This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Which carport is best?

It’s not always practical to add a permanent carport to your home — and you may only need a temporary structure anyway. A metal-framed carport like the ones we’re featuring here offers great flexibility in terms of both position and use and is very affordable.

We’ve been looking at the major differences so we can help you choose the right model for your needs. At the end, we’ve made some recommendations, too. Our favorite, the ShelterLogic 10-Foot by 20-Foot Carport, is a smart and secure solution, providing the ideal cover for your vehicle or boat.

What to know before you buy a carport

Structure and size

The most common carport design is a pole frame with a fabric skin. Poles are usually steel for strength, powder coated to prevent rust. The thicker the diameter of the pole the more support it offers, and while that does mean some additional weight, it’s not enough to be a problem. It’s worth looking at the corner joints, because that’s where a lot of the rigidity comes from. You’ll want to see at least six legs in order to provide sufficient support for a roof not to sag. Although more framework will mean it takes longer to assemble, it’s also going to be more rigid. If you’re looking for something for short-term use, that isn’t a problem, but if you want something to last, especially if you live in an area with hard winters, then a solid structure is a key consideration.

Fabric is usually polyethylene or nylon. It should be treated for UV protection. Beware of cheap carports that don’t have this. Sun can disintegrate the material in a matter of weeks. On some carports you just get a roof, so you have minimal weather protection. Others are fully enclosed. Be careful to check whether the material is waterproof or just water resistant. That could impact what you want to keep inside. Clear windows allow light in and make for a carport that can also be a pleasant space for outdoor dining. Look at how the roof and sides attach. All-in-one covers help add to overall rigidity, but if the sides are detachable you could also use it for garden shade — if you’re having a barbecue, for example.

A standard single-wide garage is 10 feet by 20 feet, so it’s no surprise that many carports match those dimensions. However, that’s by no means the only size available. Larger models tend to have aluminum roofs and sides in order to provide sufficient rigidity to support themselves, and these can be double- or even triple-wide. On the other hand, if you want something for motorcycles, ATVs, etc., a smaller model might suit you better.

How much you can expect to spend on a carport

A cheap carport, even a fully enclosed one, can be found for little more than $100. Fabric won’t be very thick and probably won’t be suitable for a northern winter. More durable models will be $250-$500. If you want more than single-wide, or the rigidity of metal roofs and sides, you’ll pay upward of $1,000.

Carport FAQ

Does a carport need any kind of permit?

A. Unfortunately, zoning regulations vary so much from place to place we can’t give an answer. The models we’re looking at here are all considered temporary structures, so a permit is probably unnecessary, but you’ll still need to check — otherwise local authorities might just make you take it down. Permanent carports are more likely to need a permit, which usually involves some cost.

How easy is it to put up a carport?

A. They aren’t complicated, but their size makes them awkward to manage on your own. With another pair of hands to help, manufacturers estimate most take between two and eight hours to assemble.

What are the best carports to buy?

Top carport

ShelterLogic’s 10-Foot by 20-Foot Carport

ShelterLogic’s 10-Foot by 20-Foot Carport

Our take: It has more frame members than most, making for a particularly rigid structure.

What we like: Powder-coated 1 3/8-inch thick steel offers good strength. Waterproof ripstop fabric resists tearing. Patented ‘Shelterlock’ supports increase stability. The cover has a ratchet tightening system for perfect fit.

What you should consider: This is one of the more expensive options. There are some issues with canvas durability.

Where to buy: Sold at Amazon

Top carport for the money

Quicktent 10-Foot by 20-Foot Carport

Quicktent 10-Foot by 20-Foot Carport

Our take: This fully enclosed model with windows provides space, light and great value for the money.

What we like: It offers simple assembly with six steel poles for added rigidity. The anti-UV fabric is also waterproof and tear-proof. It has a nice, bright interior. It can be used without sides.

What you should consider: There is only a 6-month warranty on the fabric and poles. This is not suitable for winter use.

Where to buy: Sold at Amazon

Worth checking out

Abba Patio 8-Foot by 14-Foot Carport

Abba Patio 8-Foot by 14-Foot Carport

Our take: A strong frame and tight-fitting fabric create a sturdy shelter.

What we like: It has a durable, rust-resistant, powder-coated steel frame. The 1 1/2-inch corner joints add rigidity and provide good resistance to the wind. The one-piece cover is heavy-duty, triple-layer polyethylene. It has a detachable, roll-up door with zipper closure.

What you should consider: The variable fabric quality/coating can result in UV damage.

Where to buy: Sold at Amazon


Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Bob Beacham writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.