Selecting the right garage door track is crucial for smooth and safe operation of your garage door. The track guides the rollers and supports the weight of the door as it opens and closes.
There are several key factors to consider when choosing garage door tracks, including lift type, track width, radius size, and hardware needs. This guide will walk you through the various garage door track types and components to help you make an informed decision.
Overview of Garage Door Track Types
There are two main sections of track in most garage door systems:
- Vertical track – Mounted to the wall and guides the door up and down as it opens and closes.
- Horizontal track – Mounted to the ceiling and supports the weight of the door once it is fully open.
The vertical and horizontal tracks are connected by a curved transition section to allow smooth travel of the door between the two angles.
Some key measurements affect track selection:
- Track width – Available in 1, 2, or 3 inches wide. Wider tracks support heavier doors.
- Track radius – The curved transition section has varying radii, such as 12, 15, or 20 inches. Larger radii require more headroom space.
- Lift type – Determined by the garage dimensions and clearance available. Common options are standard lift, high lift, vertical lift and low headroom tracks.
Proper installation and alignment of tracks is crucial for safety, performance and longevity of the garage door system. High quality galvanized steel tracks resist corrosion and provide smooth operation.
Lift Types for Garage Door Tracks
One of the most important factors in selecting garage door tracks is determining the lift type required, based on the garage dimensions and space available.
Standard Lift Track
Key Takeaway: Standard lift is the most common residential track style and requires minimal headroom.
- Used when the ceiling height is close to the top of the door opening.
- Vertical track runs close to the full height of the door, stopping 6-8 inches from the top.
- Transitions into a short horizontal track mounted near the ceiling.
- Allows the door to rise vertically, then roll back under the ceiling when fully open.
- Requires only minimal headroom space above the door opening. A 15″ radius track is common.
- Ideal for most residential applications with average ceiling heights.
Low Headroom Track
Key Takeaway: Low headroom tracks maximize clearance in garages with obstructed or limited headroom.
- Used when ceiling or obstructions are close to the top of the door, leaving minimal headroom space.
- Uses a rear torsion spring or extension spring system rather than overhead torsion spring.
- Two horizontal tracks – one for the top section, one for remaining sections.
- Top section travels further back on its track, allowing lower sections to clear obstructions.
- Requires only 9-12″ of headroom above the top of the door opening.
High Lift Track
Key Takeaway: High lift tracks are ideal when ceiling height greatly exceeds door height.
- Used when ceiling is significantly taller than the door opening.
- Vertical track is extended, allowing door to rise fully before flipping back horizontally.
- Shorter horizontal track mounted near the ceiling.
- The high lift vertical track extension varies based on ceiling height.
- Prevents the door from intruding too far into the garage interior when open.
Vertical Lift Track
Key Takeaway: Vertical lift tracks allow minimal horizontal intrusion for narrow garages or high security.
- Vertical track only, no horizontal track section.
- Door stores vertically near the ceiling when open.
- Minimal side-room required – door does not roll back into garage interior.
- Often used in commercial or industrial settings.
- Residential use where intrusion into garage space needs to be minimized.
Key Takeaway: Roofline tracks allow proper operation in garages with sloped or peaked ceilings.
- Angles vertical track and horizontal track to match roof slope.
- Eliminates the wasted headroom of a flat track in a peaked ceiling.
- Can be integrated with standard lift, high lift, or other track systems.
- Allows door to fit tight to ceiling and prevent water intrusion.
Garage Door Track Widths
Choosing the proper track width is important for smooth operation and long service life. Wider tracks provide more stability for heavy doors.
- 1″ track – Used mainly for commercial trucks or trailers. Too narrow for most residential doors.
- 2″ track – Standard for most residential and commercial garage doors. Provides good stability.
- 3″ track – Extra wide track for heavy commercial doors or residential doors over 14′ wide. Prevents tracking issues under heavy use.
Matching the proper rollers to the track width is critical to avoid tracking problems and premature wear.
Garage Door Track Radius Options
The curved section connecting the vertical and horizontal tracks is available in different radii:
- 12″ radius – Tightest curve requiring least headroom. Can increase wear on rollers with heavy use.
- 15″ radius – Compromise between space and smooth operation. Used in most residential installations.
- 20″ radius – Provides a more gradual curve for easier operation on wide or heavy doors.
- 32″ radius – Used on extra wide commercial doors to minimize wear and binding. Requires substantial headroom.
Larger radius tracks provide smoother, easier travel but require additional ceiling clearance. Measure carefully to ensure proper headroom for the radius size selected.
Garage Door Track Hardware & Mounting
Properly mounting and bracing garage door tracks is critical for safety and performance. Key mounting hardware includes:
- Jamb brackets – Attach vertical tracks to wall. Various sizes to angle track slightly from vertical.
- Flag brackets – Connect vertical and horizontal tracks at transition point.
- Angle iron – Reinforces horizontal tracks and may brace vertical tracks.
- Splice plates – Join vertical track sections on high lift installs.
- Hanging brackets – Provide intermediate support for long horizontal tracks.
Appropriate gauge (thickness) of tracks and mounting hardware is required to handle the size and weight of the door. Heavier doors require thicker track materials and more robust mounting supports.
Specialty Garage Door Tracks
In addition to standard lift types, some specialty track systems are used in certain situations:
- Low-Clearance Track – Special compact track for opening doors with as little as 2″ of side clearance from obstructions.
- Vertical Track for High Lift – Extra tall vertical track to allow door to clear overhead obstructions before flipping horizontal.
- Double Horizontal Track – Allows door to split and operate on two horizontal tracks to avoid ceiling obstructions.
- Commercial Tracks – Heavy duty wide tracks with robust mounting hardware for heavy use in industrial settings.
- Curved Track – Used on special door styles with sections that curve or bend during operation rather than lifting straight upward.
Garage Door Track Maintenance
Regular inspection and maintenance is important to keep garage door tracks in proper alignment and working smoothly:
- Inspect tracks monthly for signs of loose hardware, damage, or misalignment.
- Test door for smooth travel up and down tracks. Listen for grinding or binding sounds.
- Clean tracks to remove dirt, debris, or corrosion.
- Lubricate rollers and hinges to prevent wear and binding.
- Tighten any loose track bolts or mounting hardware.
- Align tracks if door binding occurs or rollers fall out of place.
By selecting the appropriate track for your door type and garage dimensions, performing regular maintenance, and contacting a professional for any major repairs, you can rely on safe and reliable operation of your garage door for years to come.
Frequently Asked Questions About Garage Door Tracks
What size garage door track do I need?
For most residential doors, 2″ wide track with a 15″ radius curved section is appropriate. Measure your current tracks to verify the width. Check ceiling clearance to ensure proper headroom for the radius size.
How do I know if I need a specialty track?
If you have limited ceiling clearance, high ceilings, or other space constraints, you likely need a low headroom, high lift or other specialty track. Measure carefully and consult a professional to determine the optimal track system.
Why does my track keep coming loose?
Loose mounting hardware can allow the track to work loose over time. Upgrade to heavier gauge tracks, larger mounting brackets, more robust fasteners, and additional reinforcement angles if needed.
How can I realign a bent garage door track?
Use a rubber mallet or hammer with a block of wood to gently tap the track back into proper shape if slightly bent. Contact a pro for replacement if badly damaged or misaligned tracks.
How do I lubricate the tracks?
Use a garage door track lubricant or lightweight oil applied to a rag. Wipe along the inner edges of track to maintain smooth rolling surface. Avoid over-oiling to prevent dripping or accumulation of dirt in the track.
The garage door tracks provide an essential function – allowing smooth and controlled travel of the door along its vertical and horizontal path. Key considerations when selecting tracks include lift type, track width and radius, hardware needs, and specialty track options. Proper installation, alignment, and maintenance will maximize performance and extend the usable life of your tracks. Consulting with knowledgeable garage door professionals will help ensure you get the optimal tracks and components for your specific door and garage layout. Investing in quality tracks and keeping them well-maintained is one of the smartest upgrades you can make to keep your garage door operating safely and effectively for years to come.