As I write this our metal garage door has just got stuck on the rails for what seems like the hundredth time, so a complete new door could be in order. It would be good to make the whole thing wider when I do it – but is this a difficult job?
To enlarge a garage door opening by 4-6 inches in width or height, you’ll need to uninstall the garage door opener and rails and reposition them to fit larger garage doors. Alternatively, you’ll need to knock down and rebuild one of the garage side walls to create a wider space, then fit new doors.
Let’s dive down into the subject of enlarging the space for garage doors in more detail, and discover how to do it and how much it costs…
Can You Widen a Garage Door Opening? (How Hard is it?)
Many experts say that widening a garage door opening is doable. The job requires framing skills and is not for the average DIYer, but you can widen a garage door by up to 6 inches on either sidewall fairly easily.
If there are outlets or switches to move, you may need an electrician and if your garage facade is brick, you may need a stonemason.
Most builders frame a garage door opening to be only slightly smaller than the garage doors. So, while you may be able to use your existing rails and opener, you will need to buy one or two new doors. If the new doors are significantly heavier, then you may also need a new opener. Check the specs on your old opener.
According to some historians, Henry Ford was the first person to have problems with the size of his garage door opening. The story goes that Ford, in 1896, built his first car in a coal shed, then realized that the shed door was too small to get his creation out (which doesn’t speak well for his engineering genius).
Ford improvised by knocking out a brick wall.
Which is basically what you’ll have to do, too.
Check out the standard garage door sizes and prices and then go measure your garage. Here’s a handy How-To-Measure Guide. If you don’t have to change the height (the headroom), then the job consists of cutting or knocking out a few inches of the side room.
First, uninstall the garage door opener and rails – you can probably use them for the new door. Then, mark on the side room walls where the new opening should be. Make sure you account for electrical wiring and switches.
Be sure there’s enough room height-wise, length-wise, and depth-wise for the new door. Will the door roll up far enough to get your car (truck, trailer, roof rack, etc.) in? Do you have enough space at the top of your garage? Then, buy the door.
When you have double, triple checked your measurements, let the demo begin. Consider whether you can reuse any studs. Cut or knock out the inches on the side rooms. Frame up the new opening and put up or replace any exterior trim. Install the new door.
If you are in the planning phase and thinking about going from two single garage doors to one double one, here are a few things to consider. Double garage doors tend to be more dominant architecturally. Garage doors are large architectural elements. The dominance can be minimized or balanced with two doors. One large double door is overwhelmingly dominant.
Also consider cost: although most double door cost as much as two singles, two singles need two openers. If you live in a cold climate, opening a double door will let in more cold air than just a single.
Finally, if a garage door opener breaks, in a double door garage you’re stuck. With two single doors and two openers, you’ll probably be able to get out.
Many websites giving advice about enlarging garage doors instead offer advice for organizing your garage. Residential car lifts, folding workbenches, storage on the ceiling, or a garage bump out are all good advice.
Can You Raise The Height of a Garage Door? (Is it Difficult?)
Many garage doors can be tinkered with and raised by 4 to 6 inches. Much more than that, and you are talking about altering the headroom of your garage, which is not a simple thing. Changing the height of the headroom is much trickier than just widening the garage door opening.
The headroom of a garage is the span above the door opening and below the roof. Structurally, the headroom is framed in. It helps support the roof. Increasing the height of the door opening requires re-framing the headroom (the header) and sometimes raising the roof (literally).
Can this be done? Probably so, but this is not a good DIY project. You’ll need a builder.
Many people don’t bother with the expense of increasing the height of a garage – they simply build a new one. If you have an RV, tall truck or need extra space for equipment or snow blades, first get an estimate for an all-new detached garage – one designed for your needs.
Or do some research into alternative garage door designs. If your vehicle will fit in under the existing headroom, then there are some door alternatives to explore. There are doors that fit on the outside of the garage. Or a door that fits into a pocket on the side and slides shut on tracks.
Here’s a great video for a simple height adjustment of about 4 inches.
How Much Does it Cost To Enlarge a Garage Door?
Homeguide says that a 9 foot W x 8 feet H garage door will cost from $400 up to $2,800. If you need a new opener and installation, that will be between $250 and $600. For double doors, 18 feet W by 8 feet H, the door will cost between $800 and $5,500.
Here’s a great reference for individual door costs.
If your current garage is too small to allow for a larger door, you’ll need to expand the entire garage. Experts say that the average cost to expand your garage will cost between $16,000 and $40,000. The average cost per square foot varies between $30 and $70. The upper and lower extreme costs vary between $4,500 and $80,000.
Homelight says that if you are only looking for a couple of feet, the range is from $2,000 to $12,000.
Of course, there are many variables. Your siding type, whether there are structural issues, what type of flooring you want, your roofing type, framing materials, and the cost of labor and permits in your area.
If you are suffering from sticker shock, consider that an enlarged garage will add value to your home. You won’t get 100% of your money back, but you will get slightly over 60% – which is only a little less than a remo of your kitchen.
Here’s the reference for these costs, estimated by Homelight in February 2021.
What Are Some Common Garage Door Sizes?
A standard single door is 8 feet wide and 7 feet high. A standard double door is 16 feet wide and 7 feet high.
New homes have started building for wider and taller garage doors, accounting for trends in car top carriers and tall trucks. Newly constructed homes often have increased the width and the height of their garage doors. Single doors will be 9 feet W and 8 feet H.
What is The Widest Garage Door Available?
The largest garage door for a home is 20 feet wide by 12 feet high. Such a large door is architecturally too dominant for most houses. If you need a large garage space, consider a detached garage.
Detached garages can be custom-built or manufactured. They can match the style of your house and add a workspace. The attic space can be finished for an office or even a small living space. The average cost of a detached garage is $50,000.
Although not a job for those shy of home improvement projects, enlarging the size of your garage door opening can be done if you’re handy around the house. If not I’d get a professional to do it for you.
Garages are part of the main ‘value adding’ part of your property – so if you mess this up by trying to take it on yourself then you might do more harm than good.
As mentioned, at the time of writing we need to fix our broken garage door – but having sized it up I think I’ll definitely get someone in – or risk probably locking myself in the garage. And yes I have done that before trying to fix it in the past! 🙂
Homeowner and property investor Larry James founded Take a Yard in 2020 to bring you the very best outdoor living content, based on his years of experience managing outside spaces. Read more >