A residential garage is a walled, roofed structure for storing a vehicle or vehicles that may be part of or attached to a home (“attached garage”), or a separate outbuilding or shed (“detached garage”). Residential garages typically have space for one or two cars, although three-car garages are used. When a garage is attached to a house, the garage typically has an entry door into the house, called the person door or man door, in contrast with the wider and taller door for vehicles, called the garage door, which can be raised to permit the entry and exit of a vehicle and then closed to secure the vehicle. A garage protects a vehicle from precipitation, and, if it is equipped with a locking garage door, it also protects the vehicle(s) from theft and vandalism. Most garages also serve multifunction duty as workshops for a variety of projects, including painting, woodworking, and assembly.
Some garages have an electrical mechanism to automatically open or close the garage door when the homeowner presses a button on a small remote control, along with a detector that stops the movement of the garage if something is in the way of closing. Some garages have enough space, even with cars inside, for the storage of items such as bicycles or a lawnmower; in some cases, there may even be enough space for a workshop or a man cave. Garages that are attached to a house may be built with the same external materials and roofing as the house. Garages that are not connected to the home may use a different style of construction from the house. Often in the Southern and rural United States garages not attached to the home and made from a timber frame with sheet metal coverings are known as “pole barns”, but usually serve the same purpose as what is called a garage elsewhere. In some places, the term is used synonymously with “carport”, though that term normally describes a structure that, while roofed, is not completely enclosed. A carport protects the vehicle to some degree from inclement weather, but it does not protect the vehicle from theft or vandalism.
The word garage, introduced to English in 1902, originates from the French word garer, meaning shelter. By 1908 the architect Charles Harrison Townsend was commenting in The Builder magazine that “for the home of the car, we very largely use the French word ‘garage’, alternatively with what I think the more desirable English equivalent of ‘motor house'”. Today the word is polysemic because it can refer to a collection of vehicles as well as the building that contains them.