As you consider expanding your property or building a home, the choice between adding a carport or a garage is crucial. It’s not just a matter of preference — it’s about choosing what will best align with your finances, withstand your local weather, follow your homeowners association rules, and meet your security demands. While carports and garages serve the same function, there are several key differences you should consider before deciding which is best for you.

What is a Carport?

A carport is a shelter for vehicles with a roof supported by posts. It may be attached to or detached from a house.

Carports are much simpler to construct than garages. If detached, they can often be easily moved to a different location.

Carports come in a variety of materials, such as metal, wood, and fabric. Metal and wood carports are more permanent, while fabric ones are lightweight and portable. If you want the carport to match your home, you can choose a style that matches your home’s exterior design.

Carport Pros & Cons

Carports usually cost much less to construct than a garage. According to Fixr, a carport of the same size as a garage is roughly 20% of the garage’s cost.
Carports can be built in as little as one day, especially if you’re using a prefabricated kit. 
The roof offers some protection from sun, rain, snow, and other elements. Vehicles are not fully exposed.
Open-air carports can sometimes serve secondary purposes like outdoor gatherings.
There are rarely any building regulations for carports since they’re not habitable spaces. This makes the construction process faster and simpler.
Carports lack walls and doors, so they don’t provide storage or security for vehicles.
Carports may detract from a home’s resale value compared to garages. 
Valuables can’t be locked up in a carport, meaning there is a risk of theft.
They offer limited protection from major storms, falling branches, animals, and other hazards.
The open design is less visually appealing to some homeowners who prefer garages.

What is a Garage?

A garage is a fully enclosed structure with walls, doors, and a roof that provides covered parking and storage. Garages are more permanent than carports. They’re often attached to homes but can also be detached.

Garages use sturdy materials like wood, brick, and siding. They match the design of the home and require proper foundations.

Garage Pros & Cons

Attached garages provide direct access to homes.
Garages protect against weather, falling debris, animals, and pests better than carports, meaning vehicles and contents stay cleaner and safer.
Garages provide much more protection and security for vehicles than carports because they are completely enclosed. 
Garages typically increase resale value more than carports.
It’s easier to convert garages into livable spaces if desired. They can become bedrooms, offices, gyms, and more with proper permitting. For more on garage conversions, see this garage design guide.
They offer covered storage for valuables like tools, sporting goods, and more. The enclosed space can be climate-controlled.
Detached garages don’t provide direct access to homes. 
Garage design may be limited by the style of the home. Most homeowners will want to keep a house and garage in the same style.
Garages take much longer to construct than carports. You’ll have to get permits and plan foundations and construction.
They require more materials than carports, making them a more expensive project. Costs vary based on size, materials, and features.

Key Differences Between Garages and Carports

Enclosed SpaceNo walls or doorsFully enclosed with walls and doors
StructureRoof with open sides supported by postsPermanent structure with roof, walls, and foundation
SecurityNoneDoors and walls provide security
Weather ProtectionLimited protection from elementsFull protection from weather, debris, and pests
StorageNoneAllows covered storage of vehicles, tools, equipment, and other items
Build TimeOften one day or less with prefab kitsTypically weeks or months due to permits and construction
Cost$3,100 – $9,500$10,500 – $27,000
Resale ValueMinimal boostIncreased value from permanent amenity
CustomizationMore flexibility in materials and designGarage design is usually restricted to match existing home style

So, Is a Carport or Garage Better for You?

Deciding between a carport and a garage depends on your budget, needs, and priorities. Carports provide covered parking on a budget, while garages offer security and storage.

If you’re on a tight budget or need quick parking solutions, a carport may be the way to go. But if you want more protection and flexibility, invest in a garage.

If you only need to cover one vehicle, you may find a carport sufficient. However, if you have multiple vehicles or need storage space, a garage will be a better choice for you.

Take time to weigh the pros and cons before deciding which option is the best fit for your home and lifestyle. Consider talking to contractors to better understand costs, permits, and construction timelines in your area.

FAQs About Carports vs. Garages

How much does a carport cost compared to a garage?

Carports can range from $3,100 to $9,500 installed. Single-car garages usually start around $10,500 and two-car garages can cost $14,500 to $40,300 or more. Garages cost significantly more due to the additional labor and materials involved.

Can you convert a carport to a garage?

It is possible to enclose a carport and make it into a garage by adding walls, new roofing, electrical, and garage doors. But this is a major renovation that often costs close to building a new garage.

Do carports add value to homes?

Carports can slightly boost value by offering covered parking. But garages tend to increase value more significantly. Enclosed garage space is seen as more of a permanent asset than open carports when selling homes.

How deep should a carport be?

Carports should be around 20 to 22 feet deep to comfortably accommodate most vehicles. Allow two to three extra feet between the vehicle and back wall for accessing doors and trunks.

Can a carport be turned into an ADU?

Converting a carport or garage into an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) is possible with proper permitting, planning, and renovation. This project requires a significant investment of time and money.

Editorial Contributors
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Abbie Clark


Abbie Clark is a writer and blogger. She is the founder of "Hey She Thrives", where she writes about all things motherhood, coupled with expert cleaning tips that echo the warmth and order of a loving home. She is also the co founder of "RideRambler." There, you can find all of the info you'll ever need on DIY car fixes and Auto news.When not writing, you can find Abbie chasing her toddler, trying a new cookie recipe, or fishing with her husband.

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Lee Ann Merrill

Chicago-based Lee Ann Merrill has decades of experience writing and editing across a wide range of technical and scientific subjects. Her love of DIY, gardening, and making led her to the realm of creating and honing quality content for homeowners. When she's not working on her craft, you can find her exploring her city by bike and plotting international adventures.

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