One of the most coveted design features of a “barndominium” are often the cool, industrial, glass garage doors the open up in to the living space. I’ll admit, functionality aside, I was SOLD on a garage door in our barndominium! They’re so unique, so flashy, so…Pinterest-worthy!

But…are garage doors in a conditioned living space really all they’re hyped up to be?

After building and designing numerous homes with glass garage doors incorporated in the living space design, and getting a TON of questions about the pros and cons, I decided to write a blog post with everything I know!

The Cons Of A Garage Door:

Let me start with the bad news…because having a garage door in your space is not all rainbows and unicorns. There are a few distinct cons that I think people should know about when they’re considering installing a garage door in their home.

1) Cost: You can’t just go out and buy a glass garage door like you would for your garage. At least not if you want to meet residential building code! There are two factors that typically require your garage door to be specially manufactured for a residential application:

-R Value: This is how much the door is insulated, or resists heat passing through it, and will have to meet whatever “R Value” is required by your building department for a residential dwelling. Typically you will need somewhere between R-13 and R-25 (non-ceiling, depending on zone). The higher the R-Value, the more insulation. The additional insulation usually requires special manufacturing (and added cost) above and beyond what a standard garage door (meant for a non-conditioned space) provides.

-U-Value: This is a value that measure the thermal performance of a window/glass (put simply: how much heat loss occurs through the window). If you want to get really nerdy in understanding this, U-Value is calculated by dividing the rate of heat transfer through a product (like a window) by the difference in temperature across the window’s structure. The lower the U-Value, the more heat retention is occurring. As with R-Value, most garage doors are not manufactured to meet residential/conditioned space building code for U-Value, and therefore have to be custom made, and incur a greater cost.

2) Sealing: I do not care who tells you that your garage door will seal up along the bottom as good as a door with tracks (like a sliding door). It is impossible. We had seals specially fit for our door and floors, we graded our slab specifically for the door opening, and we’ve talked with clients and other homeowners who have tried a bevy of other ways to get “the perfect seal” and it really can’t be done.

Now, is that to say that you have a gaping space that lets tons of air or rain water, or creepy crawlies in? NO! Homes can still be extremely energy efficient with a glass garage door, and you may see a few more unwanted pals (we find rollie-pollies/pill bugs are the worst offenders) but nothing alarming or particularly nasty. However, be aware that it WILL NOT seal like a door with a track. It’s just structurally impossible.

3) Privacy: It’s a glass garage door. Meaning people can see in, and you can’t just run down to Target and buy curtains to throw over it. Fortunately, if you’re building in a rural setting this doesn’t really matter, but it is something to consider. You can also tint the glass, but that does affect the light coming in, and the coloration of the glass, which may not be your desired look.

The Pros Of A Garage Door:

Ok, the fun stuff. YES, there are a lot fo great things about having a glass garage door in your living space! Here’s the pros we’ve found:

1) Natural Light: There’s nothing better than a wall of windows to take in your view, or let in natural light. A glass garage door can make your home feel airy and open, and capitalize on the scenery outside.

2) Convenience: This might sound silly, but things like moving in large furniture are seriously a breeze when you have a garage door in your living space!

3) Cool Factor: We’ve rollerbladed from the outside patio to inside our house. We open up the door during summer storms to take in the smell of the rain. We host parties where guests can effortlessly meander between our front yard and living room. It’s hard to deny the “coolness” of having a glass garage door in your home!

At the end of the day, as with any design feature in your home, you have to weigh the pros and cons, and think about what fits your budget, lifestyle, and aesthetic best! Do you have a glass garage door in your space? How do you feel about it? Leave us a comment or connect with us on social media!

Are garage doors in living space really all they’re hyped up to be? We break down the pros and cons of having a garage door in your barndominium or shop house. Find out if a garage door is right for your home design!