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I bought a house a year ago that sits on a hill. The uphill side is on the ground. The downhill side sits on a carport that sits at the top of our driveway. The carport has a large opening (18'2" wide and 6"10 tall), and the carport interior itself is wide (about 21'). It is enclosed on 3 sides. I would like to add a garage door so I can store tools and bikes and similar in the main garage area.

Here is the problem: there is less than 1" of additional ceiling clearance above the opening of the garage. So, if I were to put in an overhead door, I would need to frame it down by at least 4" (depending on who you ask, it could be as high as 8-10"). That would limit the vehicles I could part in there (and, in some cases, mean that I can't stand up straight in my garage).

  1. I started to look into horizontal open garage doors, specifically around-the-corner side-sliding garage doors, but the only ones I have been able to find are either: Available only in Europe/are incredibly expensive to import to the US

  2. Commercial doors that may or may not be able to go around-the-corner and, for the ones that do, the hanging hardware hangs the door 7-8" from the ceiling, which would maybe be slightly better than reducing the height of the entire garage by that amount, but would will require that I frame the opening down further.

Have you run into good side-sliding door hardware options? I have enough depth to pull it around to the sidewall with room to spare. And I would be very happy to buy a standard door and turn it on its side, but I have had an impossible time finding the right hardware for a side-sliding system.

Any advice on how to overcome this issue without spending a ton or tearing down the carport and starting over, is more than welcome.

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  • What's above the garage? Aug 15, 2023 at 4:01
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    AT the moment its asking for product recommendation, which is off-topic. Instead, post some photos, and ask how do I fix this problem? Aug 15, 2023 at 5:13
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    Pics sure would help you and us out here...
    – Huesmann
    Aug 15, 2023 at 12:04
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    I vote to reopen this question. The op is not looking for a recommendation on a certain product, but an idea/s of how to overcome a design flaw.
    – RMDman
    Aug 15, 2023 at 13:07
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    I don't think of this as a design flaw. It was designed as a carport and works fine in that mode. The problem is that it wasn't designed to be a garage, so making it into one gets complicated. That's not a flaw, it is a change in usage that requires some extra work. Aug 15, 2023 at 14:07

4 Answers 4

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Thinking out of the box, literally.

Instead of a traditional door that flips or rolls into the garage, or a sideways door like you are thinking of (which is a bit unusual, at least for the US), go for the industrial look. Specifically, a roll up door with exterior mounting. Something like this:

Roll up door

Just Googling for examples - I have no connection with any companies I mention here. The above picture is the Model 2500 from Roll Up Doors Direct. Cost is ~ $2,000 for the door itself, but varies depending on size, motor vs. manual chain opening, mounting options, insulation, etc. But my guess is that even with shipping costs and some installation work this is more like $5k than $20k.

The key is to mount the top mechanism (where the door rolls up into) outside instead of inside. That does give it the industrial look, but it lets you use the full available height of the opening and doesn't affect your interior space at all. But unless you are in some wacky homeowner's association there really shouldn't be any problem with a door like this.

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  • This wouldn't limit the headroom inside the garage, but the OP did mention they'd have to frame down the opening for even a normal garage door and didn't want to do that due to "limit the vehicles I could part[sic] in there". A rolling door like this could easily take up 12" or more at the top of the frame, which is even more than the OP was already quoted. Aug 15, 2023 at 17:49
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    @computercarguy You would be correct with interior mounting. That's why I specifically mentioned exterior mounting. Aug 15, 2023 at 17:50
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    I guess I hadn't noticed any exterior mounting of these before. The door linked recommends an add-on hood for exterior mounts, and that insulated versions of this door can't be used for exterior installation, so those are things to consider, too. Aug 15, 2023 at 18:27
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    Depending on the layout of OP's house (and the installation requirements of the door, and local codes, etc), I wonder if they could build out an overhang that matches the design of rest of the house, and which would contain the rollup door "box". Could hide the industrial looking door, potentially make it harder for a burglar to attack the mechanism, and as a bonus, add some sun/rain protection for the front of the now-garage when the door is open.
    – CameronSS
    Aug 17, 2023 at 21:50
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You don't tell us what's to the side or in front of the carport opening, but I have two possible suggestions that are, again, "outside the box":

  1. Use sliding barn doors.

    • These will mount to the outside of the carport, and when they slide open, they will use no room inside it at all.
    • They will take room to the sides of the carport to open, though, so you would have roughly 9' of clearance on either side to open the doors.
    • If you need them to open automatically, there are chain-operated gate openers that can easily cause the barn doors to slide. You could even open/close each door individually (requiring two separate openers) if you only wanted to open one side at a time.
  2. Use outward swinging doors

    • These would be similar to the gates you see across the driveway of a fancy house (making your house fancy! :) ) or at a self-storage type facility. Instead of being an iron bar gate, though, you could get a solid door if desired.
    • You could use one door over the entire opening, though that would probably be rather cumbersome - your better bet would probably be two doors, hinged at the outside edges.
    • You would need roughly 9' of clearance in front of the garage for these to open outward (or 18' if you want a single door!), so you would need to be careful about where you park a car in the driveway (or have to move one before opening the doors). This may also not work if you have a very short driveway where you don't have 9' before hitting the sidewalk and/or road.
    • Again, these could be automated with door openers and could be operated individually if desired.
    • Any sort of door that's 9' wide by ~7' tall is going to be fairly heavy, so it would need to be properly built and braced and is almost guaranteed to need a wheel to support the moving end to keep it from racking over time.

Also, I'm not really sure I'd call this a "design flaw". It was perfectly suited for the builder/original owner, it just doesn't meet your needs... Potato/Potahtoe...

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    I've also seen outward-swinging bifold garage doors, which could help with the short/in-use driveway
    – Chris H
    Aug 15, 2023 at 15:57
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    Interesting thought, @ChrisH. Hadn't seen one of those.
    – FreeMan
    Aug 15, 2023 at 16:20
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    The only direction you didn't mention, is down. How about a drawbridge for a door ?
    – Criggie
    Aug 15, 2023 at 22:10
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    Well, @Criggie, I don't feel I've got enough details to mention that, but if the OP's house is surrounded by a (narrow) moat (at only 6'2" wide) that would be an excellent option! It might need to be trussed to support much weight, even at only 6'...
    – FreeMan
    Aug 16, 2023 at 0:27
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    They're not common but I've seen them in the UK, Germany, and France. I wondered if they were a European thing but when I looked for examples the first I found was in California. Custom built though so probably really expensive
    – Chris H
    Aug 16, 2023 at 7:36
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Garage doors that swing outward are a good option.

enter image description here

Image Source

They're sometimes called "carriage house" doors. They're not uncommon in certain parts of the country, particularly on craftsman-style homes. You can get them with powered openers (mounted on the ceiling or wall), but most are opened manually. This type of door has several advantages for your situation:

  • Hangs on hinges like a regular door, so it's easier to install if you're wanting to DIY it. Some even come pre-hung.
  • Safer to operate since there's no risk of it coming down on top of someone.
  • The manual opening version requires zero space or clearance inside your garage.
  • The automatic opening version requires little vertical clearance compared to the opener for an overhead door.

Your opening is rather wide so you may end up installing two sets of doors with a post in the middle. If you really don't want a post, you might consider a bifold door, which can cover a wide span without requiring a massive clearance for the door to swing into.

I would recommend against any option that involves an opening mechanism that's located outside the garage. Garage doors already have a lot of security vulnerabilities, but would-be thieves have an even easier time breaking into your garage when the mechanism is accessible for tampering with or bypassing. A good set of manually-opening carriage house doors with a lock can be just as secure as the entry doors to your house.

Also, don't forget that most garage door companies will give free estimates. Have them come out and walk them through what you want to do. They've likely done something like this before, so they can guide you through what has worked in the past and what hasn't.

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  • Certain parts of which country? Aug 18, 2023 at 7:08
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It seems that low head space is your problem. Other than the "open outward" doors, there are "slide to the side" doors such as these: https://www.ryterna.com/side-sliding-garage-doors/

With these, they can be powered, but the mechanism isn't in your ceiling, where it may be a hazard with low clearance. I'm not aware of outward opening doors that can be powered without a ceiling mechanism, but they may be out there.

The slide to the side doors probably do require that you give up any wall shelves on one side of the "garage" though. But you could put up enclosed cabinets if you leave enough space behind for the door.

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