Hubby and I are still "discussing" what to do about our old clunky original garage doors. We want a garage door opener, but also do not want to loose the look of the home's exterior, especially since the garage in our courtyard model is all that you see from the street. One option we are considering is having a custom roll-up style wood door (well, 2 of them actually) made and covered with Eichler siding. I have seen this done and while not the same as original (you can see the fine horizontal lines where the sections break), it might be better than the other alternative (replace it with a metal roll-up painted to match the house).
Question: Has anyone replaced their original doors with custom wood ones? If so, how well does the opener work, given how heavy wood is? And how quiet are they when opening and closing? (We have a bedroom on the other side of the garage wall).
I know that Rennman has done this. If he could post some pictures of this I would be very interested in what it looks like. I have the metal roll up door, and Although I enjoy the convienence, I know that the house looses a bit of character.
Use fibreglass paneling-I've seen some and it looks pretty good, almost indistinguishable until you go up and knock on it.
The basic problem that drives folks to the roll-up solution is lack of headroom in a flat roof garage for a standard opener to lift into since they must lift a one-piece door up about a foot before pulling it in. A wet door can weigh quite a bit, and the springs and overhead weight make the contraption pretty scary. Non-standard installations like mine cause professional garage door trades people to turn on their heel and walk away with a "not on my liability insurance, I won't."
I have wooden garage doors mounted on shed door tracks, like closet doors. The two halves are independently operated by two common garage door openers. The screw drive is much smoother than the chain, but they've worked very nicely for years. They look like the original hand-operated wooden door. On the weekends, sometimes I'll disengage one operator so I can slide the door open a closed by hand if I'm going in and out often. It's nice to just open it a couple feet, instead of having to pull up the whole darn door.
here are some options:
I have read threads on this board about folks using garage door openers for their sliding Eichler doors. If you can find the right person to do it, I am sure it's possible.
If you have the ceiling height to accommodate it, you could consider tipping doors, as seen in Eichlers with single garage/carport combos. I recently restored the front exterior of my home where we built a new garage door and installed new tipping hardware. It works great with our Sears Craftsman door opener.
Lastly, if you go with a roll up, consider a slab-like door in the same color of the house. Instead of having many small boxes as a result of the horizontal and vertical lines intersecting, at least you'll only have horizontal lines. If the roll up is only 3-4 sections, you'll only have 2-3 horizontal lines running across the door. Less visual clutter.
We had a custom door build by one of the companies which specialize in wood framed carriage doors. We procured the siding ourselves and had it mounted on the wooden frame, and then installed with low overhead tracks.
The overall contraption is obviously much heavier compard to a standard metal door, in particular since we had a single door made to cover the entier 17 ft of the garage. However the .5 hp motor which we already had has no problem pulling it up, because the entire door is counterbalanced by a total of 4 (!) torsion springs. It is even possible to pull it up manually with some effort.
It is obviously noisier compared to a metal door due to the inevitable creaking of the wood and also some clanking in the tracks due to the increased weight. It is audible from the adjacend bedrooms but so far we did not wake up the kids when opening the door in the middle of the night.
So overall there are minor drawbacks associated with the wooden doors (cost, weight, noise). But those are in my opinion outweighed by the much better looks of the wooden doors.
We are getting ready to do something similar to what Jstahl describes -- having a company that makes and installs custom wood doors create a flat door and cover it w Eichler siding. We found a vendor in Campbell that has had some Eichler experience and seems very good.
However, rather than using one large door for our 2-car garage, we are going with two separate doors, each with their own motor. We are doing this to prevent the sagging that seems to occur with very wide wood doors and to reduce the strain on the motor.
As to the weight issue, according to the door company, there is little difference in weight between the insulated metal ones and the custom wood ones.
When we opted for a single 17 ft wide door, we still left the center post in place for static and aestetic reasons. So there will be no sagging. Strain on the motor should not be an issue if you choose a right size motor. The reason we did not go for 2 separate doors was that would require to have additional door tracks at the center post. We felt that there would not be enough space for the tracks and that in turn we would have to 'widen' the post by adding 2x4's on either side. We did not want this becaus we like the sleek look of the original post and because it would also reduce the useable width of the door.
We will be leaving the center post as well. And true, it is a challenge fitting all of the hardware for two doors inside w/o damaging the asthetic. Nothing is perfect....life is a compromise and a constant search for second best solutions....
Just bought an Eichler in Concord and am considering installing a garage door opener for the original wood door. As I read these posts, it seems that the new breed of installers don't understand how this can be done and opting to replace the door with a section steel door. I spoke to the installer mentioned in the Eichler network but he only works in the SouthBay. Can anyone direct me to a good/reasonably priced installer in the Concord area? Thanks in advance.
Just one follow up comment about retrofitting the existing door to work with automatic openers: IMHO, many of the door companies shy away from this, due to their very real concerns over liability. They have good confidence in the modern-style opening devices that they sell and install--especially the electric eye/sensor that senses when someone is in the path of the door and stops it. The last thing they need or want is a lawsuit. The existing doors are also very, very heavy, creating the potential for far greater risk to life, should someone get caught in their path.
A contractor/neighbor of ours installed a mechanism for opening and closing his original Eichler door - it works well but it is loud. I can only imagine how our house would shake with such a device. We will not be going this route, after trying out various roll-up style openers and finding a company with a lot of experience making custom wood doors.