8 Garage Door Alternatives That Offer Style & Functionality
Author: Omar Alonso | Editor: Omar Alonso
Review & Research: Jen Worst & Chris Miller
Garage door alternatives can offer much that the usual, powered variety don't (like the motor not breaking all the time). If you don't mind manually opening them, though you certainly can make them open at the push of a button, your options open up big time.
Garages come as a standard part of many houses and with them, standard garage doors. But not everyone’s a fan of these and if you aren’t either, there’s absolutely no need for you to be stuck with a door you don’t like.
Though standard garage doors do come with quite an amount of convenience and functionality (which explains why they’ve been around for so long.), many folks are looking for the new and stylish, but without any compromise on the convenience and functionality too.
8 Garage Door Alternatives
78% of home owners and 37% of renters (as of 2015) have a garage or carport. The rest wish they had a garage, but few of them understand the annoyances of a typical garage door or don't want to break the bank when needing to install a new one.
Luckily, many practical residential types of garage doors exist that can satisfy all of the aforementioned conditions. And here’s our list of the best alternative garage door designs so you can get away from the typical options.
If you like the rustic charm of country houses and barns, you can easily replicate this aesthetic with a lovely barn door for your garage, instead of traditional doors. You can easily buy an existing barn door and adjust it to suit your garage’s measurements, or if you’re good with do-it-yourself work, you can just build your own.
However, lovely as they are, barn doors can be quite expensive, unless you get lucky and find an old door that you can restore later, for quite a cheap price. Make sure you check out the standard garage size for your carport based on the number of vehicles it can hold.
However, you may just end up spending all the money that you saved on restoring the door, which makes building your own door not only the most common but wisest option, too. You'll save a few bucks on not dealing with typical garage door sensors and alignment, the garage door sensor's yellow light problems, and so forth at least.
All it takes is some measuring and wood cutting, backed by a little bit of carpentry know-how. To make it easier for the less handy lot, many home depots and hardware stores also sell barn-door DIY kits, which makes quick work of the process (though this will work out to be more expensive than building your own door without a kit).
Any way you look at it, whether you restore a door or build your own, getting your garage barn doors is a labor-intensive process and most often, an expensive process, too. They're a great alternative to garage doors if you can bear the price.
However, many folks find the beauty, practicality, and functionality of barn doors worth the time and money. Building your own barn door may even work out to be cheaper than a traditional garage door. They won't interfere with usability either, no matter what types of garages you're installing them on.
With these garage door orientations you don't end up with a situation where the garage door only opens a few inches. Since you'll be operating these manually, you'll catch a problem like this immediately and be able to resolve it much more easily.
Sheet Metal Doors
It may not seem instantly appealing, but sheet metal is quite a popular alternative to garage doors. The aesthetic grows on you, helped in no short measure by how cheap it works out to be, especially compared to getting a traditional garage door.
You can easily do this yourself too, as long as you’re comfortable cutting sheet metal—and have the skill to cut it in the right size, of course. Once the cutting is nailed, all you need are hinges and a handle to make the sheet metal your new garage door.
Putting a handle on the sheet metal gives you the option of making it a swing door, swinging outwards to let you enter your garage. The other option is to make it a roll-up door, though achieving this may be more difficult, especially sans professional help.
Therefore, swing doors are the more popular option. Some folks also use simple latches to shut these sheet metal doors and while this won’t keep things airtight or secure, it works pretty well.
Whether you’re cutting your own sheet metal or getting some help to do it, this remains one of the most cost-effective garage door alternatives.
If you can let the aesthetic grow on you and love ‘doing it yourself’ (and have some amount of skill in it), the humble sheet metal garage door is definitely worth a try. They work even with the garage alternatives we've described before.
Roll-up screens are another great way to save money, especially if you don’t really mind the fact that there isn’t too much security on offer in this option.
However, though these screens may not be able to keep out skilled burglars, they can very well keep out pests and sunshine. Additionally, they’re super easy to install.
They're perfect for being installed behind your typical garage door too, for when you're working on the car or repairing a garage floor crack. You get air and light without the pesky mosquitos and gnats. You can always pot some plants that repel mosquitos in the garage too.
Roll-up screens are extremely cheap, especially compared to traditional garage doors. Given that installation is super simple and takes very little time, your screen is ready for use in no time, also making it one of the quickest, easiest garage door alternatives available.
The task only gets easier if you get yourself a roll-up screen kit; these come with instructions on installation, letting you set up your screen quickly. You can also use magnets to close and open the screen automatically as you pass through it.
However, as mentioned earlier, you’ll have to compromise on quite a bit of security with this option, as these screens generally can’t be locked. You don't want anyone running off with your extension ladders stored in the garage, for instance.
Therefore, if you’re one of those folks who store a lot of tools and equipment in your garage, this alternative may not be the wisest option, despite the huge amount of money it can save you.
It also won’t keep your garage very warm in the cold winter months, but it's such a luxury during the warmer months. Even with a fan you can blow air through it to keep the air circulating.
Similar to sliding doors used everywhere, sliding doors have tracks on both sides of the door and can slide down the track either via the push of a button or via manual sliding. These doors are a great option if you’re looking to save space, in addition to being durable, secure and versatile.
However, sliding doors can work out to be more expensive than the other alternatives mentioned here. Additionally, they can be quite heavy while operating and if you’re looking for a door that keeps weather elements out securely, this is the last option you should be considering.
Another one for the do-it-yourself tasks, these carriage doors are high on the charm factor and can add a whole new level of aesthetic value to an otherwise drab and oft-neglected area (in terms of beautification, at least.).
If you’ve got some amount of carpentry and woodworking skills, making carriage doors for your garage is quite an easy task, involving building a door frame and then cutting up boards to flesh in the door.
You can use hinges and a latch to attach the doors to the walls and close the two sides, respectively. This is a cool, rustic, old English aesthetic that makes me feel relaxed on my shed.
Some folks find that adding a little window to their carriage door only elevates the charm of the door; you could either add one little window on top of each door or several little windows—the door is your playground and it all depends on how much you want to play (read work.).
You can stain the wood or paint it to match your walls. You can even have shelves under the windows to set tools or homemade apple pies to cool, etc. The world is your oyster!
If you aren’t comfortable with a little bit of tinkering and carpenter-ing, this option isn’t the best one for you, but it's definitely one of the better looking garage door alternatives available.
Faux Wood or Fiberglass Doors
Though most of us would love to get real wooden doors for our garages, they’re not the best at being weatherproof, maintenance friendly, or budget friendly.
However, with a faux wood or fiberglass door, you can replicate the richness, grainy texture and natural allure of wood. In fact, these can look so close to the real thing that it won’t be possible to differentiate between the two.
Getting a faux wood or fiberglass garage door will also raise the value of your home, thanks to the popularity that these options are gaining. Additionally, their low-maintenance nature makes them even more appealing.
Unlike wood that cracks, fades, or disintegrates if not regularly cleaned and maintained, faux wood doors filled with the right types of fiberglass are extremely durable and hold their shape for much longer, despite the exposure to harsh elements.
Tilt-up doors are cousins of the popular overhead garage doors, featuring a single panel that tilts up to open, as opposed to horizontal sections that fold. These garage door alternatives are also cheaper than standard overhead doors.
However, though these doors look pretty cool, they come with quite a few substantial cons—they’re high maintenance and may need to be replaced a few times, thanks to their design. Your poor motor is going to be quite stressed, lifting up one heavy panel instead of part by part, as in a sectional door).
These doors don’t last very long and additionally, as the panel rises, they kick out the bottom and take space to lift up, which means the area in front of the panel needs to be clear of any obstructions, as it opens. Whether the coolness is worth the effort is a call left to the consumer. I like them, personally.
Last but not least on the list is a folding garage door. These doors can be 4, 3 or bi-paneled, keeping your garage area separate from the outside world.
Though these doors are convenient, stylish, and don’t reduce your garage’s height, they require quite a bit of space for operation, stressing your limited space on the sides once they're folded up.
Garage Door Alternatives Can Bring Life Back!
Well, if you were stuck with a traditional garage door that you didn’t want, we hope you’re stuck no more, thanks to these cool alternatives.
From those who like to build their own doors to those who prefer readily-available doors, to those willing to shell out quite a bit to those whose purse strings are drawn quite tight, our list of garage door alternatives should have you covered.