When we talk about fire-rated garage doors, we basically talk about commercial doors. Residences usually settle for the standard garage door options, mainly due to the high cost. Also, there are some requirements for the fire-rated garage door installation, including the construction of the surrounding walls.
Given that the purpose of fire-rated doors is to slow down the spread of fire, it makes you think why there are no residential garage door options. It makes you think if homeowners should start considering ordering fire-resistant custom garage doors. Do we, actually, need them at home or not?
The advantage of fire-rated garage doors
As their name implies, fire-rated garage doors are constructed with special materials (gypsum, steel, glass, etc.) that can resist flames. While not all fire-rated doors are the same, they are all tested in a controlled environment for their fire resistance – and rated accordingly.
The question is whether or not a garage door rated to resist fire for 9 hours will do so in real life? That’s not often the case. It all depends on the fire, how & where it started, the items kept around (flammable or not), and similar factors.
But the advantage is that fire-rated garage doors allow enough time for people to evacuate, eliminating the possibility of human loss. And there’s more. One main reason for fatalities during fires is not the actual flames but the smoke and shoot that come along. And there’s also the consideration of property damage, even more due to the spread of fire. Fire-rated doors have an automatic closing mechanism. When the fire alarm is set off or the heat levels go up, the door shuts so that the fire and the gases won’t travel elsewhere. And that’s an important matter to consider when you are thinking of getting a door that separates the garage with the rest of the house.
Why we don’t get fire-rated residential garage doors
The most obvious reason why residential garage doors are not made fire resistant is the price, which will go up due to the special construction. One cannot help but wonder if we need a fire-resistant door at home. Well, this is what usually happens: at commercial facilities and warehouses, for example, garages are filled with products, goods, people. Most of the times, all these items are combustible and the number of people is high. And so, the possibility of fatalities and significant property damage is much higher – thus, the need to install fire-rated doors.
The scenery is not exactly the same at home, where the space is smaller and although flammables may be found all around, the number of items is smaller. Also, residential overhead garage doors remain closed most of the day in contrast to commercial doors, which are open most of the day. But despite all the above, there are still considerations. Let’s see.
Do we, actually, need to consider a fire-rated door at home?
There are a lot of house fires annually. No doubt. But most of them start in the kitchen. Of course, nobody can guarantee that there won’t be a fire in the garage. We DO keep many things in the garage. Don’t we? But then again, is it worth the price of paying a lot for a customized fire-resistant steel garage door instead of tidying up – or even removing flammables from the garage? The argument here is that yes, we can do that but then there’s the car, motor oils – possibly some paints – all flammable. If we remove the car, what’s the purpose of the garage?
A fire-rated garage door may be a good solution for a big residential building, where it’s hard to have control and the expense is split. What’s needed at home – actually it’s mandatory in some locations, is to get the door between the garage and the home fire rated. So, if there’s a fire in the garage, it won’t easily spread inside the house. That’s some food for thought.