The outdoor garden gazebo is similar to pavilions, pergolas, summer houses and bandstands in terms of very basic functionality. All these structures are used to create shade in a sunny part of a garden or shelter from rain. They also serve as public gathering places. However there are several differentiations.

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Gazebos vs pavilions
Gazebos are usually permanent structures that are typically octagonal or round. They have a built in floor and may be screened, curtained or closed in so they can protect occupants from the elements during outdoor social gatherings. Some are attached to a garden wall but most are freestanding.

Pavilions are usually temporary structures that offer shelter for a patio or other outdoor seating area. They are supported by posts or poles and may be attached to a base (such as a deck or patio) that serves as an additional support structure (since most pavilions do not have a built in floor). Pavilions are usually open on all sides and are traditionally square or rectangular.

Gazebos vs summerhouses
These two structures are virtually identical, although a summerhouse is often a smaller structure built on private property. Used by Thomas Jefferson in his writings, the term summerhouse (also referred to as summer house) may be a regional American preference.

Gazebos vs pergolas
Gazebos tend to be stand-alone structures while pergolas are used to define a specific portion of a garden. Pergolas are more closely related to pavilions, although pergolas typically have exposed overhead structures while pavilions do not.

Gazebos vs bandstands
Gazebos are often octagonal, but bandstands are almost always circular (or semicircular in some instances). Both structures can be ornamental, and gazebos are sometimes used as bandstands. However, bandstands are generally larger structures in public settings, constructed in a park, garden, estate or on a pier. They are often built on a raised platform and feature special acoustics in the ceiling to accommodate the requirements of musicians.

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