Types of Overhead Garage Doors & How to Choose the Right One

Upgrade your home’s curb appeal and boost its overall value by replacing or redesigning your garage door! Trending statistics suggest that by investing in the appearance of your garage door, you can recoup up to 98.3% in initial costs. In fact, it’s considered among the best home improvement projects that can generate the highest return on investment.

One of the first steps in the modern garage door design process is to figure out which garage door type works best for you. Use this guide to learn about various types of overhead garage doors and compare the styles available to discover which one will work best for your structure.

How Do Overhead Garage Doors Work?

Overhead or overhead-acting garage doors are commonly known as sectionals. Because of their convenience, these garage doors are extremely popular. They feature horizontal, hinged sections that roll up and back along the ceiling of your garage with the help of overhead tracks, hardware, and a motorized opener.

Benefits of Overhead Garage Doors

Overhead garage doors have many advantages over other types of doors due to their convenience and versatility. These garage doors:

  • Offer an easy way to access your garage space
  • Operate quickly and easily with or without the help of automated openers
  • Assist in weather resistance for use at any location or in any climate
  • Feature edge seals to help maintain a consistent temperature inside the garage for increased energy efficiency
  • Are available in a range of styles from basic, standard models to completely custom designs

Types of Overhead Garage Doors

Traditional Stile & Rail Overhead Garage Doors

The very first overhead-operating doors were made using mortise and tenon joinery with panel inserts, creating sections that can be rolled overhead. These doors are easily identified by the number of horizontal rails that divide in half, allowing the door to move up and out of the way along garage ceilings. They rely on vertical stiles and horizontal rails that define the design of the door. The stiles and rails are structural and cannot be removed from the design of a door made this way.

Swing Overhead Garage Doors

Swing style garage door windows on a white vinyl garage door

Swing overhead garage doors look like they separate and swing open in the center, but they truly operate as overhead garage doors. They are designed to mimic the appearance of old-style, swinging carriage house or barn doors, but come with the convenience and easy operation of overhead garage doors. Instead of swinging open, all sections are connected and pull up to the garage ceiling.

A majority of swing overhead garage doors have lites (windows) in the top sections for added aesthetics and natural lighting. However, some swing overhead barn doors are windowless for quaint, picturesque barn door look. Swing overhead barn doors offer the rustic appearance of genuine swinging barn doors, yet come with all the benefits of an overhead garage door.

Swing style overhead doors provide an upscale look without having the doors open and move beyond the garage wall. Various types of decorative hardware can be used to accessorize and enhance their beauty and curb appeal. Simply add on strap hinges, latches, pull handles, ring pulls, or clavos to provide the illusion of a swinging garage door.

BiFold & TriFold Overhead Garage Doors

Bifold and trifold overhead garage doors mimic the look of old-style folding doors, but have the convenience of operating as an overhead door.

The main difference between bifold and trifold garage doors lies in the number of panels used. Bifold doors have panels in multiples of 4, meaning they use 4, 8, or 12 panels. Trifold doors are designed with panels in multiples of 3, meaning they use 3, 6, or 9 panels. Additional panels may be added to both door types as long as the number used is a multiple of 4 or 3, respectively.

Modern & Contemporary Overhead Garage Doors

Unusual materials and beautifully-grained woods are finding their way into garage door designs, offering a more modern and contemporary style. Thanks to their simplicity, natural materials, and purposefully-placed windows or accents, these overhead garage doors are becoming increasingly popular and preferred.

When wood is used on modern and contemporary garage doors, there is often no trim boards around the perimeter. Wood planks can also be aligned either vertically or horizontally, providing various design options. Additional modern and contemporary styles include overhead garage doors that:

  • Combine flat, smooth exterior surfaces with eye-catching window placements
  • Incorporate metal accents as added decoration
  • Are completely wrapped in a beautiful metal
  • Have all-glass sections

Alternatives for Overhead Garage Doors

True Swing Garage Doors

These doors offer the genuine appearance and operation of traditional swinging doors that use hinges for movement. Depending on your preference and garage space, these doors can swing in or out. However, they require a significant amount of clear, empty floor space.

Arched garage door windows on a wooden garage door

Sliding Garage Doors

Sliding doors, also known as “sliders,” feature panels that hang from rollers on a track along the top of garage openings. Since they don’t roll up into the garage itself, sliding doors allow for additional ceiling space within garages to accommodate storage or large vehicles. They require a wall area with no protrusions and a track length that’s twice the door width.

True BiFold Garage Doors

Hardware manufacturers make attractive and durable door hardware that allows doors to fold open and closed. Doors that utilize the functioning hardware are great options for large spaces, and can even be used to replace an entire wall. True bifold doors also allow for an increase in glass surface area since glass doesn’t require section breaks. Plus, these doors never leave the ground, their sections just fold off to the side.

Side Rolling Garage Doors

This alternative garage door option is very similar to a bifold door, but can easily be automated. These doors roll to one side of garage openings. They do consume interior wall space, but they leave a majority of the garage opening unobstructed.

Did you figure out which garage door type will work best for your home or are you still undecided?

Request a quote or contact an Artisan garage door expert for additional information and assistance!

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