When it comes to choosing the right material for your carport, there are several factors to consider, including cost, strength, durability, maintenance requirements, and aesthetic appeal. The most commonly used materials for carports are steel, aluminium, and timber, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. In this article, we’ll compare these materials in the context of carport construction, providing you with the necessary information to make an informed decision. Keep in mind that your specific needs, preferences, budget, and local climate conditions should ultimately guide your choice. Let’s delve into the comparison.
- Cost: Most expensive among the three materials
- Strength and Durability: Very strong and durable with a life expectancy of 25 years or more
- Maintenance: Requires regular rust inspection. The steel needs to be either powder coated or galvanized to prevent rusting
- Appearance: Steel has a robust and industrial look that can be made more aesthetically pleasing with different types of finishes.
- Cost: Cheapest among the three materials
- Strength and Durability: Very durable with a life expectancy of 25 years or more. Despite being lightweight, aluminium is strong and easy to assemble
- Maintenance: Requires very little maintenance and is highly resistant to corrosion
- Appearance: Aluminium can be finished in a variety of ways to suit different aesthetic preferences.
- Cost: Can be quite costly, especially with the treatments required to maintain it
- Strength and Durability: Least durable among the three materials with a life expectancy of 15 years or more
- Maintenance: Requires regular maintenance. If untreated, timber can be at risk of rotting, warping, or splitting
- Appearance: Timber offers great aesthetic appeal, bringing a natural and warm look to your carport
- Steel: Steel is the most expensive material for carport frames. It is strong and durable, making for a robust carport. However, steel requires a fair bit of maintenance, including regular rust inspections. It needs to be either powder-coated or galvanized to prevent rusting. The life expectancy of a steel carport frame is over 25 years
- Aluminium: Aluminium is the cheapest material for a carport frame and is very durable. It’s also lightweight, making it easier to assemble. Unlike steel, aluminium requires little maintenance and is highly resistant to corrosion. The life expectancy of an aluminium carport frame is also over 25 years
- Timber: Timber can be costly, especially when considering the maintenance it requires. A timber carport frame is the least durable among the three materials, but it does offer aesthetic appeal. Untreated, your carport will be at risk of rotting, warping or splitting. Depending on the size of your carport, all the treatments required might make timber the least cost-effective option. The life expectancy of a timber carport frame is over 15 years
- Polyethylene (PE): Polyethylene is a very common carport covering. It is a hard-wearing plastic weave that’s waterproof and low-temperature resistant. PE is also lightweight and easy to transport
- Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC): Another popular carport covering is PVC sheeting. This material is very durable, waterproof, and low-temperature resistant. A great benefit of PVC is that it has an excellent strength-to-weight ratio, which makes it perfect for standing up to the elements
When choosing a carport, it’s important to keep in mind that the cost will also depend on factors such as labour and preparation, carport size, carport type, and any extras you may want to add such as lighting, custom paint, varnish, gables, and lattice edges
Different types of carports come at different prices. For instance, in the Greater Cape Town Area, the starting price of an open design flat roof carport is R475 per square meter. A 3-side panel design carport starts from R550 per square meter, a flat roof L-beam carport starts from R1450 per square meter, a CromoDek carport patio starts from R3200 per square meter, and a pitched A-frame carport starts from R825 per square meter
Each of these materials has its own pros and cons, and the best choice depends on your specific needs, preferences, and budget. It’s also important to consider the climate and environmental conditions in your area, as these can affect the performance and longevity of the carport material.