February 29, 2016 Garage Doors

Garage Door’s History

The history of the garage door may date back as far as 450 BC when chariots were stored in gatehouses, but in the U.S., garage doors arose around the start of the 20th century, when cars started working their way into society. With the new need for a place to store them, a “new type of outbuilding” (the place where you keep your horse and buggy) arose: the garage. Since a carriage house was a building that housed everything to do with transportation, cars were kept next to the horses. People who had cars were usually of higher class, and didn’t like that their cars smelled of horse manure.

The first garages were one level parking lots, then large garages were build. For a small fee, one would get a parking space in a heated garage that was maintained and cleaned by the garage owner. With a growing amount of cars (circa 1910), people started to look for a more convenient place to park and keep their vehicles closer to their homes. At that time the garage as we know it today, was invented. The first garage door was a double door, attached to the garage with strap hinges that opened outwards, just like a barn door. Then sliding tracks for garage doors were invented moving the door sideways, across the front of the garage, doubling the width of the door. Then the garage door was divided into sections and hinged together at intervals, allowing it to fold around a corner.  As early as 1902, American manufacturers—including Cornell Iron Works—published catalogs featuring a “float over door.” Evidence of an upward-lifting garage door can be found in a catalog in 1906. Because of the decreasing amount of available space, architects decided to incorporate garages right into the design of the house, giving them the same style and color as the rest of the house.

in 1993, due to security issues and an increasing amount of accidents with automatic garage doors, a law was passed that required all garage doors to be equipped with photoelectric sensors and pressure-sensitive sensors.

Single panel doors are constructed from one monolithic panel. From the closed position a single panel door swings up and overhead with a hinge on each side (known as jamb type hardware) to the fully open position. A disadvantage of monolithic panel doors is that the swing up arc of the door occurs partially outside the garage. This means a vehicle must stop and park several feet in front of the door to avoid being hit by the garage door when it is opened.

Sectional doors are usually constructed of three to eight panels and slide up and overhead. Sectional doors occupy exactly the same amount of internal garage space as a monolithic door. Sectional doors have two advantages over single panel monolithic doors: 1. they do not require any space outside the garage to open. A vehicle may park very close to the garage before opening the door. 2. Each panel of a sectional door has its own connection to the door track. This increases reliability and robustness compared to monolithic doors, which have only a few track connections for the whole panel.

Roller doors are usually constructed of corrugated steel. A typical single car garage roller door has a preloaded spring inside the rolling mechanism. Roller doors cannot be effectively insulated.

Garage door materials progressed with technology

Wood Doors. These doors offer aesthetic appeal, but they are high-maintenance(scraping and re-painting) and expensive. Wood was subject to the weather, warped by the heat of the sun, and rotted by the rain.

Steel Doors. Galvanized steel garage doors were the next innovation. Available in a variety of sizes and styles, they provide strength and security, are cost-competitive, and may have optional insulating value. Extra strength is available with two or three layers of galvanized steel with a low gauge number (23-24 gauge steel panels).

Fiberglass, Composites and Vinyl Door. These doors can match steel garage doors, but be a realistic imitation of wood, but they are more expensive than steel units.

Aluminum. Low-cost, light, rust-proof, and feature low-maintenance, but prone to denting and energy-inefficient, since aluminum is a highly conductive material.

References: Wikipedia. Photo: Drive way, Paulina, Louisiana, 1938.