A carport can provide a great storage solution for your car. While it doesn't offer sanctuary to tools and lawnmowers and other things that might be stored in a garage, it does offer protection from the elements. In many ways, it's also more convenient, especially if you consider how frequently cars are left on the street or in the driveway, rather than going to the trouble of making room in a crowded garage. Carports can be built as attached or separate structures, or even purchased in pre-manufactured kits. And they can be constructed from a wide variety of materials, expanding their design options.
Attached carports should take their design cues from the house. The carport structures--often 4-by-4 lumber--should match the house's trim. A common design uses a shed roof coming off the main roof at a lower pitch. This leaves a choice of whether to fill the gable end or to leave it open, but trimmed with a decorative end rafter or barge rafter. Again, the design choice should take its cues from the house.
Detached Temporary: Metal
There are a variety of designs for temporary carports. Many of these are available in kit form and can be assembled, then disassembled for reuse later. A common design uses round metal lengths--often galvanised steel--to withstand the weather. The steel lengths are assembled similarly to tent poles: one end has a smaller diameter and fits snugly into the standard-diameter sleeve, often with a cottar pin or some other kind of locking device. These designs often employ pre-bent segments to form the correct angle for the roof's pitch. Roofing is often provided by sheet metal, a type of corrugated metal that's often powder-coated for colour and weatherproofing. These are durable and reusable designs.
Detached Temporary: PVC
PVC is a type of plastic used in plumbing pipes. The pipes are strong, yet slightly flexible. Ends are joined with ready-made couplings, usually sleeves of slightly larger size into which two lengths of PVC pipe are cemented. The sleeves come in a variety of bends, too. From a 45-degree angle, to 90-degree corner pieces, to three-piece intersections, this system requires little more than cutting pipe to length; the joints are already manufactured. PVC pipe is rigid enough to hold a tarp-like cover, similar to a tent. These designs are similar to metal carports, though they don't tend to be as durable. And because they may require cementing together, they're not as good for reuse.
A permanent structure can be built from standard construction materials. If the wood supports are unpainted, pressure treated lumber is generally used. These designs differ from standard construction methods. Without walls or a house against which to anchor the structures, their strength is usually provided by wall sheathing. To compensate, they're often built in the same way pole barns are: the supports are sunk deep into the earth, usually into concrete. This method prevents the wind from blowing the structures over sideways. Gussets and angle braces are also used at the intersections of the supports and the wall's top plate. The braces provide rigidity to compensate for the lack of exterior walls.
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