I used to think that replacing my garage door was simple. You just buy the same one that you bought before, right?
That usually works but if you have an older home, they may not even make that kind of garage door any more.
Even if it is, it might not be the best option for your home now.
In this article, I’m going to show you something totally different than the standard garage doors you’ll find at Home Depot or Lowe’s: a roll-up garage door, just like you see in garages, but designed for your home.
Sectional vs. Roll-up Garage Doors: Which is Better?
I used to think that sectional garage doors was the only type of garage door you could buy for your home. Except for the retro-style, one-piece wooden doors on homes from the 1960s, it was all I ever saw in my neighborhood.
It wasn’t until much later that I found out that they made industrial, roll-up garage doors for residential homes.
Here, I’ll tell you about the pros and cons of each type of door so you can decide which is better for your own home.
Sectional Garage Doors
You’re probably already familiar with sectional garage door. They’re made from large panels that join together to form a solid barrier when closed.
They have vertical tracks that run along the side of the door opening and long, horizontal tracks on the garage ceiling. When you open and close the door, sections of the garage door slide along the track to move it up and down.
When they’re open, sectional garage doors take up a lot of space at the top of your garage. That means you can’t use that area for overhead garage storage. It also blocks any ceiling lights above it when it’s open.
Since it’s exposed to the elements, including dust inside your garage, you have to lubricate and maintain a sectional garage door regularly. On the plus side, insulating a sectional garage door is pretty easy.
If the worst happens and your kids run their bikes or throw a baseball into a panel, you can just replace the panel. That’s a lot cheaper than replacing the entire door.
You can buy sectional doors with glass or acrylic windows, to let light into your garage. Finally, the biggest advantage to many people is that sectional garage doors come in a wide variety of colors and designs that can match the exterior of your home.
Roll-Up Garage Doors
Roll-up doors are also called rolling or roller doors. You’ve probably seen them on industrial and commercial buildings, but they’re becoming popular for residential homes as well.
They’re typically made from corrugated, galvanized or stainless steel sheets, but can sometimes be made from aluminum.
When you open a roll-up door, it winds itself into a compact roll at the of the garage door opening. Because of this, roll-up doors are a lot more compact than sectional garage doors.
Best of all, they don’t need tracks across the ceiling which leaves you more space for storage and doesn’t block any garage lighting that you may have. They’re also lightweight and easier to install.
Because they’re usually made from steel, they’re secure, durable, and can withstand harsh weather conditions.
They have a simple design that reduces the potential for mechanical or electrical problems. Even if a roll-up garage door costs the same to purchase as a conventional sectional door, it usually ends up costing you less in the long run due to lower maintenance.
One of the disadvantages of roll-up doors is that they only come in a few different colors and styles. It’s harder to match them to your home’s exterior paint, because they can’t take the sheer volume of designs that sectionals.
Finally, if part of the door gets dented or damaged, you’d have to replace all of the door. You can’t do a partial replacement.
What Sizes do Roll-up Garage Doors Come in?
While sectional garage doors usually come in only a few standard sizes, roll-up garage doors can come in a wide array of sizes.
Sectional garage door sizes vary slightly depending on where you live. In general, a door for a single car measures 8’ or 9’ wide by 7 feet tall. If you’re looking at a double garage door, they measure 16’ wide by 7’ high.
If you want something larger, you could go with a custom build, but that will increase the cost quite quickly. Custom doors normally max-out at 16′ wide and as tall as 10’-12’.
However, roll-up garage doors come in a more flexible array of sizes because of the way they’re built.
They usually start at 7’ by 7’, which works for a small storage shed or a motorcycle garage. However, that can reach up to 20’ wide (or wider) by 18’ high, which is enough for industrial or commercial buildings that house heavy equipment or construction vehicles.
With such a wide size range, it’s easy to customize roll-up doors to fit any residential garage door opening.
Are Roll-up Garage Doors Insulated?
Here in Florida, my garage was unbearable in the summer, until I added a garage door insulation kit. A lot of you have told me you have the same problem, only in the winter.
If you use your garage for a workshop or home gym, you just don’t feel like doing anything when it’s that uncomfortable.
Fortunately, you can get insulated roll-up garage doors. Double-skinned roll-up doors can have a foam insulation insert that goes between the skins.
This can lower energy costs by keeping inside air from leaking out and outside air from coming in. As an added bonus, the insulation muffles sound, making them quieter overall.
To determine how effective a roll-up door is, look for a high R-Value.
How Much Clearance is Needed for a Roll-up Garage Door?
In general, you want to allow at least 15 1/2” of headroom (room above your garage door). This allows for enough room when the door is fully rolled up and open. However, the big benefit of a roll-up garage door is that you don’t need to extend this headroom into the center of the garage.
Sideroom, which is the open space on either side of the garage door, can be as little as 4″ for manually operated doors. If you are installing a jackshaft garage door opener,like the LiftMaster 8500, you’ll need a little extra sideroom to accommodate it.
By contrast, sectional garage doors need at least 18″ of headroom for the track, springs, and any other equipment. That headroom needs to extend to the center of your garage to accommodate the door when it’s open. High-lift garage doors can reduce the headroom to around 5″.
Sideroom is slightly wider, requiring around 5″ on either side of the door.
As always, check with the manufacturer of the garage door you’re looking at. Some may have clearances that differ by size and type of door.
Do You Need a Special Garage Door Opener for a Roll-up Door?
Roll-up garage doors won’t work with chain or belt-drive garage door openers, unfortunately. Most will use a custom motorized opener, specific to the manufacturer. Some can use an off-the-shelf jackshaft garage door opener, like the LiftMaster 8500 series.
However, all of the ones I looked at also have a crank that lets you open the door manually.