Choosing a Garage Door - A Guide to Sizes, Types and Opening Mechanisms of Garage Doors

Summary: Information and advice on choosing the right garage door, including different types of door available, what sizes you can buy and what options their are for opening/closing mechanisms. This is a good starting point before you start your research for your next set of garage doors.

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There are four main types of materials used in the manufacture of garage doors – steel, aluminium, timber and glass reinforced polyester (GRP or plastic), so there is a wide choice available to householders deciding on a new garage door. The means of opening and closing the doors can be either done manually or by remote control and the three styles of doors are canopy, retractable and roller.

Steel doors are light and easy to handle and are supplied ready-primed for the purchaser to apply the finishing coat colour of their choice. See our painting a metal garage door project to find out how to do this. Aluminium doors are particularly suitable for situations for where there is living accommodation above the garage for noise reasons. Timber garage doors were once the most popular choice of the door (see our project on painting wooden garage doors) but they have been replaced by GRP doors whose strength and resistance to both knocks and rot makes them extremely durable.

Canopy doors, or 'up and over' doors, are overhead doors that only retract part of the way into the garage leaving a horizontal canopy of door projecting beyond the face of the garage entrance. The retractable door enters the garage for its full length without leaving a projecting canopy and it is generally regarded as being stronger and quieter to operate than a canopy door. Roller doors move on a track embedded in the garage floor with overhead guide rails and are opened and closed by electric remote control devices.

There is a wide variation of door sizes available and here are some of the more popular ones:

Steel doors:

  • width 1981 to 4267mm (6 feet 6 inches to 14 feet)
  • height 1981 to 2134mm (6 feet 6 inches to 7 feet)
  • (available in both canopy and retractable styles)

Aluminium doors:

  • width 1981 to 4267mm (6 feet 6 inches to 14 feet)
  • height 1981 to 2134mm (6 feet 6 inches to 7 feet)

(available as roller doors)

GRP doors:

  • width 2134 to 4267mm (7 feet to 14 feet)
  • height 1981 to 2134mm (6 feet 6 inches to 7 feet)

(available in both canopy and retractable styles)

The variation of standard widths within these ranges means that it is highly unlikely that it would be ever be necessary to require a purpose made door to be made – a good thing considering the extra cost that would be involved!

There are two main types of automatic door openers. The first works by pointing a remote control towards the sensor inside the garage to activate the door opening mechanism. The second type is an entry pad fixed to the external wall of the garage that requires the entry of a four digit code to make the door open although this system is not so popular because of the need to get out of the car to tap in the code number – not an attractive option on a cold and wet November night!

Steel door frames are required for the canopy and retractable door types in steel, aluminium or GRP material, but timber frames should be used for softwood doors. Roller doors don't require a frame because they move inside the garage on a floor track and overhead guide rails.

The cost of the doors listed above range between £400 and £2,000 including VAT and delivery. The standard size single garage doors can be fixed by a competent DIYer but the wider double garage size would probably need to be installed by professionals particularly if the electric opening system is being used.

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