What Is the Difference Between Garage and Carport? (Info & Cost)


Carports are more common in warm climates but are found in cold temperatures as well.

A carport is a semi-covered structure. Unlike garages, a carport does not have four walls and usually has none or two. Carports offer limited protection to vehicles from elements. The structure can be freestanding or attached to your home wall. Carports are made from wood, steel, and aluminum.

Carports are much less secure than garages and not as useful since you can’t lock a carport or store anything that might get wet/stolen.

Carports are great for protecting vehicles from sun, sap, snow, freeze, and falling debris. Carports are simple to build from scratch, or you can buy a prefabricated carport.

Carports can be a simple metal frame with the roof or draped in fabric.

Carports and walls can be made of wood, brick, stone, or other suitable materials to match your home style.

The term carport comes from the French term porte-cochère, referring to a covered portal.

Attached, Freestanding or Portable Carports

Portable Carports

Some carports or canopies are made of steel tubing or aluminum. They are not attached to the ground permanently and can easily be removed/relocated, and have canvas or vinyl covering walls. Check this article about alternatives to a garage.

Freestanding Carports

Flat Roof Style

Carports can be installed almost anywhere on the property. They may be as simple as four posts and a roof or have one or more walls. They are usually made of steel or wood and come in many sizes and styles.

Attached or Lean-to Carports

Slope Roof Style

Are built onto the side of your home. They consist of two or more support poles and a roof or have additional walls beside the one provided by the structure they are attached to.

The attached carports are usually made of wood but may be metal or polycarbonate as well.

There are also portable garages. Which are just carports with thin metal or fabric walls.

Carport Roof Styles

There are Flat, Slope, Regular, Boxed-Eave, and Vertical roof styles. They differ in the sturdiness and how the roof panels are oriented. Materials are metal, polycarbonate, and traditional roofing shingles.

Vertical Roof Style

The vertical roof panels allow snow and rainwater to exit off the sides. for a climate with heavy snowfall or heavy rain

Boxed Eave Style

Is recommended for areas that may have some high winds but do not get a lot of snow or rain.

Regular Roof Style

Has horizontal paneling and is recommended for areas that experience moderate weather conditions.

Metal vs Wood as Carport Material

Wooden carports are maybe more aesthetically pleasing and easier to match your home style.

Metal is more durable, modular, and won’t burn, rot or need much maintenance.

The choice is really up to you. Based on your needs and living area.

Carport Sizes

Many manufacturers offer custom sizes, especially in metal carports. And with the wooden variety, you can build it any size you want. Considering local building codes.

Carport size is a bit different from a garage size. 

One car prefabricated carports are usually 12 ft wide and 21-26 ft long.

Most manufacturers refer to 18-24 ft wide units as double carports or 2-car carports. It’s recommended to get a width of at least 20 ft. The standard length is 21 ft.

WidthVehicle
12 Single car, truck or RV
18Two compact cars
20Two midsized cars
22Two full sized cars, trucks or SUV
24Two full or oversized cars or trucks
26Three midsized cars or trucks

For three midsize cars, 26 ft wide is one option.

The standard height is 6-7ft, But it can be customized to any size as with length.

Variations of Carports

  • Shadeports
  • Patio Covers & Awnings
  • Outdoor Walkway Covers
  • Designer Shade Sails
  • Under decks
  • Car Shelter
  • Carporch

Does Carport Add Value?

Yes, but garages tend to be better for the resale value of the house.

Carports can be custom-made to any size, shape, and style you want. So you can integrate them into your home design easily.

Added values depend on materials used and the location where the carport is on your property. A carport is a good home improvement project.

Carports can be added besides to the already existing garage. You can also use carports to protect larger items like boats, RVs, or tractors.

You can also use a carport as an additional porch or patio.

Consider Building a carport in front of your garage. This way, you can park in front of your garage and still have your car covered by the weather. You can also store miscellaneous items in the carport that don’t necessarily need to be in the garage. Also, you have more privacy in your garage.

How to Build a Carport

Determine the size and style of the carport you need. Make sure there is space for the vehicles you are going to park under. Also, do you intend to use a kit or build it from scratch?

Many steps below are not needed if you are building a carport to a concrete pad or at the paved driveway.

Prepare the Ground

Ensure you know where the power, gas, and plumbing lines are so you know where it’s safe to place the carport. Consider also if you or the next homeowner wants to upgrade the carport to a garage.

Tip.

You can call DigSafe at 811. They notify your local utility companies to check their lines’ locations and mark them on your property.

  • Plot out space. You need at least 16 ft long and 9 ft wide for the average car. 
  • Clear and level the ground. Add gravel and landscaping fabric if needed.
  • Mark the area with laser or mason’s string lines to make sure all the sides are even.
  • Measure the corners diagonally to make sure they are square.

Make Holes for Posts

  • Dig holes in every corner. If you plan a large carport, you may need additional support posts in halfway marks on the left and right sides, totaling six posts.
  • Use a post hole digger or power auger to dig post holes. 2-4 feet deep for footings.
  • Palace concrete tubing forms in the holes and level the footings about 1-2 inches above ground level.

The footing needs to extend 6 inches below the frost line for your area.

Pour the Concrete and Raise Posts

  • Prepare concrete according to instructions or order it premade. Pour the concrete into the footings.
  • Place post anchor bolts to the center of each footing.
  • Backfill the holes with gravel around the tubing form
  • Align the anchor bolts. Leave enough of the bolt above the footer to connect with the anchor.
  • Allow the concrete time to cure according to the manufacturer’s directions.

Carport minimum height should be 7 ft from the ground to the lowest rafter. Make sure that the post has enough height.

  • Attach the posts to the anchors with nails or structural screws and a power drill. Install a shim between posts and anchors if needed.
  • Mark the desired height on all posts and confirm that they match. If needed, trim the posts with a power saw to ensure that the heights are equal.

Consider where the rainfall will run off the carport roof. You don’t want it on your home’s foundation, instead of a flat roof. Cut the posts so the ones closest to the house are two feet taller than the other side, and build a roof that slopes away from your home.

Attach Beam and Rafters

  • Cut the side beams and clamp them to the posts, aligned horizontally on the outside of the carport, so the beams’ tops are flush with the tops of the posts. Bolt the beams to the posts.
  • Align beams to the front and back of the frame and attach them with bolts.
  • Cut six rafters and place them at three-foot intervals along the top of the beams.
  • Attach the rafters with galvanized joist hangers.

Attach the Roof and Gutters

  • Measure the gutter to match the length of the lowest side of the carport and attach it to the appropriate beam.
  • Connect the downspout, so it leads to the nearest stormwater drain.
  • Fasten plywood roof boards to the rafters.
  • Caulk the plywood to ensure waterproof seals where necessary.
  • Attach shingles.
  • Stain the wooden components with a paintbrush to protect them from the elements.

Consider also if your area has heavy snowfall. Construct the roof accordingly.

Consider adding solar panels to the carport roof in sunny climates. You get electricity and added value for your home.

How Do You Pour Concrete Slab for a Carport

The ground needs to be prepared and leveled for the slab.

How Thick Should Concrete Slab Be for a Carport?

The minimum thickness required to resist cracking under the typical vehicle is 3.5 inches.

It’s advisable to have 4 inches or more thickness to a concrete slab.

If you are going to place heavy equipment or vehicles on the slab, you want 6″ or more and use reinforcing rebar/mesh for added strength.

How to Protect Carport From Wind

Metal carports are not heavy and need to be anchored to the ground firmly. Or even better, attached to a concrete slab.

Consider the placement.

  • Is the carport attached to your house or out in the open?
  • Examine your local wind patterns. Placing the carport near the house or shed or big hill can add an extra barrier from high winds.
  • Consider the walls in your carport and where the winds are blowing. Letting the prevailing winds pass through.

How Much Wind Can a Carport Take?

Some manufacturers offer a 90-MPH Wind Warranty.

A certified building has been designed by an engineer and has ratings for wind and snow load.

Some local areas have ordinances that require structures to be certified to withstand certain minimum wind and snow loads; in other areas, whether you choose to certify or not is really up to you.

How Do You Anchor a Carport?

Carports need to be anchored to the ground permanently or with anchor kits that can be disassembled.

Permanent anchoring is made by making concrete footing for posts.

There are concrete, asphalt, and ground and wood anchors.

Concrete

Drill holes in the concrete and use manufacturer-approved wedge anchors. Wedge anchors are inserted through pre-drilled holes in the base rail of your carport.

Asphalt

30″ or more long anchors are inserted through pre-drilled holes in the base rail. A small hole is made in your asphalt. The anchor is driven into the ground with a sledgehammer or similar and placed under the asphalt.

Ground/Dirt

30″ or more long anchors are inserted through pre-drilled holes in the base rail. The anchors are driven into the ground with a sledgehammer or similar for a secure hold.

Wood

Lag bolts are inserted through pre-drilled holes in the carport base rails and screwed down into the wood.

These are fast installations, But necessary for high winds and for insurance purposes. So consult an expert if you are unsure.

How Much Snow Can a Carport Hold?

Some manufacturers offer a 20Lb PSF Ground Snow Load up to 60Lb PSF = Pounds per Square Foot

  • 25 Pounds PSF Ground Snow Load – Moderate Snow Fall.
  • 30 Pounds PSF Ground Snow Load – Moderate to Heavy Snow Fall.
  • 40 Pounds PSF Ground Snow Load – Heavy Mountain Snow Fall.
  • 50 Pounds PSF Ground Snow Load – High Mountain Snow Fall.
  • 60 Pounds PSF Ground Snow Load – Extreme High Mountain Snow Fall.

A certified building has been designed by an engineer and has ratings for wind and snow load.

Some local areas have ordinances that require structures to be certified to withstand certain minimum wind and snow loads; in other areas, whether you choose to certify or not is really up to you.

Will Carport Stop Frost?

If you live in a cold climate where there are freezing winters, you probably find your car windows covered with frost. And scraping them ain’t fun.

A carport keeps your car free of frost. The carport roof will radiate some heat down onto the surface of your car, preventing water from the air from condensing and freezing onto your windshield.

Carport also protects your car from snowfall. So you don’t have to clean the snow off.

Warm objects, such as vehicles, radiate heat. The warmer an object is, the more heat it loses. The ground loses heat on a cold night very quickly. Once the ground gets below the air’s frost point, water in the air condenses onto it and forms frost.

So when your car gets below a certain temperature, water condenses out of the air onto it and freezes, causing frost. Suppose your car is parked under a carport. In that case, the carport roof will radiate some heat down onto the surface of your car, preventing water from the air from condensing and freezing onto your windshield.

Is Carport Cheaper Than a Garage?

Carports are cheaper than garages. Carports cost about half as much or less as garages.

Carports can be built much cheaper than garages because there are no walls, doors, or windows, excluding many other things that garages require. Prebuilt carports are cheap and durable.

Check this article for info about how much it cost to build a garage.

Is It Cheaper to Build a Carport or Buy One?

Carports are simple structures and can be built very quickly. So it depends if you want wooden or metal variety.

  • Metal carports are reasonably priced and popular in the US.
  • Portable carports are useful if you need temporary protection.

To see the most popular metal carports at Amazon just click here

How Close Property Line Can I Build a Carport?

Usually, you can’t construct a carport in any easement on the property or within a few feet of the property lines. Always check your local building codes.

Check this article where detached garages can be built.

Is Carport a Permanent Structure?

  • Yes, but it’s easy to take down or disassemble.
  • Carports are typically built to be sturdy, permanent outbuildings.
  • Portable carports are not, of course, permanent.

Do You Need Planning Permission a Carport

Carports usually require a local building permit. Local building codes may dictate whether or not you can construct a carport attached to your home.

Check local building codes and HOA (neighborhood homeowner’s association) regulations. To find out if the project is allowed. And what you need to do if a permit is required.

Carports are not considered enclosed or livable space, so building one should be easy to get approved.

Carport walls or ceiling don’t need to be fireproof.

How Big Can a Carport Be Without Planning Permission?

If your carport is more than 200 square feet in size, you likely need a permit. In some areas, you may need one regardless of size.

Temporary or portable carports do not usually require permits, but permanent structures do. Always check with your town or city hall before building.

Certified vs. Non-Certified Buildings

A certified building has been designed by an engineer and has ratings for wind and snow load. Some local ordinances require that you certify any building that you construct. The objective of the building codes is to ensure safety and to protect the public.

Some states don’t require buildings to be certified because they may not have to worry about heavy snowfalls and high winds. Certain states require that any new structure constructed be certified. Some require all structures to be inspected, while others only require that occupied structures be inspected before living or working inside.

Will Carport Raise Your Taxes?

In most areas, metal carports only factor into the property’s tax value if they are very large and installed on a concrete foundation and/or have water and power run to them. Check with your local tax office before buying a carport if it increases your annual property tax.

Average Cost of Carport

Carports can be custom made to any size, shape, and style you want or prefabricated with different options.

The national average is $2,000 to $10,000, with most homeowners paying around $7,500 for a 20′ x 20′ wooden carport attached to the home with two walls and a concrete pad.

The average cost per square foot is around $12 to $35 fully installed.

18′ x 18′ x 8′ galvanized steel concrete on a 4″ thick concrete slab, installed. Average cost $7,500

30′ x 35′ x 15‘ galvanized steel carport with walls on a 6″ thick concrete slab, installed. Average cost $30,000

MaterialAverage Cost Range (Installed)
Aluminum$10 – $15/sq.ft.
Polycarbonate$12 – $20/sq.ft.
Wood$15 – $30/sq.ft.
Steel$20 – $30/sq.ft.
Carport SizeMetal CarportsWood Carports
Single car (12’ x 20’)$2,400 – $7,200$3,600 – $7,200
Two car (20’ x 20’)$4,000 – $12,000$6,000 – $12,000
Three cars (30’ x 20’)$6,000 – $18,000$9,000 – $18,000
RV (20’ x 30’)$6,000 – $18,000$9,000 – $18,000
Four cars (40’ x 20’)$8,000 – $24,000$12,000 – $24,000
Carport TypeAverage Cost Range
Portable$400 – $1,200
Freestanding$900 – $6,000
Attached$1,200 – $10,000
Roof MaterialAverage cost
Shingle$200 – $300
Metal$500 – $700
Polycarbonate$500 – $700
  • Carport kits are about $2,000-$10,000. The average price is $5,000-$7,000
  • The cost of pouring a 20×20 ft concrete slab is about $1,200
  • The average cost of outdoor lighting is around $1,500 to $4,500.

Read from here how much it cost to build a garage.

How to Convert Carport to a Garage

Converting a carport to a garage will protect your car from elements better. Or if you need a more secure storage area.

Consider the available space, practicality, and cost of transforming your carport.

Plan the project, time, and expenses. Also, it can be cheaper to move or tear down the carport and build a new garage in some cases.

Carport to Garage Conversion Steps

Measure and Check the Concrete Slab

The minimum garage size should be 20 ft deep and 10 ft wide for one car. For two cars 18-20 ft.

Check the average garage sizes in this article. So you may need to expand the slab.

The concrete slab needs to be structurally sound.

Get a structural engineer or concrete expert to inspect your slab and tell you about the foundation, and can it bear the weight of the garage walls and heavy vehicles if needed.

Check the Height

There needs to be room for a horizontal header/beam above the garage door opening. When converting a carport to a garage.

The typical garage door requires the opening of 8 ft 1 inch high, with a double-thick 2-by-8 or 2-by12 header spanning the opening. If your carport doesn’t have enough height for this. You may need to raise the roof.

Consider the Roof

Carports are usually built with a flatshed, or a gable roof. 

Think how the garage will look with a shed roof compared to your house. The shed roof may look fine with a carport but not always a good choice for a garage roof.

Also, check the condition of the roof. If it’s in poor condition, it’s better to remove it entirely and build a new roof.

Plan for Electricity and Plumbing

Some form of electricity is required in any garage.

Workshop usage requires several new circuits usually. And if you need plumping, you may need to drill the concrete slab open for that.

Consult a plumber about your options for water handling in the garage.

Consult the experts too for moving or tearing down the carport and building a whole new garage. Just to make sure conversion is the wisest option.

Cost to Turn Carport Into a Garage

Converting a carport to a garage typically saves about 20 percent over the cost of constructing a new garage. If concrete slab, support posts, and roof are in good shape.

Project cost depends on size, design, materials, labor, and extras such as insulation or motored door.

Renovation cost ranges from $8,000 to $10,000 for one car.

With two-car garages, expect to double the cost.

Professional builders usually charge $35-$45 per square foot.

Not all carports can be enclosed into garages. Sometimes you need to have the structure looked at by an engineer or expert who assesses whether this is possible.

If it is, expect roughly $120 – $200 a square foot to build and finish the structure.

Labor cost for a carpenter to finish walls, doors and roof are on average $12,000-$16,000

Consider doing the project in the summertime. So you avoid renting heaters and extra equipment.

The total cost can be around $25,000-$70,000 for all the extra costs included. Like additions, lumber, siding materials, windows, garage door, tools, insulation, electricity, permits, hiring a crew. Etc. for professional installation.

If you are good at DIY. You might be able to cut the cost to half. And only consult experts when necessary.

What to Consider Before Converting Carport to a Garage

Converting a carport to a garage can enhance your property value. You get more storage and utility space with walls. Also, you can use the garage as a workspace or hobby area.

Check Your Carport for Structural Weaknesses

If support posts are damaged or leaning, too small, or the roof is in bad shape. It may not be possible to convert the carport- unless substantial improvements are made.

  • If your carport has a tiled or shingled roof and vertical supports are in good shape. The conversion could be made easily.
  • Better condition and sturdier structure make the conversion cheaper and easier.

Do You Need Planning Permission to Convert a Carport to a Garage?

Check local building codes and HOA (neighborhood homeowner’s association) regulations. To find out if the project is allowed. And what you need to do if a permit is required.

The garage attached to your home usually needs a fire-rated wall on the house side and entry door to your home.

Converting Carport to Another Usage

Carports are easily turned to other usage than just sheltering cars.

How about patio/deck covers, sunroom/porch, or even barn or chicken coop. Metal carports are extremely versatile.

Converting a carport is cheaper than just buying/building a new structure.

Convert Carport to Screened Porch or Sunroom

You can easily convert your unused carport to the screened porch by building a patio or deck to cover the concrete slab. Add screens panels/screened porch windows that can be fitted between the existing columns. Use exterior grade plywood that can withstand the weather. Add wiring before drywalls.

Convert Carport to Chicken Coop

Build a wooden frame for walls and use a chain-link fence. Add a barn door, and you got a new home for your chickens.

Convert Carport to Barn

Enclose the walls and add doors and windows. You can add a lean-to roof also to your new barn.

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