Purchasing a new garage door can be tough. They can be costly, and we don’t want to make a mistake buying the wrong product. If you are interested in getting a side sliding garage door for your home but still on the fence, this post is for you. I will take you through the pros and cons, as well as the different design and material options available. Let’s get started.
What is a sliding garage door?
Sliding garage door, just as the name depicts, is a type of garage door that moves to the sides of the door by sliding in a rail or tracks. Unlike the overhead sectional garage door, which moves up and down the door, sliding doors move either to the left or right side of your door.
Because this type of door moves sideways, the garage door tracks are installed on the header and floor, rather than on the side frames of the door. The doors are made of sections, just like the conventional overhead sectional garage door. However, these are arranged vertically. One way to look at a sliding garage door is, picture it as a sectional door turned sideways. It slides to the left or right and curves as it heads towards the wall until it’s finally parallel with the wall. Since the panel is made of sections, the frames bend along the rails of the door as it moves sideways. Also, sliding doors come with unique garage door openers that give you the convenience of opening and closing your door automatically.
Various manufacturers make beautiful and sleek looking side sliding garage doors to fit the modern contemporary home designs. Regardless, there are also traditional and vintage looking sliding doors available. We will look at the different options later in this article. Now, let’s look at some reasons why side sliding garage doors might be the best option for you.
Why Choose a Sliding Garage Door?
If you are still on the fence whether to purchase a sliding garage door for your home, these are the reasons why some homeowners prefer this garage door type over the others.
1. No Headroom Required
One of the most significant advantages of having a sliding door, in my opinion, is that you don’t need to have a big space between your door opening and the roof to accommodate your garage door. Overhead garage doors require you to install garage door opener and trolley on the ceiling, which takes space. If your garage does not have enough headroom, a sliding door is one of the best options for you.
2. Overhead storage space
Even if you have enough headroom, that can be used for something more resourceful, like installing a ceiling storage rack, a bike rack, or storing a kayak or a surfboard. That’s because all that ceiling space is not a requirement for sliding doors.
3. Garage has a cleaner look.
No beams or garage door opener attached to the ceiling makes your garage look less complicated and aesthetically appealing.
4. No opening zone required.
If you are familiar with carriage style garage door and up and over doors, they require you to park your vehicle away from the door before it can open. That is not the case with sliding doors at all. You can even park your car against the door (not recommended), and they will still work just fine.
5. Sliding garage door openers consumes less energy.
If you decide to operate your garage door automatically, sliding garage door openers are the most energy-efficient openers you will ever find. That is because they are not required to lift a hefty door to the ceiling. They simply drag the door on a smooth rail, and that does not require much electrical energy.
6. Motor operates quietly
You should definitely choose a sliding garage door if noise is something you don’t tolerate. Traditional doors can be very loud because the opener is lifting a heavy door, and this causes the motor to make noise. If your bedroom on top of your garage, that awful noise can drive you nuts in the morning and late nights. That’s not the case with side sliding garage doors.
7. Easier to incorporate a Pedestrian door
If the only access to your home is through your garage, then I highly recommend a sliding door for your garage. Why? Because it is easier to install a human-sized door inside the garage door itself. This makes it easier to enter your home without the need to open the entire garage door. It can be done in other garage door types, but the cost can be exorbitant.
8. Very Safe to Repair
The torsion spring used for overhead doors makes it very risky to repair or replace a part. Homeowners are warned against attempting to repair their overhead doors as they can lead to severe injury or even death. Although fixing a problem on your sliding garage door can cause harm without proper safety procedures, it is relatively safer to replace a part or fix a problem on your door.
Drawbacks of a Sliding Garage Door
The grass is not always greener on the other side. Regardless of all these benefits, sliding garage doors come with a few shortcomings. And it’s my duty to let you know before you make any purchase decision. So here are a few reasons why you might not want to get a sliding door.
1. They can be expensive.
Yes, they are much more expensive than overhead sectional garage doors. That’s because the materials used for this door are not mass-produced. Because the traditional garage door is widespread, various manufacturers are involved in making them, and this means more buying options for homeowners. So products come at reduced prices to meet the competitive edge. Only a few companies are involved in making sliding garage doors. This is why they are expensive.
2. Cold temperatures bring issues.
The bottom track often gets frozen in cold temperatures. This affects the operation of the door. It becomes harder to open and close. To prevent this, you may have to install a heating cable on your bottom track, and this comes at additional cost on you.
3. Dirt and rust can jam the door.
Because the track is installed on the floor, it is exposed to a lot of dirt. This can quickly get the door jammed. Also, if the metal used for the tracks is not rust-resistant, they will deteriorate over time, and that can get the door jammed as well. This means you need to clean and maintain your door to avoid any of these problems.
4. Complicated installation process
Unless you are looking to have a manually operated sliding door installed, the process of installing
sliding is meant for professionals only. If you are DIY’er, then sorry, but you have to leave it for the pros.
Types of Sliding Garage Doors
The underlying operation of all sliding doors is the same – tracks are installed on the top, and the bottom of the door frame and then the door itself slide on it to open or close. Pretty straightforward. However, technology and innovation have led to some nuances. So in this section, you’ll get to know the three different types of sliding garage doors that I’ve come across.
Single-single doors are the most common sliding garage doors you will ever find. They are straightforward operating mechanism. So how do they look operate?
Single door sections are connected with a hinge vertically to form a single garage door panel. All the parts move together as the door opens and closes. If you are in the UK, Hormann and Garage Door Centre are two of the companies that make great side sliding doors for your garage. If you are in the US, Ryterna offers single-sliding door designs. You might want to check them out.
Bi-parting doors are not a new thing. They have been in existence for a while and used in many different settings, and garage doors are no exception. Bi-parting doors are basically two doors that move in the opposite direction to open and then move in the same direction to close. For single garage doors, it’s a great choice to go for a single sliding door. However, if you have a very wide garage opening, then the bi-parting door is an excellent option. Ryterna and Helium make great bi-parting doors.
“Round the Corner” sliding door
This is a unique design and very rare. And it is simply impossible to achieve this design with any garage door type. So what is a “round the corner” sliding door, and how do they look like?
Round the corner door is basically a door with a curved surface. If you are familiar with a curved TV display, that is how they look. There was no way to make a door with this type of design until sliding doors became a thing. So how is this possible?
To make the entire garage door panel more flexible, so it bends easily, several small panels are hinged together. And the final piece to the puzzle is curved tracks. The only company I know who make these type of sliding doors is Rundum Meir, and yes, they are expensive. This is a unique product used in luxurious homes.
What are the material options for sliding garage doors?
To meet the client’s needs, manufacturers give you several material options to choose from when purchasing a door. So what options do you have?
If you are looking for a more traditional or vintage-looking garage door, wood is one of the best options. Due to innovation and technology, wood has become an excellent choice for homeowners looking for a more contemporary modern look as well. Something to keep in mind is wooden doors require a bit of maintenance on your end periodically to keep it in good shape.
If maintenance isn’t your thing, vinyl is a great option for you. They look and feel like wood, without the maintenance part. They are salt and moisture resistant, making it ideal for homeowners living in the coastal areas. Vinyl is also lightweight, meaning there is not a lot of stress on your tracks and opener.
Steel is a durable material used for making all types of doors, including side sliding garage doors. Homeowners opt for steel doors because of less maintenance and how energy efficient they are. Most steel garage doors come with polyurethane insulation, so it helps save heating and cooling costs for your garage.
Aluminum frame for your sliding door is a great choice. You can use them for years without any signs of corrosion. They are usually paired with glass to give your door a modern look. The downside of aluminum is they can dent easily.
Other Decorative options
Some manufacturers provide sliding doors with windows at an additional cost. There are also various decorative hardware kits for wooden and vinyl doors to give your door that vintage look.
Should you buy a side-sliding garage door?
Making a purchase decision relies on many factors, so I’ll say it depends. Now let me explain. If you really care about the curb appeal of your home, sliding doors come with tons of beautiful options to choose from. Not only are they aesthetically pleasing, but they are also much quieter than most garage door types. Also, they don’t require headroom to operate, and that gives your garage a much cleaner appearance. These are exceptional benefits, and if that’s what you care about, then go ahead and purchase it.
However, the biggest downside to side sliding doors is cost. First, the upfront purchasing and installation cost can be expensive, depending on the materials used and the door’s design. Second is heating costs. If you live in a cold-weather zone, you will definitely need a heating cable on your door tracks to prevent the garage door from jamming. Although this will be an issue only in the winter, it’s something you need to factor in when making a decision.
Side sliding garage doors also require maintenance. Occasional cleaning of your door tracks will keep your door running smoothly without any issues. So that is something you should also consider.