History of the Overhead Garage Door and Its Evolution
Garages have been around for nearly as long as man has been transporting himself by the wheeled conveyance. The modern automobile has only been around for a little over a century. But modern transportation has its roots in horse-drawn chariots. This includes a long line of other wheeled wagons, buggies, and vehicles powered by four-legged creatures. The relationship between man and vehicle includes a long one of pride and dedication. So finding a place to keep those valuable vehicles became a priority since we started using them thousands of years ago. It’s not a simple matter of pride that led man to protect his chariots, carriages, and cars. For practical reasons, garages of many types kept vehicles safe from theft and the elements. Find out more about the history of the overhead garage door and its evolution.
The carriage house is the most obvious precursor to our modern garages. These designated outbuildings kept a family’s carriage housed within four walls and a roof. Early carriage houses had a drive-through design that kept drivers from needing to back the carriage in or out of the structure.
Doors in the beginning
As the design evolved, these early garages had doors that swung outward to allow the carriage to leave and enter. These doors were heavy and wooden. This was great for deterring thefts, but the doors were heavy and prone to sagging. They were constructed with steel straps in the shape of an X or Z to keep the integrity of the door intact.
The Challenges of the Automobile
While horse-drawn conveyances were running the day, there was no need to separate the horse from the cart. However, after the invention of the automobile, car owners weren’t so keen on keeping their cars housed in the old carriage houses. That’s because there was a lot of dust and barn odor would linger on the automobile even after leaving the carriage house.
The evolution of parking lots and garages
For this reason, public parking lots or garages were created to house multiple cars between uses. As more cars came into use and owners began to dislike the need to travel from their homes to where their cars were parked. And the garage returned once again to public property. Special outbuildings for car storage were erected and shielded with the same swinging doors as the old carriage houses. Again, this solution wasn’t the best. Then car owners started to look for innovative ways to keep their cars safe and secure.
The sliding door
After the swinging carriage-style door came the sliding garage door. This was a wooden model like traditional carriage house designs. Instead of swinging out and needing a clear path outward from the garage, the wooden door slid sideways along a track inside of the garage. While it presented some advantages, the sliding door was not ideal. It required a wall twice its width to allow it to slide open.
It was from the necessity of narrowing the width of garages that the folding garage door was born. At first, folding doors slid along horizontal tracks similar to earlier sliding doors. Rather than needing a full wall to slide along, they could fold down by sections to go around a corner and store neatly against a side wall. After this, homeowners soon recognized that the folding door model could work vertically. And garages began to be outfitted with folding wooden doors that slid up as opposed to sideways. These doors were heavy, though. To combat the problem of trying to manually lift a wooden garage door, CG Johnson invented the overhead electric garage door opener in 1926.
The 1970s updates
Homes, garages, and garage doors continued to evolve throughout the 20th century until the 1970s. This was when the next major innovation came to the garage door. At this point, manufacturers turned away from the traditional wooden garage door design and introduced new materials to the product. Everything from synthetic materials to glass and aluminum appeared for the sake of convenience and curb appeal.
Modern Garage Doors Today
Fast forward a few decades, and we arrive at the garage doors of the 21st century. Many are constructed of high-quality materials and match home styles seamlessly. Others have different finishes and designs to blend in with home colors or period details.
Homeowners have a plethora of options to choose from when selecting a garage door, from size to color and shape. Additionally, most modern garage doors come with electronic garage door openers and safety features built right in for the utmost in convenience.
Believe it or not, the old carriage door is making a comeback as a popular pick for mansions and more stately abodes. Whatever your style, you can find a pretty and functional garage door to suit your home and car security needs. Work with a professional to help you find an attractive, safe garage door for your house.
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