Carports – Structure Guide

Carports: Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know and a Few Things You Never Knew to Ask

vertical carports

While they’re especially popular across the Southeast United States, carports are popping up all over the country.


Because they’re inexpensive, functional buildings that are quick and simple to install and use. If all you need to do is keep your car, boat, or lawn mower dry and snow-free, a prefabricated carport is a great choice.

What is a carport?

A carport is basically a garage without walls: a covered structure used to provide limited protection for vehicles (or other valuable equipment,) from rain and snow. A carport can either be free standing or attached to a wall, although the majority of prefabricated modern carports are free standing.

Unlike a garage or shed, a carport doesn’t have four walls. On some designs, they will have one or two, but others are designed almost like a pole barn with just a roof and supporting stilts or struts. Because of this key design feature, carports offer less protection than garages but allow for better ventilation. As a result, a vehicle stored in a carport won’t likely develop frost on the windshield. And, if you need to work on a vehicle using chemicals with potentially dangerous fumes, a carport won’t require the same artificial ventilation a garage or barn might.

The history of the carport

The carport enjoys a long and interesting history in the United States. While the basic carport structure has been used all over the world in one form or another, it’s been especially popular in the U.S. for over a hundred years.

The English word “carport” comes from the French word “porte-cochère”, describing a covered portal or tunnel. According to the Carport Integrity Policy for the Arizona State Historic Preservation Office:

“As early as 1909, carports were used by the Prairie School architect Walter Burley Griffin in his design for the Sloane House in Elmhurst, Illinois. By 1913, carports were also being employed by other Prairie School architects such as the Minneapolis firm of Purcell, Feick & Elmslie in their design for a residence at Lockwood Lake, Wisconsin. In this instance, the carport was termed an “Auto Space”. The late architectural historian David Gebhard suggested that the term “carport” originated from the feature’s use in 1930s Streamline Moderne residences. This term, which entered popular jargon in 1939, stemmed from the visual connection between these streamlined residences and nautical imagery. In the 1930s through the 1950s, carports were also being used by Frank Lloyd Wright in his Usonian Houses; an idea that he probably got from Griffin, a former associate.”

The W.B. Sloane house with (allegedly) the world’s first carport.

As far as we can tell, the first known home designed with a carport was the W. B. Sloane House in Elmhurst, Illinois, built in 1910. (Pictured)

Why do you need a carport?

Basically, if you own any vehicles or other valuable equipment (such as a boat, ATV, snowmobile, motorcycle, or riding lawn mower) but don’t have another option readily available for keeping it protected from the worst of the elements, then you need a carport.

On the other hand, if your chief concern is security – you want to make sure no one lays a finger on your 1967 Camaro – then a carport isn’t the best choice. Likewise, if you need to make sure what you’re storing is completely out of the weather, including temperature and humidity extremes, a carport won’t accomplish that for you. You may want to consider a large storage shed, barn, or garage instead.

What are the different kinds of carports available?

The basic carport design categories can be broken down as follows:

  1. Freestanding Fixed
  2. Freestanding Mobile
  3. Attached (or, like the first carport ever built in the picture above, built into the home.)

While there’s technically nothing stopping you from “attaching” a freestanding carport to another structure, that’s not how they’re designed and you could run into complications as a result.

The most common prefabricated carport available is the freestanding fixed design. These carports are designed to be placed on a relatively flat surface, apart from other structures, and are anchored to the ground in a permanent or semi-permanent fashion. They are available in many different sizes, shapes, colors, materials, and roof designs to accommodate your particular needs and aesthetic wishes. Some common designs include vertical, boxed eave, and standard carports.

To see all the different variations available in prefabricated carports, view our catalog!

Freestanding mobile carports are designed to be set up and taken down and transported easily. These accomplish the same purpose as standard carports while adding the convenience of mobility for various applications. To accommodate set up and tear-down, and to make moving them easier, mobile carports are typically framed with tubular steel and may have canvas or vinyl type covering which encloses the frame. The covering may even include walls and may have some type of entryway, making it similar to large tents, such as those employed by the military. Of course, the convenience of mobility requires a sacrifice in weight and sturdiness, so mobile carports are less likely to last a long time under harsh weather conditions.

How to choose the right carport

Choosing the right carport comes down to understanding what you want and need out of a prefabricated shelter or building. As noted above, if you’re just looking to protect your car or other items from the worst of the rain and snow, any carport will do that for you. You just need to determine what size you need, then consider color, style, and materials based on your preferences.

On the other hand, if you want a permanent shelter that’s going to provide complete protection from the elements, offer security for your possessions, and maybe even pass as living space in certain circumstances, what you’re describing is a storage shed, barn, or garage. No matter what options you choose among carports, you’re never going to find one that offers what you’re looking for.

Should you order a DIY carport kit or hire a professional?

While it is possible to save a little money ordering a do-it-yourself carport kit off of Amazon and having it shipped to your house, we’ve found that a lot of homeowners underestimate the labor required to properly construct a quality carport. Additionally, the cost of shipping is probably going to be substantial, since the kit you receive is going to be very heavy.

In our professional opinion, your best option is to let a team of professionals handle delivery and installation of your new carport for you. And, that’s not just because CarportUS offers some of the best installation services in the nation, absolutely FREE with your purchase of any carport. It’s also because we’ve been to many properties over the years where the owners have either gotten a DIY kit partially erected before throwing in the towel and calling for help. Or, they’ve completed a DIY kit, but then needed to call us in to install the replacement that they had to buy when their “project carport” collapsed.

To get a high-quality carport on your property that’s going to stand the test of time and function well for the price, you should really have a professional install it for you.

What to look for in a carport installer

The most important factor you’ll want to consider when searching for a carport installer is experience.

And, that’s not just a matter of how many years a given contractor has been putting up carports. Years of general experience is important, but experience with the particular carport kits and materials you’ve selected is even more important to ensuring the success of a project.

If you hire an installer who’s put up a hundred carports, but hand him a design or set of materials he’s never worked with before, he only has a slight advantage over your mailman or hairdresser when it comes to constructing that carport. There’s bound to be a lot of trial and error and he’s not going to be as fast or efficient as usual.

On the other hand, a contractor who’s put up a hundred carports identical to the one you’ve ordered is going to be able to hit the ground running and not look back. You’ll have the best quality construction in the quickest turnaround time, and that means the highest customer satisfaction rating possible.

What makes carport kits the best in the business? may be a relatively new website, but the professionals behind it have decades of experience selling, installing, and maintaining steel storage buildings across the country. That’s why you can be confident that any carport you purchase from is going to be the very highest quality, delivered safely and securely, and installed by experts with loads of experience.

Our prefabricated metal carports are rated to withstand winds up to 140 mph, and snow load up to 35 pounds per square foot. Additional leg bracing, upgraded anchors, and other optional enhancements can extend that level of stability even further.

All our carports are built with strong 14 gauge galvanized steel framing with center bracing and 29 gauge metal roofing. All base units have 6’ legs spaced 5’ on center or less, and (4) 2’ corner braces for added strength and stability. Concrete or rebar anchors included.

Our carports are available in sizes ranging from 12′ to 30′ wide, and from 21′ to 51′ long, accommodating up to three vehicles of nearly any size, with room to spare. Standard, boxed eave, and vertical roof styles are available on all of our prefabricated carports.

If you find a carport in our catalog that you like, we’d be honored to deliver and install it ourselves at no extra charge. We’ve put up hundreds of metal barns all over the east coast, and we’re highly experienced with every kit we sell. Contact us to discuss your options is you have any questions at all.


Which Kind of Carport is Right for Me?

which kind of carport is right for you?If you want to protect your car from getting too much sunshine or being affected by inclement weather—and storing it in your garage isn’t an option—getting a carport can be a great choice. Prefabricated carports can come prepackaged and allow the individual to assemble them, or you can hire a professional to construct the carport on your property. But which kind of carport should you choose?

What if you aren’t sure which carport will best suit your needs? Choosing the right type of carport can be a difficult task, but it helps to know a little more about the options available to you so you can make an informed decision.

Steel vs. Aluminum vs. Wood

Carports mainly come in three types of materials: steel, aluminum, and wood. Step one is to determine which of these options will be best for your needs when choosing a prefabricated carport. In general, steel and aluminum are both longer lasting and more popular than wood, although some individuals do choose wood for aesthetic reasons.

Between steel and aluminum, steel is much stronger. This means your carport will be much more durable if you choose steel. If someone accidentally bumps the carport while pulling in or out, steel is likely to hold up better, as well as in the event of strong winds or other weather conditions. Still, many people like aluminum because it is lighter.

Both steel and aluminum are resistant to rust and other issues, especially if they are coated, but steel that has been scratched can begin to rust. Therefore, it is always important to keep up with the maintenance of a steel carport.

Style of Carports

There are also several different styles of carports you can purchase, whether they are built by a local company or prefabricated. For example, an A-frame carport or a boxed eave metal carport has an apex at the top and looks similar to the way the roofs of most homes do. Vertical roof carports look very similar to A-frame carports, but the former has roof sheeting that runs vertically instead of horizontally. This is meant to help snow slide off the roof easily.

Some individuals may also want to consider springing for extra wide carports. This can be especially helpful to those who have large vehicles, those who want to pack two vehicles into a carport, and those who are basically looking for a larger protective area for their vehicles. In general, there are many different types of prefab carports that you can find, so don’t limit yourself to just one design.

Which Kind of Carport Is Right for Me?

It’s important to consider your needs when choosing which kind of carport is right for you. Since there are so many different styles and several types of materials a carport can be made from, the decision comes down to what you want to use it for, typical weather conditions, and individual preferences.

If you’d like more information about the types of prefabricated carports available, check out our carports structure guide or contact us below. We’re happy to answer any question you have.