What is a High Lift Garage Door? (Cost and Conversion Kits)

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I want as much stuff off the floor of my garage as possible. Unfortunately, that means my stuff has only one place to go: Up.

The problem is that my garage door rails are in the way.

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Image: cloplaydoor.com

So I started researching a way to get some more headroom. That’s when I found out about high-lift garage door kits.

A high-lift garage door conversion costs around $350 for parts + labor. It extends your garage door’s track so that the door hugs the wall and goes up higher before the horizontal curve. It makes better use of the vertical space in your garage and gives you at least 12″-15″ more headroom by moving the garage door track closer to the ceiling.

There’s more to it than splicing in an extra piece of track to your existing setup.

I mean…that would be too easy, right? So let’s talk about what you need to know.


What is Included in a High Lift Garage Door Kit?

A high lift garage door changes how your garage door travels along the track. If you think about it, you’re making the door travel up farther before it travels back.

That puts a different kind of stress on the components, which means a few parts need to change.

The garage track: Each installation will be different, depending on your garage. In my case, I’ve got 10-foot ceilings in my garage, but my garage door track is right around 7 1/2 feet high. I hope to get another 24″ in headroom by installing the high-lift kit.

That means I will need an additional two feet of track more than I have now.

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image credit: garagedoorswichita.com

Looking at the pictures, you’ll notice that part of that will be a straight track, usually angled slightly away from the wall.

The less straight-up-and-down the track is, the less strain it puts on the garage door opener and the torsion spring.

As a general rule, adding more than 12-15 inches of additional vertical track will require a new garage door opener.

Torsion spring: Unless your builder seriously overestimated the weight of your garage door, the torsion spring has to be swapped out for a heavier-duty spring.

The torsion spring is what does the heavy lifting (pun intended). It has to be balanced correctly so that your garage door opens smoothly.

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Torsion spring image: overheaddooromaha.com

Drums: The drums are the part of the garage door where the cable winds around as the door opens and closes.

Without getting too technical (physics was one of my worst subjects), the door spends more travel time moving up and down instead of forward and back.

Thus, the cable needs to wind around the drum differently to keep a consistent tension on the wire. This means they need to be replaced as well.

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Miscellaneous parts: As part of the process, you’ll also get new cables, spring bars, and bear plates. These are just general pieces to replace your old hardware.


Why Do You Need a High-Lift Garage Door?

There are a couple of obvious use cases for a high-lift garage door.

If you want to put a car lift in your garage, you’ll need as much clearance as possible.

Most garages have 10′ ceilings, usually enough to accommodate two cars stacked vertically.

Obviously, you can’t do this with an SUV or pickup truck. However, you can park a sports car and most sedans together like this.

I’m not planning on getting a lift, but I don’t want my garage door blocking my valuable ceiling space. I want to get as much stuff off the floor as possible.

The more ceiling space I have in my garage, the more overhead storage I can use.

Even if you don’t want a lift or more overhead storage, you may want additional headroom for a garage gym or extra lounge space for your man cave.

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image credit: planooverhead.com

What Does a High Lift Garage Door Conversion Cost?

If you’re the DIY type, you might be tempted to cheap out here, buy an extra piece of track, and splice it in yourself.

Don’t.

It will cost a bit more to do it right, but it’ll be worth it in the end.

An extra piece of track will cost you maybe $20 in total. A garage door high lift kit should cost between $300 and $500 for the parts and an additional $300-$400 for the labor to install it.

Seems like a no-brainer, right? Install the track and call it a day?

Remember earlier when I talked about how a high-lift garage door works differently than a standard garage door?

If you cheap out when installing it, it’s only a matter of time before something goes wrong. I recommend getting your high-lift garage door kit installed from Lowe’s, Home Depot, or another professional service.


Do You Need a New Garage Door or Door Opener?

Good news\bad news.

The good news is that any garage door can be converted into a high-lift garage door.

You’re changing the track and some mechanics and not the door itself. Some doors will be easier to convert than others, of course.

Usually, the lighter the door, the better, so aluminum, fiberglass, and steel doors will be fine. If you’ve got an all-wood carriage door that weighs several hundred pounds, that could cause some problems.

The bad news is that you’ll probably need a new garage door opener.

At the very least, you’ll want a new garage door opener.

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Image: klaverweiden.com

the ceiling, most garage door openers have low horsepower motors because they pull the door horizontally more than vertically.

We’re changing that, remember?

Depending on the weight of the door and the opener itself, you can use your existing garage door opener.

In my case, I’m looking for more headroom for overhead storage, and I want to eliminate that center rail entirely.

So I’m looking at a jackshaft garage door opener, which is common in commercial applications.

The great part is that the opener mounts on the wall next to the door itself, completely eliminating the center track.

Specifically, I’m looking at the LiftMaster 8500. It’s quieter than a regular chain-drive system. It has an automatic locking mechanism for extra security and enough horsepower for high-lift and vertical door applications.

The important thing to remember is that if you’re already shopping for a new garage door opener, you should consider a high-lift door at the same time.

That will save money on labor costs.

LiftMaster Elite Series 8500W
  • Wall mount design frees up ceiling space in your garage, reduces noise and vibration.
  • Built-in Wi-Fi® allows for smartphone control with the myQ® app.
  • Battery Backup allows you to open/close your door even when the power is out.
  • Automatic Garage Door Lock deadbolts your door after closing.
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FAQ

Can you make a garage door lift higher?

Yes, you can make a garage door lift higher by converting it to a high-lift garage door. This involves modifying the tracks and using different hardware that allows the door to rise vertically before curving back into the garage. It’s a somewhat complex task that typically requires professional installation.

How to raise a garage door track?

Raising a garage door track involves the following steps: first, remove the bolts securing the track to the bracket. Once the bolts are removed, the track can be shifted upwards to the desired height. Next, connect the track using the bolts previously removed. It’s essential to ensure that both sides are even to allow for the smooth operation of the garage door.

We recommend hiring a professional to install your high lift garage door in order to prevent damage or potential safety issues if you’re unfamiliar with this type of work.

How high should a garage door be for a car lift?

The garage door height for a car lift should ideally be about 12 feet to accommodate both the vehicle lift and the vehicle being lifted. However, this could vary depending on the specific type and size of the lift and vehicle, so it’s recommended to check with the car lift manufacturer for exact requirements. Also, ensure your garage has enough ceiling height to accommodate this setup.

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Tim Wells

Tim Wells, the founder of Garage Transformed, has been featured in dozens of home renovation publications, including BobVila.com, 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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