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Doorway Dilemma

March 28, 2009
By: Dan Anderson, Farm Journal Columnist

Build it wide and high and it still might end up being too small. When designing doors to get modern farm equipment in and out of machine sheds or farm shops, it pays to think big.

"I've never had a customer come back and say the door we installed was too big,” says Jason Wing, a salesman for HydroSwing Inc. "You get one chance to install a door, so you're better off to go too big than too small.”

While some industrious farmers have enlarged existing doors in shops or machine sheds, "one chance” is generally the rule because of structural considerations related to door design.

"The size and type of door affects the structural design of the building,” says Larry Lembrich, senior vice president of Lester Buildings. "Some types of doors need stronger doorposts and some need to have the first couple trusses in from the door reinforced.

"We've found that, while some doors cost less than others, the cost of reinforcing the building to support the lower-priced door equals out in the end to the more expensive door,” Lembrich says. "You have to consider the cost of extrastructural reinforcement to the building, openers, extra electrical wiring and other accessories when you're comparing the cost of doors.”

Types of doors. Shoppers for big-access doors for farm shops or machine sheds have four basic options: traditional sliding doors, sectional overhead doors, bi-fold doors that fold horizontally in the middle and one-piece doors that hinge at the top.

The traditional sliding doors are valid options for machine sheds, but they are questionable choices for shops.

"Sliding doors are high-maintenance if they're opened and closed a lot,” Lembrich says. "If you've got a shop that doesn't get a lot of use, you might get by with sliding doors. But if you add insulation and lining to make a good shop door, you're adding weight, and that makes it heavier to open and close and puts more stress on the hardware.”

Sectional overhead doors have been the standard for garages and farm shops for decades. Door weight is an issue as farm equipment and shop doorways grow ever wider.

"To make wider doors, you have to use heavier struts and bracing to support the weight of each section when the door is open,” explains Chad Gillespie, a salesman for Overhead Door Company of Des Moines Inc. "Those heavier sections require stronger, heavier rails, so everything gets bigger, bulkier and more expensive.

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FEATURED IN: Farm Journal - Early Spring 2009
RELATED TOPICS: Machinery, Contests, Shops

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