The History of Garage Doors
As automobiles were invented and came into consumer market, there became a need to safely store them. At the time, outbuildings were a type of unattached garages that kept the horse and buggy. The original outbuilding held the transportation and all transportation related tools. So, consumers naturally begin storing automobiles right next to their horse and buggy in the same outbuilding. High society was the main consumers in the early 1900’s and they didn’t appreciate their shiny new car smelling like horse manure. A new solution was necessary to keep them happy.
The first garages were one level heated buildings that resembled an enclosed parking lot. Each parking space could be rented for $15-$20 a month. The building normally housed about 100 parking spaces. The garages were publicly and privately owned. The owner would keep the garage clean for the consumers and it was adequate for what consumers needed. There were problems though, $15-$20 was a lot of money for storage, it wasn’t very convenient, and around 1910 there became too many cars for the garage’s to accommodate.
In 1912, an architect created “a new type of outbuilding”. The garage, which comes from the French word garer- to shelter or protect, was invented. The first garage door was essentially a barn door. It was a double door attached to the garage with strap hinges that opened outward. They had the appearance of a basic shed and were subjected to heavy wear and tear. The hinges got rusty and squeaked and the screws would bend and eventually fall out. Snow made it difficult to open and close the doors as well.
Improvement was needed again. Sliding tracks for doors was then invented to solve one problem. But, that led to a new problem. The garage door would take up less space if the doors could remain within the area of the garage so that they could be moved sideways on a sliding track, across the front of the garage. For that to happen, the garage had to be at least double the width of the door.
So the next invention was created. The garage door was developed so that it was cut into sections and hinged together at internals. This allowed it to fold around a corner and the garage to be only slightly wider than the garage door. But, there had to be an even better way. In 1921, C.G. Johnson developed the overhead garage door. It lifted upwards and folded parallel to the garage ceiling. He saw a further need in the market and in 1926 C.G. Johnson invented the electric door opener. Consumers that couldn’t lift a heavy wooden door now could have an electric system lift the door for them.
Improvements were made in the 1950’s by Emanuel Mullet’s company called Wayne-Dalton. His company introduced new technology for garage door openers, pinch-resistant doors, tamper-resistant bottom brackets, and many other innovations. Garage doors continued to improve with the discovery of new materials to make them with, better insulation, and safer garage door openers.