Choosing the right garage door for your home is about far more than creating eye-catching curbside aesthetics. Garage doors have an impact on home security, accessibility, and efficiency. Some options are crafted with highly insulating materials to prevent heat loss in winter and heat gain in summer. Others have outstanding levels of fire resistance, limited maintenance requirements, or non-standard ways of opening. Fortunately, you can enjoy these and other attributes whether you’re searching for a classic look or an alternative garage door style. The following is everything you need to know about traditional and non-traditional garage doors.

What’s a Traditional Garage Door?

The evolution of garage doors is closely related to the evolution of vehicles. At one time, these secondary home entrances were used to house carts, carriages, buggies, and the animals that pulled them. In the era of carriage houses, both vehicles and their beasts of burden were stored in separate, free-standing units. Now, many garages are attached directly to living environments, and their doors play an integral role in keeping building residents and the contents of buildings safe.

The rail and stile garage door is the very first garage door that was made exclusively for accommodating cars rather than carts and horses. All-wood rail and stile garage doors have sturdy and long-lasting construction. Fashioned with mortise and tenon joints, they have separate sections comprised of panel inserts that are either rolled up or rolled down to open and close them.

Other popular configurations among older and more traditional garage door designs include swing overhead, bi-fold, and tri-fold doors. Swing overhead doors roll up and down like rail and stile doors. However, they look as though they have two split panels that open directly down their center. Bi-fold doors are built with four or more separate panels that move like bi-fold closets. Tri-fold garage doors have a minimum of three identical sections. Although their multi-panel sections offer the illusion of sliding open and to one side, both bi-fold and tri-fold doors open overhead. Some bi-fold door designs don’t actually fold at all. Instead, they open upwards as a single unit.

Non-Traditional Options Often Blur the Lines Between Classic and Alternative

Non-traditional options in garage doors frequently give a nod to classic styles. With most early doors being made of wood, you might find bi-fold or tri-fold doors comprised of steel or other metals. Special embellishments on even the most modern door designs such as ornate windows, oversized hardware, and decorative trim give them a vintage look.

Carriage Doors

Often referred to as barn doors, carriage doors come with sturdy and elaborate metal hinges, oversized handles, and gorgeous woodwork. More importantly, depending upon which option you choose, they can slide from side to side or open overhead.

Although pricey, these doors can greatly increase curbside appeal, add to property values, and provide natural light via their decorative windows. When side-opening carriage doors are installed, they also conserve vertical space so that homeowners have more room for storing their cherished items, parking their high-sitting vehicles, and more.

Gliding, Sliding, or Side-Rolling Garage Doors

Often marketed as either gliding, sliding, or side-rolling garage doors, these are doors that sit on hinges at the interior or exterior of buildings. You can find single-panel and double-panel designs. Single-panel doors slide from one side to the other, and double-panel doors split at the middle and open to each end.

True Swing and True Bi-Fold Doors

True bi-fold doors are double-panel side rolling doors that split at the center and either fold or roll to each side. True swing doors are affixed to sturdy hinges and swing open or shut like standard doors. Comprised of two separate leaves, they open out towards the driveway from their center. However, there are also options in true swing doors that open into the building instead.

Traditional and Non-Traditional Garage Door Materials and Their Pros and Cons

For many years, wood was the primary choice for carriage doors and other early garage door styles. Wood has an enduring, classic look, and with diligent maintenance, it can last for many years. Wood also naturally has the highest R-value of all other garage door materials. This means that you don’t have to add other materials to a wood garage door to enhance its insulating effects. If a wood door is properly sized, installed, and maintained, it can do a pretty good job of preventing heat gains and heat losses. However, without the right painting, staining, or other protective coatings, wood is vulnerable to the ravages of wind, direct sunlight, rain, hail, and snow. In some areas and lacking the right maintenance, wood doors are also prone to developing problems with termites and other pests.

Steel is another popular choice for garage doors with a long-running history in residential applications. Steel doors are both beautiful and affordable, and they give homes a distinctly modern aesthetic. They’re also flexible and adaptable enough to accommodate a broad range of design goals. On the downside, steel doors aren’t naturally insulating at all. They require polyurethane or polystyrene insulation to prevent significant indoor heat gains and heat losses. They’re also vulnerable to corrosion and structural damage from impact events. However, homeowners can mitigate these risks by choosing well-insulated options with protective coatings and by diligently maintaining them.

For luxury homes and homeowners who want unique looks for their garages, glass doors on steel frames are an eye-catching but unconventional choice. These doors flood building interiors with natural light. They can also include protective coatings to prevent UV damage, heat gains, and heat losses. Some coatings additionally afford building residents a little privacy. Despite being surprisingly durable and boosting both property values and curbside appeal, glass garage doors require a lot of extra maintenance. Moreover, even with protective treatments, they may offer a clear view into garage interiors.

If you want to give your home an edgy, industrial look, sheet metal doors are a low-cost option. Once used solely in industrial buildings, these doors have been refined for residential installation. However, although they’re both cheap and easy to put in, sheet metal doors don’t provide the best aesthetics, offer sufficient insulation, or last long.

Which Garage Door Type Is Right for Your Home?

The top garage door designers are constantly introducing head-turning refinements and impressive innovations. Ultimately, there’s a veritable sea of options to choose from. Among the factors that weigh heaviest in the typical garage door selection are:

  • Ceiling heights
  • Security needs
  • Budget
  • Preferred level of maintenance
  • Vehicle sizes

Lewis Door Service Professional Garage Door Services

After all, you can’t have inward-opening garage doors if your garage is barely deep enough to hold your car. You can’t have a massive, sliding carriage door if your garage isn’t very wide. We maintain an expansive array of high-quality garage doors with many options representing a seamless blend of traditional and non-traditional design elements and functions. The surest way to find a product that looks amazing on your home and perfectly suits your lifestyle is by scheduling a consultation appointment.

We proudly serve Louisville, KY, and the greater Kentuckiana area. We offer garage door replacement, repair, and maintenance services. We also offer an outstanding selection of garage door openers. To speak with one of our in-house design experts, get in touch with Lewis Door Service today.

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