The overhead door has been a fixture of the American landscape since the end of World War II. In that time it’s reached such a level of market penetration that it’s just understood that if your home has a garage it’s going to have an overhead door. But while sectional overhead garage doors are the standard method for addressing that big hole in your house that the car goes in and out of there are still plenty of people out there who yearn for an alternative. But are there any? And if so, how do they stack up against the venerable overhead garage door? Below we’ll take a look.
Overhead Doors Vs the Alternatives
Whether you have a mid-century modern in Lakewood or a brand new home in Reunion development in the Commerce City area you’re still going to need something to cover the opening in garage. While the default choice has been the automatic overhead door for years people still ask us all the time when we’re on garage door repair calls about possible alternatives. Truth is, there are a fair number of alternative garage door styles out there and here are some of the most common:
- Sliding Doors - Sliding doors are a fairly popular alternative garage door design for a good reason. A sliding garage door has an air of class and sophistication about it that the humble overhead door simply can’t compete with. There are a number of different styles of sliding garage doors but most all have 2 doors that slide away from the vertical centerline of the opening. You can get them with a few as 1 panel and each side or each side can be divided up into as many narrow vertical panels as you like. When compared to the overhead garage door sliding doors tend to be a bit more expensive. In addition, they don’t always seal the opening as effectively as overhead doors and the lower of the 2 tracks the door rides on gets clogged with dirt and debris pretty quickly. This type of door also requires a separate motor on each side.
- Side Hinged Doors - Side hinged garage doors open outward like 99 percent of all the doors on earth. They can be manually opened or they can be motorized. They tend to be easier to open manually than an overhead door and of course you never have to worry about this type of garage door crashing down on you if a spring breaks. On the downside they are slightly more mechanically complex than an overhead door and they are usually more expensive garage door installs. But the main reason these traditional carriage house doors are not more popular is that they require a lot of space for the doors to open out into. If your car is too close it’s going to get hit. If one of the kids is near the garage when the door opens they’re going to get hit. If there is 6” of snow on the ground in front of the garage the door won’t be able to open.
- Tilt-Up Doors - Tilt-ups doors are a variant on the overhead door that have a single panel instead of horizontal sections. Although they are usually a bit more affordable than standard overhead doors the tilt-up door is not such a popular alternative to standard overhead garage door installs for a couple of reasons. First, that money you save on the install? Well, you’re going to spend it on maintenance and replacement. Tilt-up doors tend to be fairly high maintenance because of their design. Lifting a single heavy panel puts more strain on the motor and other parts than lifting a sectional door. Secondly, this type of garage door ages quickly compared to some alternative options. The odds are slim that you’re going to get 20 years out of this type of door as you likely will with a sectional door. And third, they kick out at the bottom as the panel rises. This means the area in front of the door needs to always be clear of potential obstructions, pets and people. Before deciding whether or not to install either side-hinged carriage house doors or a tilt-up door make sure you have the space.
- Rollup Garage Doors - Rollup garage doors are probably the least popular alternative to standard sectional overhead doors and the reasons are not necessarily clear. Certainly, if you have limited vertical space inside the garage a rollup may be just the thing. And just as certainly the technology is well proven and rollup doors are pretty affordable. So what gives? Most people in the industry tend to think rollup doors are shunned for aesthetic reasons. That is to say, most people think they’re ugly. Whether or not this is the reason for rollup doors being relegated to warehouses down by the docks is anyone’s guess. Although it is pretty hard to imagine a rollup door on one of those nice, new homes in Reunion development in the Commerce City area.
So, What’s the Verdict? Overhead or Alternative?3
While carriage house, sliding and tilt-up garage doors all have their fans it’s hard to argue with the affordability, convenience, durability and reliability of today’s sectional overhead doors. And given the fact that they’re now available in virtually any material including all-glass, fiberglass and everything in between it’s easy to see why they remain the homeowner’s favorite; broken garage door springs or not.