Dear PoPville – Is it a Mistake to Get an All Glass Garage Door?

Photo via Clopay garage doors

“Dear PoPville,

I’m thinking of renovating my house and changing the standard garage door to something more modern, with a full wall of glass (like the photo above).

Problem is that I live on a very busy street – lots of pedestrian traffic and nearby schools – with no separation between the sidewalk and the garage door. This would literally be a big glass window/wall a few steps from the sidewalk with no metal bars on it.

My girlfriend is convinced that this is going to be a target for graffiti artists/vandals, thieves, angry kids with rocks, etc. I’m sorta worried about that but want to give the city the benefit of the doubt.

Is this a huge mistake? Am I asking for trouble (and expensive repairs every few months)? Would love to hear if anyone else has dealt with similar issues.”

45 Comment

  • where do you live? that makes all the difference.

  • I am building a garage as well that backs up to an alley and is relatively quiet and there is still no way I would consider an all-glass door. I don’t think you want people looking in, seeing what kind of car you drive, etc.

    • ^^^^^ Facepalm ^^^^^^ Pretty sure he/she means a frosted glass door.

      At any rate, I tend to agree with your girlfriend. However, I don’t believe the fact that it’s glass makes it MORE likely to be vandalized. I just think that you’re going to be really really pissed you spent all that $$ if it is.

    • Everyone can see what kind of car I drive, because I park it on the street! Really, who cares if they can see it? Reminds me of the houseguest I had who kept shutting all the blinds because “someone might see you”. Right, I’m going to deprive myself of natural light because I don’t want anyone knowing there are humans in the house?

  • Depends where you live and what the rest of your block is like. In my neighborhood it would feel kind of ostentatious. It could work somewhere else, though.

  • You’re asking for trouble and your girlfriend is right. I guarantee that a punk kid will put a rock through it within the first two weeks. Frankly, it sounds a bit ostentatious and you’re just going to draw (negative) attention to your garage.

  • Sometimes I think having nicer stuff deters thieves. I live a couple blocks from the mace robbery incident, where theft is very common and a lot of houses recently got graffitied. When we first moved there our front gate was stolen, so I was wary of putting anything in the front yard, but I really wanted to have a pleasant space out there. So I set up some nice furniture (what they call a “conversation set”), with cushions, potted plants, outdoor rug, etc. I told myself not to get too attached in case something disappeared, but it’s been three years and nothing’s happened yet. I’ve noticed the other yards that have expensive-looking stuff are seemingly untouched too. I think sometimes there’s a reverse psychology effect where thieves/vandals prefer to target houses where it looks like the occupant doesn’t care as much.

    • Broken windows theory

    • There has actually been an experiment done to prove this theory- look up the broken window theory and Philip Zimbardo.

      • Major upgrades to things that are already well kept up and not broken are way outside the scope of Zimbardo’s theory.

    • when i moved into bloomingdale 10 years ago, a friendly neighbor told me to plant flowers and turn lights on immediately because thieves are more likely to target houses that look vacant/untended.

  • notlawd

    I don’t see any problem with this as far as crime is concerned. I am assuming you are getting frosted glass, as I am not sure looking into even the most organized garage can be that attractive. To the people that think someone will throw a rock through the glass, why would they do that and not through a regular window? Is this something that is rampant in the city that I just don’t know about? Would love to see a picture of this if you end up doing it!

  • I would be just as worried about a service vehicle, i.e. garbage truck, or another car backing into the door by mistake. Quite frankly, you live in a city and there is a lot more activity going around. Sounds like an expensive purpose and pricey maintenance.

  • you can get hurricane glass which won’t break if someone throws a rock at it. it’s surprisingly strong.

    • I was going to recommend laminate glass or something similar that doesn’t shatter easily.

    • bfinpetworth

      Hurricane glass is verrrryyyyy heavy, so it may not be feasible for a whole garage door. And it is expensive as hell. I had 5 windows installed in my vacation home and the price tag was $5000.

      But the laminated idea is a good one.

    • I’d be pretty surprised if a glass garage door isn’t somehow treated with a security film to begin with. It would make no sense to have a wall of glass that someone could just smash through to steal your stuff, regardless of where one lives. Perhaps the OP just needs to be ready replace cracked panels rather than worrying about Kool-Aid man marching through his garage door.

  • As someone who has had the glass on my car broken into (for nothing more than a 10 year old pair of sunglasses) AND the glass in my back door broken into (for a lot more than that), I’d say you’re tempting fate. The two occurrences happened in different neighborhoods over a span of years, but I’m not sure there’s anyplace in DC that I would add glass unless necessary for indoor lighting.

    • Were you on a busy street like the OP’s? I think someone would think twice about shattering a giant glass wall with lots of people around.

    • There are plenty of houses on quiet streets in upper Northwest that safely boast an unecessary amount of glass. So a recommendation against this idea shouldn’t apply to the entire city, but in the OP’s particular circumstances (ie: busy street, door backs right up to the sidewalk) a glass garage door sounds like a horrible idea.

  • Yes. Bad idea, sorry.

  • I hate cleaning. Seems like it would be a nightmare to keep those panes clean.

  • That seems like a bad idea, period. Even if you were in a nicer neighborhood, you still have to worry about things running into the door all the time. A wood or metal door can easily resist a complete failure, if say your car merely bumped into it. However, an all-glass door could smash into a million pieces with the slightest trauma.

    If you’re looking for a modern looking door, Overhead Door has some nice aluminum doors that would work with a modern design.

  • Yes, bad idea. Sorry.

  • I wouldn’t do something like this in a busy part of town.

  • Yep, bad idea…. I live in Logan, and have had my garage door vandalized and my back door broken into. The bad guys tend to be pretty brazen, and that sounds like a super easy target.. (although very pretty!)

  • In my experience those who take a chance and get something nicer than their neighbors do not become victims of vandalism, and instead encourage others to upgrade their stuff, so eventually the neighborhood looks nicer overall. I think it’s great that you’re considering this!

    • This. We were worried when we redid our facade that we’d become a target, but neighbors actually told us they were inspired to improve their homes as well!

    • I see your point, but does “nice garage door” have to equal “glass garage door”? What about a happy medium of something nicer than the current (?) garage door, but not quite as fancy/breakable as the glass version?

      • Of course, but if the OP specifically wants a glass door they should get a glass door. I’m sure they’re not as breakable as everyone thinks they must be.

        • I think the OP came here wanting a glass door, and hoping that maybe people would sa.y “Your girlfriend is being overly cautious.”
          Instead, the consensus seems to be that his girlfriend is right.
          The OP can do whatever he (she?) wants, but unless we see postings from people saying “I have a glass garage door and live on a busy street in a transitioning neighborhood, and it wasn’t damaged when my in-laws accidentally backed into it,” I don’t think there’s much evidence for “not as breakable as everyone thinks they must be.”
          And as someone else was pointing out, the glass is likely to make the door look dirtier faster.
          This isn’t a binary choice of “glass door or nothing.” As Sproc was saying, “[T]here must be lots of other options to give it a high-end look.”

    • When we rebuilt our retaining wall and made it look nice, someone took a hammer to it the next day.

  • Is the door set back from the street or flush with the sidewalk? If the latter, I’d be more worried about dumb, non-crime damages like careless work crews or a snowplow tossing a rock.
    Sounds like a great project, but there must be lots of other options to give it a high-end look.

  • I wouldn’t do it. Between the odds of having to replace it frequently and the lack of security, I wouldn’t think it was worth the risk. I hate to advocate living in fear of the punks who are the reason DC can’t have nice things, but better safe than sorry, IMO.

    • No offense, but attitudes like yours are the reason depressed-looking areas stay depressed-looking.

      • A house can look very nice without screaming “look at me and all my money” to everybody who walks by.

  • You can get the panels with Polygal instead of glass. Lighter, cheaper, better insulating and highly impact resistant. Also dirt cheap to replace and easy to do. Google “Polygal garage door”

  • Wait… have a garage?! Niiiiiiice…..

  • It’s a garage right? What would be the point of a glass door? You’re not living in it. Plenty of other architectural solutions. And absolutely, no matter where you live – if there are kids walking by you will get a rock thrown at least once a year.

  • We can’t have nice things like that here

  • I am ashamed to say that in my teenage years, I’d have definitely put a ball bearing through that, with the aid of a wrist rocket. I wouldn’t do it.

  • I love the idea and fully support it!

    However…if it were me, i’d definitely go in with the attitude that I might lose it/it might get smashed or vandalized though. Given that, i’d first see how hard it would be to order replacement panels and such. I would also see how tough it would be to change them out yourself.

    In my experience, nicer things in DC tend to be untouched…especially when they are big and bold. I say “GO BOLD!” You only live once and it’s your house. Be an icon in your neighborhood…you’ll get only positive responses from your neighbors. They might think your crazy…but when it’s standing for a number of years with no issues they’ll think you are a genius.

    • Ditto. Honestly, I think all the negative responses are from people that know nothing about glass garage doors and are jealous.

  • if you live in an area where cars ever get broken into, then YES YES YES, they will also break into your garage.

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