What is a carport?

Metal Carports

­A good metal carport can be made of aluminum panels with steel posts. In winds up to 80 miles per hour (130 kilometers per hour), a 10-foot (3-meter) structure made of these materials will remain standing [source: Crowell]. A sturdy metal carport can also withstand as much as 40 pounds (18 kg) of snow per square foot (1/3 meter) [source: OnlineTips].

Steel carports offer several advantages over aluminum structures, however. They're more durable and likely to last longer. So, in the long run, choosing steel may save you money. And it's certainly less expensive than renting storage space for a seldom-used vehicle such as an RV or trailer. Steel is also easily maintained [source: Home Furnish].

Galvanized steel has a zinc coating to help prevent rusting caused by corrosive materials such as salt and moisture. You'll probably want to pick a carport with one-piece roof construction - this increases the strength of the roof.

Carports can be placed on nearly any surface, so they can be semiattached to an existing garage or home in a concrete driveway. They can also be set up in the backyard on grass [source: Home Furnish].

When you are looking at metal carports, check the steel frame's gauge. This number indicates the thickness of the steel and thus the sturdiness of the carport in various severe weather conditions. The higher the gauge number, the stronger the carport will be [source: Home Furnish, Carmichael].

Perhaps you don't so much need to protect your vehicles as you need to meet other concerns that require a more portable option. If that's the case, portable carport canopies have you covered! Read on for more details.