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11 min read

Sectional Garage Doors: Key Facts

Sectional Garage Doors
Sectional Garage Doors

11 min read

Sectional Garage Doors: Key Facts

Sectional Garage Doors: Key Facts

Sectional garage doors are the most advantageous of garage doors. Learn everything there is to know, from their composition, options to be added, and how to properly insulate them to make them perfectly suited to your garage. 

What’s there to know about sectional garage doors?

Sectional Garage Door Components

A sectional garage door includes the following three parts: 

  • Panels

  • Tracks

  • Potentially a motor 

Such a garage door can have a vertical lift, overhead lift, or side sliding one that runs along one of the garage walls.


There are between three, four, or five panels. These are hinged panels, also known as sections. The United States and Canada are the proud developers of sectional garage doors.


The tracks allow the panels to move up and down, retracting parallel with the garage’s ceiling, or against the wall should it have a side sliding opening mechanism.  

What are the standard dimensions of a sectional garage door?

In retail stores, you’ll find garage doors with the following standard dimensions:

  1. Single door: 8 x 7 ft, 9 x 8 ft, 10 x 7 ft

  2. Double door: 16 x 8 ft, 16 x 7 ft, 12 x 7 ft

  3. Small door: 5 x 7 ft

However, you can always order a custom-made sectional garage door.

How much does a sectional garage door typically cost?

It’s a little bit complex to ascertain the average cost of a sectional garage door, as numerous factors have to be accounted for since the door can be any of the following: 

  • Small, single, double 

  • Traditional, contemporary, etc.  

  • With insulated panels (aluminum-polyurethane, steel-polystyrene and vinyl, etc.) or not insulated

  • Coloured (white, sand, brown, black, etc.)  

  • Fitted with windows  

  • Motorized or manual 

We suggest requesting detailed quotes from numerous companies to get a more accurate price point. In the meantime, here’s a more comprehensive look at the available options. 

The Available Options

Garage Door with Windows

A garage door with windows can soar prices by 25% to 50%, based on the number of panes, shape and size, and the glass pane’s insulation value. 

Note that the more windows your garage door has, the more the insulation value will diminish.

Motorized Garage Door 

Opting for a motorized garage door will significantly increase the overall cost, and with delivery and installation fees included, costs will run between $450 and $1,100. And, for remote control, add to said price range about $30 to $60.  

Garage Door with a Built-In Pedestrian Access Door

Adding a built-in pedestrian access door to your garage door is an extremely worthwhile option if you intend to use your garage for more than storing your car. In fact, the pedestrian access door is built into the garage door, allowing you to enter and exit via the garage without having to open the entire sectional door. Therefore, you’re limiting glacial air drafts during wintertime, and intense heat seeping in during the summer.

Custom-Designed Garage Door

It may be that the space cut-out for your garage door doesn’t suit standard-size doors. Or maybe the ones sold in stores aren’t your cup of tea. 

If so, the best option consists of ordering a custom-made garage door. A custom-designed garage door will feature all the desired accessories and perfectly fit in your garage’s opening, instantly increasing its insulation capacity. 

Why Choose a Sectional Garage Door: Pros and Cons

The Benefits of a Sectional Garage Door

  • Space gain

  • Better insulation

  • Reinforced security

  • Several materials (aluminum, steel, PVC, etc.)

  • Numerous automation options (built-in, ceiling, wall-mounted)  

Some of the points mentioned above are worth further explaining, most notably the ones relating to insulation and security. Sectional doors can be insulated in what’s commonly referred to as “sandwich” insulation. This means the insulation material is enclosed between the door’s steel, aluminum, or PVC panels.

In terms of security, sectional doors can withstand burglary or break-in attempts. Not only is their locking mechanism effective, but aluminum and steel are extremely resistant. Factoring in the following as well:

  • Multipoint locks

  • Anti-lift hooks

Lastly, note that sectional garage doors are a lot more space-efficient compared to a counterweight (tilt-up/up-and-over) model. In fact, the latter takes up more space when opened, especially if it’s a canopy-style door.

The Downsides of a Sectional Garage Door

There is but one: its price point. The sectional garage door is the most expensive on the market.

What’s the lifespan of a sectional garage door post-installation? 

The lifespan of a garage door depends on the model in question, thus its quality, but mostly on its use and maintenance. On average, garage door springs have a 10,000-cycle service life, meaning six to eight years.

As for automation, it won’t last more than seven to 15 years. However, to ensure your garage door holds up over time, no matter the model or type selected, it will require maintenance.

If you adhere to regular upkeep, your garage door as a whole, especially its panels, will add value to your home for 30 years. 

How to Secure Proper Insulation with a Sectional Garage Door

The whole idea behind insulating your garage door is to reach a rating between R-4 and R-18. To do so, you have to select insulation that doesn’t allow for thermal bridges and sealing issues. And that’s where the issue rests when it comes to a sectional garage door given that it's insulated with insulation panels.

Polystyrene Panel Insulation 

Polystyrene is most often the number one choice. It has great insulation properties and benefits from a cheaper price point than polyurethane, and it’s more lightweight, so as not to hinder the door’s opening and closing mechanism. The only hitch is that it’s sold in rigid panel form… So where there are panels, there are seams;  and where there are seams, there are thermal bridges. 

Polyurethane Foam Panel Insulation

Besides polystyrene panels, there’s another top-notch insulation material: polyurethane foam. Being lightweight, said insulation will not affect the garage door’s balance either. 

This material, which is just as thick, has twice the insulation capacity as polystyrene, but for sectional doors, it does present one flaw: thermal bridges. And given our tempestuous climate, every section of your garage door should be insulated with panels. 

So, theoretically, decent insulation achieved with polystyrene panels reaches a value of R-10, while polyurethane hits a value of R-16. However, the end result will largely depend on your knack for sealing the joints between the panels with specially designed glue cartridges that you’ll use to secure against each section. 

Reflective Foil Insulation

You can insulate your sectional garage door with a single layer of reflective foil insulation. The latter is made up of two layers of reflective foil, filled with either:

  • Cellulose wadding  

  • Foam 

  • Sheep’s wool  

  • Air bubbles 

However, its insulation efficiency is particularly limited since its thermal resistance coefficient is, at best, R-0.78. It’s nonetheless a far cry from a rating of R-10 (polystyrene) or R-16 (polyurethane). As far as thermal insulation goes, this one isn’t the best, but it still does act as a temporary solution while awaiting the installation of genuine insulation panels. 

Buying an Already Insulated Sectional Garage Door

Numerous manufacturers retail insulated sectional doors. Such doors are made of the following materials: 

  • Steel-polyurethane-steel (R-12 or R-16 insulation)

  • Aluminum-polyurethane-aluminum (R-16 insulation)

  • Smooth steel-polyurethane-steel (R-16 insulation)

  • Steel-polystyrene-steel or vinyl  

  • Steel-polystyrene-styrene

The benefit of getting an already insulated door is that they aren’t solely weight balanced, but with those, you don’t run the risk of installing insulation panels that are too thick that might hinder the door from properly opening, resting parallel with the ceiling.

Common Repairs: How to Replace a Cable or Change a Spring on a Sectional Garage Door

In terms of replacing or repairing a spring, we just have one tip for you: do NOT touch it. Torsion springs are tremendously dangerous. Replacing or repairing one requires one to have tailored knowledge and experience with such gear and work. Even if you deem yourself great with handiwork, good with your hands, and sure of yourself, hire a professional who can teach you how to proceed correctly. You can carry out the repair or replacement next time.

The same applies when changing the door cable, which is an integral part of the door’s opening and closing mechanism. However, if you feel strongly about replacing the cable yourself, follow the detailed steps below.

How to Remove a Sectional Garage Door Cable

Step 1: Understand the basics of a cable change

A sectional garage door cable must be changed as soon as it starts to fray because the lapse of time between the cable fraying and snapping can be fairly brief.

Step 2: Buy the right cable 

There are standard cables that suit all door types. So steer your decision-making toward that type of cable to sidestep any wrong options. Stick with the current cable’s diameter. Most residential garage doors typically have a 3 mm (0.11 in) wide and 6 m (19.6 in) long cable. 

Step 3: Make sense of its functioning

The lifting mechanism cable is located around the cable drum at the top end of the garage door. The cable is wrapped around this drum several times. If you can’t tell how many times the cable is wrapped around the drum because you’re replacing a broken cable, see the cable drum on the other side of the door. 

From the cable drum, the cable path runs alongside the door to the bottom bracket (or cable guide). The securing methods differ from one door to the next, but the basics are always the same. 

Step 4: Know the lifting cable's composition

A garage door cable has a wire rope button stop (a crimp) on each end. With some door models, the button stop fits into the cable drum's notch. On the other end is a loop which, likewise, doesn’t suit all garage door types.

Step 5: Cut the cable down to the right length

You may not need 19.6 feet of cable for your garage door. As such, you’ll need to cut the cable. Three possibilities are made available: 

  1. You won’t need button stops (crimps)

  2. You don’t require the loop  

  3. You need both the button stop and loop

If you don’t need a button stop because the cable drum is devoid of a notch, you can cut the cable down to the right length on the button stop end. 

If you do need a button stop, but not a loop, you can obviously cut the cable on its loop end.

What should you do if you need both? Cut the loop end of the cable because it’s highly unlikely that you’ll have the right material on hand to crimp the end. And, as luck would have it, when you first purchased the new cable from a select manufacturer, it most likely came with everything you need to make a loop, meaning the following: 

  • Wire rope clips  

  • Wire rope thimble 

Step 6: Adjust the springs’ tension (safety measure)

When the cable is damaged or frayed beyond repair, the tension between the two springs is entirely supported by the still-functional cable. To work safely, you have to release some of the tension in the springs. That said, the cable will release and it’ll be easier to reassemble.

To safely install the springs, use a tension bar. The latter is fitted into a specially designed notch at the end of the spring (toward the center part of the door). Then, lift it clockwise (upward), and insert the second bar vertically (into the provided notch), which will block against the door, preventing the spring from recoiling. 

To know whether the spring was correctly and safely installed, make sure the cable as a whole is properly loosened. If so, the spring is no longer a safety concern. 

Step 7: Take apart the cable

When the cable isn’t fitted with a button stop, it’s secured to the cable drum with a grub screw. Unscrew it with a hex key. Remove the cable’s bracket on the bottom of the door. You’ll then have access to the cotton pin holding the steel wire rope thimble. Remove the cotton pin to release the cable. 

Step 8: Install the new cable

If the cable you’re replacing isn’t broken, just frayed, hold up both cables side by side. Doing so will allow you to cut your new cable to the right length. Install the new cable by starting with the wire rope thimble, then reinstall the mechanism located at the bottom of the door.

Lift the cable up into the cable drum and secure it around with the same number of wraps it formerly had or as observed on the other side of the door. 

Step 9: Restore tension to the cable

Remove the safety device preventing the spring from recoiling on itself, then use the tension bar to extend the spring counterclockwise. If the cable is too short or a little too long, you can rectify the door’s level by handling the coupling found in the middle of the garage door 

Why buy a sectional garage door?

In the end, taking a closer look at the essential components of a sectional garage door by way of this article offers an in-depth perspective on this fundamental element shaping our daily lives. From the practicality of its functioning to the variety of materials available, with safety and security considerations in the middle, this inquiry shines a light on the crucial aspects to consider when installing or renovating a garage door. 

Keep in mind what you’ve learned as it will allow you, as a homeowner, to make well-informed decisions, ensuring the functionality, durability, and security of one of the essential features of your home. Overall, fully grasping the characteristics and featured options of a sectional garage door is key when optimizing its use and guaranteeing added value to your property

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Last modified 2024-03-05

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