Tag Archives: garage doors

High R-Value Overhead Doors Part II

Continued from yesterday’s Part I on overhead door R-values…

Are the reported R-values even accurate?

There’s another potential problem with the R-values reported by garage-door manufacturers: even if one accepts the fact the advertised R-values represent center-of-panel values rather than whole-door values, the numbers are still higher than most insulation experts believe are possible.

Several manufacturers report their polyurethane-insulated door panels have R-values between R-8.6 and R-9.0 per inch — values which are highly unlikely if not technically impossible, even for the center of a door panel.

“The R-value of polyurethane decreases with age,” said Yarbrough. “When it is absolutely fresh you might get R-7.5 per inch, but a realistic aged R-value would be lower — perhaps about R-6.5 per inch would be on the high end. I’m not sure I can explain these reported test results. I have seen labs make mistakes before. I think it’s an error.”

What about air leakage?

Pole Barn GarageIf garage-door manufacturers ever decide to report whole-door U-factors or whole-door R-values — an important piece of the door-rating puzzle will still be missing. The reason: when it comes to the thermal performance of garage doors, air leakage matters much more than R-value.

“Garage doors are so leaky that they are difficult to test,” Thoman said. “Their leaks exceed the capabilities of the available testing apparatus.”

When he needed to buy a garage door for his own house, Thoman ignored advertised R-values. “I find it almost offensive that garage-door manufacturers even publish the R-value of the insulation material,” Thoman told Holladay. “I hate it when I see that, because it’s not a representation of the door’s performance. Air leakage is a much more important issue than the R-value of the door.”

The bottom line

Although some garage-door manufacturers have measured the whole-door U-factor and air-leakage characteristics of their doors, most won’t release the data. Until they do, purchasers of garage doors have to select their doors based on anecdotes.

Unfortunately, Sectional Garage Doors can’t be installed air tight, there needs to be room for the door to slide up and down against the jambs.  These little spaces let cold air draft in and negate much of the insulating which was done in door construction.

Some of the drafts can be stopped with a vinyl weather seal around the door and bottom seal, or astrigal, can fill in the space along the bottom of the door depending on how level and even the floor is.

Back to why your post frame building needs an insulated overhead door.

More insulation, of course. An uninsulated overhead door is barely a step above an open hole in the wall.

A stronger, more rigid door.  Both polystyrene sandwich doors and polyurethane doors are bonded to the steel to make them stronger.  They hold up to better to moderate abuse. Be realistic, there is no door which will hold up to a vehicle bumper.

They are much quieter.  The bonding eliminates most of the rattling which comes with pan (uninsulated steel) doors or as they are referred to as ‘Beer Can Doors”.  

And, while you are at it, make sure your insulated overhead door is appropriately wind load rated: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/12/wind-load-rated-garage-doors/.


High R-Value Overhead Doors for Post Frame Buildings

High R-value Overhead Doors for Post Frame Buildings

When my lovely bride and I had our post frame building home constructed, energy efficiency was important for us. At the time Hansen Pole Buildings was ordering our overhead doors through my friend David Vance, owner of Rainer Building Products in Western Washington. I approached David with our needs for doors and he recommended C.H.I. doors with an advertised R value of 17.19 for an 1-7/8” thick polyurethane insulated door.

Unfortunately, these advertised R-values are almost meaningless.

Advertised R-values are inaccurate, irrelevant — or both

To determine the thermal performance of a garage door, you need to know two things:

The door’s leakiness, and

The R-value or U-factor of the entire door assembly.

The R-values which are claimed by garage-door manufacturers are measured at the center of one of the door panels. Apparently no manufacturer reports the R-value of the entire door assembly (including the panel edges, the seams between panels, and the perimeter of the door) in their promotional materials. Moreover, manufacturers’ reported R-values tell us nothing about air leakage.

Most garage-door manufacturers are reluctant to share actual laboratory reports showing the results of R-value testing.

“For marketing purposes, the garage door people get a measurement on the center of panel,” said David Yarbrough, a research engineer and insulation expert at R&D Services in Cookeville, Tennessee. “The overall R-value of the entire door might be quite a bit less — in extreme cases, it may be half — of the R-value of the center of the panel. Not everyone approves of this kind of marketing. It’s been a hot debate in recent years.”

In fact, the percentage turns out to be much less than half.

Actual R-values are one-third the advertised values

Although it’s hard to obtain actual test results which report the whole-door U-factors of “tested installed doors,” Martin Holladay managed to obtain one report on a garage door from Clopay, and another on a garage door from Overhead Door.

Clopay provided test results for their model 3720 five-panel garage door. According to Mischel Schonberg, Clopay’s public relations manager, the door is insulated with two inches of polyurethane foam. Schonberg wrote, “This model is the commercial version of our residential model 9200 and has the same construction.”

While Clopay advertises the 9200 door is R-17.2 — presumably, a claim based on a center-of-panel measurement — the test report for the installed door shows R-6.14.

While Overhead Door advertises their model 494/495 Thermacore door has an R-value of 17.5 — a claim which, like competitors’ claims, is presumably based on a center-of-panel measurement — the test report for the installed door shows a U-factor of 0.16, equivalent to R-6.25.

Based on the only two test reports Martin was able to track down, it seems logical to conclude the R-value of a garage door is about one-third of the R-value claimed in a manufacturer’s brochure.

All over the map

Mike Thoman, the director of thermal testing and simulation at Architectural Testing Incorporated, a Pennsylvania laboratory, has tested many garage doors.

“The assembly R-values are not going to be nearly as good as the R-value of the material would indicate,” Thoman told Holladay. “When you compare the assembly R-value to the material R-value, the percentages are all over the map. The percentage is a function of how the joints in the panels are made, and whether any attempt was made to provide for thermal breaks at panel edges — a lot of different things. Some products have a lot of insulation in the panel but have everything else wrong. We’ve also seen doors that do everything right. There’s really a wide, wide range.”

Come back tomorrow for Part II in the discussion of R-values in overhead doors.





Overhead Door Replacement, Building Instructions, and Strong Columns

Replacing and overhead garage door, instructions for a pole barn, and the use of “Strong Columns” in today’s Pole Barn Guru!

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Looking to perhaps replace my 10 wide by 8 tall overhead pole barn door with a 10′-10′. Along with chain pull down. What options do you have or suggest. It’s nothing fancy. Thanks. Need the track or some sort of extension that goes with door as what I now have would be too short if I’m thinking correctly. BRIAN

DEAR BRIAN: Done right, this is going to take someone who can visit your site and do an analysis of the situation. Your best bet is going to be to contact a local to you overhead door installation company. The main concern would be how much room you have to go “up” for a taller door. You’ll need the proposed door height, plus about 15″ from the floor. 


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: We have a customer that is looking for installation of a 24×36 Metal Barn, we would like to inquire if you have any installation instructions. Thank you. JEAN PAUL in FORT MYERS

Hansen Buildings Construction ManualDEAR JEAN PAUL: Every Hansen Pole Building kit package comes with not only a two complete sets of engineer sealed site and client specific 24” x 36” building plans, but also our industry leading Construction Manual. Some example plans can be viewed here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/sample-building-plans/.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: What are your thoughts on the Strong Column by Strongway Systems? Very appealing that it’s adjustable height, has brackets for skirt and keeps the post out of the ground. I’ve read you auger the hole, place these (no need to pour footer), square, attach skirt, then fill hole with concrete and attach wood columns. JOE in PORTLAND

DEAR JOE: Strong Columns are no longer available, as the manufacturer has ceased production.

My personal preference is the low tech, lowest cost version – properly pressure preservative treated columns embedded in the ground.

For those who absolutely must have columns above ground (keeping in mind they will last virtually forever https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/12/will-poles-rot-off/), I would personally backfill the holes with concrete and utilize wet set brackets designed for post frame construction (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/05/sturdiwall-brackets/).

High R Value Overhead Doors

If your new post frame building will only ever be cold storage, then an insulated overhead door just might be all your will ever want, or need. For most people, I encourage them to go with insulated doors, just on the oft chance someone down the line will have different ideas. Insulated overhead doors do tend to ‘feel’ stiffer and to rattle less in a strong breeze.

But what about the R-values of those doors?

Consider this – insulated overhead doors are using polyurethane, which has an initial R-value of maybe as much as 7.5 per inch, however the R-value does decrease with age so a more realistic high end “aged” R-value would probably be closer to 6.5 per inch.

Several overhead door manufacturers report their polyurethane insulated door panels to be as much as R-9.0 per inch, which is both highly unlikely and technically impossible to achieve!

One overhead door company in Maine actually sent an overhead door with an insulated 1-3/8 inch thickness which was advertised as being R-12.76 to be independently tested. The door came back as being actually only R-7.83!

This same company now has what they call their “R-value challenge” to manufacturers. They will write a check to any manufacturer who can prove a 1-3/8 inch thick door is R-12! They have not had to pay yet, and probably never will.

To determine the true thermal performance of an insulated overhead door, one would need to know two things, the door’s ‘leakiness’ and the R-value of the entire door assembly.

The R-values used by garage door manufacturers are measured at the center of the panels, and it appears no one is reporting the R-value of the entire assembly which would include the panel edges, seams between panels and the perimeter of the door.

In comparison of manufacturer’s R-value claims with test reports of the installed doors as part of a system, it appears the R-value of a garage door installed is going to be about one-third of the value claimed in the manufacturer’s brochures!

Even if garage door manufacturers do decide to report whole door R-values, the big piece will still be missing – when it comes to thermal performance of garage doors, air leakage matters more than R-value.

Most important when looking at the thermal performance of an overhead door is a design which minimizes air leakage, with good gaskets between the panels, heavy-duty weatherstripping at the bottom of the door and weather seals up the sides and across the top of the openings.

An Overhead Door Rant

While I am on an Overhead Door Rant

I have been blessed to be the father of a herd of children – my youngest two, Allison (age 22) and Brent (age 21) will both be seniors in college this Fall.

Yes, I am hearing the cheers from loyal readers who have reached this milestone. They understand what it means to survive as a parent until the birds have actually reached maturity!

dog-ear-overhead-door-150x150Many years ago, their mother and I decided going our own way would probably be the best outcome, and so part we did.

Now their mother often had some ideas of her own, and after leaving she decided it would be possibly wonderful to live in a new house.

Trying to be both civil and helpful, I reminded her of my having just a little bit of construction background and knowledge. I offered my services to her, for free – I suggested if she was to make an offer on a house, to have it be subject to my being able to inspect it for anything which might pose a challenge.

It seems she was intent upon listening to me as well when we were apart, as she had when we were together (funny how this works). She went ahead and invested in a new home without the benefit of my watchful eye.

Well Karma, she can be a vengeful sort.

The first time I went over to her new house to pick up my then small children, I noticed her Chevrolet Suburban parked in the driveway.

For those of you who enjoy Parker Brothers’ (now part of Hasbro) Trivial Pursuit™ someday it might prove important to know the Suburban is the longest continuous use automobile nameplate in production, beginning in 1935!

More importantly –  my former spouse’s Suburban was wide, very wide. Even with the rearview mirrors folded back on both sides, it would not comfortably fit through the eight foot wide doors on the garage of her new house!

My cautionary tale as a result of this experience would be to not ever plan upon getting a vehicle safely through an eight foot wide overhead door. Nine foot wide should be the minimum width to be considered, for any vehicle. And 10 foot width is even better.

Moral of the story: one good door ding is far more expensive than the relatively small investment in a wider overhead door!

A Garage Door Tale

At my first business, M & W Building Supply, we provided over 6000 post frame building kit packages in the years before I turned it over to the current owner, Jim Betonte.

There were many memorable clients in those eight years, however a few instances stick in my mind.

We were contracted to supply a 30’ x 48’ building as an RV storage building and garage for a gentleman in Jefferson, Oregon. Part of why I remember it so well is the client was absolutely ecstatic about his new building – he was having a serious case of pole barn love.

He sent us several photos of his beautiful new building…..

With his RV parked in front of it…..

Because it was too tall to fit through the doors!!

Now keep in mind, this client did absolutely love his building, and he wasn’t upset with us because of his RV not fitting – after all, he was the one who picked the doors.

I was mortified.

We had not done our job well – which should have included asking just one more question of our client, “Have you actually measured the height of your RV”?

Whether your new building will house an RV or a Smart Car, I implore you to please, please, please actually measure what you are considering putting into your new building.

And consider what you might own in the future, as well as what the next owner might use the building for.

In the case of buildings meant to house RVs, it is most prudent to have a door tall enough to allow for any highway legal height vehicle to fit – which would be 14 feet. This also means an eave height of no less than 16 feet.

As a potential pole barn owner, in the event your potential building supplier doesn’t ask you specific questions in regards to heights, take the initiative yourself.

Get out your tape measure and put it to use.

Here is a case where it is so easy to expend a few minutes of effort, in exchange for years of building bliss!

WalkThru Garage Door

More “True Confessions” from the Pole Barn Guru….. I’ve not only never installed one of these and never sold one – I’ve also never seen one in real life!

I have not one, but TWO detached pole building garages at our house. One is two car, the other three. Each of them has an entry door near one of the overhead doors (in both cases immediately around a corner). You think we actually use the entry doors to get in and out? Hah – fat chance, we punch our code into the keyless entry pads!

Given this, I can see where a Walk Thru Garage Door would have lots of benefits.

Above our small garage is a home office which is our workplace. The overhead door has become the main entrance for not only my bride and I, but also for deliveries. Most of the year, we end up just leaving one of the overhead sectional doors open – not too secure!

By Code, pole buildings are required to have an alternate entrance (other than an overhead door). (Read more at: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2012/09/entry-door/ ). We have commonly disregarded either entry door as a viable entrance, usually due to their location. Each entry is off to the rear or side of the building with other obstacles in the way. We tend to take the easy way in, not fighting with stuff left on either side of the entry door.

pass-through-overhead-doorThe first beneficial feature of the WalkThru Garage Door is being able to enter into the pole building from the driveway without having to open the entire garage door. This is an ease of operation feature, much like a sliding door on most of today’s minivans. For a premium, the owner can have a second sliding door to conveniently load and unload passengers and accumulated stuff! With vehicles there is no payback from this high priced option. No better fuel efficiency or more passenger or cargo space. This is a mere convenience feature.

WalkThru Garage doors come with many subsequent advantages. A simple key to the deadbolt gives instant access to the pole building. The garage door stays down; therefore the contents of the pole building are not exposed to the neighborhood or passers by. In our case, this sure would be nice. The WalkThru component swings outward. It should never have any obstructions in front of it. The more traditional entrances into pole buildings commonly have obstructions placed in front of them, prohibiting passage. While I would like to say this never happens in my own buildings – it actually does. As an entrance to the pole building within the garage door, a tremendous amount of space is economized. Wall space and floor space where another entrance would have been is left for the use of the occupant for storage. And I vouch entirely for there never being enough wall area in a building. In the event of a power failure the building can be easily entered or exited through the WalkThru Garage Door.

An inherent feature of the WalkThru Garage Door is energy conservation, which in turn means dollars saved. The time spent to open and close a swinging door is significantly less in comparison to the time for the larger garage door to be raised and lowered. The reduced hot or cold air exchange between the building interior and the exterior, results in a reduced energy recovery expense to re-heat or re-cool the interior space. Also reduced is the energy expended by the garage door opener by not requiring it to open in all access situations. Wear and tear on the garage door opener is also reduced, extending its useful life.

The WalkThru Garage Door provides its users with a significant safety advantage. With no other point of entry to the pole building but the WalkThru in a garage door, an intruder has to put himself in full view, in the drive way, in order to attempt to gain entry. The WalkThru Garage Door opens to the exterior, so a good stiff kick or shoulder to the door only closes it more. In order to break in, one would have to pry outwards with adequate tools in full view of the neighbors. The other more traditional entry doors to pole buildings have often been a preferred point of entry for break-ins. The WalkThru Garage Door would prevent this from being the case.

The WalkThru Garage Door is an excellent product which helps owners to save time and energy dollars, while providing a safe and very attractive point of entry to their pole building. If I ever have to change out my overhead doors, I am looking to replace them with WalkThru Garage Doors.

Dear Pole Barn Guru: Garage Doors & Dutch Doors

Welcome to our newest feature: Ask the Pole Barn Guru – where you can ask questions about building topics, with answers posted on Mondays.  With many questions to answer, please be patient to watch for yours to come up on a future Monday segment. 

Email all questions to: PoleBarnGuru@HansenPoleBuildings.com

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Which is more cost effective one large overhead door (mechanical opening) or one small and one medium garage door (mechanical opening.)?  Big enough for an f350 15 person van and a pickup to both get through. Yearning in Ypsilanti

DEAR YEARNING: Your van should measure right at eight feet wide and seven feet tall, so I would normally recommend a ten foot wide by eight foot tall door for it. While standard full sized pickups will fit through a nine foot wide by seven foot tall garage door, going to ten foot width, tends to keep mirrors on much better. A single door should be 18 feet wide by eight foot tall.

 Installed in the gable (peaked) endwall, with a clearspan truss above, the single wider door will be a better bargain. In the sidewall, a structural header will be required above the door, which (depending upon the roof snow load) makes the doors themselves pretty well a wash for price.

 One item to factor in – electric remote door openers. Two overhead doors, take two openers – the wider door, only one. In most cases, I am going to recommend using the single wider door.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I found your company on a review website and read that many customers were very satisfied with your horse barns. In the past, I have always used wood buildings, therefore the sides of the barn enclosed the back of the stall, and the dutch doors leading out to our pastures were also wood. When you build your barns, do you add a wood backing to the stalls and dutch doors? If not, is there another solution to the concern that a horse may kick the metal siding, or scratch themselves on the dutch door opening?

Thank you for your time. I am in the early stages of creating a business plan for a small horse facility, and LOVE the flexibility that metal barns allow for future expansion. Once I get a little further in the process I will be in touch to get a quote for a barn, arena and storage building to get the facility started. JAYME

 DEAR JAYME: Thank you for your kind words.

 Whether the barn is wood or steel siding, the siding should always be isolated from the stall walls. If wood sided, and not lined, it allows the horses to potentially kick the wood siding off of the framing.

 By using 2×6 tongue and groove select decking for the stall walls, it provides are rigid wall as well as protecting the siding.

 For Dutch Doors, my preference is always to go with an all metal Dutch Door, which is prehung in metal jambs. This takes care of the potential damage to the dutch doors, as well as the horses being scratched on the door opening.  Wood doors tend to end up hanging off the hinges in a year or two, and having to be rehung, repainted and usually…replaced.  The all metal Dutch Doors will appear spendy, but not when you compare them to replacing a wood door every few years

Garage Door Maintenance Tips

Garage Door Maintenance

The garage door is designed to last for years, but routine maintenance is required from time to time to catch minor issues before they develop into a larger problem that could result in a costly repair or even complete replacement of the garage door. In particular the moving parts such as the springs and the opener can wear down over time from the constant opening and closing of the garage door, possibly breaking down and trapping your car in the garage if the garage door can’t be raised. For safety reasons, it’s not recommended that you try to perform a major repair like replacing a broken spring, but you can easily do some routine preventative maintenance on your own.

Garage Door Springs

Garage doors are generally designed to operate by means of a heavy spring or pair of heavy springs which balance the weight of the garage door, allowing it to be opened easily by hand as well as holding the door in place while it is open. Most garage doors have a single torsion spring placed above the door opening which expands and contracts as the door moves, or two extension springs (one on each side of the garage door) which extend and retract as the door opens and closes. Garage door springs are designed to last for a given amount of open/close cycles, generally meaning they can last anywhere from 5-12 years under normal conditions before they wear out and break. If your garage door springs need to be replaced, please contact a professional for assistance – the springs can break loose while winding them and cause severe injury or damage the garage door if they are not installed and wound correctly.

  • Check for wear: The springs should be coiled tightly with no gaps and no bent or twisted coils, as these can be indicative that the spring is close to its breaking point
  • Lubricate the springs: The springs should be lubricated approximately every 2-3 months to reduce wear – you can apply a small amount of clean engine oil to the springs or use a spray-on lubricant such as 3-In-1 Oil
  • Check the balance: The springs need to be balanced correctly in order to lift the garage door and hold it in the open position. If you have a garage door opener connected to the door – make sure the garage door is fully closed then pull the emergency release cord, allowing you to operate the door manually. Once the garage door opener has been disconnected, open the door halfway and let go – it should remain in that position. If it closes or opens even further, the springs may be wearing out not properly balanced

Garage Door Tracks

Garage doors typically have a pair of tracks mounted inside the garage, allowing the garage door to glide up and down on rollers attached to the track. Keeping the tracks free of obstructions and properly aligned is important to keep the garage door working and minimize wear-and-tear on the rollers.

  • Inspect the tracks: Check the tracks to ensure they’re not bent or clogged with built-up dirt. If necessary, they can be cleaned with a mild solution of soap and water.
  • Check the track alignment:

Using a level, check to be sure that the tracks are straight and that they slope gently towards the rear of the garage

Garage Door Rollers

The garage door rollers are another frequent wear-and-tear item, especially if you have metal rollers. If the rollers are damaged or worn down, the garage door may start jamming or squealing when operated or may even come off the tracks.


  • Inspect the rollers: If you have metal rollers, the bearings are not sealed and are particularly prone to wearing down over time. Check for signs of wear such as metal shavings or chipping as well as built-up dirt or grease.
  • Clean the rollers:If the rollers need to be cleaned, using an old toothbrush and a mild cleanser can be effective to get dirt and grease out of the hard-to-reach places.
  • Lubricate the rollers: Metal rollers need routine lubrication in order to reduce wear on the bearings – this can be done with a light silicone spray or a few drops of oil. Nylon rollers have a sealed bearing and do not need lubrication, however.
  • Garage Door Cables

    The garage door cables connect the springs to the garage door opener, allowing the garage door opener to lift the door, assisted by the springs. The cables are typically braided steel for strength and durability, allowing them to last for years under normal use.

  • Inspect the cables: Despite their strength, the cables are vulnerable to kinking or fraying over time if they shift out of alignment and rub up against a protrusion such as a bolt.
  • Lubricate the cables:
  • Lubricate the cables with motor oil or WD-40 where they wrap around the cable drums on either side of the garage door

    Garage Door Panels

    The garage door itself needs routine attention to keep it in good shape, especially if you have a wooden or metal door. Wood is vulnerable to water damage or fading from the sun while metal can be prone to rusting or denting.

  • Inspect the garage door panels: If you live in an area that receives snow or if you’re near the ocean, the salt can be a contributor to rust developing on a metal garage door. Water damage to a wooden door can easily develop especially during inclement weather that may soak the wood.
  • Clean the garage door panels: To remove dirt and dust from the door surface – you can use a mild solution of dish soap and water and a brush, making sure to dry the door thoroughly afterwards.
  • Protect the exterior panels:
  • If you have a wooden door, it is recommended that you repaint it or apply a stain once a year. A metal garage door can be waxed with Turtle Wax or a similar car wax product to protect against rusting.Justin Krutz blogs for a San Diego garage door repair company which provides a number of home improvement services including Chula Vista garage door repair to homeowners.