The Differences Among the 5 Types of Garage Door Lifts You Must Know to Make to Avoid Mistakes

This is a Prestige XL design garage door, here shown in single size, Chocolate Walnut color, with Pinhead windows.

If you love to mix textures and details for an elegant look (stone, wood, window shutters, etc.) as well as add some curves or arch shapes with a bay window or matching garage door and entry doors… we understand! This Prestige XL Design garage door is in the Traditional Style in a single-car size and Chocolate Walnut color with Pinhead windows.

Your mind is reeling with options. Things are happening. Your dreams are finally coming true. The next months are going to see the reality of your own home built, including an attached or detached garage that’s been turned into a man cave! Hooray! We know how exciting this is.

A picture of well-know companies that have started in their garage.

Every home should come with a garage, especially if you have a family. Do you have a hobby that brings you joy, where you can put all your passionate energy? You’re in league with many of the biggest names in our world… all that started in a garage.

Over the last couple of years during the Covid-19 pandemic, garages have served as in-home escapes for many people. Many families transformed or adapted these “storage” spaces into offices to work from home, gyms, teenage hangouts, etc. This means that adding a garage onto your home isn’t a foolish spending spree, it’s an investment in your family’s mental health as well as the potential resale value of your home.

You’re also probably very excited about the choices that you have for a new garage door that will bring a great deal of curb appeal to your home. Before you start shopping, though, you need to know about the five types of garage door lifts available.

High Lift Hardware: When Windows Above the Door Strike Your Fancy

A picture of a contemporary house with 2 single Vog garage doors in Black Color with Right-Side Harmony window layout

This modern, sleek home is finished with two single, Vog garage doors in black with windows at the top that align with the entry door for an updated look. The more (windows) the merrier!

Using a high lift garage door allows you to extend your garage door tracks so they hug the wall, going up higher than the actual horizontal curve. This allows you to make better use of the vertical space with about 12”-15” of extra headroom since the tracks are closer to the ceiling.

This California all-glass garage door installed in a hip cottage opens up the space between the home and the swimming pool.

This design, with garage door high lift hardware, adds an industrial touch along with the different earthy textures. Whether you choose the superb California all-glass garage door as part of a hip granny pad or pool room, or if you want an elegant space with high, mezzanine ceilings, high lift hardware is a great choice.

When to Choose High Lift Hardware:

  • Your garage will be an extension of another glamorous space in your home.
  • Your garage architecture includes windows over the door.
  • You need to optimize storage space.
  • You need clearance for a car lift.
  • You aren’t sure about future uses for the garage, so you want to keep your options as open as possible (Home gym? College kid’s room? Business office?).

A technical drawing of a High Garage Door Lift

This technical drawing shows how a high lift garage door uses a straight track, partly angled away from the wall.

How Will a High Lift Garage Door Look in My Garage?

A high lift garage door changes the visual appearance of your door on its tracks. You’re essentially making it so that the door travels up farther before it travels back along the ceiling. This puts the tension and stress on a different part of the opener system, meaning that certain parts need to work differently.

  1. Garage Door Tracks – Every installation is unique. For example, if you have a 10-foot ceiling in your garage, but your garage door is eight feet high, then your tracks will need to be two feet longer than if you use standard garage door hardware.
  2. Garage Door Torsion Springs – Most people think that the door opener is what’s doing the heavy lifting, but that isn’t true. The torsion spring does the work. This means that it’s under extreme pressure and must be properly balanced so that the door operates not only smoothly, but safely.
  3. Garage Door Opener – You need a wall-mounted system, you say? The LiftMaster 8500W is a superbly quiet system, much more than a normal chain-drive choice. It has an automatic locking mechanism that gives extra security as well as a great deal of horsepower for high lift and vertical doors. It also includes the MyQ app, allowing you to operate your door from anywhere with your phone.

A house with a Flush design garage door in Black.

You did everything in your power to ensure that there weren’t garage door tracks right over your head. Don’t ruin it now by choosing a center garage door opener that will be in your way! A beautiful door like this wouldn’t facilitate one anyway—this modern, black double garage door in Flush Design needs a wall-mounted system.

Inclined Garage Door Tracks: What You Need with a Cathedral Ceiling

A classic kid's drawing of a house

Okay, imagine you’re a kid drawing a house. You know the triangular roof? If you have a garage door that’s on the other side of your garage’s roof, you need inclined garage door tracks.

This is an Eastman E-12 design garage door, here shown with Claystone color for the door and Ice White color real overlays.

This picture says it all! If your garage door has to follow the shape of the roof, it needs inclined tracks. This beautiful door is the Eastman E-12 Design in Claystone paint on the panels and Ice White overlays.

A technical drawing of the Inclined Garage Door Tracks

The Technical Differences Between Inclined Track Hardware and High Lift Hardware

  • Inclined tracks follow the incline pattern of the roof, meaning that the door stays flat against the ceiling. High lift hardware lifts the garage door toward the ceiling before it gets to the pitch, leaving a gap where the roof incline begins.
  • The torsion spring must be well-balanced and strong for a high lift door since the components are under a large amount of stress.
  • A high roof with a steep incline requires a wall-mounted opener such as the LiftMaster 8500.

These Carriage House single garage doors are in the Eastman E-11 design, with Moka Brown colored doors, and Desert Sand colored overlays, with 4 vertical-lite Panoramic windows and decorative hardware.

These Carriage House single garage doors from the Townships Collection (Eastman E-11 design) give a charming, elegant feel to this home. They are shown here in Moka Brown with Desert Sand overlays and four vertical-lite panoramic windows.

When to Choose Inclined Tracks

  • You have cathedral ceilings.
  • You have a vaulted ceiling.
  • Your garage door is on the same side as the roof slope.

Front or Rear Low Headroom Hardware: When Space is at a Premium

The front and read low headroom lifts are what you want if:

  • You have a lower-than-average ceiling.
  • You have very old swinging doors on an older, detached garage or shed. (Most of these garages made back in the 1960s left only a couple of inches of headroom!)
  • This FAQ gives you more information about low headroom lifts and openers.

A picture of an elegant She-Shed with a California full-view garage door in 12x7 size, with Black aluminum frame and Clear glass

This ‘she-shed’is complete with this California full-view garage door—a choice that makes sense considering the less than 10 inches of space, making standard lift hardware impossible. The homeowner also wanted the garage tracks to be almost invisible since she wanted an elegant, cozy space that didn’t feel like a “garage.”

You should choose front or rear low headroom hardware for your garage door if:

A technical drawing of a Low Front Headroom

  • The headroom over your door is around 7”-10”—this means you have to have FRONT low headroom hardware.
  • You have 5”-7” of headroom—you have to have a REAR low headroom lift.
  • How are the front and rear low headroom hardware lifts different from standard lift hardware? Well, when the garage door has less headroom space when going from vertical to horizontal, the dual tracks and rollers move only the top part of the door. This allows the garage door opener to move the top section far enough back so that the lower sections follow behind smoothly.
  • You don’t have to have a great deal of space over your garage door, but you DO have to install a ceiling-mounted garage door system because a wall-mounted system wouldn’t be able to fully open the door. If you still choose to have a wall-mounted system, remember that you’ll always have 8” of garage door at the top of your garage door opening hole. The new the LiftMaster 87504-267 door opener is the next generation of the well-known LiftMaster 8550.
  • This option shouldn’t be your first choice, but rather a last resort when nothing else will fit into your space.

Standard Garage Door Hardware: The Common Choice

If you enjoy the long-lasting chicness of Traditional Style, these single garage doors in the Classic MIX design will make your eyes smile.

This eye-catching choice has a door on the left with inclined tracks and one on the right that can use a standard garage door lift. Garage doors with an arch are coming back into popularity with architects and designers. These single doors in Classic MIX Design are a great choice for those who want their home to put out a traditional feel.

When to Choose a Standard Garage Door Lift:

  • If you have 10” or more of headroom.
  • If you can choose between extension springs (installed over the two horizontal tracks) or torsion springs. The experts usually recommend torsion springs.
  • If you want an electric, ceiling-mounted door opener, a great choice is the next version of the well-loved LiftMaster 8550— the new LiftMaster 87504-267.

Things to Think About Before You Make Your Final Choices for Your Garage Door

This garage door is a North Hatley SP design, here shown in Ice White to match the windows and entry door color, with Richmond Arch window Inserts and decorative hardware.

Do you want that old-fashioned effect of swinging garage doors? Try the North Hatley SP design. This one is shown in white, matching the windows and entry door. The Richmond Arch window inserts and decorative hardware are perfect finishing touches.

What About Insulation?

Depending on the project, you might be tempted to cut corners where you think it won’t matter. A garage door that isn’t insulated might not seem like a big deal, but don’t be fooled! It is very important.

Important facts to remember:

House Beautiful says that the heating and cooling of your house is the most important thing to consider when you’re thinking about energy consumption. It can account for up to half of the total energy use of your home! One of the best ways to make your home “green” is to prevent unnecessary heat and cooling loss that results from inadequate insulation and/or doors and windows that aren’t properly sealed.

Your garage might not be a heated space, but you can keep it protected from the weather. This will pay off in the end by saving money on the parts of your home that you do choose to heat.

Green Builder Media says that spray foam, such as polyurethane gives the highest R-value in proportion to area. It is a powerful insulator for small spaces and seals leaky spaces very well. GARAGA Standard+ (with an R-value of R-16) will help you save plenty of money on your energy bills for more than 25 years. You’ll also feel more comfortable in both your home and your garage.

Upping Your Home’s Curb Appeal

A high-quality garage door will last 25 years or more, as well as give your home a higher resale value—a new garage door has the highest addition of all home improvement projects! These should be considerations for a new door:

  • Windows—you want as much natural light as possible!
  • Design and color—don’t choose something bland!
  • Cost—one vs. two doors. Get details here and choose what looks best for your space.

This is a Shaker-Flat XL garage door design, with Stockton window inserts. The rich Chocolate Walnut color adds a deep layer much needed to enhance all the light colors of this garage.

The combined brick and wood textures create a unique, chic look on this garage. You almost forget that it’s detached! These garage doors are the Shaker-Flat XL design with Stockton inserts. The Chocolate Walnut paint adds an enhancing layer to the other light hues.

Whatever You Choose, Work with Professionals and Feel Confident

Charlie's Overhead Door can help you if you want to transform your carport into a garage, build an attached or detached garage, or any other type of garage project. Offering you custom options and hardware is our passion and specialty—we can find solutions to even the most specific challenges, whether it’s an in-the-way ventilation pipe or a small shed that needs modernization. Come down and see us—we’ll help you out!

Call us at 519-539-2988.

The average homeowner will only buy one or two garage doors over their entire lifetime. Don’t try to handle these decisions all on your own! Overhead doors and garage door openers are our only doings, so we know them well! It’s our pleasure to help you find the right choices for your project, from style to budget.

If you’ve already found a garage door that you love, ask us for a free quote now!

If you’d like to “see” your options on your home before you buy, use our Design Centre!

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