The basic distinction between carports and garages is very simple. Garages are fully enclosed structures – either attached to a building or freestanding, consisting of a roof, walls and one or more doors large enough to move a car through.
By definition, a carport does not have 4 walls or a door, and can be as little as a freestanding roof supported by columns.
What is a garage?
A garage, in this context, is a fully enclosed structure designed to store and protect one or more vehicles. It may be attached to a home, or be a freestanding building.
That being said, there are many types of garage in use today.
Garages are either integrated (or integral) or detached.
- Detached, of course, are stand-alone structures not attached to the home.
- Integral garages either share one or more walls with the home, or are built entirely as part of it, forming part of the ground floor.
Garages are also classed by size.
A garage may be a single, double, triple (or more) or a tandem type.
- Single garages are the most common type in the UK. They have enough space inside for a single car of average size or smaller, and perhaps some room for storage or a workbench.
- Double garages are wider, with room to fit two medium-sized cars side by side, and still open the doors (though typically only one car at a time). The garage door is either twice as wide as in a single garage, or 2 doors are fitted side by side.
- Triple and quadruple garages are very rare in the UK, but follow the same pattern – that much wider with 2 or more single or double doors.
- Tandem garages are only one car wide, but are deep enough to fit two (medium or small) cars, nose to tail. These are less popular as a means to keep two cars out of the elements due to the inconvenience, but many people use the extra room for storage or as a defacto laundry room.
A garage might be built from widely different materials. For example, concrete, brick, timber, steel and any combination of different materials are all common.
The Advantages of a Garage Over a Carport
Most of the advantages of a garage come from its fully-enclosed nature.
Garages are very versatile
Many garages do not house vehicles at all, instead storing belongings, or being converted to living space, an office or a home gym.
Garages offer excellent protection from the elements
‘Four walls and a roof’ has been the gold standard for weatherproof architecture for thousands of years.
Garages are fairly secure
When fitted with good quality locks, modern garage doors can be as secure as the doors of the home itself. This means that it is a fairly safe place to store not just your vehicle, but a wide range of belongings including expensive tools.
Garages can be built to match the property
Whether a garage is built with the home or added later, it can generally be made of the same materials and in the same style to complement the look of the existing property.
What is a Carport?
Carports (or car porch) are not as substantial as garages, but are intended to provide some degree of protection for a vehicle, and to keep drivers and passengers out of the wind and rain when entering or leaving a vehicle. Carports are much more defined by their building materials than garages.
A metal carport is typically made of iron, steel or aluminium. The roof is formed of glass, plastic or acrylic panels supported by a metal framework and may be clear, translucent or opaque. A good quality metal carport from a reputable home improvement company will be powder coated to protect it from the elements and to ensure it has excellent resistance to corrosion.
These are typically little more than a flat or peaked roof, standing on 4 or more wooden supports or columns. In many ways they are similar to a garden shed, but without walls.
Much like the uPVC windows and doors, a uPVC carport consists of a uPVC frame, often internally reinforced. The roof can be either clear or opaque panels, and it can sport one or more walls to provide extra protection from wind and weather.
The Advantages of a Carport Over a Garage
On the other hand, most of the advantages of a carport come from its less enclosed nature.
Carports are faster and easier to build
As there is simply less to their construction, carports can be put up quickly, and without as much specialised equipment or as much skilled labour as a garage.
Carports are less expensive
As it involves both fewer materials and less labour, building a carport costs less than building a garage.
Carports are considered as ‘permitted development’, meaning that a householder doesn’t need to apply for Planning Permission for their erection. However, there are some instances when they might and a full breakdown on the rules can be found on the Government’s Planning Portal Website.
Carports, too, are very versatile
An open-sided shelter offers a convenient respite from sun or rain, and is just as often used as a play area, workshop or barbecues station as well as storage for a vehicle.
Carports allow superior ventilation
Garages can easily become musty, whereas carports remain open to the breeze ensuring there is always adequate airflow around anything that is parked or stored in them.
Carports are small and discreet
Carports are typically less prominent, and interfere less with the aesthetics of most modern homes than garages do.
The decision as to whether to build a full garage or a carport depends on several factors. Carports are smaller, less expensive to build, present fewer planning hurdles (if any at all) and have a much smaller effect on the aesthetic appearance of a home. Most are easy to maintain, especially those made of a powder coated aluminium, which is a good weather resistant material.
Conversely, garages are more substantial and offer improved security and protection from the elements. They can also be constructed to match the appearance of a home exactly.