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Home Improvement--General/Hinge mechanisms for heavy doors


Hello Thomas,

Thank-you for providing this service.  I've done a bunch of research on my own, but I'm uncertain about the right way to approach my problem.

Problem: I want to build a set of garage doors that swing out.  The purpose of the doors is to provide better insulative value than the existing door (so I can reasonably heat the garage in winter), without permanently closing off liberal access to the garage.  I want to build the doors out of 2 X 6 framing and then clad the front with some sort of wood paneling, then I want to insulate the doors.  The garage opening is 16'W by 7'H.  I've calculated, that each of the two doors could weigh as much as 500 lbs by the time I'm done.  I don't know what to do for hinge mechanisms.  I've spent hours searching the net, but I haven't seemed to find anything suitable yet.  Ideally, you wouldn't be able to see the hinges, but I'm aware that might be a pipe dream.

Additional information:
The garage door opening sides and top have a 2 X 10 fir apron.  The floor of the garage is concrete.  The bulk of this apron is inset inside the building, sticking out about an inch out from the siding on the front side, so there is not much to bolt to on the front edge of this apron.  I'm comfortable building up behind the apron inside the garage to support these doors.  I do not want to rebuild the front facade of the garage however if I can avoid it, but these are very heavy doors and I do not want them to sag over time.  They need to swing out free, without the aid of wheels, because of the nature of the grade approaching the garage.

The doors will be like robust carriage house doors.  I could build in off of the existing apron, but I don't know how much I could do that without really starting to affect the aesthetic of the house.

Any information you could provide would be greatly appreciated.  Even if all you can do based on the nature of the problem is point me to the right type of professional, that too would be appreciated.



The below are thoughts to help guide you. Your question is ultimately a structural engineering problem and needs detailed review.

Do some research on 'swinging garage doors'. Most on the market are for single car openings though.
Ultimately you may just be looking at multiple hinges to reach your load requirements.

By "apron" I'm assuming you are referring to the door frame. I do not think a single 2x will be of adequate depth.
You will likely need some modification to hang a load off the side of the existing door frames so there will not be any pullout of hinge fasteners or racking of the structure of the wall.

You might consider a tilt up door that would allow better sealing options at the edges.

You might get some ideas from researching operable building walls or hanger doors or folding garage doors. Those systems are designed for the application you intend.

---- other

I do not understand why you are constructing a 2x6 building wall for a door. There are a variety of insulating products available for increasing R-Value without increased depth and thereby weight.

For the thickness of your doors I hope you have put some attention to the gaps around the edges to stop air infiltration.

The value of the insulated doors will be lost every time they are opened so I hope your plan is to not open them except on special occasions and not really use the garage for moving a car in and out. This goes back to what the garage is really used for since cars in general do not need to be kept warm.  

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Thomas Buford


Licensed Architect in Virginia since 1984.
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