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.

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How To Maintain Wood Garage Doors

Having a wooden garage door for your home is a great way to increase its curb appeal, thanks to the beautiful aesthetics. If you are thinking of getting a new garage door made of wood, you might be wondering how easy it is to maintain it as opposed to garages made from other materials. The truth is, wooden garage doors can be very durable if you give it regular, proper maintenance so you can enjoy it for a long time.

wooden garage doors
Regular Inspection & Repair

With metal garage doors, you usually have to worry about dents. Wood garage doors, however, do not dent. They crack and rot if they are not cared for. We would advise that every few months you make a close inspection of the garage door — front and back — to see if you can find any cracks, holes, gaps, chipped paint or stain, and general wear and tear.

Any of these can allow water to seep into the wood, which is what can cause the more serious problems that you wouldn’t be able to notice right away. If there are larger, more serious instances of damage you might want to contact professionals to repair it, but if there is just slight damage you can fix it yourself through…

Cleaning & Sanding

You can give your wooden garage door semi-regular cleaning to clear it of any built up debris and dust and dirt. We advise that you use a brush that has stiff bristles made from non-wire material. Less regularly, you can give it a fine sanding with the grain, not against it, to smooth out any bumps or creases caused by wear and tear.

What cleaning does is help prevent any of the build up from getting into cracks or holes in the wood, making them bigger and causing damage within the wood. How often you do it depends on where you live and how quickly any build up occurs, but in general it’s a good idea to give it a quick look every couple of months to see if it needs a cleaning. It doesn’t have to be the same as a thorough inspection mentioned above.

Reapplying Paint & Stain Finish

After you have inspected and cleaned your wooden garage door, you can reapply the finish to seal the wood and prevent any water and other debris from getting into the wood and damaging it, which can require more serious repairs. Finishes can be done with things like:

  • Paint (oil or film)
  • Stain
  • Varnish

Varnish and film-based paint only really offer surface protection, and they are more likely to crack and flake due to the movement of the door opening and closing, so it will require more frequent touch ups. Stains and oil-based paints actually penetrate the wood itself to offer deeper layers of protection. Again, make sure you apply the finish to both the outside and inside surfaces. We would advise that you do a thorough cleaning and re-application of your finish at least once a year to get the most mileage out of your wooden garage door.

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What Is The Best Type of Rollers For My Garage Door?

If you’re picking out a new garage door, the most common type of opening system is to have an overhead door with rollers to make it easy to lift and close. You might not know that there are different types of rollers that you can use, and depending on what you want for the rest of your garage door’s design some types might be better than others. Here’s a quick guide to help you choose the right type of rollers for your garage door.

garage door rollers

Plastic Rollers

With plastic rollers, the wheels attached to the roller stem are solid and do not use ball bearings. They are best used for smaller and lighter garage doors. Here is a quick breakdown of the pros and cons of plastic rollers:

  • Pros — they are the most affordable and more quiet than steel rollers
  • Cons — plastic rollers have the shortest lifespan of any type of garage door roller

Plastic wheels in garage doors that use a steel track tend to wear down very quickly, to the point that the wheel is small enough to pop out of the track. The heavier the garage door, the faster the plastic wheels get worn down. We would only recommend plastic rollers if you are on a budget or if you don’t plan on actually opening and closing your garage door very often. Using them means you’ll need to replace or repair your garage door more often.

Steel Rollers Without Ball Bearings

There are two kinds of steel rollers, the first use wheels like plastic rollers do not use any ball bearings. They can be used for heavier garage doors than plastic rollers. Here are the benefits and drawbacks for these types of rollers:

  • Pros: more durable than plastic and still more affordable than the other two kinds of rollers
  • Cons: they are still not the most durable type of roller and steel is much louder than plastic or nylon

Where plastic rollers get worn down to small nubs, steel rollers without ball have the steel wheels break on the roller stem – either breaking completely off or being bent at an angle. This type of roller are for people with a heavier garage door, or a garage door they think will get more frequent use, but are on a bit of a budget.

Steel Rollers With Ball Bearings

Steel rollers with ball bearings are made the same way as steel rollers without them, but within the wheel itself are ball bearings that need lubrication. For quality purposes, the general rule for garage door rollers that have ball bearings is that more ball bearings is better. Here’s are the pros and cons of steel rollers with ball bearings:

  • Pros — very durable, much better quality, can take on a heavier load
  • Cons — more expensive, probably the loudest type of garage door rollers

If you don’t have as much of a concern about budget, steel rollers with ball bearings are probably the second best type you can choose. They can work for a long time even with heavier garage doors, with the biggest drawback being how loud they can get especially if your door also uses steel tracks.

Nylon Rollers

All nylon rollers come with ball bearings, and they are arguably the best all-round type of garage door rollers to use. Just like with steel rollers that use ball bearings, nylon rollers that come with more ball bearings tend to be better than those with fewer. Here’s the quick rundown of their benefits vs their drawbacks:

  • Pros — very durable, keeps out dirt and other debris from the ball bearings, not the most expensive, and more quiet than steel rollers
  • Cons — maybe not as durable as steel and need more regular maintenance than rollers without ball bearings

As you can see, there are no major weaknesses and that’s why they’re usually considered the best. Nylon rollers tend to be the best selling type of garage door rollers to use precisely because they have the best balance of quality and cost. They’re used for residential and commercial garage doors, for smaller and lighter or bigger and heavier.

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Should I Add Windows To My Garage Door?

If you want to improve your current garage door or are thinking of a design for a new garage door, you might be considering whether or not to add glass windows. Windows on a garage door do have their benefits and drawbacks, so it is important to consider every aspect before you decide if they make sense for what you want. Here’s our quick guide to help you answer whether or not to add windows to your garage door.

garage doors

Benefits: Natural Light, Appearance, Cohesiveness

The benefits to having windows in your garage door mostly have to do with style and appearance that are beneficial to you personally and to the curb value of your home. Here are some specific benefits:

  • Natural light — having sunlight come into a closed garage door is more pleasing to your eye if you work inside, especially in colder months when you can’t just open it to get let natural light in
  • Appearance — having some windows break up an otherwise solid wood or metal garage door can make it look much more appealing
  • House design — from a personal and curb appeal perspective you can match the design of your garage door windows with the design of the rest of your home
  • Customization — You can pick whatever shape, size, design, color and type of glass to get the appearance and function you want

So if you really want your garage door to look a certain way to be more appealing, and to help boost its curb appeal, adding windows is a great way to accomplish that. However, you should consider some the practical drawbacks that adding windows to your garage door could create.

Drawbacks: Fragility, Privacy, Insulation

When it comes to potential problems that can arise from having windows added to your garage door, there are some that you should consider. Here are the most common issues:

  • Fragility — glass is more fragile than wood or metal or any other material you would use for a garage door and custom shaped and sized windows can be difficult to replace
  • Privacy — anyone can look through the windows with various levels of ease depending on their size, location, color and type of glass
  • Insulation — adding glass windows will reduce the effective insulation of your garage door which could affect your energy bill depending on how your garage is constructed relative to your house

Some of these issues can be mitigated either by circumstances such as your location and the layout of your house and garage, but they should be considered before you commit to adding windows to your garage door.

Conclusion: It Depends!

Whether or not you decide to add windows to your garage door really depends on balancing how much you care about the appearance of your garage door and how much of a problem the potential drawbacks will be. If you don’t care at all about how your garage door looks, or if it has natural or artificial light, then there isn’t any strong reason to have them added in the first place as there is no real practical benefit to having them.

For the drawbacks, they can be mitigated by either your circumstance or the specific design of the windows. For example, smaller sized windows are less likely to break and won’t affect the insulation as much. If your garage door is detached from your house and does not have any air conditioning or heating, you don’t need to care about the insulation at all.

You can also mitigate any privacy issues by placing the windows higher up on the door, or making them smaller, or picking a type of glass that is tinted, coloured or frosted. If your house is more private, with a long driveway that is shielded by fence, brush or trees, or even a gate then you also wouldn’t need to care about windows affecting privacy.

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Garage Door Repair or Adjustment: Which One Does Your Door Need?

If you have a problem with your garage door, you might be wondering if it is a simple problem that can be solved by an adjustment or something more serious that requires a complicated repair job. Sometimes it will depend on the type of garage door or opening system you have, and might also be specific to the components. We wrote this quick guide to help you determine that based on the more common garage door problems you might face.

My Garage Door Is Unbalanced

This is a problem for garage doors that use a motor to open and close vertically. Disengage the motor to determine if your garage door is properly balanced or not. When you leave the door half-open and it either opens or closes by itself, your door is unbalanced. There could be a couple of reasons for why and both are related to types of springs your opening system might use:

  • Torsion springs — can be fixed by an adjustment but doing so is extremely dangerous and should be done by professionals
  • Extension springs — they stretch along the tracks can be carefully adjusted by home owners but can be difficult to adjust properly

If you notice that your door is unbalanced you should have it re-adjusted quickly, as the strain on your door and the opening system shortens its lifespan. If you wait too long, you’re just paying more money for repairs or replacements in the future.

Garage Door Track Problems

There are a number of problems that the tracks for your garage door can have that will make it difficult or impossible for your garage door to open. Some of them can be resolved by adjusting the tracks. Replacing the components holding them together will require a more thorough repair job. Here are a few of the common issues:

  • Misaligned tracks — if it’s just difficult to open and close the door, you can try re-adjusting the track and mounting, if it’s more severe it will likely need repair
  • Debris build up — small objects, dust, dirt, and other debris can build up in the track and can be fixed yourself with some cleaning and re-adjustments
  • Bent tracks — if the tracks themselves are physically bent you will need to have them repaired or replaced professionally to make sure they’re straight enough to operate properly

You can test out if there are any of the above issues with your tracks by disengaging the door from the motor and trying to manually open and close it. If there is any resistance, or a screeching noise, when you do—that’s likely a problem you need to have addressed.

My Garage Door Won’t Fully Close

If you have a problem with your door not being able to fully close, it could be a few types of problems depending on the type of door you have. Here are some of the more common issues:

  • Limit switch — your automatic opener might need to be adjusted if it is preventing the door from fully closing
  • Door binding — if something is physically stopping the door from closing all the way it could be a serious issue with your track, rollers, or opening motor that will need complete repair or replacement
  • Safety sensor — you might need to adjust your safety sensor to make sure it is aligned properly and that it is clear from debris or other blockages

Keep a close eye and ear on your door when it gets to the point where it stops closing. You might see or hear what causes it to stop, get stuck, or start closing back up. If you can’t figure out the issue, call a professional to help diagnose and fix the it.

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Smart Garages: 3 New Technologies That Can Make Your Garages Better

When you think of updating or improving your garages, garage doors, or opening system, you might not consider the new advances in technology that are available. Computers, phones, and the internet have all reached a point where we can integrate them into almost every part of our daily lives. When it comes to remote, wireless control from your smart phones, this includes garage doors.  

home garage doors

Here’s a quick guide to the three ways that this new technology can improve your doors:

Wireless Garage Openers

Wireless garage door openers have been around for decades already, but with the rise of mobile phone and Smart Home technology the concept has evolved. Now you don’t just have one or two remotes that can only open and close your home’s garage door if you’re close enough to the door. Instead, you have a whole new range of features:

  • Mobile accessibility — open and close your garage door from your phone wherever you are
  • Monitoring — check whether your door is open or closed when you’re not home
  • Guest access — share and control access with individuals to use the app to open the garage door

There are many such devices and apps that you can use that range in price and complexity. If you want something simple and cheap, or more expensive and sophisticated, you have those options. Just make sure you do your research to make sure you know what you’re getting.

Smart Home Systems

In recent years, Smart Home Systems have become more and more popular because they allow you to monitor and control various aspects of your home from your mobile phone wherever you are. Some of these systems will include your garage and garage door, and the more sophisticated systems can include the following features:

  • Integration and compatibility with full-smart home systems such as Amazon Echo and IFTTT software
  • Monitor the conditions of your garage such as temperature and energy helps you see if there are leaks in your garage using up energy
  • Battery system — some can operate even during a power outage and/or allow you to monitor the charge level for the system you have

Any Smart Home System that incorporates garages will usually include the same sort of opening control features as mentioned above, but might not be more simple than the more specialized systems. Considering most opener systems can integrate with Smart Home devices you might prefer going that route.

Security

If the security of your home is a concern of yours, the new technology for garage doors will have something to interest you. No matter what type of garage door design you have, these new wireless, remote and automatic systems give you access to features like the following:

  • Built-in camera system — night vision, able to view camera feed remotely, automatically save footage
  • Automatic security lights — some systems come with automatic lighting sensors to scare away trespassers
  • Encryption — prevents the opening system of your garage door from being broken into

Like garage door openers, these sorts of things have already existed for a while now. The difference is that now you can get these features included or built into the same garage door or Smart Home systems mentioned above.

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