Ultimate Garage Door Glossary: Terms You Should Know Before Buying

While you may know the basics when it comes to garage door terminology, there are a lot of words and phrases that may still be unfamiliar to you. Wading through them can complicate the process of selecting your garage door and make it difficult to communicate with dealers. Our comprehensive garage door glossary is designed to simplify things and make you a more informed consumer as you move through the research and shopping process.

Overhead Garage Door Styles

Also referred to as “sectionals,” overhead garage doors are the most common and popular style on the market. These easy-to-operate doors roll up and down on vertical tracks located on both sides of the garage opening. When open, they rest in a horizontal position in the ceiling space above the contents of your garage.

Many of today’s overhead garage doors are designed and built in the carriage house style. These types of garage doors date back to the 19th century and often feature intricate overlay designs for a traditional look and feel.

Garage doors fall into two distinct sizes: single and double. Single doors are typically 8-9’ wide and 7-8’ high, but they can be up to 12’ wide. Double doors are usually 16-18’ wide and 7-9’ high and often look like two single doors placed side-by-side.

Let’s take a closer look at the main styles of overhead garage doors.


Bifold garage doors have a minimum of four door panels that are hinged to fold like bifold closet doors. While most bifold doors don’t actually fold, if they did, they would part in the middle with two panels on each side. As long as they’re in multiples of four, bifold doors can have as many panels as you’d like.

Swing Overhead

While they appear to have two panels that separate and swing open at the center, swing overhead products operate like traditional overhead doors. These items offer the appearance of old-style carriage doors, but with the convenience of roll-up overhead options.

Traditional Stile & Rail

Stile and rail garage doors have visible vertical stiles and horizontal rails and were the first overhead doors available. The stiles and rails are structural, so they define the door’s design and cannot be removed.


Trifold garage doors feature a minimum of three sections that are hinged together to simulate folding like trifold closet doors. These doors can have as many panels as you’d like, as long as they’re in multiples of three.

Non-Overhead Garage Door Styles

There are also a number of unique non-overhead garage door styles available, which we’ll explore in more detail below.


These swing- or slider-style doors typically have a solid top section, no horizontal rail at the upper section break, and few windows, if any. If the door does have windows, they’re typically located in a small area of the top section.

Side Rolling

As the name suggests, side rolling doors roll open to one side of your garage opening. While they do take up interior wall space, they leave the majority of the opening unobstructed.

Sliding / Gliding

Sliding doors (or “sliders”) roll open in a track from side-to-side like traditional barn doors. They’re larger than the finished garage door opening and must completely cover it to ensure security and insulation. Sliders require a wall area with no protrusions and a track length that’s twice the door’s width to operate properly.

True Bifold

Unlike overhead bifold doors, true bifold products fold off to the side, rather than rolling up and down. They’re ideal for large spaces and can even replace an entire wall.

True Swing

True swing garage doors swing open and shut on heavy-duty hinges that are mounted to the jamb on one side of your door opening. They’re typically composed of two slabs that open outwards, but you can also choose an in-swing option.

Popular Garage Door Materials

No garage door glossary would be complete without a garage door material comparison. While you can buy products in a wide variety of materials, we’ll focus this section on the materials Artisan offers.

Faux Wood

Faux wood is a urethane-based product that’s made by pressing pieces of wood together in a rubber mold to create a wood-look on the face of the material. Artisan offers three faux wood doors: Rhapsody, Quartet, and American Farmhouse.


Glass garage doors typically feature an aluminum frame, which is lightweight, rust-resistant, and great for cold temperatures. Glass doors let in a lot of natural light and are commonly used with modern and contemporary homes. Artisan offers one glass garage door, called Panorama.


Vinyl (also known as cellular PVC) can be milled and shaped like real wood, but it requires far less maintenance. These doors are typically built on steel frames and are insect-, rot, and moisture- resistant. Artisan offers three vinyl garage doors: Symphony, and Prelude 2,


Constructed from thin layers (plies) of wood, these products can be stained, painted, or left unfinished. While they require more maintenance than other materials, real wood garage doors are beautiful and provide effective insulation. Artisan offers three wood garage doors: Medallion, and TimberLife, which is made from Accoya®.

Wood Composite

Made from a blend of wood fibers, plastic, and a binding agent, wood composite doors are moisture-, insect-, and rot-resistant. While they offer the same rich look as real wood, they’re lightweight and low-maintenance. They’re also an environmentally friendly option since they’re made from recycled, sustainable materials.

Artisan’s wood composite garage doors are made from Tricoya® modified wood and Extira panels. We offer two paint-grade wood composite products: Benchmark and Benchmark 2.

Garage Door Features

In this section, we’ll review the most common garage door accents and features that you should know about.


Typically made from wood, this thin strip of material is attached to the active section of a true-swing garage door. It’s specifically designed to cover and seal the seam between panels when the door is closed.


Casing is the finish-quality material that frames the garage door opening and often has a molded profile for aesthetic appeal.


This refers to the entire front of your garage door, including the panels, windows, trim, and decorative hardware.


The door face is mounted to the frame, which provides reinforcement and helps keep the door steady. It’s commonly made from aluminum, steel, or engineered wood.


This finish-quality wood trim is placed around the garage door opening to obscure exposed studs, headers, and wall materials.


Garage door panels are the large horizontal or vertical sections located directly below the windows. The number of panels varies greatly depending on the size and style of your garage door. Artisan offers a wide variety of panel styles, including flat, tongue and groove, V-groove, raised, and recessed.


Also known as a slab or leaf, part refers to the number of pieces that make up the door. For example, true-swing doors have one or two parts, bifolds have four, and trifolds have three. Parts can be active or passive depending on which side opens first.


This refers to the horizontal pieces of an overhead door that roll up or down as the door opens and closes. The place where each door section (or part) meets is known as a joint.


Sills are the raised, horizontal pieces that serve as the door’s threshold. They’re typically made from aluminum and are designed to protect against water infiltration.


Door stops are designed to prevent true-swing door slabs from swinging inward beyond the closed position and damaging the contents of your garage. They’re typically made from wood, vinyl, or Q-Lon® and can be customized to match the finish of your door.

Black glass garage door


Door sweeps are made from aluminum and cover the space between the bottom of the door slab and the sill. They’re required on all exterior doors and are designed to prevent air and water leakage.

Trim Boards

Trim refers to the decorative boards placed on top of overlay garage doors that enhance the look of your door and boost its curb appeal. Trim boards look best in pairs and can frame your door, divide it into distinct parts, or separate the windows from the rest of the face. Artisan offers a wide variety of trim board styles, including chamfered edge, cross buck (X-buck), cross rail, sprung buck, V-buck, Z-buck (A-buck), and square edges.


Also known as the weather seal, weatherstripping plays a key role in keeping your garage at a comfortable temperature year-round. It’s designed to prevent air and moisture infiltration and can also help keep your door’s parts from freezing.

Garage Door Windows

Garage door windows are available in a wide variety of styles, including square (90-degree angles in all corners) and arched (bottom corners with 90-degree angles and top corners with angles that are less than 90 degrees).

Standard glass for garage door windows is typically ⅛” thick, clear, and double-strength, but you can also choose from specialty glass options. The most common types of specialty glass include glacier, hammered, seeded, and frosted.


Also known as panes, these are the individual sections within garage door windows that are defined by inserts, grilles, or muntins. They come in a variety of styles, including mullioned, prairie, simulated divided, and true divided.

Garage Door Top Sections

There are four main garage door top section styles to be aware of: arched, clipped, ellipse, and square. We’ll take a closer look at each one and the types of garage doors they correspond with below.


Created from the radius of a single circle, arched tops come in a variety of configurations. Most are simulated, but you can also opt for a true arch top if you choose a swinging door. Arch tops may contain simulated or true divided lites for a sophisticated look and feel.


Clipped tops feature angled outside corners and can be solid or incorporate windows depending on your taste.


Ellipse tops use a compound curve with a minimum of two radii for a one-of-a-kind look. Ellipse tops can be very complicated depending on how many curves you incorporate.


Overhead doors can only have square tops, which feature 90-degree angles for a traditional, familiar look.

Garage Door Finishes

There are three main garage door finishes to be aware of: paint, stain, and faux stain paint. You can also leave your door unfinished, but this isn’t as common as finishing it.


Suitable for stain-quality materials designed for paint finishes, this universal choice is appropriate for most wood, vinyl, and wood composite doors.


Stain brings out the natural beauty of all-wood doors and is designed to create a durable surface barrier while retaining flexibility. Artisan uses NewLook EnduraStain on all of our stain-grade doors.

Faux Stain Paint

Faux stain paint creates a rich finish that mimics the look of real wood, but it’s designed for use on wood composite and vinyl garage doors.

Garage Door Tracks

Garage door tracks are the metal pathways that house the rollers that move the garage door from a closed, vertical position to an open, horizontal position. There are five main garage door track styles: standard (15”, 20”, or 32” radius), low headroom, hi-lift, vertical lift, and roof pitch.


Rollers are the small parts made from nylon or steel that help the door travel through the track as it opens and closes.


Springs counteract the force of gravity on the garage door so it can be opened manually or with an electric opener.

Garage Door Decorative Hardware

Artisan offers five main pieces of garage door decorative hardware: strap hinges, pull handles, latches, ring pulls, and clavos. Designed to dress up your door and enhance its overall curb appeal, Artisan’s garage door accessories are hand-forged and powder coated in an attractive black finish.

Strap Hinges

Available in tulip, heart, or bean shapes, strap hinges are usually positioned on the top and bottom rails and/or in an intermediate location under the window area. Different types of garage door hinges connect each section and simulate the look of bending with the door as it opens and closes.

Pull Handles

Pull handles come in tulip, heart, or bean shapes and are typically paired with strap hinges to round out the swing-style carriage door look.


Available in tulip, heart, or bean shapes, latches can be added to your door to create the look of a traditional lock.

Ring Pulls

Two ring pulls can be added to the center of the door to simulate the look of a true swing product.


Also known as decorative nails, clavos are 1×1” decorative squares typically placed along the outside edges and down the middle of a door to create a true swing appearance.

If you want to learn more about decorative garage door hardware, read our in-depth guide which covers a wide variety of topics.

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