Garages – Structure Guide

Garages: The Ultimate American Storage Solution


If your home came equipped with an attached or detached garage, you might use it to keep your car out of the elements overnight. But, if you’re like most Americans, you use it more like an extra bedroom or an extension of the attic where anything and everything gets stored: that fishing rod you haven’t used in 10 years, your son’s Pop Warner football helmet and pads, a pile of dusty boxes in the corner containing all that Tupperware you were sure you’d be able to sell… it’s all in our garages.

Of course, if your home didn’t come with a garage, you’re probably swimming through all that stuff in your attic, basement, or living area. Or, you just don’t know what you’re missing!

But, seriously, a garage can provide valuable storage space in otherwise space-restrictive homes. It can also be an excellent place to set up your workshop or “man cave” apart from the rest of the house. Many a home business has grown from humble roots in the garage, as have many iconic rock bands. There’s virtually no limit to your available options when you own a garage.

What is a garage?

A garage is an enclosed structure designed primarily for storing one or more vehicles. It may be attached to a home (“attached garage”), or stand alone as a separate outbuilding or shed (“detached garage”). Most residential garages have space for one or two cars, although three-car garages are not uncommon. When attached to a house, the garage typically has an entry door into the house. Garages have a wide door that can be raised to permit the entry and exit of a vehicle, and then closed to secure the vehicle. Often, on modern garages, that door is automated and can be triggered by a remote control in the owner’s vehicle or on a key fob. A garage protects a vehicle from the weather, and can be equipped with a locking garage door, also protecting the vehicle(s) from theft and vandalism.

Beyond housing vehicles, garages are often used for storage, working space for home improvement projects, and as a staging area for special events. Some garages have enough space, even with cars inside, to provide storage of items that are generally used outside, like bicycles or a lawnmower.

According to Wikipedia, “the word garage, introduced to English in 1902, originates from the French word garer, meaning shelter. By 1908 the architect Charles Harrison Townsend was commenting in The Builder magazine that; “for the home of the car, we very largely use the French word ‘garage’, alternatively with what I think the more desirable English equivalent of ‘motor house’.”

The history of the garage

The following information is adapted from a comprehensive article on Wikipedia:

During the first decades of the 20th century, the buildings we call garages were commonly called motor houses. Many garages built prior to WWI were prefabricated. They were usually built to match the style and look of the house and its locale, however, they were mainly built of timber and few survive today.

While most car owners today rely on professional mechanics at commercial garages to handle their vehicle maintenance and repair, in the early days of motoring many car owners were mechanical and engineering enthusiasts. E Keynes Purchase, an architect closely associated with the Royal Automobile Club, was quoted in The Car Illustrated in 1902, recommending that home garages “be of brick construction with cement floor, an inspection pit, good electric lighting and a pulley system for removing parts of the car.” Of course, today, most home garages lack these mechanical features.

Why do you need a garage?

The most common and justifiable need for a garage comes from the fact that nearly every household in American owns at least one vehicle. Many own two or more. If you’re just looking to park your car out of the rain and snow, building a brand new garage is probably unnecessary. A carport is more than sufficient for the job, and they come in numerous shapes, sizes, and styles you can choose from.

On the other hand, if you’re concerned about the security of your vehicle(s) and/or other valuable possessions, then a garage, storage shed, or barn is really your only reasonable choice. They’re completely enclosed, can be climate controlled, and can be locked up securely. Likewise, if you need to keep something of value completely protected from the elements, including temperature and humidity extremes, a carport won’t fit the bill. You will definitely want to consider a large storage shed, barn, or garage instead.

A basic garage is also an excellent choice for circumstances where you don’t need as much outdoor storage as a large barn provides, but you do need a bit more that what you’d get from a small storage shed. Even if you don’t need to park your vehicle(s) in the structure, a one- or two-car garage can provide a lot of storage space and/or be used creatively for many other purposes.

What are the different kinds of garages available?

There are countless variations available among prefab barns, but the basic barn design categories can be broken down as follows:

  1. Vertical garages
  2. Boxed eave garages
  3. Standard garages

All of these basic styles are similar, and all are highly functional in their own way. The vertical and boxed eave styles look nearly identical – with house-like pitched roof and one or two wide garage doors at the front. Often, they include a separate side entrance as well, and other interior storage options depending on the overall size.

Standard garage styles are more barn-like in look and feel, although they tend to be quite a bit smaller than most barns and still focus on one or two (or more) large doors built for the passage of vehicles. All styles are highly functional and good-looking, and they’re available in many different sizes, colors, materials, and roof designs to accommodate your particular needs and aesthetic wishes.

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

How to choose the right garage

Choosing the right garage is really a personal matter. It comes down to understanding what you want and need out of a prefabricated building and matching that to a particular size and style. As noted above, if you’re just looking to protect your car or other items from the worst of the rain and snow, a carport will do that for you. It’s going to be less expensive than a garage and quicker to build. You just need to decide what size you need, then consider color, style, and materials based on your preferences.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a permanent shelter that’s going to offer complete protection from the elements, security for your possessions, and/or give you a place to indulge your woodworking hobby or even pass as living space in certain circumstances, what you’re describing is a storage shed, barn, or garage. The determining factor between the three is likely size, with a garage filling the “middle ground” in that regard.

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

While it is possible (though not guaranteed) to save a little money ordering a do-it-yourself garage 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 garage. 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 garage 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 garage or other structure. It’s also because we’ve been to many properties over the years where the owners have 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 garage” collapsed.

To get a high-quality garage 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 garage builder

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

And, that’s not just a matter of how many years a given contractor has been putting up garages. Years of general experience is important, but experience with the particular prefab garage 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 garages, 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 garage. 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 garages 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 garage 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 garage 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 garages 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 garages are enclosed with 9’ eave heights, spaced 5’ on center, with 14 gauge framing and 29 gauge metal panels. All units include a 36” x 80” walk-in-door and list of optional garage door sizes.

Our garages are available in sizes ranging from 12′ to 30′ wide, and from 21′ to 41′ long, accommodating essentially any size vehicle with room to spare. Standard, boxed eave, and vertical roof styles are available on all of our prefabricated garages.

If you find a garage 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 garages 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.