Different approach to garage door?

flgargoyleAugust 29, 2012

The pic below says it all- What do you think of a man door on the front of a garage, directly adjacent to the overhead door? Let me explain the thought process behind this:

The 'farm' and barn are to the right in this view, so the nearest door for a grubby husband is the front door = bad.

Our lot is sloped, so the house sits on a walk-out basement. I could go in the basement (in the back) but then have to walk through the basement and up the stairs. The garage, on the other hand, connects to the house via a hallway where the mudroom is. I could put the man door on the side, but then I would have to walk that much further, and then around the car. I could also open the overhead door, but that seems like a lot of bother.

The garage location is already set, so there's no changing it. For a variety of reasons, it just wouldn't have worked on the right side anyhow.

More info- the garage is set back a couple feet from the main house, and there is a front porch projecting outward 12', so the garage won't be as noticeable as it is in the sketch. Having the garage door shifted to the left, rather than centered is actually a good thing, as there will be a couple steps going up into the house. If the car is too close to the steps, the car door will hit the steps when opened.

My concerns are 1) Would people confuse the man door on the garage with the front door to the house? 2) Is it an architectural faux pas? The house is not visible from the road, so the only people who will see it are friends and family. I often come up with unusual solutions, so a little reality check is need here!

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If it is a solid door and your front door has a window (more than the transom even), I don't think it would be confused with the front door...

I grew up on a farm, and you don't want that tracking through the house. If the garage, etc is set, then you do what you have to do...

    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 11:09PM
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How about an easy to clean floor in the entry, so you could walk in and go right into the mudroom? You wouldn't be walking through the house, but just the entry.

I'm lazy, so I wouldn't want to walk past the front porch to the garage/man door. I'd rather slip in the main door and stop in the mudroom to get rid of messy clothes, boots, etc.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 12:07AM
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Jay I do not think this will be a problem at all. I agree with kirkhall to down play the door you add to the garage. I really like the idea. We had a large shop building at our last house with a man door between the two larger doors. This house is for you make it what you want. I think any one looking at it in the future will see the wisdom of your choice of man door placement and think it was a clever idea.

If your guests confuse it with the front door you could always put a clever sign at this door. You will have to come up with the clever part. And some how I know you can.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 12:27AM
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Being out in the country, local friends and neighbors would come in through the garage anyhow. I have a friend nearby, and their garage door is always open, and they rarely use their front door. I like to keep the overhead door closed, but the man door could be open during the day, and locals would be trained to use it.

LL- I could come in the front, but then I would be the one who would have to clean the foyer! I will be back and forth a lot, especially on weekends. Coming in and out through the garage would also be a buffer for heat or A/C loss. I have also learned that with all the red dirt, and a gravel driveway, things get dusty and dirty fast. By using the garage as a buffer, I hope to keep that down in the house.

I do plan to have a nicer front door, with a window. I am going to design and build a period-appropriate door, but will use a factory made door to get moved in. Believe it or not, the doors have to have energy rating stickers in order to pass inspection, and a homemade door wouldn't have that.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 6:43AM
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What about a garage remote keypad on the outside frame of your garage door? They have covers and are very inobtrusive. No wiring needed - just battery operated. Most manufacturers make them and then you wouldn't have to do the door - which looks a little funny to me.

Here is a link that might be useful: Remote control keypad for garage door

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 7:22AM
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Not an expert, but why not have the garage access door on the left side of the garage? Living in a very rural part of the South, most homes here are built on acreage/farm/ranch. Most of the houses I have been to have had entry doors to the garage on the side or back of the garage. Since the back isn't likely an option on your basement plans then what about the side? You could just pave a small sidewalk around to the front left side and put in a door there.

Love the garage car doors you have drawn in BTW!!

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 8:08AM
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I think it looks nice as you have drawn it. Being an owner of free range chickens, I would definitely prefer going through the garage than using the front door. I would also be too impatient to wait for overhead doors to open plus this makes it easy for your neighbours.

If you wanted to blend it in even more - here's some pictures.

Here is a link that might be useful: Man doors in garage doors

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 8:46AM
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Jay I just remembered our outside door in the master bathroom. Now that is Different. We love it and am so glad we did it this way. The door could have been put into the bedroom instead of the bath.As a slider it might have looked better in the bedroom than bath. We considered it as being more "normal". By adding the door to the bath it made it the mud room for the dogs and it works out really well for us. I still say do what is more comfortable for you. I love the idea of your friends coming in that way.

Honestly I think the door looks just fine beside the larger garage doors. Not having to walk around the car is a big plus. We have lived country for many years and it is all so different then coming in from a fully landscaped yard of pavement and sidewalks.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 10:57AM
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It will not be able to be quite as close together as you have pictured it, but you can probably get it close enough to unify through the trim because of the structural issues with this choice. You will need an extended header beam to cover both the garage door area and the man door area, and will also need a vertical support post between the man door and garage door dogged into the foundation with some Simpson hardware for the garage door hardware to attach to. If you chose to do a smaller header above the garage and separate header above the man door, the section between the two doors would need to be larger to account for the support posts for both. That wouldn't be as unobtrusive.

My other comment is on the traffic patterns. Where would the traffic pattern come from that you think you'd be using that door? Is there a separate shed or garage where you store the lawn equipment or work on a car? If so, then the man door needs to be in a direct traffic path from that separate structure. If not, then the garage door will most likely be open when those activities take place and no door is needed.

If you want a "friends door" into the home, if I were your friend, I wouldn't want to come in through the garage. I'd want to come into a covered porch back hall entry or I'd use the front door. Even if we're friends, it feels awkward to come in thorough an open garage door into a home. It feels as if you're stepping "into the home" without alerting the homeowner, even if you knock at the garage/house door.

If it were my home, for a "friends entrance" I'd put a porch overhang to the side of the garage and a door leading into the mudroom, not the garage, if possible.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 11:30AM
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My concern is that you won't have enough room for the garage door and the 'man door'. If you do have plenty of room (and your wife can still easily get the car through the main doors) then why not?

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 12:58PM
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Love your house and am looking forward to pics as it progresses. I like your garage door and the concept behind your approach. I think if you landscape it to indicate - Hey here is the front door - it will work great.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 1:21PM
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Throwing out another idea that may work depending on the size of your garage. Can you put the overhead garage doors on the left side of the house and leave the man door where you have it drawn in?

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 5:20PM
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I personally think the two doors look odd when "ganged" together with "unified trim." Perhaps what bothers me most is that there is no place to put the garage light that it doesn't look "off-centered."

In your elevation drawing you show the garage light centered over the "unified doors." With it in that position, I immediately notice the light isn't lined up with the center of the garage door and so it looks "off".

So, my first thought was to suggest that it would look better if you move the light over so that it is centered on the garage door. So I did a cut and paste revision of your elevation, moving the light over to the center of the garage door, like this...

But that still looks "off" to me because now the light clearly isn't centered with the trim.

So, then I thought, maybe if you didn't use "carriage style" garage doors but instead chose a simple panel garage door without an obvious a centerline...
Okay, that looks a bit better to me but somehow it still doesn't feel quite right.

So then I thought, maybe the problem is having just ONE light. What if she has two lights and centers one over the man door and the other an equal distance from the opposite end of the trim. That might move the light over the overhead door far enough from the center of the door that one doesn't get the feeling that is somehow SHOULD be centered over the door. So, here is that one...

My final thought was, what if she used a slightly narrower man door (32" instead of 36") and then moved both doors an inch or so closer to the edges of the garage? That would allow enough room for the doors to be trimmed separately and have a tiny bit of siding showing between the trim. So, I made the man door 10% narrower and move it and the overhead door apart a tiny bit, resulting in this...

Personally, I think separating the doors looks best. And, since you could open the overhead door if you needed to bring in something that wouldn't fit easily thru a 32" wide door, there is really no reason why that man door has to be 36 inches wide. It is not that difficult to find 32" wide exterior doors. Plus, having a narrower door there would also help to emphasize that this isn't the "front door."

Anyway, just thought all these revised elevations might help you think thru various possibilities.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 6:00PM
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I didn't read all of the comments but I think there should be a space between the garage door and the mandoor to reflect the structural difference between a large header and a small header.

A mandoor next to a barn door is a common feature in old New England farm houses and they are usually much shorter with the barn door sliding away from the mandoor.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 8:23PM
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A few comments-

Yes, I can put the door on the left side, no big deal. But I know that the first time I come through and I'm especially grubby, my wife's car will be parked in such a way that it is very difficult to maneuver around it. I could potentially have to walk all the way around the front of the car.

It could be built as shown. I planned to use a continuous header anyhow, and as shown there could be a quadruple 2X4 post between doors. BTW- That's already a 32" door. I could go down to an 8' overhead door, but I feel a 9' is much easier to navigate with the car.

I do like the little piece of wall between the doors, if I can squeeze it all in. I think that is the best look for the given situation.

I really like the WalkThru link that was posted; no idea what they cost, though. I'll have to look into that further. I've seen them called 'pilot doors' somewhere.

My first choice would be to have an old-fashioned one-piece door, since then I could cover it with wood to make a convincing-looking carriage door. I even considered hinged carriage doors, but there are issues with those, and the openers are expensive. I'm not sure if one-piece doors even meet code these days. I think it would be easy to DIY a man door into a one-piece door; I'll have to ask the inspector what he thinks.

I really appreciate the dialogue and suggestions. It always helps to have fresh eyes look at things!

    Bookmark   August 31, 2012 at 6:25AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

Perhaps this will help

I have also seen homes with 2 car garages with the man door in the middle between the 2 separate doors.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2012 at 8:00AM
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Just make sure you have enough room on the left side of your garage to open a car door and get around easily.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2012 at 9:59AM
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