What are the Differences Between Commercial Overhead and Fire Doors?

If you are trying to choose what type of commercial garage door to buy for your business, odds are you are at least looking into both overhead garage doors and commercial fire garage doors. These are two of the most common types of commercial garage doors you can buy and in some ways are very similar to each other. However, they do have important differences that you should know about before you decide whether an overhead or a fire door is better for your business. We wrote this quick guide to help you make that decision.

commercial garage doors

Overhead Garage Doors

In general, commercial overhead garage doors have that name because that’s how they operate. Rather than sliding it horizontally or pushing and pulling it to open or close the door, it opens vertically until it is completely above you when open. It runs on a track or rails so it can be opened smoothly and easily either by hand or by some type of motorized opener. They can be made by various types of material in general, but for commercial use they tend to stick to aluminum or other metal, fiberglass, or a combination of the two. This is because businesses need their doors to be durable so the business doesn’t need their commercial overhead door to be repaired as often.

Rather than being made of one solid piece, they tend to be sectioned and hinged together so as the door runs along the tracks and starts shifting from vertical to horizontal, the door never juts outward and can be opened and closed entirely vertical. It saves on space and tend to be much easier to open, both on the person opening it by hand and on the motor that does the job. Typically and for the same reason overhead doors tend to be simpler, thinner and lighter to maximize the ease of opening and closing them.

Fire Garage Doors

In many ways fire, or fire-rated garage doors are similar to commercial overhead doors. In function, they work the exact same: they open vertically, they are made of strong and durable material, and can be made to lift by hand or by motorized equipment. That’s where the similarities end, however. Fire doors are made to be much thicker and made from stronger and even more durable stainless steel, which has some benefits:

  • Insulation — they are made thicker and usually with insulation where overhead doors tend to be thinner and less insulated
  • Noise resistant — the thickness and insulation is also great at blocking out noise
  • Fire resistant — the thickness, insulation, strong material and automatic closing feature when fires are detected is what led to fire garage doors getting their name

Because of the durability, insulation and safety features fire doors are very popular among warehouses, garages, restaurants and grocery stores, and other types of businesses that frequently use their doors and make use of the insulation to save on energy costs. However, they can be very flexible with their size and shape and are also often used for smaller, abnormally shaped doors for businesses such as food vendors and receiving bays at smaller businesses.


About Neb Aleksic

Neb grew up in the garage door business. Since joining Doorcare he has moved up in the ranks, and now oversees a team, in addition to Doorcare's marketing efforts. He is passionate about what he does, and enjoys the small things in life.
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