Looking to add some extra style and functionality to your garage? If so, consider building swing-out garage doors! Not only do they look great, but they also provide easy access in and out of your garage. In this post, we’ll show you how to build them yourself to save you both time and money.
What You'll Learn Today
What is a Swing Out Garage Door?
Before we tell you exactly how to build a swing-out garage door, let’s talk logistics.
As the name implies, a swing-out garage door is one that swings open and closed on heavy duty hinges. These are mounted to the garage opening jambs and are usually composed of two opposing door slabs that open outwards.
These options are not only beautiful, but they’re authentic, hailing back to old-fashioned carriage house designs. Because of the design, some homeowners refer to them as barn doors or carriage doors.
They are also practical, perfect for homeowners who want to avoid the maintenance required for overhead track systems or for those with limited overhead spaces.
You can find or build swing-open garage doors in just about every single size and design. They do require more space than overhead doors, since they open horizontally. Your door will need to be at least a foot taller than it is wide so you don’t have to deal with sagging.
Also, if you plan on installing an automatic opening system, you’ll need to make sure you select one that is specifically designed for swing out doors.
Can a Garage Entry Door Swing Out?
Yes, a garage entry door can swing out. There are some considerations you’ll want to make here, though, since it isn’t always a wise choice depending on which set of garage doors you’re referring to.
First, fire safety is a critical issue when deciding on your swing direction.
Your garage entry door to the home should never swing out. Since the garage might be a point of exit in the event of a fire or emergency, a door that swings into the home can be a hazard, preventing people from exiting.
However, the door leading from the garage into the outdoors should swing out – for the same reason. Consider this as you begin to design and build your swing-out garage doors.
How to Build Swing Out Garage Doors
Ready to start building your own swing-out garage doors? Follow these steps.
1. Design the Door
The first step might sound obvious, but it’s essential. You’ve got to take the time to sit down and plan out your garage door design as thoroughly as possible. It’s best to do this before buying materials so that you have a clear picture of what you’re working with.
Keep the dimensions of your garage in mind as you design and allow for an inch on all sides so that it can be aligned properly.
When designing your door, you’ll also need to shop for certain materials. The exact materials you need will vary but might include:
- 4 boards – 2″ x 6″ x 6′
- 4 boards – 2″ x6″ x 8′
- 8” Gate Hinges
- Wood Screws
- Wood Glue
- Brad Nails
While you’re at it, gather some tools. Depending on your plans and specifications, the exact tools you’ll need, again, will vary, but you might want to have the following items on hand:
- Miter saw
- Table saw or circular saw
- Nail gun and compressor
- Screw gun
- Extension cords
- Tape measurer
- Roofing square
- ⅛” drill bit
2. Build the Door Frames
Once you’ve gathered your materials, you will build your door frames. The mortise and tenon method works well for large doors. This consists of cutting two mortises into the edges of two planks, with a separate individual rectangular tenon inserted into these two mortises.
This entire assembly is then connected via a dowel, which is driven through at least one hole drilled through the sidewall and tenon.
You can find more information on how to make a mortise and tenon joint here:
There are other ways you can build your door frames, too, but this will ensure that your doors are strong and durable. Make them even stronger by assembling the frames with wood glue or nails (ideally, with both for added security).
If you choose to add windows to your design, you’ll need to buy the glass and place it on the panels during this stage, too.
3. Mount the Doors on the Hinges
Attach your hinges, then mount the doors. You should have left space on all sides to allow for some wiggle room. Make sure the doors are level and plumb before you proceed.
4. Install a Garage Door Opener (Optional)
If you are planning on installing a garage door opener, you can install it now. You’ll need to install rails to make the door sturdier and more durable since the doors will be opened by following the trails only instead of relying on the hinges.
To install, measure how long your rails are and then follow the instructions listed by the automatic door opener manufacturer. Some have safety features to prevent injury, so you’ll want to note these as you are installing your unit.
Where to Buy Swing Out Garage Doors
Don’t want to build your own swing-out garage doors? That’s okay! You can also buy them in a prefabricated form – no cutting, measuring, or sweating required.
These doors are sold just about everywhere you’ll find other types of home renovation materials, like specialty door stores and home improvement stores like Lowes or Home Depot. You can also order them online if you aren’t able to find exactly what you are looking for locally.
Whether you choose to build or buy, if you are in the market for a new garage door, be sure to consider swinging outdoors. They offer many benefits over traditional garage doors and can be installed by most DIY-ers.
By following these tips for building (and installing) swing-out garage doors, you can ensure that your new swing-out garage door is installed correctly and will provide years of reliable service.
And if you’re wondering how to change your garage doors into French doors, here is our new guide.