate the above and there might only be one obvious place for your outdoor kitchen to sit. Considerations to think about are whether you want a permanent structure or a more DIY outdoor kitchen with freestanding units and a portable BBQ. Even if your garden only offers the space to make a small outdoor kitchen it can still have everything you desire to make it the outdoor space for your entertaining needs.

Deciding how much you would like to spend can help focus on what is important for you to have in your new outdoor kitchen. Consider what are the ‘must haves’ and what things would be nice to have. The price and quality range is vast and offers something for most. Big DIY/Furniture retailers for example, have small, basic kitchens from under £1000.

As a guide, our bespoke outdoor kitchen range start from £5095. A large bespoke layout including appliances could be between £15,000 and £30,000.

Most quality outdoor kitchen suppliers will have a showroom where you can meet the design team and discuss the quality and detail of your new kitchen. At the other end of the budget scale, online retailers are unlikely to have a physical space to display their products. If you would like to view our kitchen range, please contact us to arrange a visit to our Lincolnshire showroom.

Quality outdoor kitchens have been designed to be outside all year round. However, given the unpredictable British weather we can supply purpose made all weather covers so you can cover up your outdoor kitchen when not in use. Or you may wish to consider a more permanent covering for your kitchen. Not only will this allow you to use it more often, but it will also offer protection to your kitchen appliances and reduce maintenance. Types of covering can range from fabric parasols/gazebos at one end of the spectrum through to a bespoke bioclimatic pergola if you want a truly flexible all year-round outdoor space.

Most kitchen units are freestanding and can be stood on many surfaces and do not require foundations. If you are having a kitchen with multiple units and a joined worktop, having a level ground surface is essential though. Well laid patios and decks should be strong enough to support the units.

This depends on the type and quality of kitchen you are buying. Pre-packed/off the shelf units from a bulk retailer will allow a certain amount of customisation. Buying from quality outdoor kitchen supplier will allow you to create a completely bespoke kitchen of your dreams.

If you choose a high quality, bespoke outdoor kitchen, typical lead times will be around 4-6 weeks.

Most quality outdoor kitchens can be installed in one to two days. Unlike most companies we can offer the full installation system including all plumbing and electrical works.

Freestanding units can be simply picked up and moved. A quality installed kitchen can be moved, however, may require some specialist works for electric/gas etc.

Outdoor Furniture

Will it fit? The size of your garden, patio or balcony will help determine the style and type of the garden furniture you choose. If you have a large lawn or palatial patio you won’t be constrained by size. In fact, once you’ve measured the space, making sure there’s a metre clear of the table edge so people can get in and out of their chairs, it’s worth buying slightly bigger furniture than you think you’ll need, so there’s plenty of room for family and friends to sit in comfort. It’s a bit like a greenhouse – you won’t regret buying the largest one you can, as you’ll soon find yourself filling it up. However, for those of us with a small garden, patio or balcony, it might be more sensible to go for a cleverly designed, space-saving option.

Do you plan to host catered parties and seat guests at a patio dining set with a large dining table and armchairs? Or do you just want to hang out with friends on a big comfy couch and lounge chairs with a coffee table for a casual drink? Perhaps you simply want to enjoy the sun on a leisurely warm Summer’s Day with a cool drink by your side. Whatever the purpose, it’s a good idea to begin your planning with a list of what you want to do. Think about what pieces of furniture might be needed and how many people you want to accommodate.

Once you have decided what you are going to use your new furniture for, deciding on your budget will dictate to some extent the type of furniture you decide on. The cheapest garden furniture will typically be made from plastic, steel, aluminium, and softwoods, such as pine. You can pick up a basic two-seater dining set for as little as £30. Sets made from cheaper materials such as plastic are great if you want to save money, but it won’t be as durable as better-quality materials like hardwood or concrete. Style and quality of the design and materials will mean that you may need to spend between £1500 and £15,000 depending on the area you want to create.

Cheap plastic furniture does not need to be covered but may fade with exposure to sunlight. Softwood furniture will need regular maintenance if not covered. Metal and hardwood options are more expensive but will last longer.

Covering your furniture will reduce maintenance and increase your ability to use it more. Consider purchasing purpose made covers or using a permanent structure to cover your patio to make using your outdoor space as convenient as possible.