Architectural Considerations for Garage Doors

    black 308 garage door on wood shakes garage front cropped-social edit

    Choosing the right garage door is more than an aesthetic decision, especially for residential architects and other trade professionals.

    Beyond style, material and color considerations are the garage-entry dimensions, garage-door clearance measurements, operating needs, and compliance with local and national codes. From the home design and building perspectives, specifying the ideal garage door for a given project can be a complicated and time-consuming exercise.

    But the process doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Ultimately, selecting and sourcing a garage door should be rewarding and even enjoyable; after all, the garage door is a home focal point and is instrumental to its curb appeal.

    Following are a few essential, but occasionally overlooked, practical factors to keep in mind when planning for garage doors:


    Garage Door Closure Types

    A recent Architect Magazine article highlights crucial aspects of garage-door specification, and many of the critical points relate to garage door closure styles.

    Most modern residential garage doors are either overhead or swinging. Overhead doors are the most popular option, and they’re available in a variety of styles with nearly limitless personalization choices.

    Overhead doors readily accommodate garage-door openers, though they should also be easy to operate manually. When closed, overhead doors should seal tightly at the garage base and edges, and provide adequate security and insulation.

    Swinging garage doors pivot outward from the sides. Swing-out garage doors are available as single doors or as double doors that pivot out from opposite sides and meet in the middle.

    Like overhead doors, swinging garage doors offer myriad possibilities for personalization, including windows and decorative hardware. As with overhead doors, well-made swing-out doors should open and close smoothly, and furnish security and protection from the elements.

    Mounting Hardware and Space Needs

    The garage door closure type directly impacts the corresponding mounting requirements, as well as interior and exterior space needs.

    Overhead garage doors necessitate space above the door opening and within the garage interior for the mounting hardware and railing, as well as clearance for the door itself when open. Appropriate dimensions should also be factored for garage-door openers.

    While most overhead garage doors require little side and overhead clearance, it’s important to ensure they have adequate backroom to fully retract. It’s also paramount to verify that the doors, mounts and rails don’t conflict with any adjacent electrical wiring, HVAC work, water lines or other potential obstructions.

    Swing-out garage doors don’t demand the elevated space and backroom of overhead doors. However, they do require ample clearance to open wide enough to permit vehicle entry without scraping driveway surfaces or contacting the garage sides.

    Garage Door Strength and Wind Loads

    As severe weather events like tornadoes and hurricanes become more common, the construction quality and wind loads of garage doors are increasingly relevant concerns.

    Mass-market garage doors are often produced with cheap materials and lack internal structural support. The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) reports that low-quality garage doors are weak points in severe weather events and can amplify the damage that accompanies severe weather.

    Garage doors made with inferior materials and substandard construction methods are vulnerable to heavy winds. According to the IBHS, when poor-quality doors fail during severe weather, they can contribute to structural damage and secondary damages.

    Even winds that aren’t strong enough to be categorized as tornado- or hurricane-force can be devastating. An IBHS research meteorologist noted that 80-mph gusts are forceful enough to buckle inferior garage doors; the meteorologist added that when a garage door suffers structural failure, its home has a 60-percent chance of likewise sustaining costly structural damage.

    In general terms, a well-crafted garage door should be able to withstand the wind extremes of its geographic location. Some municipalities in areas where tornadoes or hurricanes are common have codes that specify wind-load requirements for garage doors.

    Construction Quality and Energy Efficiency

    The quality of a garage door’s construction affects a home’s energy efficiency in addition to its security and structural integrity.

    As society at-large becomes more conscious about its energy use, energy efficiency has emerged as a priority for residential architects, contractors and builders (not to mention home buyers). A recent Forbes article about garage and garage-door insulation describes how well-built garage doors help reduce energy consumption, especially when garages are attached to homes and serve as primary entrances.

    A high-quality garage door should contain interior density and insulation, such as an insulative core of polystyrene foam. That core should be held between outer layers that are reinforced for lasting durability and stability.

    While many commercial garage doors are manufactured with low-cost components made from fiberglass, vinyl and thin aluminum, wood is often an excellent choice for garage door overlays and interior components. For example, Timberlane uses premium woods such as mahogany for its garage door overlays; mahogany and similar woods are naturally resistant to moisture, and they’re welcoming to paint and stain finishes.

    Additional Garage Door Resources

    Timberlane loves working with homeowners and trade professionals to create the perfect garage doors to complement their homes.

    Our knowledgeable design team has extensive experience collaborating with architects, contractors and builders to craft exceptional garage doors for the finest homes. Via our Timberlane for Professionals website, we’re proud to share our library of resources, which may provide additional assistance and inspiration when considering garage doors:

    For additional information, to schedule a personal consultation or to request a quote, connect with Timberlane today.


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