Garage Entry Doors: 11 Things You Need to Know

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A garage entry door is the best and most convenient way to access your garage inside the house.

With it, you no longer have to brave wintry, outside conditions to get into your garage. You also get to utilize your residential space.

Since the garage is part of your home, you should only invest in a high-quality entry door. Although getting a high-quality entry door will probably cost you a lot, it will save you money in the long run.

These doors can resist wear and tear and withstand extreme humidity changes. High-quality garage entry doors are also sturdy, making them durable.

Below are 11 things you need to know about these doors.

What Type of Door Do You Need for Garage Entry? 

Deduce what you want for your front main door. That’s the type of door you should have for a garage entry.

Your garage entry door should be firm, well-built, and with an excellent lock for shutting whenever the garage isn’t in use. For all these qualities, go for a solid core entry door.

Even though wooden doors have that natural look and beauty, solid core doors outdo them with all the benefits they possess. Solid core doors offer more safety and are fire-resistant, durable, heavier because of their engineering, and soundproof.

A suitable solid core entry door should be at least 1¾ inches thick. That way, even with the extreme humidity changes, the door will resist both expansion and contraction.

Even better, solid core doors are more affordable than wooden and steel entry doors. That said, many entry doors use the same materials as the garage door.

What’s the Building Code for a Garage Entry Door?

You must install garage entry doors in accordance with section R302. 5.1 of the International Residential Code (IRC).

There are many reasons why garage entry doors must follow IRC’s guidelines and regulations.

For starters, a garage houses several flammable substances that can raze your home if you don’t take proper care. You’ll see paint, gasoline, degreaser, and several other stuff that you must carefully look after.

The car itself can always leak gasoline, and when igniting the spark, the gas from this gasoline can also ignite, causing a massive fire explosion. Not only that, it’s common for most people to leave their cars still running in the garage. With this, the vehicle emits carbon monoxide, which is quite deadly when you excessively get exposed to it.

That’s why the IRC has laid down some requirements (R302.5.1) that anyone who wants to have an entry door for their garage must follow.

First, your garage entry door shouldn’t open directly to a bedroom or any sleeping space.

Second, the door should be of the following three qualities:

  • Its thickness shouldn’t be less than 1-3/8 inches/ 35mm if it’s solid wood.
  • The thickness shouldn’t be less than 1-3/8 inches/ 35mm for a solid core or steel door with a solid or honeycomb core.
  • Also, the door should have a 20-minute fire rating to qualify as an entry door for the garage.

Finally, you should equip the entry door for the garage with an automatic closing device for safety and protection.

How Do You Install a Garage Entry Door?

Installing an entry door for your garage isn’t a DIY project unless you have the knowledge and experience needed. You have to use many tools, and anything can go wrong if you’re unsure how to handle them.

Even before starting, ensure the entry door you’re installing for the garage meets all the IRC requirements stated above.

Your safety must also come first. That’s why you need safety glasses, boots, overalls, gloves, and other personal protective equipment.

The reason for all these requirements is that installing a garage door involves a lot of drilling using power drills and measuring. You also have to lift the heavy garage door when placing it in its position.

Many big-box stores, like Home Depot or Lowe’s, will install your garage door. That’s because they have the right professionals for the job, but at an extra cost.

Besides, they have the right tools required for the installation job, so you won’t need to spend money buying them. However, if you have the experience, and you’re sure you can do it on your own to save a few bucks, it’s doable.

Among the tools you’ll need for the job includes a hammer, jigsaw, skill saw, screw gun, different studs, electric miter saw, deck screws, finish nails, measuring tape, and pencil. While on it, remember not to leave your power tools unattended to avoid accidents.

Can I Have a Door from a Bedroom to the Garage?

No, you can’t have a door from the bedroom to the garage. Doing this is going against section R302.5.1 of the IRC.

This code doesn’t permit openings from a private garage directly to a bedroom or any space used for sleeping. So if you’re thinking of having a garage in your residential area, it will be best to work with the IRC requirements.

You could be wondering why this is the case. This rule is for your safety. Your vehicle will emit exhaust fumes when you leave it running, which can easily ooze around your bedroom door. The fumes can then quickly get to your bedroom.

Have you stopped to think about the effects of these fumes on your health? Getting exposed to exhaust fume is deadly, especially if you’re asleep.

Another concern is fire outbreaks. Imagine if a fire starts from the garage and spreads directly to your bedroom while you’re sleeping locked inside. It would be hard for you to escape in such an emergency.

For these reasons, it would be better if your garage door leads to any other part of the house apart from your bedroom.

Garage entry door and Gladiator storage

Is Steel or Fiberglass Better for Garage Entry Doors?

If you’re looking for more security, weather resistance, and affordability, steel garage entry doors are better. However, for more style, fiberglass has several options you can choose from.

Below is a detailed comparison of these garage entry doors.

Starting with steel doors, the best part about them is that they’re always available in the market and are much cheaper than fiberglass doors. Steel doors are also energy-efficient, offer more security, and don’t need much maintenance.

On the negative side, steel doors are quick to rust. Any dent on them requires prompt fixing. Otherwise, the damage will quickly spread to other parts.

For fiberglass entry doors, the only thing you must take care of is ensuring you don’t expose them to severe impact so they don’t crack. And when it comes to style, it all depends on your choice because you can paint them the way you want.

The downside is that fiberglass doors aren’t as durable as steel doors.

Can a Garage Entry Door Have Glass?

Yes, an entry door for the garage can have glass, but there is a requirement that you must meet if you want to have one.

From the International Residential Code, for a door to qualify for a garage entry, it must be 20 minutes fire rated. There’s no specification for the entry door’s material, as long as it meets the above requirement.

Before installing glass in your entry door for the garage, the door must first go through a test to determine whether it meets the IRC requirements. Contact an authorized test laboratory near you for testing and certification.

Can a Garage Entry Door Have a Pet Door?

No, a pet door on your entry door is not safe, so you shouldn’t even think about it. A pet door on the entry door for the garage poses a lot of risks to your pet.

Your pet will be pretty comfortable with the door, but will the pet move away when the garage door starts to shut automatically?

Remember, one of the requirements by the IRC for an entry door for the garage is to install a self/automatic closing device on it. That’s where the pet’s safety issue comes in.

Imagine the horror when you engage the garage door without looking, and probably your pet was still using its pet door. Once engaged, although an entry door has several safety measures, the door will likely not stop. Therefore, the unthinkable will happen.

Another safety issue has to do with your pet’s safety in the garage. Most pets are curious and might mess with flammable material while roaming in the garage. The exhaust fumes in the garage might also be a health hazard to your pet.

Do Garage Entry Doors Need to Swing In or Out?

There’s no rule governing how an entry door for your garage should swing. It all goes down to your preferences, whether in or out.

That said, consider your safety when thinking about the direction in which the entry door should swing. For this reason, the garage entry door should swing out of the garage.

Think about it carefully. What would you do in case a fire breaks out while you’re in the garage?

The most logical thing would be to save yourself quickly through this entry door, which acts as an exit. Is it not easier pushing the door outside as you run for your dear life than pulling it inside to open?

This is also where the 20 minutes fire rating and self/automatic close requirement for entry doors save the day. The fire and smoke will be contained inside and prevented from spreading to other sections of the house.

Does a Garage Entry Door Need to Close Automatically?

Yes, garage entry doors need to close automatically as per the International Residential Code requirements. The rule is that you equip the entry door to the garage with an automatic or self-closing device.

Remember, this same code also dictates that the garage door be fire-rated. Fire-rating ensures that fire doesn’t spread to other parts of the house if an explosion happens in the garage.

But can this technique work if the entry door to your garage is open? Not at all. That’s why you must make the entry door close automatically. 

It’s safe to have the door close automatically since you can never be sure with human beings. There are days you’ll remember to close the door behind you and the days you won’t. That’s true with everything that usually goes through the mind of an average human in a day.

How can you make your entry door to the garage close automatically? There are two ways to do it: either use spring hinges or install a door closer to the top of the entry door.

Does a Garage Entry Door Need to Be Fire-Rated?

Yes, garage entry doors need to be fire-rated, as per the IRC.

The primary purpose of this fire rating requirement is to stop any potential fire from spreading to other parts of the house. Doing so minimizes the damage to your property. After containing the fire, you’ll only have the garage to repair and not the entire building.

A fire-rated door also contains smoke and other toxic gasses from the garage in one place. Your well-being and that of your family remain in check, even when a fire breaks out in the garage.

How Much Does a Garage Entry Door Cost?

Depending on the material, an IRC-qualified entry door to the garage costs between 400 and 500 dollars. However, the installation requirements plus labor will increase the cost from 500 dollars to about 1000 dollars.

Overall, you can spend between 900 dollars on the lower end and 1,500 dollars on the upper end. This amount will cover the buying cost and installation cost.

The best way to go about buying a fire-rated entry door for your garage is to do your shopping online. This way, you get to compare the prices before settling for one.

Garage Entry @ The Home Depot
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Tim Wells

Tim Wells, the founder of Garage Transformed, has been featured in dozens of home renovation publications, including, Home Stratosphere, House Digest, Livingetc, and SFGate. Since 2018, he has helped over two million people transform their everyday garages into something they can be proud of. He lives in Central Florida with his wife and bulldog.

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