View Full Version : garage doors instead of sliding barn doors?

Jul. 27, 2010, 03:21 PM
Does anyone own a barn or board at a barn with this setup? I am building a 20 stall boarding barn. Well more accurately my dad and I were building it together but he passed away in April. Now my mom, who knows nothing about horses or construction, is in charge. GULP. Not good. Someone who sells garage doors for a living suggested this to her and she thinks it is a great idea because we do not have to build doors.

I had thought about it a long time ago and decided I wanted to sliding doors so I could crack the doors if I wanted and I like that they are operable from inside or out. With a garage door it is really all or nothing. Also our barn is made of 12 inch rough faced cinder block. I think a garage door will look goofy when open since they have to be mounted inside the barn, so you will have wall, go 12" deep then have a door. It would be a carriage house style door so it will look like a barn door. Also since the block is rough faced it may be difficult to do a traditional door.

Any thoughts would be very appreciated!

Jul. 27, 2010, 03:38 PM
I've seen overhead garage doors in barns before and they do have some advantages. However, like you say, you lose the ability to crack open the doors part way,although of course you can open the garage door a few feet at the bottom. A well hung, well made garage door is very easy to open, and you can have a remote for it, too. Depending on where you are, it might be good because I don't think they are as prone to freezing along the bottom edge as sliding doors are. And with either type of door, you can still have a gate inside the door to swing shut, leaving the big door open for maximum ventilation.

Honestly, though, while I used to think that the garage doors were great on a barn, if I were building one now, I'd stay with the traditional sliding doors. And one thing I'd add --- I was at a barn that had a people door cut into one of the sliding doors. That was great in the winter.

Jul. 27, 2010, 03:55 PM
We have a garage door in our not-originally-a-barn barn. The biggest downside to me is the height when it's open, and rolled up inside the barn - it's not really as tall as I would ideally like for head clearance for a horse. HOwever, in our barn, the garage door is NOT where we go in/out with the horses and is only used for ventilation on hot days. The up side is that the windows do allow more light into the barn when the door is closed.

However, unless I could get a taller door, to allow more head clearance, I would go with sliding doors.

Jul. 27, 2010, 04:33 PM
we used to board at a barn with garage door. It was rather low, but the horses managed, I saw one horse bop her head on it, but she was tied near by and her antsy owner kinda spooked her.

The barn was over all low and it was one of them old fashioned doors where the whole door kind of swings up, not segments like the do these days.

Both kinds of doors really have up and down sides, like cracking it a bit for circulation: on the sliding door the circulation could be better, but you won't find a horse making a break for the crack along the bottom....

Jul. 27, 2010, 04:43 PM
my friends mom did this - for two reasons. because they were easy to open and she was building a bank barn into a hillside - so she couldn't do split sliding doors and one big door would have been completely unmanageable for her 95lb self. she loves them - they are automatic and she uses the remote when she's bringing the truck through.

Jul. 27, 2010, 04:51 PM
I used to lesson at a barn with them. Theirs weren't low because they were the type you use on an RV garage so they were really tall - they even could get a double axle through it to deliver shavings. The only downside I remember was you couldn't "crack" it...hers went all the way up or all the way closed. I also remember it vibrated a lot with the prevailing wind because it was fiberglass or some other lightweight material that was loud.

I have large sliding doors at either end of my barn; one end can get snowed opened or closed with a bad storm...frustrating for me in the winter - something to consider when building a barn for sure!

Jul. 27, 2010, 04:59 PM
I have an overhead garage door on the front or west side of my barn and love it. There's a dutch door on the south side that serves as a "people" door in the winter, and on the back, or east, side of the barn there's a sliding door for the horses to go in and out of to get to the mudlot and pasture. This set up has worked very well for me.

I think it's easier to regulate the amount of ventilation with the garage door than with the sliding door. Best of all, the remote for the garage door opener lets me open and close the door from the house. I love the look of the carriage house doors -- wish I had gone that route.

Jul. 27, 2010, 05:09 PM
Garage doors are MUCH better.
We had sliding doors for 50 years and when we changed to ovehead doors, we wonder why we didn't do that before.
Now, every barn I ever build will have overhead doors and a people door on the side.

I worked in a big horse barn in WY that had overhead doors 40 years ago and it was great in the winter, no more fighting snow drifts and iced doors in the winter and with gates, you could leave those doors open as much or little as you wanted.

Sliding doors are a true, literal pain in the back.
I still have a sore spot under one shoulder blade from all those years pushing the sliding doors to open.

You do need an extra 2' height over what opening you want to install overhead doors, so in some older barns with low ceilings, no, you can't install high enough overhead doors.

Jul. 27, 2010, 05:12 PM
I have one on the side of my barn where I store my horse trailer. The opening is 12' tall. The door is HEAVY duty and HEAVY. On my list is to purchase an automatic opener and then it will be perfect. :) I like to have at least one overhead door in the event of drifting snow, I'll be able to punch the 'open' button for the overhead when the slider doors are frozen shut.

Jul. 27, 2010, 05:36 PM
I think the majority of barns and indoors around her have up and over doors rather than sliders--we are in snow country. Most also have auto-openers.

Jul. 27, 2010, 05:53 PM
Some of our overhead doors are very heavy and large, like 19' by 14' wide and they only run with a chain and springs.
They are very light to open and close, no need of an automatic opener at all, can do it one handed.

If your overhead door is hard to open, have someone check the tension on the springs above, they may have slipped.

Melissa.Van Doren
Jul. 27, 2010, 06:23 PM
If you live in a really windy area, leaving big sliding doors partly open can be a no-no. They can get lifted right off the tracks. Mine were double 6'x12' and the company that installed them told me "totally open or totally closed".

Overhead doors have improved a lot. You can get the kind that roll up into a box, or just into a roll directly above the door (instead of the kind which retract overhead into the aisle). And you can find overhead doors that look like carriage doors from the outside. They're not cheap, but if the style is what's holding you back, they are out there.

Jul. 27, 2010, 07:45 PM
The end of our barn that faces north has a big overhead-sliding door, much taller than a garage door.

The south end of our barn is completely open -- we live in South/Central Texas.

We usually bring it down all but about 8 inches at night or when we're gone. That's mostly for the convenience of the barn cats. :) Our horses live out, but if they come in during the winter because of the weather, then we'll close it all the way.

If I had to do it all over again, I probably would go for traditional barn doors. A) I like the way they look better; B) we don't have a light in the aisle where the door is and sometimes I would like that extra light. Actually, if I had to do it all over again, I would do things majorly different with lighting, too.

But if you're going for the overhead door style, go for something bigger than garage doors. We can get our trailer under ours.

Jul. 27, 2010, 07:46 PM
If you do go with the garage doors, get the truck/construction equipment height ones instead of the standard sized ones.
Otherwise there is a head clearance issue if anyone has a tall horse.
And it can also be an issue if you plan on driving a tractor with roll bar into the barn for stall cleaning or anything.

Jul. 27, 2010, 08:28 PM
We have all garage doors on our barn and arena. The largest one is something like 18 x 16 and it is heavy even though it is assisted. But even the 16 x 14 one is not heavy and the 10 x10 is always very easy. We just put in four new ones on the new constuction today. Well we put in three of the four. On one of them we wanted one that curls up in itself so that it could be as high as the ceiling and it hasn't come yet.
The only negative I see is that if you have a door that is short relative to the height of the building, if you use the regular ones, the framing is still there. So, make the door as high as the ceiling allows OR use one that rolls into itself.
I was told that these are better in high winds and they have been good. I can put garage door openers on the ones I want to, and I don't have to worry about snow blocking their movement upward which was a factor last year.
I think they are easier to open than sliding doors.
They are more expensive.
I did use commercial grade doors.

eta I just reread your original post. There is a large indoor riding arena near me and it is the most beautiful building! It has a series of six or eight huge "garage" doors on the south side. When they are opened, the building looks like a series of arches. I think they must set in like you are describing - but that arena is just spectacular. You should be able to make it work aesthetically.

Jul. 27, 2010, 10:04 PM
The barn at Las Colinas in Dallas had the industrial size garage doors with openers - at least circa 1992. Fred the horse and I would ride outside after human work. When we would finish, sometimes the door would be down - if it was chilly, if no-one realized there was still someone out there. Fred walked up to the exterior opener and pushed the button every time, mounted or in hand. He was a very good, smart, fun horse.

Jul. 28, 2010, 08:39 AM
If you price out overhead doors, particularly the commercial variety, you'll find out why they are not widely used in barns.

They are also intollerant of poor handling and if a fractious horse (or an inattentive boarder/worker) bends the track you're looking a door that's up or down and needing some expensive repair.

Barns are also very dusty places. Tracks must be kept clean and regularly lubricated. This adds maintenance expenses.

All in all they are fine for equipment storage areas but are sub-optimal for livestock facilities.


Jul. 28, 2010, 09:40 AM
Yes, the oversize auto doors are expensive as hell. :yes: And if you do bump a track with the tractor you're doomed to sticking doors. (or like at my last house...if your husband drives into the tracks repeatedly with either Jeep or lawnmower...and he doesn't even drink, LOL!)
Those pretty carriage house models that are oversize were over $1000 each IIRC. After hubby broke one garage door for the second time I looked into replacing them with the pretty ones and almost had a heart attack. And they were the extra talls too.

Jul. 28, 2010, 09:50 AM
We live in a very windy area, so windy we are part of a wind farm.;)

All old barns, big and little, had sliding doors and all we had to take the West doors off and close that end of the barns, because eventually, even closed, the wind would damage them, if not take them clear off.

We have not found any trouble at all with the overhead doors, even in the highest winds, because they are engineered for that, braced properly.
Ours also have windows in them, so you have light inside the barns.

Sliding doors are put together with long narrow sheets of metal, hinged together and you can order any of those sheets with windows and put as many as you want in there for extra light.

The companies that make overhead doors have some today that are very pretty, look like carriage doors.

If you price all kinds of big doors, you will find there is not that much difference in price for the good doors, sliding or swinging.

I would be sure to have a people door for the larger structures with big overhead doors, so you don't have to open those for every trip in the barn.

Our old shop doors, put in there in 1947, are still working fine, never have needed other than washing the windows, oiling the springs and paint, they are wood, not metal, for all these years.

Here are some pictures of overhead fancy rollup doors:


Jul. 28, 2010, 11:11 AM
We are in a large barn with manual open garage doors all around. It is easy to regulate the size of the opening for ventilation. The tracks all have holes in them all the way up. We simply take a very large bolt, place it in the hole of the track where we want the door to stop, and GENTLY bring the door down until it rests on the bolt. Problem solved.

Jul. 28, 2010, 11:49 AM
True, tracks need to be kept clean and lubricated- on both types of doors. Sliding, overhead hung doors that have the tracks cleaned and lubricated annually are no more difficult to open now than they were when we installed them 15 years ago. And they are heavy, solid wood doors- we hung them with the help of the tractor bucket.

however, the new tall RV doors with windows are bright and cheery, open by remote control, and if I were building again I would put them in. My barn does have very tall ceilings, so, the tracks that come inside the building would not be a head room issue except if a horse really reared up- the tracks hang about 6 inches down from the ceiling. In our old car garage this was a problem, since the tracks were at 6 1/2 feet in a 7 foot garage and our taller friends were forever walking into them, so we got rid of them and put in swinging doors instead.

Jul. 28, 2010, 12:10 PM
Gee, there's Pros and Cons to both is the thing. My old lesson barn had four overhead doors, easily 15' tall and maybe 10 or 12 wide - they were great but . . . They'd gotten clocked a bunch of times and were a little hard to open, and the temptation was way too strong to just lead the horses through the man door rather than spend the time rolling the doors up when they were shut in the winter. In the summer they were open all the time. Also if you opened them for a little breeze it was a floor level breeze.
The arena we show at most has huge sliders, and God only knows how little kids can open the things because I barely can. Sliders also take up wall space, we have them on our shop and there has to be enough building for the slider to slide over, if you know what I mean, plus if the track gets snow or the grade is disturbed (for some reason our rocks always migrate under it and make horrible noises) it ain't opening.

But at work we use powered overheads and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Jul. 28, 2010, 01:18 PM
We went with overhead doors in my barn and have never regretted it. Our doors are 12'x12'.

We requested the tracks that go up higher than the door before rounding the corner and running parallel to the floor. Sorry - I can't remember what that was called. You can sort of see the tracks in this picture: http://gregh.smugmug.com/Animals/the-Barn/5029490_T7yDt#387479207_4kL3E-A-LB
And again in this one: http://gregh.smugmug.com/Animals/the-Barn/5029490_T7yDt#418575128_maFMF-A-LB

The doors are insulated and are quiet in the wind - and we are in a windy area. For us, one of the huge advantages is not having to dig the doors out to be able to open them when we get snow - as in this picture: http://gregh.smugmug.com/Animals/the-Barn/5029490_T7yDt#449771843_UouNS-A-LB

We also went with automatic openers and these openers have been great for us: http://gregh.smugmug.com/Animals/the-Barn/5029490_T7yDt#430351365_HDjmb-A-LB They are quiet and take up very little space.

As you can see our barn is quite tall and there is no issue with headroom.

If I were building my barn again the overhead doors do make the list of things I'd do again.

Jul. 28, 2010, 02:29 PM

When I say Overhead door, I mean the kind that rolls up into a case, no tracks at all, like these. And no they are not cheap.

Jul. 28, 2010, 03:01 PM

When I say Overhead door, I mean the kind that rolls up into a case, no tracks at all, like these. And no they are not cheap.

That model I have not seen used in horse barns, just in smaller doors that need extra security, like store fronts.

To keep them at any one height, we wrap the chain on a chain holder, a little piece of metal bolted to the side with a slat to keep the chain there, not let it slide.

Here is our current horse barn, the overhead doors on both ends are 12' high, 14' wide, you can see the other side not quite all the way up, to keep the afternoon sun out:


Jul. 28, 2010, 06:52 PM
Wasn't it Blue Ribbon Complex in Illinois that had the overhead garage doors for their barns and in the entrance to the show facility. That was many moons ago so my memory could be failing. Nobody complained about them except being locked out in the freezing cold was a beeotch.

Jul. 28, 2010, 10:17 PM

When I say Overhead door, I mean the kind that rolls up into a case, no tracks at all, like these. And no they are not cheap.

My neighbor had doors like that put on her barn (or something similar, the doors roll up into a "case" that is inside, not outside). They are easy to open, and seem to hold up well.

Jul. 29, 2010, 12:13 AM
The barn where I board has the roll up type of overhead door. It does not have a case, but does have tracks on the side. I understand it was not cheap.
The barn at my parents' house has a garage door and a human entry door beside it. It never caused any trouble, and is still in use today, more than 40 years after it was built. A tractor, and the occasional car, goes into the aisle regularly. If the aisle is wide enough, it think most drivers could avoid it. Here in FL we can use "hurricane rated" doors; perhaps they are more sturdy than others?


Jul. 30, 2010, 01:38 PM
I'm a bit late to the show here, but I have roll up garage doors on both ends of the barn. Love them, very easy to use, and no problems. They stay up during the summer and go down at night in cold weather. They have tracks and no case, but roll up at the top. We've had them on the barn since it was built 21 years ago. The opening is 12' and the height is also 12', I think. No maintenance, but no abuse either.