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efficient large door for *infrequent* access to shop

neutral_grey | Posted in Energy Efficiency and Durability on

I need a “full size garage” size entrance to a shop space I’m building.  It will only very intermittently – but it must have a ~10′ high, ~12′ wide “door”.  Obviously this is typically a garage door – but even the best I’ve seen are very low whole-assembly R value, not to mention difficult/impossible to fully seal.

Opening the door should not cause “wear” (IE it should support reasonably normal numbers of opening cycles), but it CAN be a bit difficult (think, opening a Connex container level of effort – that would be perfectly acceptable)

Also, in the case you have a sliding assembly in mind – with some minor design tweaks I could probably accommodate a floor track to one side for the entire door’s width.

Any recommendations?  Thank you!

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  1. canada_deck | | #1

    I'd get some monster hinges and build a large set of double doors. You can custom make them however you want so you can make them as thick as your wall. You can also provide a lot of overlap on the outside edge to ensure a tight seal.

  2. Expert Member
    Akos | | #2

    You can build a light weight standard wall and put it on beefy garage door tracks. You might need a commercial door spring for the extra weight.

    You still have the issue with air sealing around the edges and bottom but at least it is relatively well insulated. Since it can be DIY, it also won't cost nowhere near as much as a so called "insulated" garage door.

    I would build this with wood studs (cedar is even lighter), no sheathing with structural metal siding to minimize weight.

    I've seen this done for smaller aircraft hangers and works reasonably well. You can even put a couple of fixed windows in for extra light.

    1. neutral_grey | | #7

      Yeah, DIY is an option, and given the size & use of the door, might be the only thing I can afford LOL (windows/doors for the rest of the house are going to be very painful $)

      The best plan I came up with was to "separate" sliding/closing with sealing. Large wall slides into place, perhaps with some taper to the track to "sort of" seal it when shut. Then some sort of custom cam setup is involved in locking it, forcing foam seals down to mate. Inspired by the connex box closure + lift-handle-to-lock 3-point door handle/lock systems.

    2. Expert Member
      DCcontrarian | | #9

      I built a door like that but I went the other way: I used LVL, even though they're heavier than 2x4's, because they're much more resistant to warping. LVL frame, Zip on the exterior side, plywood on the interior. Polyiso in the cavity. Everything glued and screwed. It's very solid. It's heavy but not extraordinarily -- maybe 200 pounds-- so four heavy-duty hinges hold it. I mounted the hinges on the doors on a bench, and made jambs with the hinges lined up with the doors. Then I attached the jambs to the framing and hung the doors.

      After the doors were hung I attached cedar T&G over the zip board.

      Once the doors were hung I ran a stop around the perimeter. I cut a kerf in it before installing and put weatherstripping in the kerf. Between the doors I put an astragal also with weatherstripping.

      One thing to look out for is that it's very difficult to find hardware for doors more than about 2-1/2" thick. If you need to open the door from both sides that's a problem. If you don't you can just use surface-mount hardware to hold the door closed.

      At the bottom of the door I put a stop across. If you're driving or rolling heavy things through the door that might be a problem, you'd have to figure out other ways to seal the bottom.

      I got inspiration from this article and went from there:

  3. Expert Member
    Michael Maines | | #3

    What's your budget? An accordion wall (La Cantina, NanaWall) would work and you can get the doors without full glazing. Or many manufacturers can now do multi-slide doors that open into a wall pocket. Both are expensive options but are made for the situation.

    1. neutral_grey | | #5

      Not familiar with La Cantian or NanaWall - would you happen to know how they compare in price and efficiency(glazing, thermal breaks etc) of say Zola paussivhaus options like (example actual price 2022: $12k for 9'x9' liftslide two panel door, triple pane).

      Probably way to rich and 'interior' focused for this us, as I'm rolling machinery and such in and out, but really cool products and I'll need to source some of these for the main floor for this project (the door at issue is daylight basement shop)

  4. DennisWood | | #4

    You might want to look at a commercial door company in your area. We had a 2" commercial insulated door on our loading bay (door was about 10 feet wide, 12 feet high) that performed "ok" in the 16x32 loading bay, even at -30 C temps. What did need some special attention were exterior seals, which made a massive difference in heat loading for the area. I kept data on the space via an ecobee3 stat and dedicated radiant zone. The attached pic shows data for radiant runtimes (-20 C or so outside temps) before and after the new double blade seals were installed. See this link for a higher resolution pic: . These seals are stocked by the commercial door company that serviced this door...more in the thread below about sourcing in the US.

    These folks do up to 3" thick polyurethane insulated doors : our door was similar in build but I believe 2" thick.

    These overhead door hinges are designed to push the door forward when closed for better sealing:

    1. neutral_grey | | #6

      WOW that's a huge difference on the seals. Also, thanks for the specific links. I don't think I'll have any standard rolling doors, but those GreenHingeSystems spring loaded hinge should be in every partially-conditioned garage space!

      For readers on GBA: I note from your thread that the massive reduction in heat load is comparing "old slightly shrunk" door seals. Here's a pic of the new seals, which @DennisWood notes were cheaper than big box seals but better quality:

      Dennis, do you have any idea what an expected effective whole-assembly U value for that door is, and what's the rest of the building insulated to? It would appear that the air leakage was virtually all your heat load, even in extreme cold??

      1. DennisWood | | #10

        Neutral, the building was fully gutted with continuous 2" insulation inside over 2x6 walls, and a furred air space inside service cavity. We also added 2" of insulation to the existing slab, then poured 2" over for the radiant. The project was geared to net zero for the building...

        That loading bay was insulated on the interior as well, and the set temp was 8-10 C typically...8-10 less than the rest of the building.

  5. tdbaugha | | #8

    CHI makes garage doors that seem pretty decent for a garage door. The best option is 2.5” thick, thermally broken with seals in between each panel. And you can get a “reverse angle” which is a second vinyl seal on the verticals.

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