Hard Top Vs Soft Top Gazebo

Hard top vs soft top gazebo

Hard-top and soft-top gazebos are two different versions of gazebos. Though they serve the single purpose of providing its user with a suitable outdoor spot to enjoy their backyard time, they have distinct differences between them. Other than their build material, they have differences in appearance, durability, weather resistance, price, and other perimeters. Also, they are quite different in terms of user experiences and comfort, care and maintenance, use time, and most importantly placement. Where many may argue that hard-top gazebos are the best to have in your backyard but soft-top gazebos too have some unique offerings which the hard-top gazebo can’t match.

Now, if you are wondering, what are the differences between a hard-top gazebo vs. a soft gazebo, then you have come to the right place. In this content, you will know which criteria sets hard top vs soft top gazebos apart, what are the respective pros and cons of a hard top and soft top, and finally which one has more edges than the other. Read till the end to enrich your gazebo knowledge a little higher.

Key Takeaways

  • Hard-top gazebos cost 5 to 8 times more than soft-top gazebos.
  • Soft top gazebos are light and compact to relocate easily, thanks to their light build material.
  • Hard-top gazebos have better-resisting capacity against rain, sunlight, snow, air, and temperature.
  • Soft top gazebos don’t last more than 2-5 years due to their less weather-resisting capacity.

Hard Top Vs Soft Top Gazebo: 12 Factors

Hard top vs soft top gazebo 12 factors
Hard top vs soft top gazebo 12 factors

Along with their name, there are some distinct differences between a hard top and a soft top gazebo. Though they serve the same purpose of providing shelter from weather anomalies, some differential factors between hard-top vs soft-top gazebos are below:

1. Pricing

  • Hard Top Gazebo: Hardtop gazebos are more likely costs higher than soft top gazebos. Because they are made of expensive tools. The cost of a hardtop can vary depending on the size and materials used. The average price for just roofing would be around $1,000, but some people opt to have their entire gazebo done instead, which could bring that up to $2,500-$3,000.
  • Soft Top Gazebo: Soft top gazebos are less expensive than hard top gazebos. They are made using preset modules and lighter materials. It also requires relatively less amount of materials to build. Together they cost less than their solid material counterparts, with prices ranging anywhere between $150-$700, depending upon the size and materials used.

2. Materials used

  • Hard Top Gazebo: Hardtop gazebos requires an extensive amount of materials to build. Also, you have different options to choose from for making the base, skeleton structure, and roofing separately. The base can be either concrete, wooden, or metal. The same goes for beams and columns. For roofing, the popular options are iron, steel, aluminum, carbon-plastic sheets, wood, etc. You can either place the roofing in blocks or pave one side at once.
  • Soft top Gazebo: It is all easy for a soft top gazebo when it comes to material questions. Soft top gazebos require a very less amount of material to build. As they are lighter and smaller in size, you don’t need actually much base laying work. Next, the beams and columns are usually made of small-diameter alloy material. The same goes for the beams. The roofing option for a soft top gazebo is limited to artificial, lightweight fabrics only.

3. Assemble difficulties

  • Hard Top Gazebo: Assembling a hard top gazebo is largely complex compared to a soft top gazebo. Because of their enormous size, heavier materials use and more defining design structure, it requires expert professionals help to build a hard top gazebo. Setting up a hard top gazebo requires extensive base work, assembling the skeleton structure pieces together and lastly, the roofing is difficult and time-consuming at the same time.
  • Soft top Gazebo: Soft tops gazebo is relatively non-permanent categorized. This means they are made lightly and easy to assemble and disassemble than a hard top gazebo. They don’t require much base work to do. You can set a soft top gazebo on the bare grass of your backyard. Place the columns and beams together, attach using nuts and bold, and place the fabric and hook with the beams. And just like that, your soft top gazebo is ready for use.

4. Sun protection ability

  • Hard Top Gazebo: Hard top gazebo has thicker roofing and overall structure design. It allows the user to have better sun protection from sunlight. The solid roof blocks sunlight from shining on you or causing UV rays that could damage your skin. Also, materials like aluminum have better UV & heat reflection capabilities. Causing hard top gazebo to remain cooler on a scorching summer noon. Overall, a hard-top gazebo is an excellent option for those who want incredible protection against the sun, both inside and out.
  • Soft top Gazebo: Soft top gazebo implies specially made & coated fabrics as the gazebo’s roofing. This fabric can also prevent sunlight’s from entering the gazebo. But due to its thinness, the sunlight effects remain inside the gazebo tent. Gazebo fabrics are less effective than the thick hard top gazebo roofs, in reflecting the heat wave. This means you may still feel immense temperature even under the soft top gazebo.

5. Water resistance

  • Hard Top Gazebo: Both hard top and soft top gazebos are made waterproof. After all, they are intended for this purpose. But hard top gazebos are more effective in water resistance. Almost all the hard top roofing materials are thick in size. This allows them to resist water far more efficiently. Another positive side of hard-top roofing materials is when rainwater droplets fall on them, it instantly bounces off them. Rather than seeping into the material like a soft-sided shelter. It reduces water congestion by a great margin.
  • Soft-top Gazebo: Soft-top gazebo also prevents rainwater but are not as efficient as their hard-top counterpart. Remember that soft top gazebo fabrics are thin in fullness. They have porous characteristics. Meaning rainwater can seep through or at least create a moisture effect beneath the fabric surface. You may have seen a similar example in your regular-use umbrella. Also, water pooling is a common issue on the soft top gazebos. Besides, this fabric is not that effective when it is snowing outside.

6. Strength

  • Hard Top Gazebo: Hard top gazebo has higher sturdiness than a soft top gazebo. Because they are made of using solid metal and polycarbonate. Along with the roofing, the hard top gazebo is designed and built hard from scratch. This feature allows them to withstand high breezing, immense rain, and snow falling situations.
  • Soft top Gazebo: Soft top gazebo is not suitable for better weight lifting. It is made of lighter materials that can barely hold their own weight, let alone pooling rainwater, snowfall, and dust weight. Imagine a person trying to get above a soft-top gazebo. You will find your answer. That’s why deploying a soft top gazebo is not recommended in the winter.

7. Durability

  • Hard Top Gazebo: Hardtop gazebos have overall better durability in great margin over soft top gazebos. They don’t suffer from wear and tear quickly, so there’s no chance they’ll break or crack soon! Materials used in hard-top gazebos are well durable to stand longer. Materials such as galvanized stainless steel are specially built to withstand rust. This way, such materials can help the hard-top gazebo to stay over decades after decades.
  • Soft top Gazebo: Soft top gazebos are more of a short-timer than its counterpart. Though the materials used to build them are well durable in their class over time they become prone to damage and expired. Soft top gazebo fabrics can’t withstand high breezing and quickly loses their thread integrity, which results in torn. Also, excessive UV rays leave color fading quickly. Every time they are assembled and dissembled, they lose their efficiency.

8. Aesthetic vibe

  • Hard Top Gazebo: Appearance is important for any gazebo. They have a better polished and established appearance. Over time, this gazebo has gone through design modernization and have color-defining feature. Having a hard-top gazebo in your backyard’s corner leaves a better aesthetic look on it.
  • Soft top Gazebo: Soft top gazebos offers a more traditional and casual look. They are basically tents with not much remarkable structures. They are also available in a variety of colors and designs. It makes them an ideal traditional outdoor space to have but with a simpler appearance.

9. Customization

  • Hard Top Gazebo: Hardtop gazebos are ideal for customization due to their variety of material options. From base to columns, beams, and roofing has exceptional design, structure, and material customization options. You can design the columns in shape and color. The same goes for base and roofing styles. You can add art colors to a hard-top gazebo. Some gazebo has railing borders that are also customizable.
  • Soft top Gazebo: Soft top gazebos are too simple a structure to have customization. The maximum it can pull off is some coloring and screen features. Some gazebo has additional air pockets, fireplace smoke holes, and transparent space to allow light to come. You can’t just buy a soft top gazebo and dissemble it for adding and removing elements from and in it.

10. Privacy

  • Hard Top Gazebo: Hard top gazebo offers more privacy than most soft top gazebos. As mentioned earlier, many hard top gazebo has an enclosed design with curtain and railings, that can put some privacy.
  • Soft top Gazebo: Soft gazebo design consists of more wide-open areas on all sides. In most soft top gazebo designs, focus has been put on the roof side. Although some soft-top gazebo has curtain feature regardless, they offer less privacy than a hard-top gazebo.

11. Permanence

  • Hard Top Gazebo: Depending on the usage, and build technique, hard top gazebos are easily listed as a permanent type patio structure. If you are looking to frequently house a decent amount of people in your backyard, then hard-top gazebos are a must. They ensure a sturdier and more permanent structure to provide you with greater comfort, element protection, and features.
  • Soft top Gazebo: On the other hand, soft top gazebos are more of a short time solution as a backyard patio structure. Its structure is not suitable for long-time relaxation under the scorching sun, immense rain, or snowfall. If you choose to use it by just yourself or house a big population for a short time, then it might be effective. But overall they don’t imply longevity by any means.

12. Maintenance

  • Hard Top Gazebo: The hardtop gazebo facility doesn’t need much maintenance other than cleaning it occasionally. They are made of hard durable materials which can last for years without requiring any or little maintenance.
  • Soft top Gazebo: Soft top gazebo is built using less robust materials and designs shape. These makes them vulnerable to moderate breezing, rain, snowing, etc. Also, a little inattentiveness can lead to damaging their surface very easily. That means constant maintenance is required for the soft top gazebo.

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Hard Vs Soft Top Gazebo: Pros And Cons In Charts

Both hard and soft top gazebo has their own positive and negative sides while using. Below are some of the pros and cons sides of each of the types:

Hard top Gazebo

1. Provides better weather protection from elements.1. Hard-top gazebos are costly to make.
2. Suitable for housing bigger amounts of people, with comfort.2. Can’t be relocated anywhere else without demolishing.
3. Requires less maintenance and lasts long.
4. Can withstand immense breeze, rain, snowfall, and heat.
5. Can be customized with any new feature easily.

Soft top gazebo

1. Likely cost you as low as $150.1. Provides less amount of protection against elements.
2. Due to the lighter build structure, it’s easily portable.2. Not suitable for use in adverse weather.
3. Suitable for use in mild weather for reading, dining, etc.3. Prone to get damaged very easily.
4. Replacement parts are easy to get.4. Not very durable to use for a long time.
5. Easy to assemble, requires one or two people, and less time.

Hard Top Vs Soft Top Gazebo: Which One Is Better?

Depending on the usage, material type, design structure, weather-resisting feature, and some criteria, it is not unknown that hard top gazebo edges over in great margin. They are sturdy, hold better resistance against weather elements, and lasts long than the soft top gazebo. But soft top gazebo has some unique benefits to offer too. They are less expensive to buy, can be relocated by folding in luggage, and offers enough protection in mild weather as per their price.

It all depends on how you use it if it suits your weather intensity and fulfills your all requirement. If you are looking for a low-cost, compact gazebo solution then a soft top is the best. But if you are looking for a long-term, best comforting, and permanent solution then nothing can beat a hard-top gazebo.


1. Can a hardtop gazebo stay up all year?

Yes, a hardtop gazebo can stay up all year. It is made of solid and durable materials. These allow them to withstand harsh weather such as rain, air, snow, and heat more efficiently.

2. Is a steel or aluminum gazebo better?

Both steel and aluminum gazebo is made of solid materials. Steel has better strength than aluminum. But aluminum is more rust-resisting than steel which gives it a slight edge over the steel gazebo.

3. What is the longest-lasting gazebo material?

Galvanized steel is the longest-lasting gazebo material to use. They are steel which makes them very sturdy and can hold higher weight for a long. The galvanized coating gives them the rust-preventive capability. Altogether they become very durable.

Final Thoughts

Gazebos benefit every household with a backyard by creating an ever last patio memory and decorating like an outdoor oasis. Depending on the build material and design shape, gazebos can be either hard top or soft top roofing. Other than appearance, these two types have numerous other differences in between. Hard tops are heavy build gazebos with benefits like more sturdy, better protection against weather elements, and durability. But they are costly and can’t be relocated elsewhere. Whereas, soft top gazebos are made of compact materials like fabrics as roofing. They are inexpensive and easily portable. But lacks durability, strength, and less resistance to weather anomalies.

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I am Donald M. Beyer and I am backyard enthusiasts. I am a homeowner who has been doing DIY projects in and out of my house for many years. From simple backyard lunches to making an old-school pizza oven in my own backyard, I have a lot of experience in turning my backyard into my and my family’s personal playground.

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