The RV lifestyle is amazing; however, it’s an unfortunate fact that most RVs spend more time in storage than out having adventures. That’s where RV carports come in. These structures are essential for any travel enthusiast who wants to extend their RV’s lifespan and safeguard its functionality. We recently built our own RV carport and will be sharing our thoughts and experiences.
In this article, we’ll explore the practical benefits of building an RV carport. Join us as we dive into the reasons why an RV carport is more than a luxury—it’s a smart, protective measure every owner should consider.
- What Is an RV Carport?
- What Size Should an RV Carport Be?
- Benefits of an RV Carport
- Things to Consider When Selecting an RV Carport
- RV Carport Brands to Consider
- Is An RV Carport Worth It?
What Is an RV Carport?
An RV carport is designed for RVs like motorhomes, fifth wheels, travel trailers, and truck campers. They’re typically open on the sides and are a cost-effective alternative to a fully enclosed garage or storage facility. Because they come in various sizes, they can accommodate almost any rig and setup.
They also come in various materials. The usual building materials include steel, aluminum, and wood. However, many owners choose steel because it is incredibly durable and can better resist weather and animal damage.
Like garages, an RV carport can be freestanding or can attach to an existing building. You can upgrade to sidewalls, roll-up doors, and even electricity. They can be as luxurious or basic as your budget requires.
What Size Should an RV Carport Be?
When selecting your RV carport, you must consider its size. Generally, the first thing people consider is the length and width of their rig. Consider slide width, too if you want the ability to extend and retract your slides. However, don’t make the mistake of only looking at the length and width; the height is also significant.
Consider the height of your air conditioner, solar panels, and any room you’ll need for maintenance. If not, you must move your RV from under the carport to do routine maintenance. While this may not happen frequently, it can be a pain. We built our carport 14′ tall to the rafters, giving us a few feet of extra space above the RV’s.
Finally, remember to factor in your plans. If you upgrade your rig in the future, you want to ensure it works with your carport. Downsizing won’t be a problem, but if you select a larger rig, it would likely create an issue.
Benefits of an RV Carport
Having an RV carport is hugely beneficial. Let’s look at a few reasons we love owning a carport and think you should too.
Protection from the Elements
One of the most substantial benefits of having an RV carport is that it keeps your rig out of the elements. The rain, snow, and ice can cause severe damage to your beautiful camper. Even sun exposure will take its toll eventually.
We have said it many times before that water damage is the most common downfall of RV’s. When your RV is under a roof, no water damage from roof leaks can occur.
Additionally, you reduce mildew growth by parking your RV under a carport and keeping the elements off. Overall, the protection it provides will keep it looking new longer, keep rubbers and seals in better shape, and make paint and decals last longer.
Not only will it look new, but it’ll function like new, too. Having an RV carport extends the life of your rig. It keeps the seals from cracking and leaving your RV vulnerable to water damage. Water damage is one of the most severe types.
Since most water damage occurs when an RV is not in use, it’ll likely take some time before you discover the issue. Mold can grow, and you’ll be in for an extensive and costly repair. By using an RV carport, you’ll extend the life of your camper. Your RV and bank account will thank you.
Reduced Maintenance Costs
Another benefit of using an RV carport is that it drastically reduces maintenance costs. Keeping the UV rays from the sun off your camper means less resealing and waxing. However, it bears saying this reduces but does not eliminate them. You’ll still need to check your seals and reseal or rewax your camper occasionally.
Many owners don’t enjoy these two labor-intensive maintenance tasks, which are also expensive. Keeping your RV out of the elements means doing them less but keeping your camper looking and working like new.
Pro Tip: Need extra storage space? Check out our article on How a Shipping Container Can Be Your New Garage and Shop.
Things to Consider When Selecting an RV Carport
When you’re selecting an RV carport, there are some things you should consider. If not, you could waste your money.
Weather for Your Area
One central thing to consider is the weather you’ll experience where you place the RV carport, particularly wind and snow. For our property in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, it’s not uncommon to measure snowfall in feet instead of inches.
Typically, snow can weigh 20 pounds per cubic foot, and that doesn’t include layers of ice. Please consider the snow rating for your particular area or you may end up with a collapse. Our structure is rated to 90 pounds per square foot on the roof! That’s over 100,000 lbs at max load!!
An additional concern for these structures is their wind rating. Wind storms can rip through an area and do considerable damage. Your carport could throw in the towel if the wind is too much. This could ruin your carport and cause severe damage to your RV.
Size and Span
The next thing you also need to consider is the size and span of the structure. Do you have the horizontal and vertical room for the structure? Are trees, powerlines, or other potential objects in the way? You don’t want to pay and put in all the effort to discover your new carport won’t fit the space.
Like a skilled woodworker, you should always measure the space at least twice. We enjoy the security of measuring multiple times to ensure we don’t make a costly mistake. A measuring error could leave you with a carport you cannot use.
Shipping and Delivery
You’ll need to be able to get the unit to its final location. Shipping and delivery methods will depend on the size of your carport and where you order it. If you’re going through a local store, they may deliver it wherever you need it. However, if you order through an online retailer, they may have to arrange shipment and delivery through a freight company.
Make sure you factor these two items into your decision. If the carport will require a semi or other large vehicle, they’ll need room to safely maneuver their vehicle in and out of the drop-off location. In our case we had to offload the building ourselves and required the use of our backhoe.
Cost is one of the biggest considerations for many consumers. Unfortunately, the cost of an RV carport can vary significantly. The primary factors to consider are the size of the structure and the materials used during manufacturing.
Generally, a mid-range RV carport can cost from $5,000 to $10,000. However, a custom-built carport can climb to $10,000 to $20,000. However, there are more costs than just buying the materials.
You’ll need to consider the cost of preparing the site, acquiring permits, and assembling the structure. You can save money by doing it yourself. However, you’ll likely need extra hands and the correct tools. Sometimes, paying the professionals is easier. This way, it’s done right and quickly.
Our carport cost $16,000 but was far more expensive than most due to our snow load requirements.
You’ll need to prepare the site. Ideally, you can place your RV carport on a flat and level concrete slab. This can allow you to bolt the structure down and ensure it doesn’t go anywhere. However, you must ensure the site is level before laying concrete. Depending on the site, this may require heavy-duty machinery.
You’ll also need to know what it will take to get your rig in and out of the RV carport. Will you need to remove trees or any other obstacles? If so, you’ll want to prepare everything before your RV carport arrives.
Brand and Construction Materials
The final two things to consider are the brand and construction materials. Some brands are better than others. They’ve earned their reputation for creating quality products that do the job. When things aren’t right, the best companies offer exceptional customer service to fix the situation.
Generally, most RV carports use steel, aluminum, or wood. Steel is preferred because it is strong and can withstand harsh weather conditions. However, aluminum is another solid option since it’s lightweight and resists corrosion, but it’s nowhere near as strong as steel. Typically, aluminum carports are not large enough for RV’s either.
Wood is the other popular option, which looks fantastic but requires routine maintenance to avoid rot and decay. Over time, these can lose their aesthetics as the wood ages. However, they’re easy to customize to complement other structures on your property.
Pro Tip: Always have a garage to store your gear even when RVing. Check out Our Review of the Harbor Freight Portable Garage.
RV Carport Brands to Consider
We think a few brands are worth it. These have solid reputations and have proven themselves. Let’s take a look!
We chose VersaTube for our personal RV carport. They’ve been in business for more than 20 years. The owners, Tim and Bruce, introduced a new style of slip-fit connections that made it easier to connect steel tubing. They’re so convenient that they don’t require a professional to assemble the structures. You can start putting it together as soon as your site is ready.
Their kits come in many sizes. If one doesn’t fit your rig, you can design your own. Doing so gives you complete control of the design of your carport. While standard units ship in approximately five business days, custom builds take twice as long. You can expect your custom order to ship in 10 business days.
These units start around $2,300 and can approach $10,000. They also sell various accessories to help increase the stability and longevity of the structure.
Another RV carport online retailer is Carport Central. They offer more than 500 metal building types, including RV carports. Their prices start under $3,000 and can climb quickly, depending on the size and materials.
One thing we like about Carport Central is that their metal structures come in almost any color. Additionally, their carports come in three roof styles. Whether you want a regular, boxed-eave, or vertical style, they have options. Their units can be 12 feet wide, so there’s plenty of space for even the largest RVs.
They’ve simplified the process by helping you analyze your needs before placing your order. Once you submit and pay for your order, their crews will come and install the structure at your site. Their customer service is available after installation to ensure you’re fully satisfied.
Metal Carports Direct
Metal Carports Direct has its headquarters in North Carolina. However, they serve customers all over the country. They offer everything from metal garages to fully enclosed shelters, barns, sheds, and RV carports. They use thick, 14-gauge steel for the frame, which helps to maximize their strength.
They’ve been in business for more than 20 years and offer a few options for budgets of all sizes. Their cheapest models are their regular-style RV shelters. These start around $3,600 and can climb to more than $5,000. Those willing to increase their budget can get the vertical roof, which starts at around $3,000 and can trend upwards to nearly $9,000.
Is An RV Carport Worth It?
For us, having an RV carport is a no-brainer. We’ve kept our campers, vehicles, and boats out of the elements. This helps us ensure they maintain their value and are ready to go when we want to use them. If you’re looking for a cost-effective solution to keep your stuff out of the elements, an RV carport is an option we highly recommend.
What kind of RV carport would you like to install? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!
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