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Glossary of Garage Door Terms and Definitions

by Gareth Marples

Garage doors open – garage doors close. Cars go in. Cars go out. With the garage door closed, the cars are safe and dry. But what if that door didn't open?

With the hustle and bustle of life today, things like garage doors usually get taken for granted. And if they suddenly stopped working, think of how fast they'd occupy our minds. We'd certainly do whatever we could to get them fixed ASAP, wouldn't we?

But to fix garage doors, we need knowledge – knowledge most of us probably don't have. And that's why we've assembled this glossary of garage door terms and definitions, so you'll know what's going on when that repairman or builder starts throwing garage door jargon at you. So read on, and get a quick education. It'll be a lesson well learned.

  • Astragal
    Astragal is the name of the weather-stripping that runs along the bottom of the garage door, stopping any drafts or rain from entering the garage.
  • Back hangs
    Back hangs are the vertical supports that hold the horizontal track in place, and stop the door from moving around in the track.
  • Backroom
    Relating to garages, the backroom is NOT the room where you go to play cards with the boys. It actually refers to the amount of space required to install a garage door, and is measured from the door to the back of the horizontal track.
  • Bottom bracket
    There are two bottom brackets, or corner brackets, on a garage door – one on the right, and one on the left. The lifting cables are attached to the bottom brackets on most sectional doors.
  • Bracket-mounted track
    Sometimes, a vertical track is attached to a doorjamb with angle brackets. This is referred to as a bracket-mounted track.
  • Cable drums
    Cable drums are an important part of a tension spring system. As the garage door opens, the lifting cable winds around the grooves in the cable drum. It keeps the lifting cable in line, so it doesn't get tangled.
  • Cable safety device
    A cable safety device stops the garage door from falling if the cable breaks.
  • Cable stop
    A cable stop is another safety device, attached to the end of the cable, that stops it from slipping through the drum.
  • Cable
    The cable, or lifting cable, connects the bottom bracket to the counterbalance mechanism.
  • Center hinge
    The center hinge is a flat hinge mounted on the door section that allows it to negotiate the curve between the vertical and horizontal tracks.
  • Center support bearing
    The center support bearing is mounted in the middle of, and above, the door, supporting the spring shaft.
  • Clearances
    You'll need to know your clearances before you start your garage door installation. That refers to how much backroom, headroom and sideroom, or the distance around the walls of the garage, is needed to efficiently install your door.
  • Curtain
    The curtain refers to the face of the door that goes up and down, or side-to-side.
  • Cycle
    One cycle of a garage door goes from when it's fully closed, to fully open, and then back again to fully closed. Torsion spring doors are rated by how many cycles they're supposed to safely complete in their lifetime, for example 25,000, 50,000 or 100,000 cycles.
  • Dead load
    A dead load refers to a load that doesn't move, like a garage door as it rests in the closed position.
  • Door frame
    The door frame holds the garage door with two vertical pieces and a horizontal header, or top piece.
  • Door movement
    Door movement refers to how much room a door has to lift in relation to the inside measurements of the garage. Door movement may be standard lift, full vertical lift, high lift, or low headroom.
  • Door size
    When specifying a door size, you give the width first, then the height.
  • Double-thick glass
    Double-thick glass is around 1/8” thick.
  • Extension springs
    Extension springs are one of the two types of spring systems used to carry the weight of a garage door as it lifts. They stretch on either side of the door, running from a pulley attached to the door, to the rear track hanger.
  • Flag bracket
    A flag bracket connects the vertical and horizontal tracks.
  • Flush design
    A garage door with a flush design is flat, with no indentations or grooves.
  • Galvanizing
    Galvanizing is the process of coating steel to prevent rusting. All steel garage doors are galvanized.
  • Garage door opener
    Garage door openers consist of all the hardware that combines to open and close a garage door. A garage door opener can be operated automatically by remote control.
  • Garage building plans
    Garage building plans consist of all the garage blueprints and designs that, when followed carefully, will produce the garage of your dreams.
  • Garage door screens
    Garage door screens are similar to any regular screen door, but they're big enough to fit in the opening of a garage door, keeping out bugs and dust.
  • Gauge
    Gauge refers to the thickness of steel. The higher the number, the thinner the steel.
  • Hinges
    Hinges are used to connect the sections of a garage door, allowing the door to bend as it runs up the vertical track and onto the horizontal track.
  • Horizontal track
    The horizontal track runs parallel to the garage ceiling, and supports and guides the door as it reaches its fully-open position.
  • Insulation
    The insulation in a garage door can be made of polystyrene foam or polyurethane filler. Polyurethane insulates better than polystyrene, but polystyrene lasts longer.
  • Jamb seal
    The jamb seal is the weather-stripping that runs around the door jamb, stopping drafts and rain from entering the garage.
  • Jambs
    The jambs are the vertical pieces on either side of a door frame.
  • Lift-handle
    A life handle is sometimes installed on a garage door for use if manual operation is required.
  • Lites
    Lites are the industry's word for glass or clear plastic windows in a frame. Some lites are double-glazed for insulation.
  • Low headroom
    If your garage ceiling is lower than normal, you may need special low-headroom track hardware accessories.
  • Muntin
    A muntin is a piece of material that separates glass panes in a door.
  • Opening size
    The opening size refers to the distance between the walls and the doorjambs in a garage door opening.
  • Overhead garage door
    An overhead garage door is one that's built in hinged sections, allowing it to travel up and down tracks as it opens and closes.
  • Pane
    A pane refers to one section of a door.
  • Perimeter seal
    A perimeter seal kit includes enough weather-stripping to completely surround a garage door.
  • Photo-electric sensor
    Photo-electric sensors are required by law for safety reasons. They're mounted 6” above the ground in the doorway, and will reverse the direction of the door if it hits an obstruction. If the sensor isn't working, the door won't work, either.
  • Pneumatic sensing edge kit
    A pneumatic sensing edge kit serves the same purpose as a photo-electric sensor. It consists of an air hose that runs along the bottom of the garage door that'll reverse the direction of the door if it comes into contact with an obstruction.
  • Portable garage
    Portable garages are made of UV-resistant and fire-retardant tarps or plastic sheets supported by metal tubing, that'll house oversize items, like boats or RVs.
  • Radius
    The radius is the curved part of a track between the vertical and horizontal pieces.
  • Rain stop
    A rain stop, or water stop, is a piece that runs across the garage floor, and holds the door flush against the outside finish when it's closed.
  • Rear track hangers
    Rear track hangers attach the horizontal track to the ceiling, thus stabilizing it.
  • Roller assembly
    The roller assembly consists of an axle with a wheel attached, that runs up and down the track.
  • Rollers
    The rollers are the wheel part of the roller assembly that roll freely using ball-bearings.
  • Safety spring containment
    Safety spring containment is a system found in extension springs, whereby cables run through the inside of the coil, holding it in place in case it breaks, thus avoiding injury.
  • Sectional doors
    Sectional doors are just that – doors made up of sections hinged together, thus allowing it to bend around the track as it opens and closes.
  • Shaft bearings
    Shaft bearings support the weight of the counterbalance system against the weight of the door.
  • Sideroom
    Sideroom is a measurement you need when you're figuring out what size door system you need. It represents the distance from the door, back to the closest obstruction.
  • Spring assembly
    The spring assembly is the hardware that transfers the weight of the door to the counterbalance system.
  • Stop molding
    The stop molding is the wooden or plastic piece that's attached to the outside of the door jamb, to seal out weather and light.
  • Top header seal
    The top header seal is the piece of weather-stripping that runs along the top of the garage door.
  • Torsion spring counterbalance assembly
    The torsion spring counterbalance assembly is all the hardware that combines to evenly distribute the weight of the garage door as it opens and closes.
  • Torsion springs
    Torsion springs are the other type of spring system (as opposed to extension springs) that aid in raising and lowering a garage door. They're mounted above the door, and are loosened and tightened by the cables as they wind around the drum when the door is opened and closed.
  • Track
    The track is the part that holds and guides the roller assembly. It runs vertically to the top of the garage door, then horizontally parallel to the ceiling.
  • Winding sleeves
    The winding sleeves are the hardware that convert the tension as it enters the tension spring, thus distributing it into a manageable weight for the spring system.
  • Windload
    Windload refers to the force of the wind as it hits a garage door in the closed position. In hurricane or high-wind areas, doors are required to carry up to 110mph windload resistance.

That's the basics, folks. We've included all the important garage door springs and parts so you'll know what you need for your garage door installation, whether you're doing it yourself, or hiring a professional. If you want complete garage door packages, then go online – there's a wide variety of styles available.

These days, garage door manufacturers are up-to-date with your demands, continually creating better looking and better functioning garage doors. So, no matter whether you're remodeling or building a new house, and no matter how far out you might think your ideas are for a garage and garage door design, there's probably one waiting for you. So go ahead –start that project. Garage doors today are as efficient and aesthetically-pleasing as ever. And when your garage is finished, your car will be safe and dry – and so will you!

About the author:  Gareth Marples is a successful freelance writer providing tips and advice for consumers. His numerous articles offer moneysaving tips and valuable insight on typically confusing topics.

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