Carport vs Garage: Differences, Benefits and Considerations

Carport vs Garage: Differences, Benefits and Considerations

You’ve probably found yourself in the middle of a heated debate at a neighborhood barbecue or family gathering, trying to settle the age-old question: Is a carport really a garage? It’s a question that’s sparked many a discussion, with opinions often divided right down the middle.

Key Takeaways

  • A carport and a garage serve the same fundamental purpose of providing a shelter for vehicles. However, they significantly differ in terms of design and structure. A carport is an open structure that primarily offers overhead protection, while a garage is a fully enclosed structure offering protection on all sides and room for storage.
  • There are different legal and zoning considerations for carports and garages. Generally, carports might not require permits depending on their size and attachment to other structures, whereas garages nearly always require permits due to their enclosed nature and potential for electrical wiring and utilities.
  • In terms of cost and installation, carports are less expensive and easier to set up compared to garages. The installation of a carport can be completed within a day or two with minimum tools and manpower, while the construction of a garage can take weeks and require professional assistance.
  • A garage has superior security features compared to a carport due to its lockable doors and enclosed structure. Additionally, it provides better weather protection — guarding the vehicle against rain, snow, wind, and sunlight.
  • When choosing between a carport and a garage, individual needs and available property space should be considered. Carports are suitable for straightforward shelter needs and limited space, while garages are favorable for high-security needs and where more space is available. For storage needs and added property value, a garage is generally the better choice.

Defining a Carport and a Garage

Building off the previous discussion, let’s get into the specifics of carports and garages. By defining these two structures, we can better understand their similarities and differences.

Key Differences in Structure and Design

A carport serves a similar purpose to a garage: sheltering vehicles from the elements. However, design and structural differences set them apart. A carport, typically, consists of a roof supported by posts, providing protection primarily from overhead. It’s open on at least two sides, allowing for easy access and ventilation, but providing less protection from weather or theft.

In contrast, a garage is a completely enclosed structure with walls on all sides and a door for vehicle entry. The construction of a garage involves more materials, labor, and expense, offering better protection for vehicles from weather conditions and theft. Inside, you’re likely to find more storage options, potentially including loft areas or built-in shelves.

Legal and Zoning Considerations

Differences extend beyond structure and design into legal and zoning considerations. Laws vary by location, but generally speaking, carports are viewed differently from garages under zoning regulations and building codes.

A carport might not require a construction permit if it’s a certain size or if it’s not attached to other structures. Garages, on the other hand, almost always require permits due to their enclosed nature and the potential for electrical wiring and other utilities.

Further, the addition of a garage to a home can increase its assessed value for tax purposes. A carport, being more temporary and less substantial, typically doesn’t impact property valuation in the same way.

By understanding these differences, we can make more informed decisions about whether a carport can truly be considered a garage or not.

Benefits of a Carport Over a Garage

Benefits of a Carport Over a Garage

When comparing carports and garages, it’s crucial to understand key areas where carports hold an edge. Below, I outline some benefits of carports over garages, with a particular focus on cost-effectiveness and ease of installation.


Carports often cost significantly less than garages. On average, constructing a carport costs around $2,500 to $5,000, contrasted with the approximate $25,000 to $50,000 needed for a garage installation. This significant price difference stems from the simpler design and fewer materials required for carports. In addition to lower construction costs, carports generally incur fewer maintenance expenses over time, making them a more cost-effective choice in the long run.

Ease of Installation

Carports offer a clear advantage in terms of installation. Typically, setting up a carport takes a day or two with minimum tools and manpower, while constructing a garage can be a weeks-long process demanding heavy machinery and professional assistance. The simplicity of carport installation means less hassle, and it also leads to less disruption on your property. Furthermore, carports normally require fewer permits, if any, reducing the bureaucratic difficulties associated with garage constructions.

Benefits of a Garage Over a Carport

Benefits of a Garage Over a Carport

Having established the distinguishing features and some benefits of carports in the previous section, I’ll now elaborate on why, in some instances, a garage might be a better choice. Here, I’ll concentrate on the security features and weather protection that a garage provides.

Security Features

Beyond a doubt, a garage offers superb security advantages. It’s an enclosed structure with lockable doors, providing a formidable barrier against theft or vandalism. In contrast to a carport’s open design, it presents considerably less opportunity for prying eyes or unauthorized access.

Let’s quantify these differences. According to the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, motor vehicle theft was reported in 748,841 instances in 2018 in the United States. Significant reductions in vehicle-related crime, such as break-ins or theft from vehicles, coincided with increased usage of garages and secure parking facilities. That means a garage can offer a higher level of protection and peace of mind for your vehicle and stored items.

Weather Protection

When it comes to weather protection, garages again take the lead. They ensure comprehensive coverage from elements like rain, snow, wind, and sunlight, protecting your vehicle’s exterior and delicate mechanical components. This type of coverage isn’t possible with a carport’s design, which only provides over-head shielding.

For example, the Automobile Association (AA) reports that overexposure to harsh weather conditions contributes to 20% of all mechanical failures in vehicles. Additionally, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), there were 5,396 major hail events in 2019, with each potential to cause significant damage to exposed vehicles. Consequently, you’d be safeguarding your investment more efficiently with a garage’s more substantial protection.

So, while carports have their merits, as discussed earlier, the impressive security features and weather protection of a garage might sway your decision if these factors take precedence.

How to Choose Between a Carport and a Garage

When selecting between a carport and a garage, certain factors play a critical role. These include assessing personal needs and considering available property space.

Assessing Your Needs

Thinking about what exactly you’re after makes decision-making easier. If the primary aim is simply shelter against elements like sun, rain, or snow, then a carport ticks the box. It’s a less expensive option that offers versatile designs and easier installment processes.

However, if security rates high on your priority list, a garage is a stronger contender. Equipped with full enclosures and lockable doors, garages protect against potential thefts and vandalism. Besides, they offer ample space for storing tools, seasonal items, or even doubling as a workshop.

Considering Property Space

There’s a saying, “No space too odd for a carport.” It says much about the flexibility carports offer. They fit into odd corners or narrow spaces, requiring less square footage. They’re also less intrusive visually, maintaining the look of open spaces. As such, for smaller residential areas, carports often prove beneficial.

On the other hand, garages add a sort of completeness to structures, especially when designed to match the house. They may require more space but elevate the overall property appearance and potentially its value.

Remember, in this carport versus garage debate, no one-size-fits-all answer exists. It’s all about tailoring choices to meet individual needs and property conditions.


It’s clear that both carports and garages have their own unique set of benefits. If you’re after cost-effectiveness, ease of installation, and a solution that works well in smaller spaces, a carport could be your best bet. However, if it’s top-notch security, increased storage, and comprehensive weather protection you’re looking for, a garage might be more up your alley. Remember, it’s not about whether a carport is considered a garage or vice versa. It’s about what works best for your specific needs and property conditions. So take the time to assess your situation, weigh the pros and cons, and make a decision that’s right for you. After all, it’s your property, and you’re the one who knows it best.

When deciding between a carport and a garage, it’s essential to consider the distinct differences and benefits of each option. According to The Spruce, carports offer an economical and flexible solution for protecting vehicles from the elements, while garages provide enhanced security and additional storage space. Additionally, Bob Vila notes that garages can increase your home’s resale value significantly more than carports due to their enclosed structure and multifunctional potential.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the major differences between carports and garages?

Carports and garages differ in their structure, design, and regulations. Carports are overhead shelters with open sides, offering minimal protection, while garages are enclosed structures providing heightened security and storage options.

Is there a significant difference in cost and installation process between carports and garages?

Yes, carports are typically more cost-effective and easier to install than garages. This is due to their simpler design and less solid structure.

Which is a safer option against theft and vandalism: a carport or a garage?

Garages offer better protection against theft and vandalism due to their lockable doors and enclosed structure. They provide a safe environment for vehicle and storage possessions.

Does a garage offer better protection against weather elements compared to a carport?

Yes, garages provide more comprehensive weather protection than carports. They shield vehicles from various elements, including sunshine, rain, snow, and wind, that can cause damage.

How should one choose between a carport and a garage?

Choosing between a carport and a garage largely depends on individual needs and property constraints. Carports are flexible and space-saving, suitable for less spacious areas. Garages, however, offer enhanced security, storage, and can add to the property’s value. The choice should be tailored to personal requirements and living conditions.