Designing My New Shop-Is a Garage Door Necessary?

  • Advertise with us

« back to Focus on the Workspace forum

Forum topic by gerrym526 posted 12-04-2016 05:06 PM 2507 views 0 times favorited 27 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View gerrym526's profile


274 posts in 3953 days

12-04-2016 05:06 PM


I recently retired to Northern Idaho and just finished building a new house. My new woodworking shop is planned for 2017 and is in the design phase. Building a house showed me that materials cost is rising fast (e.g. drywall increased 6% just this year)-so staying in a tight budget is important.

Here’s the question-is a garage door a necessary feature on a shop building (now planning for about 800 sq ft.)?

My design process always starts with how I would use a space or feature. Started with considering a garage door to open into a storage space connected to the shop, and using heat from the shop to keep it warm.
Major issue I’m running into is that unless I buy a very expensive garage door with insulation, all my heat will leave the building quickly in the winter. (heater will be a propane ceiling unit with enclosed combustion chamber to eliminate fire/explosion danger).

I build furniture and cabinetry as a serious amateur woodworker, and even the largest pieces would fit through a double steel entry door (i.e. two doors connected in the center) vs. a garage door. Same would apply for bringing in lumber and sheet goods-they’d fit through double doors.

And, the insulated steel or fiberglass double doors cost less than a garage door with opener.

Anybody here think I’m missing an advantage that a garage door would add to the shop?

Appreciate your input.

Thanks for the help.

-- Gerry

27 replies so far

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


5559 posts in 2553 days

#1 posted 12-04-2016 05:37 PM

I have used a similar double door set up, or French Door as some have called it, entry to the shop for many years.

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View WillliamMSP's profile


1084 posts in 1749 days

#2 posted 12-04-2016 05:43 PM

One of the only non-obvious and compelling reasons that I can think of would be something like Bob’s project to bring in natural light and warmth, even on some cold days –

This would require the door facing the right direction and having exposure to the sun, of course.

-- Practice makes less sucky. (Bill, Minneapolis, MN)

View Andre's profile


2063 posts in 1951 days

#3 posted 12-04-2016 05:53 PM

I built a stand alone shop approx. 600 sq/ft here in Northern Alberta and in hindsight would of went with a smaller garage door, maybe 10ft. by 8 ft. instead of 16 ft. wide. Big door is nice in good weather and to bring in equipment and supplies but the lost wall space is a real negative. The aspect of resale value in the future was the factor to put in full size garage doors. When it is time to sell shop can be marketed as garage or shop! More windows is also something to consider for natural light.
I went with small electric boiler and in floor heating to address fire hazards, another hindsight area where a wood floor would’ve be real nice on the feet/legs not to mention the ability to run ducting/power under the floor.
Oh well maybe the next workshop?

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View Redoak49's profile


3524 posts in 2133 days

#4 posted 12-04-2016 06:48 PM

I have double doors on the back of my garage and they are really nice. I would go with the double doors as they are better insulated and seal tighter.

View mrbob's profile


182 posts in 713 days

#5 posted 12-04-2016 07:49 PM

If you are worried about resale value. When building you could put the header in for a garage door, then if you or anyone else wanted to put in a garage door, it would not take too much to open up the space for it and since the header is already in place, easy peacy.

View BurlyBob's profile (online now)


5915 posts in 2410 days

#6 posted 12-04-2016 08:23 PM

Gerry, mrbob’s idea sounds pretty darn good to me. I know from experience that in the winter an over head seems like a pain, but that summer time air flow and light are sure nice. I don’t live all that far from you so I’m familiar with your weather. I do envy you living up there and sure wish I could relocate to that area.

View canadianchips's profile


2606 posts in 3142 days

#7 posted 12-04-2016 10:51 PM

In reality you do not need a larger door. Anything you build will have to go into another person house ? They only have 36” front door !
Carrying things in might be easier.
If you need to heat the building French Doors work fine. I live in Canada, we have COLD winters. My french doors worked very well.
As someone mentioned, frame your doorway for garage door for later if you want.
Just my thoughts.

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View mrbob's profile


182 posts in 713 days

#8 posted 12-04-2016 10:55 PM

“In reality you do not need a larger door. Anything you build will have to go into another person house ? They only have 36” front door !”
Oh ya, did you ever hear of a Patio Door?

View JAAune's profile


1838 posts in 2461 days

#9 posted 12-04-2016 10:57 PM

One good use for a garage door is for easy unloading of lumber. I have my primary lumber rack in front of one so when the door is open, the rack is accessible from outside. In my case I load it with a forklift but it could also be loaded manually from a pickup parked nearby.

The rack is also accessible from the inside so I can grab my boards easily and get right to work.

-- See my work at and

View klassenl's profile


188 posts in 2804 days

#10 posted 12-05-2016 12:02 AM

When you say “expensive” what does that mean. I spent 600 per door in my new garage (9 wide and 8 tall) and that was a good price. Having lived and worked in a climate that goes from 100 above to 30 below I have concluded that insulation is worth having even if it is expensive.

-- When questioned about using glue on a garbage bin I responded, "Wood working is about good technique and lots of glue........I have the glue part down."

View Thuzmund's profile


151 posts in 1773 days

#11 posted 12-05-2016 12:13 AM

Lumber and any enormous tool that could be backed into the workshop would be outstanding. Lack of wall space is another real issue but a simple shelf or mobile system (like wheels or pegboard screwed to two tall legs) could address part of this “con” factor.

But if I were making the decision, I would make a conservative estimate for energy loss (knowing that it should only increase over time as the building will only grow more drafty). Something like “I expect this space to cost 15% more than a regular door space.” Then I would project that estimate over the years of ownership I expected, including some fiddling to reflect energy costs that should only rise. Maybe after 15 years I it is 25% inefficient, so for my math I’ll call it 20% for 15 years. These percentages are a total guess, btw.

I would add that figure against extra cost of installation.

I would then compare that sum against potential $$$ from resale value to my home.

Then I would know how much the convenience is worth to me.

I did this when shopping for cars, since I was naturally inclined to be a good citizen and moneysaver by buying an efficient 4 cyl import or even a hybrid. But when I actually ran the numbers to see how much $$ I saved, I was surprised to find out that in my case, I wouldn’t actually be saving any money at all. So instead of that Honda Fit or Toyota Prius I bought a Ford Taurus in great condition with a 6cyl engine. Loved that car. Now my mileage to work has changed and these days I have something smaller (a Ford Focus).

One person with experience heating garage spaces could share their heating costs, heating methods, and winter temperatures, and one person with experience heating insulated door spaces could share similar info. That would be enough to start spitballing the real cost and put that question out of the way as you continue to make the decision.

-- Here to learn

View LFD3908's profile


11 posts in 2346 days

#12 posted 12-05-2016 12:18 AM

Finished a 30×50 building with one half dedicated to my shop. 2×6 framing with metal siding . Sprayed 1 inch of foam on the whole building and on the shop finished off with 6 inch fiberglass batts in the 36 inch man door entering from the garage side. 36 inch man door to enter the garage side. I do have garage doors also. Shop ceiling blown in insulation to an r- value of about 50+. Heated with a ceiling mount 220 electric heater. A 10,000 but widow unit keeps it cool in the summer. I do heat and cool 100 percent of time. Only two widows facing east. Those should have been larger to accommodate a larger a/c unit. Thankfully it works fine.

-- LFD3908

View oldnovice's profile


7191 posts in 3512 days

#13 posted 12-06-2016 03:20 AM

Having a door allows easier lumber delivery and simplre large project removal.
That being said, it doesn’t have to be an overhead door, it could be a swinging door or doors, made out of wood!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View clin's profile


929 posts in 1141 days

#14 posted 12-06-2016 05:06 AM

A garage door is NOT a necessity or even desirable. Double doors however are a necessity. Or nearly so. In fact, I actually removed my garage door, on the garage bay I converted to a shop, and replaced it with a set of large double doors. Quality doors will seal and be insulated well.

In may case, I rarely have to open the second door, but when you need to, there is no alternative.

-- Clin

View RandyinFlorida's profile


257 posts in 2212 days

#15 posted 12-06-2016 05:25 PM

+1 for what mrbob said. Put in the header. Then down the line it would be easy to install garage doors.

-- Randy in Crestview Florida, Wood Rocks!

showing 1 through 15 of 27 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics