Monday, March 16, 2015


Last time, we talked about the various types of garage doors found in older homes. This time, we’ll look at the modern standard for garage doors, along with some tips on choosing the right style for your home’s architecture.

Interior view of sectional overhead door, today's
default standard. Unlike older one-piece doors,
they're very kind to garage door openers.
Today’s most popular door type by far is the sectional overhead door, which typically consists of four or five horizontally-hinged sections that roll up into the garage ceiling on a curving track. There’s little doubt that this is the most easily operated garage door design since the Victorian biparting door--a fact that explains its wide use as a replacement for older types. 

First, a quick rundown on sizes: Single-bay doors are typically eight or nine feet wide by seven feet high, while double-bay doors are typically sixteen feet wide (occasionally eighteen) by seven feet high. Double-bay doors are mainly found on broadly-proportioned home styles such as California Ranchers. 

Well-chosen garage doors complement this contemporary
California Bungalow-inspired home style.
(Courtesy of Roberts Garage Door Professionals)
On the other hand, a bland, unadorned garage door will look very strange on a traditional home style. The best approach is to reflect the same general level of detail that’s found on your home: If you have a traditional-style house with lots of exterior moldings and trim, then a moderately ornate garage door will probably look fine. However, if it’s a relatively clean mid-century home style, you’re better off choosing a simpler door with a plain plywood finish.

Contemporary carriage-style garage door—
yes, it can be fitted with an operator.
So if you have the real thing, don't get rid of it!
Pre-Depression era homes, which were originally fitted with either biparting or bypassing garage doors, present a special case. The horizontal proportions found on most stock sectional doors, whether plain of fancy, look foreign on houses of this era. Door manufacturers do offer super high-end designs that attempt to hide the sectional door’s telltale horizontal joints, mimicking old-fashioned bypassing or biparting doors. But the prices of these doors can be astronomical, sometimes ranging into five figures. 

Therefore, if the original doors are still in place, you’re probably better off reconditioning rather than replacing them. And regardless of what naysayers tell you, an automatic garage door opener can indeed be installed on biparting doors (they’re even occasionally installed on the inner leaf of bypassing doors). 

No filigree please: Clean-lined aluminum garage door
is an excellent fit for this modern design.
Lastly, a word about windows: Most sectional door manufacturers offer optional glass transom lites for their doors, as well as a whole array of muntin (divider) patterns to fit over them. Although additional light in the garage is always welcome, choose these window designs carefully. The now over-familiar sunburst pattern, for example, is very well suited to colonial style houses, but not to much else. Likewise, arch-topped windows are probably not the thing for a California Rancher. 

Take your time choosing the right style of garage door for your home--after all, it’s the biggest, baddest door you’ve got.

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