Car Sheds 101: A Complete Guide
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What is a car shed?
A car shed is a prefab building designed to store a car, truck, van, or other vehicles. Car sheds are also sometimes called prefab garages, portable garages, or garage sheds. Car sheds can be very practical for people who do not have a garage on their property or need protected storage space for an extra vehicle.
Like other storage sheds, people do all kinds of creative things with their car sheds. Some folks turn them into shops to work on their cars or other projects, some convert them into private gyms, and some use them as general storage space.
There are a lot of variations in the car shed world so we’re going to discuss the different options that are available. If you’re looking to invest in a car shed for yourself or just curious about them in general we’ll do our best to tell you what you need to know.
Can you put a car in a shed?
That’s a really good question. Given that this article is about “car sheds”, the answer is obviously “yes”…but it depends on whether your particular shed was built to handle a vehicle.
A car shed is specifically designed to accommodate most average-sized vehicles, including both cars and light trucks. Generally, car sheds are at least 12’ wide and can be up to 16’ wide. The minimum length for a car shed is usually 20’; some car sheds are 40′ or longer.
On the other hand, you can’t fit most cars into standard storage sheds that are 8’ or 10’ wide. For example, Toyota Corollas are about 70” wide and a 10’-wide storage shed with double doors has a door opening of 64”. The square footage just isn’t there. The same Corolla would be about 15 feet long, which makes it several feet longer than a standard-sized shed, like a 10×12 shed.
Will a shed floor hold a car?
It depends. Most car sheds and prefab garages have specially designed floors with joists spaced closer together than the joists on regular storage sheds. A purpose-built car shed can support the weight of a vehicle, while the average storage shed cannot.
The average storage shed floor has joists placed at 16” on-center and can support about 20lbs of weight per square foot. So, a 10×12 garden shed can handle about 2,400lbs in total. Most small cars weigh at least 3,000lbs or more. There are a few vehicles that weigh between 2,500-2,800lbs, but that is still more than what many regular shed floors can handle.
However, the floor of a car shed is built to handle the added weight of a vehicle. Most builders place floor joists closer together on car sheds and often use more heavy-duty flooring as well. Here at DuraStor Structures, we use 2×6 joists spaced at 12” on-center and ¾” pressure-treated plywood flooring for all of our garage sheds.
Let’s move on to the different options you have when it comes to picking out the car shed that is right for you.
What types of car sheds are available?
There are several categories that we’re going to divide the car sheds into: Temporary (portable) car sheds, carports, metal car sheds, and prefabricated wooden car sheds. (Technically, some of these categories aren’t “car sheds”, but since they serve many of the same purposes, we’re including them here for a full comparison of options.) Each type of car shed offers some different features. It really all comes down to what your needs are and why you’re thinking about investing in a car parking shed.
Temporary Car Sheds
Temporary (or portable) car sheds are the easiest to set up and tear down. They can literally be set up and torn down in a day or less. Temporary car sheds are often similar to tents and feature canvas walls and tops that can be rolled back or rolled up to change from walls to no walls easily. As the name implies they are not permanent.
Temporary car sheds get tethered to stakes in the ground and can be moved or taken down without too much hassle. One of the nicest things about temporary car sheds is that they can be moved around or even used for things like parties, outdoor wedding receptions, and more. The low price point makes temporary car sheds one of the cheapest options out there; you can get a pretty standard temporary car shed for less than $500.
Temporary car sheds can have a few downsides, though. Most of the issues with temporary car sheds center around the fact that “you get what you pay for”. The low price of temporary car sheds also means they’re not constructed with the most durable materials. Heavy winds or snowstorms have been the downfall of more than one of these car shelters, leaving the owner looking for a chance to return the item. In fact, some of these products even require that you remove snow during a snowstorm in order to not void the warranty!
Carports are the next level up from temporary car sheds. They’re a more permanent option and usually have a hard top roof that makes them more resistant to snow and rain. Carports are available with either closed or open sides. If you live in an area that doesn’t see a lot of snow in the winter you may want to opt for open sides to cut down on the cost of your carport and still have a more permanent place for your vehicle to live.
Closed-sided carports are more similar to traditional car sheds in that they offer extra protection from the elements and the option to use the walls to gain extra storage space. You could hang tools, hoses, and other things from the walls of your carport to pick up extra storage space. If you live in a place where there is snow and cold weather in the winter it is a good idea to protect your vehicle from the elements as much as possible. Having a dry, safe place for your vehicle or vehicles is valuable and that’s one really nice feature if you get a carport with closed sides.
Sometimes less is more, right? That can certainly be the case. If you end up choosing to get a carport with open sides you’ll see that you will pay less and still have a great structure that puts a protective roof over your vehicle or whatever else you might shelter with your carport. If you live somewhere where you have little to no snow throughout the year, an open-sided carport might make the most sense for you to invest in. Keep in mind that an open-sided carport is hardly your typical car shed in terms of vehicle protection; it will, however, provide some protection from UV rays and precipitation.
Carports have their own set of weaknesses, though. While more durable than temporary car sheds, carports are still susceptible to damage from snow or high winds (as this story illustrates.) Even when properly anchored, many carports are not structurally capable of handling even mildly extreme weather. In the unfortunate circumstance that a vehicle is damaged by the collapse of a carport, questions also arise about who assumes liability for the damage.
Metal Car Sheds
If you’re looking for a more permanent option, a metal car shed may be the right thing for you. Metal car sheds are built out of strong steel and can really take the aesthetics of your car shed up a notch…or three.
Metal car sheds come with garage doors on the front or side and you can often match the colors of your metal shed and roof to the colors of your house. One thing to note is that metal car sheds need to be set on a concrete pad. That requires a little more work than a carport or temporary car shed, but the pros outweigh the cons here if you’re looking for a more permanent option.
Prefab Car Sheds
Prefab car sheds (aka “portable garages, prefab garages, garage sheds, etc) take things to the next level. They generally do not need concrete pads because they come with load-bearing floors, although they usually require at least a crushed stone base to rest on. Reinforced with 12” center-to-center studs and extra-thick plywood, a prefab car garage will be able to support the weight of your vehicle. If you are looking for the option with the highest level of protection and convenience, this is it.
Additionally, prefab car sheds offer the most flexibility in terms of customization. Prefab garages and car sheds can often be customized with siding and roofing to match the styling of your home or other buildings on your property. Many manufacturers (including DuraStor Structures) offer a wide variety of both interior and exterior options for customizing your car shed. In fact, you can even design your car shed in 3D and have it built to your specs!
To hearken back to an earlier point, the main drawback with prefab car sheds may also be their strongest point: “You get what you pay for.” Generally speaking, prefab car sheds with built-in wooden floors are the most expensive car shed option, since they are also the closest to a typical garage in terms of building style. The extra materials that make them so durable also result in a higher average price. That being said, they are usually still an incredible deal compared to the cost of building a detached garage from scratch!
What is the best car shed?
While it really comes down to your specific wants and needs, we recommend a prefab wooden garage as the best car shed all around.
If you live in a really warm, dry climate and experience little to no snow or high wind throughout the year, a simple temporary car shed or open-sided carport may be best for you. If you live in an area where winters hit hard, and it gets really cold, you may want a metal or prefab car shed to keep the snow out and your vehicle dry. It comes down to your specific application needs.
Below, we’ll talk about 4 factors that may further help you decide which car shed is right for you. These are:
Comparing Car Shed Prices
Predictably, the price point increases for a car shed based on how well-constructed it is and how many features it has. The temporary car shed will be the easiest on your wallet and the metal and prefab garage designs will be the most expensive.
Here’s a breakdown of the price ranges of the different car shed styles:
- Portable/Temporary Car Shed: $300-$800
- Open-Sided Carport: $1,200-$3,000
- Closed-Sided Carport: $4,750-$7,000
- Metal Car Shed: $4,000-$8,000
- Prefabricated Car Shed: $7,500+
Keep in mind that the more durable/permanent your car shed is, the more it will be considered an upgrade to your property should you choose to sell it. In that regard, a prefab wooden car shed is a property upgrade, while a temporary car shed is more like a one-time purchase.
Evaluate what you can afford to invest in your car shed and pair that with your needs for vehicle storage. Ultimately, you will have to decide for yourself which car shed category suits you best.
Comparing Car Shed Aesthetics
Prefab wooden car sheds are generally considered the most aesthetically pleasing type, but metal car sheds can also be made to look quite nice. You can usually get prefab and metal car shed siding and trim in a range of different colors.
Prefab wooden car sheds generally have the largest range of customizable exterior options; roof, siding, doors, and windows can all be customized to achieve the maximum curb appeal.
Most people choose to match the colors of their metal or prefab shed with the colors of their home which also adds to the aesthetic of the property. That’s a big difference from the canvas-walled temporary car sheds or the carports that may or may not have sides. The other feature that sets apart the metal and prefab car sheds is the garage door they have on the front. Carports typically don’t come with garage doors.
If you’re leaning toward prefab, we recommend using a 3D car shed visualizer to experiment with different designs and aesthetics as you plan for your building.
Comparing Car Shed Structural Strength
This criteria is more straightforward. Structurally speaking, wooden prefab garages are the strongest type of car shed. Every other style that we talked about either gets placed on a gravel or concrete pad and then anchored.
The prefab car sheds come built with a strong, load bearing floor. They will still need to be placed on top of a gravel pad and may be anchored in some way, but they don’t rely on the pads and anchors for their stability. Because the structure is literally built on the floor platform, it is without question the strongest of the car sheds.
Additionally, having a garage door built into the frame of your car shed will make the overall structure more durable. Both metal car sheds and prefab car sheds usually have built-in garage doors. On metal car sheds, the door usually closes onto the concrete foundation; on prefab car sheds, the door sill often features a built-in diamond-plate threshold.
Comparing Car Shed Ease-of-Installation
The temporary tent-style car shed may win the ease-of-installation award, but prefab wooden car sheds are a close second.
The temporary car shed simply requires a level gravel area, a little assembly, and some anchors. These car sheds still require some work, but compared to the metal car sheds that usually require you to pour a concrete slab they’re the easiest to install.
Prefab wooden car sheds usually require a gravel pad of some kind. Once that’s in place, though, the shed builder often handles installation as a standard part of the delivery process.
For instance, here at DuraStor Structures we offer 70 miles of free delivery for every car shed we sell; that delivery includes placing the shed on the customer’s property at the location of their choice. If your shed builder includes delivery and installation with the sale, that makes a prefab wooden garage just as easy to install as any other car shed style!
Wrapping Things Up
Depending on your specific needs, there may be one style of car shed that stands out to you from all the others. Thankfully, there are different models that fit different needs. The good news is that whatever you may want or need, there’s a car shed out there for you.
If you’re looking for a prefab wooden car shed in Georgia, don’t hesitate to reach out to us or experiment with your own car shed designs in our 3D car shed builder. We would love to help you!
Red car in shed: Yoder’s Quality Barns
Temporary car shed: Harbor Freight Tools
Collapsed temporary car shed: Swampy Acres Farm Blog
Closed-side carport: Metal Barn Central
Open-side carport: American Steel Carports, Inc.
Metal car shed: Big Buildings Direct