If you’ve ever been involved in specifying commercial garage doors, you know it’s no easy task. The landscape of modern door products is massive and offers a dizzying array of design and performance options that add aesthetic value, efficiency, and security to buildings. But specifying the right look, calculating dimensions, optimizing performance, and cross-referencing code compliance for your project is a complex and time-consuming endeavor. Architects and designers must account for everything from space clearances, operating speeds, and cycle ratings to wind load, fire resistance, and more to do the job right—not to mention ensuring it is compliant with local and national building regulations. And that often involves significant legwork to gather information from a variety of sources.

Luckily, help is available. Here are five considerations to focus on when going through the specification process of commercial garage doors. And for more help and resources, check out the Architect Portal at ArchitectDoorHelp.com.

1. Closure Type

There are two main types of commercial garage doors—rolling and sectional—and each has its benefits and intended applications. Rolling doors typically are made of steel slats that coil when rolled up and interlock when fully closed. They’re compact and versatile, and they can be specified to operate at a varying degree of speeds depending on your performance needs. Rolling doors are usually made with heavy-duty materials, so they’re engineered for increased security and, in some cases, a longer lifespan. Recent manufacturing advances allow custom perforations and unique graphics to be added to enhance aesthetics.

Sectional doors have panels that move upward. They’re more common in residential garages but are used in commercial applications too. Full-view section options offer natural light, visibility, and a modern look. Sectional doors can also insulate a space more effectively with a higher U-factor available than rolling doors. Sectional doors work for applications where visibility is a priority or where climate control is a concern.

2. Space and Mounting

The two main types of doors have different requirements for proper installation. Rolling doors need enough space above the opening to fit the retracted coil, but they don’t need much backroom. Sectional doors, though, need very little headroom (just enough for the track and door to be flat against the ceiling) but more backroom for the door to retract into the space. Both types of doors have code requirements. For example, ADA standards require openings in parking facilities to have at least 98 inches of clearance for lifted vans.

Ensuring there’s enough room between the selected door and things like HVAC equipment, lighting fixtures, and sprinklers is crucial for avoiding obstructions and maintaining proper operation of your facility.

3. Cycle Rating

Knowing the desired overall lifetime cycles and the peak cycle times (concentrated, high-volume operation) for your needs will help you find the right door. Overall rated lifetime cycles can range from 10,000 to one million and are an important consideration to ensure the components (door, motor, other mechanical parts) will hold up well over the planned lifetime of the door, especially in applications with a consistent flow of use. And selecting a product with appropriate peak cycle times is crucial for places such as parking garages, in which the door will be used frequently during certain parts of the day to handle a higher number of cycles per hour.

4. Operational Speed

Both main types of doors (rolling and sectional) offer a variety of speeds that can vary greatly. How quickly do you need your door to be able to open and close? If the door will be installed in a facility that requires temperature control, like a food-processing plant, you’ll want it to be able to open and close quickly. But for other types of buildings and uses, high operational speed might not be a big factor and you might be able to focus on other features.

5. Wind Load

Doors can be tested for both static wind load (the force they can withstand while closed) and operable wind load (the force they can withstand while safely operating). Making sure the door you specify is able to safely withstand the wind in your geographic area and protect the people, equipment, and products in the facility is crucial to the safe operation of the facility.

Code requirements for wind load also vary between different parts of the country, so fully understanding the code in your area is crucial, especially in places where hurricane or tornado activity is common. Some manufacturers even have high-performance doors with reinforcement or “wind locks” built in and can also provide doors that meet the strict FEMA P-361 guidance for safe room construction.

For much more detailed information and resources to help you simplify your commercial garage door specification process, visit the Architect Portal at ArchitectDoorHelp.com.