Residential garage doors: North America versus Europe

The vast majority—if not to say practically all—of the residential garage doors used in North America are the sectional type. The height of the panels varies from 18 to 24 inches (46–61 cm). The garage doors are also frequently equipped with an automatic garage door opener. In Europe, it’s a bit different. Besides sectional doors–which aren’t the most commonly used, by the way–you’ll also find single-panel up-and-over doors, rolling doors, and side-sliding sectional doors.

You should also be aware that the metric system is used to calculate garage door sizes everywhere in Europe except in the United Kingdom. So a single garage door measures 2.4 x 2.1 meters (W x H), which is equivalent to an 8 x 7-foot door in North America. In Great Britain, the standard for a single door is 7 x 7 feet.

Up-and-over garage doors

Some of you will recall that this type of door was very common in Canada and the US during the fifties and sixties. These doors are made in a single piece, secured by a sturdy steel frame. As they open, the swing arc may extend slightly outside the garage or remain completely inside. The lift mechanism, which employs extension springs, is located on each side of the door.

If you’re familiar with residential construction in Europe, you know that concrete is widely used, as compared to wood in North America. That’s why this type of garage door is so popular, as it can be installed very quickly. It’s a simple matter of attaching four bolts to the concrete doorframe, doing a little refinishing and you’re done! However, to transport the full system, it’s necessary to have a truck equipped with a cherry picker.

While it seems rather simple, one of the reasons this type of door system has virtually disappeared in North America has to do with its impracticality during the winter. Since the garage door swings partially outward, the snow must be cleared away from in front of it before it can be opened, making the process rather unpleasant. On the other hand, in the case of a door that swings completely inside the garage, more space must be left between the vehicle and the door.

Rolling garage doors

While we do see this type of door in North America, it’s generally used in commercial, rather than residential buildings. These doors are made of strips of aluminum, PVC or sometimes steel and they roll up above the garage door header. The strips can be of varying height, but are generally around 10 cm (4 inches).

In addition to requiring more clearance above the garage door in order to roll up, the choice of designs also limits the use of these doors. Unless a fresco worthy of Rembrandt is painted on them, the available styles are rather simple in comparison with sectional doors, which can be forged in a variety of designs.

Side-sliding sectional doors

As the name implies, this type of garage door opens laterally on one side of the garage. The door functions by sliding along one rail installed on the side wall and another attached to the floor. The door can be easily motorized.

Besides the purchase price, the practical considerations are also less attractive to those who live in places where there’s snow on the ground during several months of the year. In order to prevent the floor rail from icing up, a heating cable must be installed, which nudges the price upward.

The last word…

In this blog entry, we wanted to show you that there are other types of residential garage doors besides sectional doors. But we haven’t really addressed the cost of the product yet. Because of safety regulations related to garage door operation, the guarantee offered to homeowners, and slightly higher labor costs, let’s just say that a single sectional garage door generally costs about twice as much in Europe as it does in North America.

For your part, if your garage door needs to be upgraded or is due to be replaced, don’t hesitate to contact the garage door professionals in your area. If necessary, they can send you a detailed estimate via email. They would be happy to come to your home and tell you about the full range of garage doors available on the market. And they can give you advice on which one’s the best choice for you. If you’re planning on replacing your garage door and would like to get a preview, you can use a Design Centre like the one provided by Garaga or you can take a look at their image gallery.