Old house, new garage door

John Morell

Older homes typically feature interesting architectural and cultural details, from the choices of wood the owners used on the dining room floor to the glass interior door knobs that have been turned back and forth for a century or more. The garage door, unfortunately, is one period detail old home enthusiasts often overlook, perhaps because it sees so much use in the present day. But you don't have to sacrifice style for a functional, up-to-date garage door.

Garage door styles that fit

Depending on the age and type of the old home you own, the garage and its door might be any one of many different styles. If the home is old enough, the garage might be part of a carriage house where the owners parked their horse and buggy. Homes built in the early years of the automobile era had adequate garages -- for a Model-T. Your modern vehicle might have a hard time squeezing into a garage from yesteryear. How the garage door closes can be crucial to how well it fits.

If your garage door is warped or worn, it may be time for a replacement. There are a wide selection of door styles available to fit your needs and your home's architectural style. Here are five guidelines that can help you decide on a garage door that suits you old home's style and your SUV's size requirements.

  1. Swing-out doors. For the really old garage (or a garage with a really old look), swing-out doors may be the first choice. You could have them built to match the old doors or made to create a slight contrast to your exterior. They can be painted or stained and connected to one or two openers depending on their size.
  2. Single-panel overhead door. This style was prevalent in many homes built from the 1940s through the '60s. If your home still has one, it likely needs a replacement, unless there's something architecturally relevant about the door. These old heavy wood doors can rot and become termite-infested. In addition, if they're not maintained, they can sag dangerously close to the roof of a tall car or truck. However, they are still sold and if you need one, an installer can hang one for you.
  3. Sectional door. These garage doors, which are made of horizontal panels that slide up and overhead, are becoming the most common type. The advantage of sectionals is that they can be created with a variety of materials, including wood. Small windows can be placed in the top section of the door to allow in some daylight. They can be designed to give your home a unique, old-fashioned look while offering the convenience and security of a modern garage door system.

Sectional doors are most commonly made of steel, which can be given a wood-grain look and can be painted to match your house color. If you select steel, remember that the thickest steel gauge you can afford is better able to resist dents. If your garage is attached to the house and you're in a cold weather zone, consider a door that's insulated. While it probably won't make the garage toasty-warm in January, it can keep water lines from freezing during a cold snap.

Most people only think about their garage door when it fails to open or close, but it pays to take a little time and make a well-considered decision.

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