Planning for a New Garage

If you are having a new garage built, there’s a good chance that the builder will suggest 9-ft. wide by 7-ft. high doors (assuming you are planning one door for each vehicle in the garage). That’s a good size for most of us, but what if you happen to have a large truck, with large mirrors projecting from the sides or a snowplow on the front. Many such trucks have lost those mirrors trying to squeeze into a 9-ft. wide opening. In this case, you might want to give serious though to going with 10-ft. wide doors, and perhaps increasing the height to 8 ft.

Another big decision to make when planning a new garage is whether or not to have it attached to the house. Though attached garages are the norm these days, there are several benefits to a detached garage. Particularly if you are accommodating unusually large vehicles, a detached garage may provide more latitude in design.

How To Measure for Garage Doors

If you are replacing a garage door, the easiest way to determine the size you need is to measure the existing door. If you happen to have a doorless garage, you will need to carefully measure the width and height of the opening. You will also need to check the clearance above the opening to ensure that there is sufficient room for the garage tracks to be installed.

This is assuming that you plan to buy and install the garage door yourself. If you are going to let a professional handle the job, let him determine the exact size of door you need.

Changing the Size of a Garage Door Opening

From a structural standpoint, it is easy to reduce the size of the opening in a garage, thus creating the need for a smaller garage door. Unfortunately, few people have any need to do this. Instead, it is much more common for homeowners to need a larger garage opening, primarily because their larger vehicles just don’t fit well through the existing opening.

Enlarging a garage door opening is often nearly impossible without substantially increasing the size of the garage. The biggest obstacle is usually the headroom above the existing opening. The span above the opening is framed with a long header that will have to be raised (or more often rebuilt). If there isn’t enough room above the opening, this can’t be done without raising the roof of the garage. That’s a big, but doable, job. You also need to consider allowing room for the garage door opener.

You also need to account for the depth and width of the garage after the opening has been enlarged. Just because you can get your bigger vehicle through the doors does not mean you’ve improved the garage. In fact, you may now have too little room on the sides and in front of the parked vehicle to move, much less to use for storage.

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