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History of Garage Doors and Garage Door Springs

When you press your garage door opener and watch as the door lifts, you’re witnessing hundreds of years of evolution at work. For you, the task is simple and automatic, but for your ancestors it was anything but easy.

Innovation happens slowly, but the modern day garage door and your garage door springs are marvels of design. You have no idea the changes garage door technology has gone through, but we’ll detail the major milestones. It’s important to understand history and how improvements have led to the easy to use garage doors we have today.

Early Days of Garage Doors

As long as people traveled on horses, they needed a garage. Did you ever notice that your garage doors looks like a barn door? The first garages were barns that provided shelter for horses and farm equipment.

The doors opened out and were connected to the barn with metal hinges. They weren’t very sophisticated, but they did the job. These were used for centuries from Rome to Colonial America.

Depend on the area and the wealth of the owners, carriage houses and horse shelters could be simple or elaborate. Many had dirt floors and lightweight gates for doors. The gate was large and many had smaller doors in them to allow people to come in and out without opening the large gates.

The Horseless Carriage Helped Revolutionize Garage Doors

A horseless carriage was what the first automobiles were called. They looked just like a carriage, but ran off a motor instead of horses. Many of the first horseless carriages had no roof, so they needed a place for storage.

The first cars were also expensive and generally reserved for the rich. That was until Henry Ford developed the assembly line in 1913 and cars became available to the everyman. Metropolitan areas didn’t have barns to house cars.

The average person also didn’t have the money to build an elaborate garage like the wealthy, so cities created the first private garages. They charged a fee to house the cars. Many times these large parking garages had no door and people were able to come in and leave as they pleased.

Public Garage Issues Lead To Portable Garages

As cars became more mainstream, the private parking garages began to overflow. Drivers also had to find a way back to their home or since the private garage could be miles from there.  It was a major inconvenience.

Major retailers noticed the issue and began promoting portable and do-it-yourself garage door kits. It was a major success because people could park their car at home. The early garages still had the swing open gate doors, but in 1921 the first overhead garage door was sold.

Swinging garage doors were fine, but you needed lots of room to open the doors and they were easily blocked in winter by snow. The overhead garage door eliminated all this.

It may be hard to believe, but the first electric garage door opener debuted in 1926. It was large clunky and expensive, but was a big help to those who had difficulty lifting the garage door such as the elderly. Eventually, it would become standard.

The Evolution of Attached Garage Doors

By the 1950s, cars and trucks were part of everyday life. Most families had one car and several had two cars. There was also a housing boom post World War II and man architects included a garage in the floor plans of new homes.

These new garages weren’t separate from the home and instead were attached. You could park the car in the garage and walk right into your home and vice versa. It was a nice change from having to leave your garage in bad weather and head into your home.

Garages were a necessity as were quality garage doors. Electric openers developed as well becoming more efficient, but the motors were burning out, chains were breaking and they garage door developers needed a better way to lift the doors.

Garage Door Torsion Springs and New Materials

As garages become more prevalent, people wanted something different. The site of the wooden garage door on house after house was boring. By the 1970s, people began experimenting with other materials that were more lightweight and durable than wood such as aluminum, steel and fiberglass.

Electric garage door openers developed as well and torsion springs were introduced. These springs were tense when the garage door was down and helped the opener lift the door. This added to the lifespan of the opener and is part of modern garage door systems.

Today’s Garage Doors Have Variety

There is much variety in garage doors today thanks to various materials and processes developed through the years. You can have classical carriage house design doors that lift upwards and colors galore.

Garage door torsion springs are essential to the operation of modern garage door systems. We have a wide variety of springs available if you need a new one.