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

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.

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 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’m hoping to get another 24″ in headroom by installing the high-lift kit.

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

image credit: garagedoorswichita.com

If you look at the pictures, you’ll notice that part of that will be a straight track, and part will usually be 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, if you’re adding more than 12-15 inches of additional vertical track, you will need a new garage door opener.

Torsion spring: Unless your builder seriously over-estimated 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.

Torsion spring image: overheaddooromaha.com

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

Without getting too technical (physics was one of my worst subjects), the door is spending more of its 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.

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’ll be able to 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 mancave.

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 and just buy an extra piece of track and splice it in yourself.

Don’t.

It’s going to 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 total. A high lift garage door 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? Just install the track and call it a day?

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

If you cheap out when installing it, it’s only a matter of time before something goes wrong.


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.

Image: klaverweiden.com

Because garage door openers have a track running down the center of 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 may be able to use your existing garage door opener.

In my case, I’m looking for more headroom for overhead storage, and I want to get rid of 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 Elite. It’s quieter than a regular chain-drive system, has an automatic locking mechanism for extra security, and has enough horsepower for high-lift and vertical door applications.

It will be mine….oh yes. It will be mine.

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
$580.00
  • 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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05/20/2022 12:08 am GMT