Between falling branches knocked loose by storm winds, occasional hail, and the paint blistering effects of the summer sun, Atlanta area homeowners have plenty of reasons to keep their cars under cover. It’s not surprising that so many homes in the southeast feature either a carport or garage. However, the similarity between the two structures causes some homeowners to struggle with figuring out exactly what they have or want to build. Explore the difference in carport and garage construction before deciding what to invest in to protect your vehicles and other outdoor equipment.

Materials

Start exploring the carport vs garage debate by comparing the materials commonly used to build both. Modern carports are often made entirely from steel tubular framing and covered in steel siding, while older carports tend to feature a cinderblock or wood-framed outer wall and a roof that stretches over to one side of the home. Neither of these kinds of structures compare to a fully framed garage built from wood, insulation, and other standard materials used for houses. Even carports built to mimic garages tend to miss out on many of their best features, such as full depth walls that are easily insulated.

Design

Garages must have four solid walls to be called by that name, which is the single biggest difference in carport and garage designs. Once you remove at least one wall to leave it open to the elements, you’re looking at a carport, even when the structure was built from scratch rather than a metal carport kit. Garages may have doors and other openings on one, two, or even all four sides, but those doors close to create an entirely enclosed box. Carports are always lacking at least one of these sides, and when you add the walls and doors to enclose them, they become properly called garages. It’s possible to find metal structures from carport builders advertised as fully enclosed with all four sides, but the proper term for these structures is either a metal garage or a metal building.

Size

Since carports only have one to three exterior walls, the size of the structure is greatly limited. Metal carports are also only available in certain size increments based on how their steel structural beams are manufactured. If you want a garage that is 19 feet wide rather than 18 or 20, you might be out of luck with a pre-fabricated carport. Meanwhile, a garage can be built to practically any size and layout you can dream up. Extra wide open spans may require some special engineering and reinforcement, but it’s much easier to do that on a custom garage design than on a carport. Older carports may look easy to expand, but getting the new walls and roof to line up perfectly with the existing structure is more difficult than you think and will cost quite a bit.

Location

Both carports and garages tend to be attached to the home so a single door can serve as a seamless entryway from the comfort of the covered space. However, you’re also welcome to build a freestanding structure away from the home for more convenient access or extra storage. Old-fashioned carports tend to rely on the home’s existing structure for support, so they tend to cost much more when built as freestanding structures due to the extra reinforcements needed. Since garages can stand on their own even when they’re attached, choosing a detached design doesn’t change the price or timeline for construction very much.

Resistance to Storm Damage

Metal carports can easily stand free with no modifications, but they’re much more prone to wind lifting and tipping over in storms due to their lighter weight. A garage will have the weight and design to withstand the worst summer storms Georgia’s weather can throw at it, while carports may leave you concerned about flooding damage to your car or wind damage to the structure protecting it.

Energy Efficiency

Before attempting to heat or cool a garage used as a work space, you’ll need to improve its overall energy efficiency. Garages start out much more efficient due to their enclosed design and thicker traditionally framed walls. The carport’s open sides and thin wall and roof framing results in a loss of your heating or cooling efforts. The thick walls of the garage are also easily insulated between the framing. Newer metal carports feature an open framed design that appears easy to insulate, but closing off air gaps in these structures is nearly impossible. Also, insulation applied to the inside of metal siding traps condensation and creates mold problems, which doesn’t happen in well-built garages.

Security

Garages are more secure from the beginning due to their enclosed sides and locking doors, making it easy to turn them into storage or workshop space with practically no major modifications. Carports are practically impossible to actually secure without enclosing them and converting the space to a garage. Even if you install chains and cables to prevent your vehicle or stored items from being removed, there’s no way to prevent access. Security upgrades like reinforced doors and alarms are available to fit all garages.

Future Use

Expanding your home to add space for family members is easy when you have a garage. Since the structure is built like the rest of your home, insulating it and replacing the garage door with a smaller entryway is relatively easy. Carports are much harder to transition into useful space, regardless of their age or design. Adding walls to enclose a carport is challenging, especially if different materials are required for the walls as in the case of converting a metal carport.

Garages may cost a little more upfront to build than carports, but they pay back that investment quickly and continue giving you benefits through years of use. If your North Atlanta home already features a carport, contact us here at CSS Garage Doors to find out how we can help transform it into an enclosed space. Our expertise in garage and carport improvements is matched only by our dedication to making our customers happy.