There are a variety of hangar door options available. I recently spent some time with a few hangar owners discussing hangar doors.
Manually Opened Hangar Doors
Double Sliding Doors: This door is primarily used for agricultural purposes although I have seen them from time to time in hangars. This type of door splits vertically down the centerline. Each side then parts and runs down a separate track located directly above & below the door halves. The double sliding door has some drawbacks. The primary one being that the door does not seal very well. There is a gap that runs around the perimeter of the doors. This gap leaves an opening for rodents & other pest. These doors are typically provided by the buildings manufacturer & can vary drastically in design, cost & operation.
Stack doors are comprised of multiple vertical door sections that are hinged. The door is manually operated & once unlocked it slides easily on a track and stacks. Similar to a bi-folding door closet found in your home the stack door folds each section of the stack against the next. When open the folded doors stacked neatly in the corner of the opening.
I visited with Grant a customer of mine. Grant installed the stack hangar door himself with the help of some friends. He claimed that the installation was relatively easy and that a second door would install much quicker now that he had some experience with it. His door was made out of translucent light emitting panels. This was not as clear as a window but it did let in quite a bit of natural light. Grant liked the door because of its easy operation. He even challenged the other hangar owners to a contest to see who could open their door the fastest. The other advantage that he noted was the fact that the door could be opened manually at any time regardless of power outages.
Electrically Opened Hangar Doors
From the outside a bi-fold door looks like a sheeted metal building wall. As the door begins to open it pivots on a hinge located in the middle of the door and folds upward. This is different from the stack door in that it folds vertically while the stack door folds horizontally. The sections on a bi-fold door are also much larger. The bi-fold door requires either a cabled winch or hydraulic motor to open.
I have been visited several buildings with this type of door in them. Some of these doors worked better than others. They are definitely not going to win Grant’s quickest door opening contest. The thing that concerns me the most is the doors operation. Although safe to use the doors make a horrible noise & shakes the building during operation. None of the other doors do this.
From the outside a hydraulic door looks like a sheeted metal building wall. The doors hinge is at the top and swings open as a solid unit. Bi-Fold door by comparison is hinged at the top but it actually folds in the middle where a hydraulic door remains a solid unit.
I noticed a random hangar door open one day that happened to have a hydraulic door on it. I asked owner if I could take a look at his door. Right off the bat I noticed the door seal was very good. The seal was so good in fact that when the door opened a small vacuum was created sucking his calendar right off the wall. Once open the door acts like a canopy and provides additional shading. In addition to the canopy shading the owner really liked using a remote control. His opinion was that he could wait a little longer if he didn’t have to get wet when it was raining.
Overall the door opened & closed flawlessly but it was also the most expensive of all the doors that I looked at. The metal building had a substantial amount of additional bracing not found in a comparable stack door for example. Power outages prove to be a problem if the door needs to be opened. As expected they have a failsafe in the hydraulic system in case the door is open during a power outage.
As I was leaving I thanked the gentleman for his time & I noticed that he painted a small stripe just outside of the hangar doors. This was to keep people from parking in the doors path. He claimed it would easily flip a small plane or car.
I found that almost everyone that I spoke with had a slight bias towards there own hangar door. None of them seemed to have any buyer remorse. I would recommend stopping by your neighbor’s hangar and take a look for yourself. I found most of the people that I met through this experience where very inviting and enthusiastic to share their experiences.