First Impressions, Simple Statements - Page 4

Renewing garage and entry doors with neighborly good looks and in line with the modern streetscape aesthetic

Northgate Garage Doors in San Rafael offers the service of re-facing garage doors with Eichler siding on new roll-ups that are purchased from their product line. For $2,500-$3,000, Northgate provides a new nine-by-seven-foot sectional roll-up, siding re-facing applied at their manufacturer’s plant, and final home installation. Artistic Garage Doors offers a similar re-facing service on the peninsula.

Automation with integrity

But the simplest and most economical fix of all, and particularly for those who still own original Eichler side-to-side manual garage doors, is simply to rehab the existing doors and then modernize them with automation.

The automation upgrade is often a two-step process. “Before we even think about automating doors, they have to work well by hand,” says Marge Fouts of Artistic Garage Doors, a company that has been automating Eichler garage doors for three decades. “If they don’t, they might need new tracks, which is an easy but necessary repair.” It also adds to the final price for automation.

When the automation upgrade is complete, the original doors will look unchanged from the street. “And they will virtually last forever,” says Artistic’s Ron Fouts. They’ll open and close with a hand-held remote control, and also operate from a wireless keypad mounted near the doors.

An important element in the mix, and a code requirement in most municipalities, is the installation of a photo-electric ‘eye’ at the base of the door that serves as a safety device for people crossing the doors’ path during operation.

Even though there are countless original garage doors, especially in the Eichler communities, that are prospective candidates for repair and automation, there are only a handful of companies in the garage-door business willing to mess with repairs, especially while replacement-door sales wait in the wings.

On the San Francisco peninsula, three companies have been offering this service, and with positive reviews, for many years: Artistic Garage Doors, Inc. (San Carlos), Econo-Doormasters (Belmont), and Campbell Overhead Door, Inc. (Santa Clara).

Automation package components and prices vary from one company to the next. We’ve been quoted as low as $365 per door, for a basic install, from one installer.

New & custom garage doors

If you’re looking to replace your original garage doors with brand-new ones, it’s important to choose doors that are both minimalist and modern.In today’s modern neighborhoods, the interpretation of modern still reaches back to Joe Eichler’s original understanding, which was simplification of form and subtraction of ornament from the structure. Since MCM homeowners, from the start, have been attracted to these homes for their streamlined aesthetic, it makes sense to continue that theme when undertaking improvements, door updates included.

The Coppermine garage door from Unique Garage Doors.
The Coppermine garage door from Unique Garage Doors.
A traditional roll-up garage door.
Chuck White (above left) inherited a traditional roll-up garage door (above right) from his home’s previous owner when he bought his San Jose Eichler in 2003. But White disliked that rollup so much, it fired up the handyman in him. After locating a pair of original Eichler doors in Marin, White removed the roll-up and brought back his home’s inherent good looks.

While most garage door manufacturers think ‘mainstream,’ and not ‘modern,’ we’re occasionally pleasantly surprised by new ‘contemporary’ offerings that come to market. But before you settle on the most modern-looking design your local garage-door vendor happens to have on the shelf, spend a few hours online sizing up products on your own.

Northwest's 'Modern Classic' door installed in Marinwood by Northgate
Garage Doors.
Northwest's 'Modern Classic' door installed in Marinwood by Northgate Garage Doors.

That’s where we discovered the Coppermine garage door from the manufacturer Unique Garage Doors, an eye-catching five-panel roll-up that seems to bring together Asian, industrial, and modern into its unique, random patina pattern. You’d hardly know a roll-up hides beneath the Coppermine’s rustic-looking face of subdued brown and green earth tones. Available in copper or stainless steel, from Northgate Garage Doors.