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Garage Door Details

A little history

Back in the early 1900’s, when cars were just eking their way into society, there became a need to store these cars. Imagine owning one of these new contraptions and not having the foggiest notion as to where to park it. What seemed obvious to these folk was to store their cars in the same outbuilding, or carriage house, that housed their other means of transportation: their horse and buggy. The only problem with this idea is that the cars were owned by higher-class citizens who didn’t want their beautiful fancy cars smelling like horse manure.

With the need of a separate outbuilding, the first garages were built, but they were more like sheds with barn doors than the garages we know today. After some tweaking and a little innovation, the carriage house model was used to build garages and the invention of sliding tracks for doors were developed to enable you to move the doors sideways across the front of the garage. The only problem with this idea is that the garage had to be at least double the width of the door. To overcome this dilemma, a door was developed that was cut into sections, then hinged together at intervals, allowing it to fold around a corner. This seemed like a great solution and it meant that garages didn’t need to be much wider than the door. Soon, after the folding door caught on, another type of door was invented, called the overhead. This door could be lifted upwards and then fold parallel to the garage ceiling. By 1926, the electric door opener was invented to help those people who had trouble lifting the heavy wooden door.

As time went on, the amount of available space started to shrink and garages were being built closer and closer to the houses – so close that at one point architects got the idea to build them into the design of the house, giving them the same style and color. In keeping with the architectural style of the house, fancier garage door designs expanded.

Types of garage doors

There are many affordable doors to add to your home’s curb appeal. The most common types of doors are retractable, canopy side, and hinged sectional retractable. The sectional door is most commonly used in situations where your driveway is short or you’re limited in parking space. Because this door opens and shuts vertically it allows you to park very close to your door without keeping it from opening.

  • Tilt-up garage door. These doors are opened through lifting. It is a single panel that pushes out of the garage doorway and up. They are less expensive than sectional roll up garage doors.
  • Sectional roll up garage door. This type of door is mostly composed of four or five horizontal panels or sections that are attached or hinged together. Mounting on rollers with tracks at the sides enables the sectional panels to roll up and then back. More expensive than the tilt-up door, but easier to operate and safer.

Common garage door materials

  • Wood. Beautiful in appearance, wood garage doors are rich and affordable. There are a wide variety of options available, from standard raised panel designs to carriage house designs; and they’re also available in several species. The drawbacks to wood are warping from too much sun, rotting by the rain, cracking, and splintering. Plus you’ll have the chore of painting or staining and regular maintenance.
  • Aluminum. This material is perfect for garage doors; it’s strong and sturdy and can take a beating during nasty weather conditions. It won’t warp or crack like wood. It is lightweight and doesn’t rust easily.
  • Fiberglass (GRP). Fiberglass garage doors are perfect for areas that get frequented by tornadoes or typhoons and they hold up well in ocean climates where salt is an issue. They are low maintenance, easy to clean, require no staining or finishing, and the material is tough and durable.
  • Steel. The nice thing about steel garage doors is they won’t warp, crack, or be affected by weather. And they’re low maintenance! The steel door is the most common type of garage door. It can be insulated by putting two pieces together with polystyrene insulation between them. If it consists of hot dipped galvanized steel that is vinyl clad or given a baked on polyester finish, it won’t rust or require repainting. Steel can achieve the look of wood (at less cost), and there are even designs to mimic the classic carriage house doors. These doors are sturdier than wood, fiberglass, and aluminum. The only drawbacks are they are difficult to repair and they are prone to denting.

There are three types of steel doors:

  • Single layer doors, which are the most economical, are stamped from a single sheet of galvanized steel.
  • Double layer steel doors have a galvanized steel skin on the outside, with a thick layer of either polystyrene or polyurethane as a backer. The backer provides soundproofing and insulating value to the door.
  • Triple layer doors are constructed of the same materials as double layer doors, with the addition of a galvanized skin on the inside to protect the polystyrene or polyurethane from damage. The additional layer of steel makes this door the strongest, most secure, and the most soundproof of all garage doors.

Garage Door Panels

There are three main panel designs to choose from:

  • Flush panels. These panels are flat and slightly textured.
  • Long raised panels. These panels give depth and distinction to the door.
  • Short raised panels. These panels give depth and distinction to the door and are commonly used for architectural styles such as Victorian, Tudor, and Colonial due to the symmetrical facades of these types of homes.

A word of caution

Make sure your garage door is safe. If you have a tilt-up garage door in conjunction with an automatic garage door opener, make sure you have photoelectric sensors and pressure-sensitive sensors mounted on the bottom of the door. Due to bodily injury and death, the Consumer Product Safety Commission passed a law in 1993 that required all garage doors be equipped with these sensors. If either of these sensors detect any object under a garage door while it is closing, the door will automatically reverse and fully open.

Final thoughts

The main ideas to keep in mind when you’re shopping for a garage door is that it should create harmony with your home by complementing your home’s architectural style; and it should fair well in the weather conditions of your geographical location. Another idea to keep in mind is whether or not you want a warm garage or the type of window options available for added light.

Need a new garage door installed? Find CalFinder certified garage door contractors in your state and contact us for free estimates:



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