Size Your Garage Doors Correctly to Avoid Dents and Scrapes

Henry Ford was a brilliant man. But he could have used a bit of design advice about the size of garage doors.

When Henry Ford built his first “horseless carriage” in a brick shed in his garden in Detroit in 1896, it never dawned on him to check the size of the shed’s door.  It was only after he built his first “Quadricycle” and was ready to take it for a test drive that he discovered it was too big to get through the door of the shed. Ford had to knock bricks out of the wall to let his invention escape. The shed is at Henry Ford’s Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan. If you go there you can see where the bricks were patched back into place.

Let’s avoid Henry Ford’s problem and get the size of your garage doors right.  Too many times I see garage doors that are too small. Often, a single car door is only eight feet wide and a double width door is only sixteen feet wide. You can get a car through a single garage door that is only eight feet wide, but you have to do it carefully. The car will just make it. Any driver error and you’ll crunch one of your mirrors. That will be a costly mistake.  I always use nine foot wide single doors to avoid unnecessary tightness. The cost of a nine foot door over an eight foot door is negligible. It’s not a good place to save a few dollars.

The same philosophy applies to a double garage door. Don’t skimp on the width if you don’t have to. I like to use eighteen foot wide doors. That allows more room between the cars when they are parked inside. It’s bad enough to get dings in your doors when you park in a public parking lot. It’s even more painful when you ding your other car with you own car door. Two cars get damaged in one motion. Ouch! If you know you will have large cars, consider a twenty foot wide door.

So-called “standard” garage doors are only seven feet high. This is another place to expand the opening, if you have room. Eight foot high doors are much better, particularly if you have an SUV with a lifting tailgate. When that tailgate goes up, it goes up pretty high. Make sure that when your garage door is up it sits higher than your raised tailgate. An eight foot door should do the trick. But check, just to be sure.

To summarize, I recommend single garage doors to be nine feet wide and eight feet tall. I recommend double garage doors to be eighteen feet wide and eight feet tall. Those sizes should keep you from having minor accidents you will regret.

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Bill Hirsch

Bill Hirsch

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