Door options

A Guide to metal building doors

Metal building doors
Carefully planning your exterior doors is critical. Don’t treat them as an afterthought.

Steel doors with steel frames provide strength, durability, sound dampening, and fire resistance, much more than fiberglass or wood core doors. They also provide a high level of security and can last for decades with regular maintenance. There is a wide range of attractive door types provided for different applications.

When designing your building with your chosen building supplier, you will specify where you need large access doors. These will then be added to the engineering plans, and framed openings will be added to accommodate your chosen doors.

Your metal building supplier will be able to offer you various options in terms of door design and style. Please note that you are under no obligation to purchase your doors from the building supplier. These can also be sourced locally or from your specialist online door suppliers.

Metal doors are highly resistant to damage and, when coated, resistant to corrosion. With a foam core, a metal door can provide a high level of insulation.

Steel doors are usually best for metal frame buildings since they are designed to fit into a metal structure, making it easier to prevent water or air leakage.

Various doors and door mechanisms are available for use in pre-framed openings. Sliding doors are one such economical large-door solution. For specific applications, mechanized overhead doors, or roll-up doors, are particularly convenient, especially when combined with a remote control system. Several specialized door options are also available for aircraft hangars.

Garage Doors

Overhead doors are by far the most popular option for steel-frame buildings. These fall into two main categories: overhead garage doors and overhead roll-up doors. Each has its pros and cons.

Available sizes: (residential): 8’x8’ to 16’x16’
Available sizes: (commercial): 8’x8’ to 32’x24’
Typically used for: garages, shops, RV garages, and warehouses

When building a new structure or replacing an existing one, every entryway in the building must suit your purpose.

Some things to think about are how important security is for you, how much traffic you expect, the design of the building, climate (e.g., choose insulated doors for cold climates and cold storage warehouses), and building codes. These will help you decide the type of door to select.

If you are going to have heavy traffic, roll-up doors are probably best. Sectional overhead doors are great in garages and shop buildings. Both come in various styles, profiles, and colors and can be customized to your desired look.

Advantages: Available in many designs and color options. Provide a watertight seal. Can be insulated. Fast, reliable, and efficient operation.

Disadvantages: They are more expensive than sliding doors due to their well-engineered design. Require regular maintenance and lubrication. The overhead tracks could be a problem if you require unobstructed clearance inside your building.

16x10 Overhead Garage Door on a Metal Building

16x10 Overhead Garage Door
Credit: Great Western Buildings

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Roll-Up Doors

Roll-up doors (a.k.a. rolling, coiling, or drum doors) have narrow slats, allowing them to roll into a compact cylinder just above the entry opening. They take up much less space than doors that roll up onto tracks (like track-mounted garage doors). Roll-up doors are often less expensive to buy, but they also have durability, maintenance, and lifetime advantages.

Available sizes: 4'x7' to 30'x28'
Typically used for: garages, sheds, RV storage, self-storage units, and warehouses.
Added security - roll-up doors are difficult to break through, making them a solid and secure door option.

Roll-up doors are also available with in-built insulation for colder climates. The insulation will also reduce external noise. If you have a busy manufacturing operation, you can reduce the sound transmission from or into the building.

Roll-up doors are highly durable, can withstand daily wear and tear, are rust-resistant, and can withstand extreme weather with proper support.

Advantages: Superior security. Fast and efficient operation. Require minimal maintenance. Can be insulated. Their compact, trackless design allows for unobstructed clearances inside the building.

Disadvantages: More expensive than overhead garage doors. Limitations on appearance and color options. Have a more industrial aesthetic. 

Commercial metal roll up door

Commercial metal roll up door

Bifold Doors

A bifold door appears from the outside as a regular pre-engineered building wall covered with siding. The door pivots on a hinge in the middle and folds upward as it begins to open. A bifold door's portions are likewise substantially larger. You'll need either a cabled winch or a hydraulic motor to open the bifold door.

Maximum Door Size: 90' Wide, 30' Tall
Typically used for: airplane hangars, large farm sheds, and barns

Vertical or horizontal bi-fold doors are very similar to sectional doors but have much larger panel sections, i.e., the two sections that fold open to the inside or outside of the building. The operation can be manual or motorized.

If opening to the outside, they have a considerable advantage in taking up no interior space. This design is suitable for buildings housing heavy machinery or aircraft.

Advantages: Typically outfitted with an electric motor, long history of dependable use, strong.

Disadvantages: Also more costly, may require service if jammed. Can be noisy and create vibrations when in operation.

Bifold doors on Aviation Steel Building

Bifold doors on Aviation Steel Building
Credit: Great Western Buildings

Hydraulic Doors

Again, a hydraulic door looks like a regular building wall covered with siding from the exterior. The door hinges at the top and swings open as one solid unit. On the other hand, a bifold door is hinged at the top but folds in the middle as it is lifted.

Available sizes: 10’x10’ to 80’x22’
Typically used for aircraft hangars, agricultural barns, retail stores, and commercial garages.

Advantages: Fast open and close times, and once open, the door acts as a canopy and provides additional shading.

Disadvantages: High cost and dependence on power. While the door opens and closes smoothly, it might require a more sturdy building structure to support it than some other types, such as rolling doors.

Power outages might be a problem if these doors need to be opened, but, as expected, they have a failsafe in the hydraulic system to close them in case the door is open during a power outage.

Agricultural Steel Building Hydraulic Door

Agricultural Steel Building Hydraulic Door
Credit: SchweissDoors

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Sliding Doors

These are doors on rollers that follow a track, including both crossover and outrigger. Crossovers allow you to open portions of the entire framed opening simultaneously. Outriggers open up the entire framed opening at once and require a special structure that extends past both ends of the framed opening.

Available sizes: 4’ - 40’
Typically used for Agricultural barns, horse barns, warehouses, and aircraft hangars.

Sliding doors may be mounted via an external or internal horizontal track system at the top of a framed opening. Depending on door weight and size, sliding doors may rely on support from the top track system or lower guide rail mounts and wheels.

Top-mount-only systems are prevalent on smaller commercial doors or in agricultural uses. Mainly used as agricultural barn doors but can also be used in warehouses.

Larger sliding doors have rollers on the bottom and are simply termed “bottom rolling”. These are common for freight facilities and aircraft hangars.

Suitable for extreme weather. Relatively low cost. And the big advantage of not taking up overhead clearance. They can even be installed in a Quonset building, running along an exterior rectangular frame supported at the top and bottom.

Advantages: Simple, cost-effective, sturdy, and straightforward to clean.

Disadvantages: Manual doors require strength to open, tracks can be jammed, and must be cleaned regularly. Another disadvantage is that they might not seal very well, as there is a gap around the edge of the doors, although this is not a problem with residential sliding doors.

Metal Sliding Doors on an Agricultural Building

Metal Sliding Doors on an Agricultural Building
Credit: Great Western Buildings

Vertical Lift Doors

These doors are hoisted overhead, like a garage door, or stacked.

Stackers are less expensive, less robust, and typically manually operated. Their advantages include simplicity and low cost.

Advantages: Typically electrically motorized (except for stackers), sturdy, dependable.

Disadvantages: More costly, may require professional service if jammed.

Folding Fabric Doors

These normally open vertically on rollers.

Advantages: Low cost, “crash-forgiving,” aesthetic.

Disadvantages: Lower-quality products provide less security, although high-end fabric door manufacturers address this issue.

Walk Doors

Pre-hung metal walk doors (a.k.a. entry doors, man doors, or personnel doors) can be customized to your unique application and are supplied as standard by all our suppliers.

Choose the finish and color to suit your needs. Personnel doors can be steel, wood with windows or not, or glass. They can be insulated or uninsulated. A door package includes weatherstripping, trim kit, leaf, frame, hinges, and threshold. The door and frame are reversible for left or right-hand operation.

Standard sizes: 3'x7' (3070), 4'x7' (4070) & 6'x7' (6070)

Commercial steel doors are the most durable – they could outlast wood by as much as ten years. Wind Ratings are available up to wind speeds of approximately 125 mph (wind pressure or suction of 50 psf). Door kits are shipped pre-hung and ready to install.

Fire-rated doors can help slow or prevent the spread of fire and smoke.

Storefront and office doors are critical to forming customer first impressions in the retail and office environments. Both can come with insulated tempered glass. Our suppliers have many options to customize your doors.

Walk doors are available with door canopies; for more details, see our page on structural upgrade options.

Walk Door (3070)

Walk Door (3070)
Credit: CDF Distributors

Windows for Steel Buildings

Windows provide a building with light and ventilation while contributing to its ambiance and atmosphere. Like personnel doors, windows placed in metal building systems are located and framed in the field, so they can go in any place that isn’t blocked by a frame column or wall cross-bracing.

Manufacturers typically offer both insulated (a.k.a. “thermal”) and uninsulated models in a range of standard sizes. If you plan on heating and cooling your building, it pays to opt for thermal windows.

Use Commercial or Residential Windows

If you're looking for a more traditional look for your building, residential doors and windows are the way to go.

Getting a quote from your steel building supplier and local supplies is a good idea.

Fixed-glass windows are simple to install in a pre-engineered building. They are preferred for heightened security or larger window areas for retail stores.

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