Before overhead garage doors exploded in popularity, out swing garage doors were the standard. Few other options were available, and all used specialized hardware, unlike the mundane side hinges that swinging doors relied on to operate. In Atlanta, many classic homes have detached garages that use swing out garage doors. Or at least they once did. Although there are plenty of these vintage doors left, over the years, many were replaced by sectional garage doors.
But a few of them got an update!
How an out swing garage door differs from regular garage doors
Most garage doors consist of 4 sections spanning the width of the door. Inside the garage, sections of tracks installed on each side of the garage opening extend vertically from the floor to the door's header, then curve horizontally about 9' along the ceiling, where they are secured with angle bracing.
The garage door travels up or down on rollers that ride along the door's tracks so that when the door is open, it's held overhead, parallel to the ceiling. In addition to the sections and tracks, these doors also need spring systems because they are so heavy.
Out swing garage doors consist of 2 door panels that swing outward from the center of the opening. The door panels swing on hinges mounted to the door jambs on the sides of the opening.
One side of the swing out door is the active panel. This active panel is the side that opens first, and if the door calls for it, it's also the side with the locking hardware. The opposite door panel is the passive panel. This side stays stationary until the active side starts to open or until the drop pins holding it in place are released.
What to expect when looking for swinging garage doors
Swinging garage doors are a great option if you have finished space inside the garage and don't want the standard garage door tracks and opener mounted to the ceiling.
Outswing doors don't use much header space above the garage door's opening, so if you're limited on head room these can be an appealing option. Garage doors that swing out are also better sealed than sectional garage doors since they don't have joints between sections, and they can use traditional weather seals around all the edges.
Because a swinging door's operation is so different from the normal garage door setup, most garage door products are incompatible. For example, a typical garage door opener won't work because they're designed to attach to the center of a sectional garage door. You'll likely run into these types of issues at some point. Fortunately, a few types of openers will work on outswing garage doors. You'll want to consider if you need the door to open automatically or if you'll operate it by hand.
New outswing garage doors are made from traditional wood or modern composite materials. All of them are custom made. That's both good and bad news, good because you can pick the design and materials you like, but not so good because of the wait. Unlike installing a garage door hot off the manufacturer's press, you'll need patience while waiting for materials and production. Lead times vary but plan for a few weeks to several months before the installation. As the old saying goes, good things come to those who wait.
How we build swinging garage doors
We build our swinging garage doors to specifications. One of the biggest challenges for garage doors that swing out is sagging. Our doors use an inner frame made with traditional lap joinery, producing a rigid internal core that prevents warping or sagging.
Our custom built swing garage doors use the same type of layered construction that many garage door manufacturers use to produce models like Amarr's By Design and Clopay's Reserve. One or two layers cover the door slab's exterior. The underlayer often consists of v-groove or bead board. Finally, an outer trim layer adds details like crossbucks or board and bat style paneling.
One of the best parts of going with a custom door is the wide range of materials you can use. Many of our custom wood doors use cypress or cedar. While our custom doors are not limited to these types of wood, we find these species hold up well in Georgia's climate. Everyone can appreciate the beauty of natural stained wood, but the maintenance involved in keeping wood garage doors looking good is less than desirable for some. Composite materials like Extira offer an excellent alternative to wood. These materials can be painted to suit your needs and won't rot or suffer from insect damage like wood.
Measuring for a quote
To get a preliminary quote, you can measure the garage opening. This will guide you in finding the options available for your specific situation. It can be confusing trying to decide the right place to measure. A good starting point is to measure the opening from inside edge to inside edge of the jambs for the width and from the floor up to the header. Once you have some rough measurements, it's best to speak with an expert to discuss what features are must-haves for you and get started on an estimate.
Pro Tip: You can create a life-sized template of your garage opening by stretching house wrap, roofing felt, or similar non-stretchy material across the opening and tracing the outline. A precise tracing of the opening is especially helpful for arched tops or other architectural details that are more challenging to measure accurately.
At a minimum, quotes should provide details and pricing for:
- The door
- Out swing door opener(s) and remotes or keyless entry
- Labor for installation
- Locksets or other functional hardware like drop pins
- Decorative hardware like strap hinges for the door's exterior
- Finishing the door (paint, stain, etc.)
Quotes or proposals should also clearly state the specifics about who will measure for the door, when any deposits are expected, shipping costs, and a projected timeline.
Other issues you may encounter that you may want to budget for:
- You may need to prepare the opening, jambs, and/or casing for a side-hinged door.
- If any portion of the floor is sloped or un-level, the door may need a larger sweep, seal, or may need to be specially made to accommodate the garage floor.
The search for the perfect door
These traditional doors haven't gone away, but try finding one, and you'll see there aren't many off-the-shelf options out there. Many garage door companies don't sell them, and most don't have experience with swinging garage doors. Shopping for a new garage door is easy – finding garage doors that swing open, not so much. Get in touch today to learn more about how we can help complete the process from start to finish.