Pergolas Patio Covers



Ramada with tile roof, swim up bar & barbecue

Sunken Ramada with tile roof, swim up bar & barbecue

The extreme temperatures of the Phoenix summer drive everyone to look for ways to keep cool. Most homeowners first choice is to invest in a swimming pool to provide relieve when the temperature reaches 100 or more. But even in the cool water of a swimming pool, the sun is blazing down on you. The second most popular solution to beating the summer heat is the addition of a shade structure. Most homes are constructed with a “builder patio” which does provide some shaded area but not very much. It can accommodate a table and chairs but that is about the limit to its usefulness. Homeowners who want to really enjoy their outdoor living space in the summertime are seeking a much larger option to create shade for relaxing, barbequing and even when they are relaxing in the pool.

The UNIQUE Companies offers many different solutions for getting out of the sun but still enjoying the great outdoors. As a licensed general contractor as well as a pool and landscape contractor, UNIQUE is one of the few landscape and pool contractors who can legally install a shade structure as a part of your landscape and pool design. You UNIQUE designer can help you determine which type of shade structure will best meet your needs and complement your landscape style.


You have many options to choose from when you are considering a shade structure. Knowing the correct terminology will help you to explain your goals and ideas to the UNIQUE design team.

Ramada with stacked stone pillars and tile roof

Ramada with stacked stone pillars and tile roof

Ramada – [ra•ma•da]
Dictionary: An open or semi enclosed shelter roofed with brush or branches, designed especially to provide shade. B. An open porch or breezeway.

Unique’s Terminology: An outdoor shade structure with a covered fully-enclosed roof, generally matching the architecture and materials used in existing house structure. A Ramada generally has four supporting columns or posts, with open sides.

Example of a Pergola in Scottsdale

Example of a Pergola in Scottsdale

Pergola – [pur-guh-luh]
Dictionary: An arbor formed of horizontal trellis work supported on columns or posts, over which vines or other plants are trained.

Unique’s Terminology: An outdoor shade structure with an open trellis or ceiling, generally constructed of wood, with large wood beams and wood rafters for the ceiling. A pergola generally has four supporting columns or posts, with open sides.

Gazebo – [guh-zey-boh, -zee-]

Example of a Ramada with Water Feature off the roof

Example of a Ramada with Water Feature off the roof

Dictionary: 1. A structure, as an open or latticework pavilion or summerhouse, built on a site that provides an attractive view. 2. A small roofed structure that is screened on all sides, used for outdoor entertaining and dining.

Unique’s Terminology: An outdoor shade structure with a covered, vaulted ceiling, generally constructed of wood, with five or more sides. A gazebo is usually hexagonal, and may match the architecture of the house. UNIQUE generally builds Ramadas to match the house, gazebos are custom designed and are not modeled after the style or architecture of the house.

Palapa – [puh-lah-puh]

An example of a Thatch Umbrella or Palapa Umbrella.

An example of a Thatch Umbrella or Palapa Umbrella.

Dictionary: 1. An open-sided dwelling with a thatched roof made of dried palm leaves. 2. A structure, such as a bar or restaurant in a tropical resort, that is open-sided and thatched with palm leaves.

Unique’s Terminology: A tropical shade structure or “umbrella” which is built with pine-peeled posts and palm leaves. This structure can be an umbrella with a single post, or constructed with multiple support posts in the case of a larger palapa.

BASICS: UNIQUE’S basic outdoor shade structures are our pergola structures. These are the least expensive structures because they are made almost entirely of wood and can be built in a few days. Ranging from 100 Sq Ft to over 600 Sq Ft, pergolas can accommodate almost any style simply by just customizing the support posts. An Italian pergola would be built using Corinthian stone columns and a southwestern pergola would be constructed of wood columns or round peeled posts.

UPGRADES: For larger and more substantial shade structure, a Ramada is by far the best selection. These structures have a completely sealed roof which is constructed much like the rook of your home. In most designs a Ramada uses the same stucco texture as your home and the same roof tiles as well. Outdoor lighting, ceiling fans, and speakers can all be included in your Ramada design. The goal for a Ramada is for it to feel and look like an extension of your home. An upgraded pergola can be designed to include built-in landscape lighting, shade cloth to provide more complete shade inside the structure, or even a “double-post” feature which provides structural support for a larger shade canopy.

THE PREMIUM PLAN: Outdoor living spaces begin with covered patio areas. These are the anchor spaces around which the rest of your project will be designed. UNIQUE is known for designing and building some of the most elaborate outdoor living spaces in Phoenix and they all begin with a custom Ramada, Pergola or gazebo. Homeowners who want to make the most of their outdoor living space often request a Ramada at the pool which is sunken to the water level. This not only provides a great shaded space near the pool but also facilitates a swim-up bar in the pool. This sunken Ramada and swim-up bar combination have become a trademark feature for the UNIQUE Companies. Homeowners love the ability to create a connection between their pool and bar area. Adding a custom fireplace to your Ramada provides you with a great outdoor space that can be enjoyed year round.

  • Create a space out in the yard where you can relax and look back at the house. This will encourage you and guests to venture out in the yard and enjoy this inviting space. A pergola provides plenty of shade, even with an open roof because the sun is never directly over the rafters. Be certain to run the rafters North and South as this provides the maximum shade 12 throughout the year.
  • Make sure that you are familiar with the requirements and guidelines that your HOA has in place for shade structures. In many associations you are required to match the architecture and finishes of your shade structure to your home. Plan ahead when you are thinking about the design of your Ramada or gazebo and be sure to include outlets and prewiring for lights, ceiling fans and other features that might not be included in your initial design and build. You will find that you use your shade structure throughout the year and will need lighting options in the winter months.


Pergola with Unique Ironwork Detailed Roof

Pergola with Unique Detailed Ironwork Roof

All of the UNIQUE backyard structures are custom built to meet our clients design needs. As a licensed general contractor, UNIQUE is qualified to build these structures. In addition, we handle all aspects of the design and engineering required for city permits. As an “added value” to our clients, UNIQUE handles the HOA submittal requirements, secures the necessary city permits and coordinates each city inspection. Typically any structure over 150 Sq Ft will require some sort of city or county inspection, and UNIQUE Landscapes designers are very skilled in handling these tedious submittals for our clients.

Upon receipt of permits and construction documents, UNIQUE Landscapes begins the construction process by building a solid footing/foundation for all Ramadas and Pergolas. After footing is completed the structure is generally framed with lumber or the columns are built with CMU block. Our clients are especially fond of the UNIQUE “vaulted” ceilings we construct to create an open atmosphere outdoors. The UNIQUE framers are highly skilled at precision construction and their attention to detail creates a shade structure that is also a work of art. Finally, the UNIQUE painters provide a coat of paint or stain to preserve and protect the wood.

The “UNIQUE” difference – After many years of perfecting our products, we have come up with the best possible method and processes to construct many of our popular items. This attention to detail is what sets us apart from our competition.

Phoenix Ramada

An example of the large lumber and detailed, oversized footers for some of our Arizona Ramada projects.

• Footers – Over-sized footers provide a lifetime of support for all of our structures.

• Engineering & City Inspections – All of our structures have been professionally engineered and submitted to all cities for approval prior to construction. During this approval process, each city’s engineer reviews our plans to provide a second opinion to our construction techniques. All of our structures are built with this strict guideline and city inspections.

• Gas & Electric – As licensed pool and general contractors, we are one of the only landscape companies that can “legally” and safely perform these services for our clients. Don’t risk your home and your family’s safety by letting an unlicensed landscape contractor work with something as potentially volatile as gas, propane, or electric on your property!

Ramada construction

An example of how our crews need to work together. Notice the rough framing, roofing, and gas & electrical work together in the rough stages of this Phoenix Ramada and Gazebo project.

• Framing, Lathe & Stucco – UNIQUE structures are built with the same exacting architecture designs and construction methods as your existing home. As general contractors, UNIQUE is highly experienced in all construction techniques, which allows us to exactly match all of the details of your home. We are so certain of the skills of our UNIQUE craftsmen that we even guarantee that it will match. In addition, because pergolas and Ramadas are included in the majority of our projects, we have a full time crew who specializes in each of the construction aspects of building these structures. This specialized team, who focuses only on the different disciplines involved in the construction of our structures, allows UNIQUE to do in days what many contractors need months to complete.

• Oversized lumber – At UNIQUE, we are committed to cultivating long term relationships with all of our clients. And we have found that the best way to accomplish this is to provide an exception product and exceptional workmanship. We build our structures to be solid and to last far longer than our competitors’ products. We use larger, more durable rough sawn Douglas Fir lumber because it has become the industry standard for outdoor exposed lumber. It is the best and most durable material available and it’s required in all of UNIQUE’S projects. It is attention to detail and over engineering like this which allows UNIQUE to warranty our structures integrity for life.

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