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Is 2.1 m enough?

I am constructing a set of outward-opening timber ledge-and-brace doors for a workshop, through which one day someone may wish to take a car. Vehicle-storage is not the current intended use of the room, but I don't want to completely exclude that use for someone later down the track.

So my question is, what is the narrowest door I can build that will still permit a car to pass through? I'm happy to exclude large vehicles (SUVs and the like), because it's not a huge workshop anyway, it's got a low ceiling, and this is a pretty built-up urban area where most people have smallish cars.

I've read on forums that an average car width is 1.6–1.9 m; I've no data to back that up though.

Oh, and I want to make a narrow door because they'll be lighter and cheaper, and because I don't want to give up too much internal wall-space to the door (to reserve space for shelves etc.).

Here's an example of (sort of) what I'm doing:

enter image description here

Thanks!

Update: this is how they ended up: New shed doors

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    I recommend shopping for garage doors and looking up the dimensions of a few of the "smallish car" models you wish to support. 96 inches (~2.4 m) is the smallest standard size garage door width I found in a big box store in the United States. However, car sizes and perceptions of whether they are big or small can vary from country to country and person to person (e.g. Japanese kei cars are not big sellers in the U.S.), so your results may vary. – statueuphemism Nov 4 '16 at 9:38
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    Drunk or sober? Icy or dry? – Wayfaring Stranger Nov 4 '16 at 12:54
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    I needed to know this a couple of months ago. I Googled and found multiple answers. It's easy to do it that way. – Rob Nov 4 '16 at 15:32
  • Go to Walmart and measure 100 random cars in the parking lot. Calculate the mean and standard deviation, and build your door mean + 3*sigma wide. (yes, this is partly a joke) – Carl Witthoft Nov 4 '16 at 17:22
  • A caution against going too small/nonstandard: Someday other people (eg, spouse/friend/child/parent) may need to take your car out for some reason -- perhaps in an emergency -- and presumably you'd want this to happen without damaging your car, garage or door. If you ever have to replace the door building or having a custom one built is more difficult/expensive than buying one from stock. If you sell your house, the buyer may place less (or even negative) value on the purchase if they can't use the garage. – gregmac Nov 4 '16 at 18:13
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The door doesn't need to be much wider than the car - 10cm or 4 inches either side of the mirrors should be plenty in a straight line. But it's conventional to make the door very nearly as wide as the garage, for ease of access especially if you need to turn.

I've got a fairly typical UK family size car, and it's just under 1.8m including mirrors. Even a modern supermini isn't much narrower than this. I suggest you pick a car of the size you've got in mind, and Google that model plus "dimensions". Then you have to estimate how precisely you can line the car up. With a line marked on the ground, and leaning out of the window, I know I can get to within ±2 cm on side-to-side positioning, lined up straight, but it's slow and boring (this is lining a van up to an awning). So I've increased by a factor of 10 for safety/convenience margin.

This would lead to 2 m as a minimum width for a fairly normal car. This would feel quite tight but be doable. You would of course have to have the garage wider inside to allow opening the doors. Smaller cars can need more width as they're often 3-door, which means bigger doors; this effect can be bigger than the reduction in car width.

  • Thanks for the info, Chris. Interesting (as a non-car-person) that it can be so tight! That's great. I think I shall be reasonably okay at 2.1 m then, for smaller cars and careful drivers!! – Sam Wilson Nov 7 '16 at 1:05
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In the States, I believe that 7' by 7' is the smallest you will find. If my conversion I found online is correct, it matches that 2.1 meters you refer to.

Standard overhead garage doors in the States fit behind the wall where in essence a bigger door can fit over a smaller opening within reason. There are tracks that allow them to roll up under a ceiling that is approx. 7' 6" high

  • Yes, I've seen the overhead-rolling doors, but even with one of those I'm worried about losing headroom (hence preferring to have outward-opening doors). Thanks for the measurements! And that's interesting about the doors not fitting within the door opening, but over it. – Sam Wilson Nov 7 '16 at 1:02

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