How to Determine if You Need a Carport or a Garage

For many homeowners, the terms carport and garage are confusingly synonymous. But there are actually quite a few important differences between the two types of structures, even if they're both designed to protect your vehicle from harsh weather conditions. Carports are usually free-standing structures that feature open ends and often lack side walls as well. Garages are always fully enclosed, tend to be built at the same time as your home, and are often attached to the main structure. When it comes to metal buildings, there is a lot of overlap between fully enclosed carports and garages. However, there are still quite a few benefits to metal carports that make them a better choice than stick-built garages in many cases.


From the steel frame to the steel roofing and siding, metal carports are surprisingly durable when compared to traditionally built garages. With no asphalt shingles to replace after 15 years or vinyl siding to replace, carports need far less maintenance and attention over the years. Unless you enjoy working on your own structures and consider home repairs a hobby, you should stick to metal carports to enjoy more of your free time over the lifespan of the structure.

Security Options

Don't assume that the enclosed style of the garage is automatically more secure. While it's true that a garage is easier to secure than an open carport with no walls or ends, enclosed metal carports are just as easy as garages to secure. Whether you want to add new locks, an entire security system, or just a motion-activated light to deter thieves, an enclosed metal carport works with all of it. The metal siding is nearly as tough to cut through as the walls of a garage, making it a strong deterrent against thieves looking for a quick and easy job.


Garages have a long history of being repurposed as home workshops, storage units, and even additional bedrooms for growing families. Metal carports are slightly harder to turn into living spaces than garages, but not much more since they both tend to need the addition of ventilation, insulation, and finishing materials. Metal buildings work just as well as garages or even better for any other alternative uses you might think up over years of ownership. Open carports offer slightly fewer options, but they can have walls and ends added later if you need to enclose the space for heating and cooling purposes.

Total Cost

Traditional garages are surprisingly expensive due to the slow construction process and the larger amount of materials used for construction. Since metal carports are generally pre-engineered and arrive ready to install in kit form, they're often half the cost of a traditional garage by the time installation is completed. Garages must be built over concrete slabs, but metal carports are often installed over bare soil instead to eliminate one of the biggest costs of adding a new structure. In addition to spending less to install the structure, you'll also get to use your metal carport within hours of installation rather than waiting weeks as the construction workers wrap up your garage project.

Protection from the Elements

Open carports and a-frame carports are more than sufficient if you're just looking to protect your car from UV rays that fade the paint, bird droppings, and falling branches. For more protection, enclosed metal carports keep wind, rain, snow, and everything else away as well. Garages offer this level of protection as well, but they can suffer from poor ventilation that leads to the build-up of vehicle fumes in the space. If you want to build a larger structure to use part of the space for vehicle storage and the rest for a workshop, stick with a carport with better ventilation so you don't have to deal with any inhalation issues due to daily or long-term exposure.

Property Value

Garages tend to increase your property value slightly more than basic metal carports, but this effect tends to even out when you're comparing enclosed carports to the structures. The bigger increase in property value is often balanced out by the higher cost of construction and maintenance. Check out all the options for customizing metal carports before deciding if they're right for your project. With so many options, you can create a structure with all the benefits of a garage while still paying a carport price.