Portable Garage and Carport Buying Guide
You probably knew about the popularity of portable carports when you decided to purchase one, but what you may not have realized is just how many choices you'd have. So if you're having some trouble determining which model is right for you, check out the following guide. Once you know more about your options, it will be much easier to pick a shelter capable of satisfying your needs.
Part 1: Finding the Right Size
Determining the size of the carport you need might seem a bit intimidating, but it's really not that complicated. There are just three things you have to consider when selecting a size:
1. How many vehicles do you need to protect?
Obviously you need to know how many cars, boats, or ATVs you need to protect because each one requires its own space. However, it's also important to remember that you're going to need to leave room to maneuver if you plan to park more than vehicle under your portable carport. There's no rule governing how much space you should allot for each vehicle; your space needs will vary depending on the size of the vehicle, the kind of vehicle it is (a boat attached to a trailer is going to be much more unwieldy than a car or truck), and your personal preferences.
2. What are the dimensions of the vehicle or vehicles you plan to shelter?
Regardless of whether you're going to be storing one car or six, you need to know the dimensions of the vehicles you plan to put underneath your portable garage. These measurements don't need to be exact; you're just trying to get a rough estimate of the total amount of space the vehicles will take up. And if you're going to be storing cars or trucks, it's generally a good idea to add a few feet to your length and width totals to allow room for the opening of car doors and trunks. You also need to know the height of the tallest vehicle you'll be storing in order to make sure you get a carport with enough clearance.
3. How much space is available?
It's important to pick a location for your portable garage before you start your search. That way you'll know how much space you have to work with as well as any logistical issues you'll have to work around. The key thing is to make sure that your carport will fit comfortably into the area you've selected for it, not just literally be able to squeeze into it. If you choose a shelter that's too large, it will make the rest of your property feel cramped.
Part 2: Construction Materials
The materials used to construct your portable garage affect its strength, weight, and price. The information below will help you determine what kind of frame and cover are right for you.
Because portable garages and carports are designed with an emphasis on lightweight strength, the most common frame material is steel. It's usually chosen over other metals because of its superior durability. When comparing different brands and models, the best thing to do is look at the diameter of the steel used to construct the frame. Generally speaking, the larger the diameter of the steel tubing, the stronger and sturdier the carport is going to be.
Given that fact, you might be wondering why you wouldn't automatically opt for the portable carport built with largest diameter of steel. The main reason is that shelters using large diameter steel are more expensive so they're not as practical if you're on a tight budget. They're also heavier, making them much less convenient if you're going to be moving your garage frequently. You'll have to decide if the additional strength is worth the extra cost and weight. If you're planning to leave your shelter up for long periods or are going to be using it for business purposes, then it might be a good idea to go with a larger diameter, but if you've got more casual use in mind it may not be worth it.
Portable carport covers are usually made of polyester or polyethylene. Polyethylene is by far the preferred material, though, because it does a better job of filtering out UV rays and retains more of its strength over time. Unfortunately, it is also the more expensive of the two materials so polyester may be a better choice if you're trying to minimize costs. Once again, you'll need to decide whether durability or economy is more important.
Part 3: Should I Assemble My Portable Garage Myself?
The answer to that question depends upon how much effort you're willing to put into setting up your shelter. Portable shelters are specifically designed to be easy to assemble and usually come in ready-to-use kits; it's one of their main advantages over traditional garages and carports. As long as you've got some basic tools and someone willing to give you a hand, you shouldn't have any problems putting one together. If, however, you suffer from DIY-phobia or would just rather not have to deal with setting up your new purchase, hiring an installer is definitely an option. Just remember that doing so is going to increase your overall costs and that you'll probably have to make arrangements well in advance of when you'll need to use your shelter. A Note About Permits:
Portable garages don't typically require building permits, but it's always best to find out what your local government's policies are before making a purchase. Your town's municipal department should be able to provide you with the information you need.
Part 4: Specialty Shelters
If none of the standard portable carports you've seen seem to fit your needs, you may want to consider getting a specialty shelter. Products in this category are designed to protect specific vehicles. They're typically much smaller than standard shelters and their shapes are dictated by their function; many of them aren't even freestanding structures. Here are the two basic types:
- Pockets - As the name suggests, this kind of shelter functions like a protective bag for your vehicle. They're usually waterproof and can be completely sealed in order to prevent dirt, insects, and corrosive agents from coming into contact with your car or motorcycle.
- Enclosures - Usually available only for motorcycles, this kind of shelter acts as a protective shell for your vehicle. They're ideal for seasonal storage and work well as temporary housing while you're traveling.
Part 5: Other Portable Carport Uses
Even though a portable garage's main purpose might be to protect vehicles, many models are also suitable for other tasks. Some are ideal for sheltering livestock while others can be used to provide weather protection for parties. And almost all of them offer a safe place to store your outdoor equipment and supplies. If you have any interest at all in these alternative uses, it's definitely worth the extra effort to find a portable shelter that can protect your vehicles and satisfy your other outdoor needs. It will prevent you from having to spend time hunting for another shelter later and, of course, save you from having to make another purchase.
Part 6: Accessories
The types of accessories you'll be able to use will vary depending on the manufacturer of your portable garage, but there are a couple of basic ones that are available for almost every model. Read on to learn more about them.
Because portable carports and garages don't have foundations the way that permanent structures do, it's essential to anchor them in order to prevent them from being overturned by wind. Some shelters come with stabilizers, but it really varies from brand to brand. And even if anchors are included with your shelter, they may not be appropriate for the type of installation you're planning. Use you shelter's manual and the following descriptions to determine which kind of anchor is right for your situation.
- Auger-Style Anchors - These are suitable for use in grass, clay, asphalt, and unpacked soil. Their corkscrew design is very simple to use and they provide a very reliable hold. It's also possible for you to remove and reuse them when you want to move your carport.
- Hook Anchors - This type of anchor can be used in grass, clay, gravel, asphalt, and hard-packed or rocky soil. They are easy to use and don't require digging or create large holes the way that auger-style models do. However, they're not reusable so you'd really only want to use them in permanent installations.
- Cement and Concrete Anchors - If you're planning to use your garage on a cement or concrete surface this is the kind of anchor you would need. They provide a very strong hold, but are obviously only appropriate for permanent installations.
Sidewall and Enclosure Kits
If you're looking to give your shelter some additional weather protection, you may want to consider investing in a sidewall or enclosure kit. These allow you to transform your portable garage into a fully enclosed space and make it function more like a traditional storage building. Kit components vary, but most contain three walls and a door. Some manufacturers do offer kits with two doors, however, so keep an eye out for those if you're interested in a closable structure you can drive through.
Sidewalls can also be useful if you're planning to use your portable carport as a shelter for outdoor parties. They can give your event a more sophisticated look and provide your guests with some privacy. Mesh walls are also an option for some models if you're interested in bug protection. Just make sure that you check what your shelter comes with before ordering an enclosure kit; many models actually include sidewalls as part of their covers.
Part 7: Choosing Without Fear
You now have all of the information necessary to successfully navigate through the world of portable garages and carports. As long as you take a little bit of time to consider your needs before you start your search, finding the right shelter will be a quick and easy task.
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