Dear PoPville – Looking for Recommendations for a Traditional Garage Door

2013-05-14 18.33.39

2013-05-14 18.49.15

Dear PoPville,

We are looking to install a traditional garage door with an automatic opener in the backyard of our Columbia Heights row house. We’ve seen numerous row houses with a regular garage door but can’t find a vendor willing to do it. Any suggestions? Please know we aren’t looking for a roll-up steel door from Pooner? They are great but aren’t our aesthetic or budget.

22 Comment

  • I can’t speak to what vendors/contractors would be willing to do this work, but I would strongly recommend that you have whoever does the work also build some sort of housing to protect the opener from the elements. Having learned the hard way on this – our house was flipped and the opener is more or less exposed – I know that rain can easily short out standard openers that are intended for use in enclosed garages.

    • T

      I would think this is a common problem and likely why it is hard to find a contractor to do this work. The tracks/opener/mechanics of these standard garage doors were never designed to be exposed to the elements…

    • I think this is why most people install roll-up doors. They are more expensive but better suited to this type of application.

  • If you self-install, make sure to include a bar across the door to support the weight of the door. The instillation instructions usually don’t tell you this. As the successor homeowner I found out the hard way, when the door began collapsing into itself. PJ’s was great at fixing the prior homeowners’ mishap. PJ’s *might* install for you. Home Depot will not.

  • I disagree with the OP’s take on the aesthetics. Putting a normal garage door on an alley entrance like this is butt ugly.

    A cheaper solution would be a nice, modern-looking wood horizontal sliding gate. There’s a really nice one at 1109 V Street NW (somehow they managed to erase their whole house from Google Street View)

    • Doesn’t this require having enough room to slide the gate open (so double width)? Would love to do this in my yard, but don’t see how it’s possible without the gate sliding into a neighbor’s yard when it opens.

      • Just slide it on in. Your neighbor won’t even notice if you gate is in there for a few minutes every once in awhile.

    • Whoa. I’ve never seen a house blurred out like that — even the pentagon shows up on streetview!

  • What’s the cost of doing this?

    I also would expect that DCRA will want a permit fee?

  • For the record I bought a house that already had this door put on. After about a year it was getting stuck. It got stuck in the up position and at the first snow it collapsed into a mess if scrap metal. That’s why nobody reputable will build it. You may find a general contractor or handyman willing to do it with no warranty. I do t recommend it.

    I called Ace Deck and fence and had them put up a wooden fence style gate on a metal frame. This is your cheapest option that won’t break.

    • That sounds promising. What was the cost?

    • If it gets stuck, then pull the emergency cord or do whatever you have to do to close it. Don’t leave it up in the winter. I installed one of these myself on the back of my house in Columbia Heights and it works well and I love it. There are also neighbors that have had the same open top garage door for years with no problems.

  • I have used Overhead Door of Beltsville for multiple projects of this type (and service), and they’ve always done a good job. Installing a garage door properly (and safely – you are working with some very strong springs that can do a lot of damage if mishandled) can be tricky, so not an easy DIY project.

    • Used Overhead Door out of Beltsville as well for regular garage door installation. Very good.

  • I haven’t installed a new door but did have service work done on the one in my odd-shaped 1922 garage by Door Doctor – – and they were great. They offer a great variety of styles of door, both wood and metal.

  • I have a few neighbors who have what you’re describing. I’m somewhat jealous of the functionality of their doors, but they do look kind of hideous, as you have to build up a frame to do it. Said frame is a structure (just like a deck) that requires permitting by DCRA. It’s fairly likely that said structure will violate zoning laws (as there is lot setback restriction), as you’re building something inside 20ft of your property line.

    Combine this with the fact that the inexpensive openers / doors you’re talking about are designed for indoor use…and you’ve probably discovered why you’re having a hard time finding a contractor to do it. Lots of liability for them.

  • I’m not sure what the OP meant by “traditional door” – but the reason you see so many of those awful looking roll up doors is bc of DCRA permitting. To get a regular garage, with a roof, is really hard (permit wise) in a row house. There are many regulations about the size of the lot, etc. Good luck!

  • I have a traditional garage door on my parking pad, and I’ve used Beltway Garage Doors to service it. I’m pretty sure they do installation too.

    24 hour service
    “We do it automatically.”

  • We have one of the “carport” style doors (no roof), exposed to the elements, and when we bought our house the realtor said it would maybe last a couple of years. The garage motor lasted 4 years and replacing it was $250 (all in, including installation, from Lowes). The framing and door is still totally fine after 5 years.

    We briefly considered one of the rollup doors, but the money just didn’t make sense.

  • roll up door

  • I used to have one of these at my previous house. It got stuck all the time and eventually the wood frame ended up warping so badly that the door started to come off the track and was virtually unusable. I might add that when I bought the house, the motor was non-functional and I couldn’t find a single company who could install a new one. It was just a manual door, and a major pain.

    I’d recommend getting a steel-frame wood gate built. You could eventually add a motorized opener (though it wouldn’t be cheap unless you could do it yourself). That is our plan at our current house. We got a quote from Mill to You Fence and they were more reasonable than Ace (we also got a quote from them).

  • I did the steel frame, wood fence slat gate (10 foot wide, our handyman had the frame custom made for $250) with a Mighty Mule automatic gate opener for $550 on Amazon. It has worked great for years

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