When it comes to choosing a new garage door, one of the main considerations is the opening mechanism – or in other words, how do you want the door to open? With a myriad of different options out there, it’s important to understand the upsides and the downsides to each mechanism, as well as how they compare with each other. In this article we’ll look at tracked garage doors and canopy garage doors. How are they different? What are the benefits? And which one is best for your home?
As you may or may not know, traditional up & over garage doors are actually available in two different opening mechanisms; canopy or tracked. When the garage door is closed, these are indistinguishable. In fact, the majority of our canopy garage doors (the most common opening mechanism in the UK) are also available as a tracked garage door as well.
The main difference between canopy and tracked garage doors is the internal mechanism. With canopy garage doors, you may recognise two springs running diagonally across the inside of the door. The internal mechanism of a tracked garage door does not have these springs, but does have two hinged ‘arms’ running vertically on either side of the door. A tracked mechanism also includes runners or rails which sit at the top of the garage, just under the ceiling. These runners support the door when it’s fully open, as it pushes right back to sit fully within the garage. Canopy garage doors, on the other hand, lift up and over in the same way, but sit with around a third of the door sticking out of the entrance when fully open. This creates a canopy shelter area, whereas the tracked garage door will not protrude at all.
Canopy garage doors are functional and basic, as well as highly secure and easy to use. To open a canopy door, you simply hold it by the handle and pull towards you whilst lifting it slightly. The springs will take the tension and the door should glide open easily, coming to a rest where you leave it. You should always – without fail – open your canopy garage door from the centre of the door, where the handle is situated. Pulling it open from the side or from the corner will unbalance the springs and wear out the mechanism, making your door harder and harder to lift, or even buckling it altogether.
Canopy garage doors, being the most popular type of door in the UK, enjoy a lot of variety and choice when it comes to garage door designs. Our canopy garage doors are available in both galvanised steel and solid timber, giving you a wide range of styles and designs to choose from. For those who like the look of solid timber but who would rather stick to a lower budget or have a door which is much more maintenance-free, we do have a number of steel doors with a woodgrain foil finish in a choice of Rosewood or Golden Oak.
It’s important to consider the downsides of a canopy garage door as well as the benefits, however, so it should be noted that it’s very difficult to convert a canopy door to electronic opening. Extra equipment – called a bow arm kit – is needed to convert a canopy garage door in this way, and it’s often not efficient to do so. If you’d like an up & over garage door and think you may want to open it via remote at some point in the future, then tracked is the way to go. Canopy doors are also not suitable for those who live in a very high-wind area, such as next to a busy road or on the coast. This is because, due to the fact the door sticks out when open, the wind can weaken the mechanism and throw the springs off balance, making your door difficult to use.
Tracked garage doors are probably more popular than you may realise, but because they are identical on the outside to most of the canopy garage doors out there, you may not notice quite how many there really are. Tracked garage doors are a more modern take on the up & over mechanism, and many people find them to be a more efficient and reliable option. This is because the tracked arms are generally stronger than canopy springs, which can be pulled out of balance easily if the door is not treated well.
For many owners of a tracked garage door, the fact that it slides back into the garage space to fit neatly flush to the ceiling is a plus, as it looks neat and tidy and helps to ensure it’s kept clean and clear of debris. The types of doors you get to choose from are pretty much the same as the canopy garage door offering, albeit they’re slightly more expensive to have in a tracked version. For those who have an electricity supply in their garage, converting a tracked door so that it opens at the touch of a button is easy. This is particularly good for those who find manually opening the door difficult (such as the elderly), or for those who would prefer to stay in the safety and warmth of their car in the winter months.
One downside of tracked garage doors is that the lifting arms do slightly reduce the drive-through width. This means they’re unsuitable for smaller garages or ones where you already struggle to fit your vehicle in easily.