Garage Side Door Benefits (and Why You Should Have One)

The garage side door has many benefits that you should consider when renovating or building a new house or detached garage. Benefits include added convenience and saved time, increased safety, privacy, and energy conservation.

A garage door or outside wall with a personnel door is a normal-sized access door built into the bigger garage door or wall to allow convenient entry to the garage. It enables you to enter and exit the garage without the need to open the entire garage door. This saves your time considerably.

Let’s explore the pros and cons of this type of door and look at the security and cost also. 

What Is a Garage Person/Man/Pedestrian/Service/Side Door?

There are many names for the same door. Often called:

  • Garage Person Door
  • Garage Personnel Door
  • Garage Man Door
  • Garage Pedestrian Door
  • Garage Service Door
  • Garage Side Door
  • Garage Walk Through Door
  • Garage Wicket Door
  • Garage Pass Door
  • Garage Access Door
  • Garage Crossing Door

Whatever you call the average size (about 36 inches wide and 78 inches high)(91x198cm), door in the side of the garage outside wall. Or the second option is to put the person door directly to the big garage door itself. They mean the same thing. It is an alternative point of entry or exit to the garage.

In this article, let’s call it a person/personnel door. 

Person door is a classic swing style door placed to the outside wall of the garage or built into the garage door itself. For people to exit the garage to the outside. 

It does not matter if the door is an overhead door or some other type of door. Almost all can have a person door built-in as new or retrofitted. 

There is, of course, the door between the garage and the house. But this article is about the other person door that a garage can have as an option. 

Garage Person Door Benefits and Drawbacks 

Pros of Installing a Person Door Includes:

Convenience – when you go outside to take out the trash or grab the mail, you don’t have to roll up the entire garage door every time. This will save a significant amount of time in the long run. 

Increased Safety – In emergency situations like fire where you need to vacate the premises, having an extra door makes sure you get in and out of the house fast and safely. Additional entry works for power outages, too. If your car is in the way of the garage door, emergency release rope. 

Make sure that you can reach the emergency release cord in any situation. Have a reach help device nearby, like a simple wooden stick with a rope loop attached.

Privacy – Passerbys don’t get a peek into your garage unnecessarily when you have a small access point beyond opening the big door every time. 

Energy Conservation – Your garage door opener lasts longer and uses less electricity when you have a person door to walk in and out. Garage door springs will last longer too. If you are heating your garage, the energy savings will be significant during the cold winter months. When you don’t let the heat escape by opening the big garage door. Or let the cool air out in the summertime. 

Cons of Installing a Person Door:

Limits Style Choices – when installing the person door to the garage door, you have fewer choices with the door styles, and it “breaks” the door surface a little bit. If possible, installing the service door to the side of the garage wall takes care of this problem, though. 

Installation Cost – Retrofit installation to the existing door or wall is not cheap, and you need maybe additional safety features. The cost of adding a person door can add up. Often it is worth it, though, in saved time and energy bills. 

Accident Potential – When the person door is installed to the garage door, some homeowners have damaged their garage door badly by leaving the person door open and opening the main garage door at the same time. With proper safety features and extra caution, this can be avoided easily. 

Energy Efficiency – If you have an insulated garage door, you need to install an insulated person door. Otherwise, the warm or cool air leaks through the door. You may have to replace the whole garage door in some cases. Look for energy-star-rated installation kits or doors. 

Does the Garage Have to Have a Person Door?

While Having a personnel door is very handy in most regions, it is not required.

Personnel door is not required for any type of garage in the IRC (International Residential Code). The garage is mainly intended for vehicle storage, which is its primary intended use and is not considered a habitable space. So the garage vehicle door which is provided for that purpose is all that is required. 

Do Garages Need a Person Door?

Garages do not need a personnel door, but it brings convenience to going in and out of the garage. If you use the garage a lot beyond just storing junk or a car in there, having an additional access point beyond the big door will save your time. Opening and closing the garage door takes time and your garage door opener wears out sooner. 

Commercial garages or industrial halls usually have a side door, typically called personnel doors or pedestrian doors. When large equipment and vehicles go in and out through the main doors. A personnel door is the safe and fast entry point for personnel going in and out of their areas. It’s a matter of safety and efficiency. 

If you are building a new garage or house or innovating the house. Having a person door in the plans will pay off. Even if you don’t use the door, the new owners might. If you don’t use the side door, you can just keep it permanently locked. 

If you have a detached garage and breezeway between the garage and the house, the person door is a must. 

Credit: Hormann LPU40 pedestrian garage door

Can You Put a Person Door in a Garage Door?

Yes, you can retrofit/install a person door to almost any kind of garage door afterward. There are DIY kits available that allow you to modify your existing garage door. They are reasonably priced. You can also buy the individual door components separately if you are a DIY master and know how to install everything correctly.  

When installing the personnel door, the panels of the original garage door are removed and then cut to fit the new jamb. However, the bottom strip of the existing garage door must remain to not compromise the door’s structural integrity. This creates a step-over threshold.

Depending on the type of personnel door you choose, the threshold could be a few inches high and creates a tripping hazard. Be sure to mark the area with bright tape or paint it as a warning. 

Commercial, industrial garage doors also come with personnel doors included. They are the most expensive option. But you get the style you desire, and it’s ensured everything works properly. 

You also get a lower step-over threshold since the doors are manufactured as a single unit. This is the best solution if you are planning to replace the entire garage door anyway. 

Contact a garage door expert to estimate if the installation is possible and install the door if needed. 

How Much Does It Cost to Add a Person Door to the Garage?

Entry door materials are wood, steel, aluminum, fiberglass and are sometimes referred to as “door systems” because they come pre-hung in a frame. Most have pre-driller doorknob and deadbolt locks. 

A safety module is often required for garage doors with personnel doors. That means the garage door will not open if the personnel door is open at the same time. 

A walk-through garage door costs $790 to $3,000 on average, depending on the door design, size, mechanism, and material used.

Installation prices vary greatly depending on if you are planning to have a personnel door retrofitted into the existing garage door. Or install one in the outside wall, which is a more significant project. Ask around offers from qualified installers.

Garage Side Door Materials 

Fiberglass – Fiberglass can be smooth or have a grain texture, and they resist wear and tear better than wood or even steel doors. Fiberglass is easy to paint or stain to match the exterior walls. Dent resistant but can crack from significant impacts. 

Steel – Steel is excellent material inside doors. They offer security and weather resistance for less than half the cost of wood or fiberglass. Steel can be energy efficient when insulated. Steel does dent easily and will rust if scratches are not painted. You can also select from a wide range of powder coat paint finishes to complement the exterior of your property.

Aluminum – Aluminium garage personnel doors require less maintenance than other materials, and they suit contemporary homes especially. They guarantee maximum weather resistance, and these doors won’t rust or corrode.

Wood – Wooden doors look great, and if you opt for solid wood, they resist wear and tear well. Wood needs regular maintenance like painting or varnish to keep them looking good—usually the most expensive option. 

Sectional door with a wicket door installation video

Do I Need Permit to Install a Garage Personnel Door?

Always check with your building department to make sure you are within the law. When installing and replacing garage doors, permits are required. Most states leave the regulations up to the individual cities.

Permits are a way to ensure that your renovations meet basic requirements for health, safety, and structural soundness as set out by building codes for your area. As well as municipal considerations such as zoning regulations and heritage building designations.

Garage Person Door Security

Another side door to the garage can also be an additional entry point to intruders if they manage to break in. Securing the personnel door is essential. Side doors are usually made from aluminum or steel so beefing them up is easy. 

ANSI (the American National Standards Institute) has designed standards for a three-grade door locks criteria that help buyers determine the ideal locks for their needs. Grading is based on weight, security, and cycles. Below is an explanation of each grade.

Grade 3:  Grade 3 is considered suitable for residential properties because they are designed for residential building requirements. However, they offer minimal security as compared to ANSI’s other two grades.  These products can withstand 200,000 cycles (i.e., one turning of the knob), two-door strikes, and a 150-pound weight test. To qualify as ANSI Grade 1, deadbolts have to be able to endure at least 100,000 cycles and two-door strikes.

Grade 2: Grade 2 locks are better than grade 3 and are designed for residential heavy-duty security needs and secure commercial properties. ANSI Grade 2 knobs can withstand 400,000 cycles, four-door strikes, 250 pounds, and deadbolts that can withstand 150,000 cycles and five-door strikes.

Grade 1: Grade 1 locks are classified as the best. They provide the highest security level for commercial properties. Knobs can endure 800,000 cycles, six strikes, and 360 pounds of weight. ANSI Grade 1 deadbolts can endure 250,000 cycles and 10 door strikes.

Go with grade 2 or 1 if you need the really beefed-up security. 

Locks and Deadbolts – a deadbolt and standard lock are the basic security measures for commercial garages. The difference is whether you choose a single or double cylinder deadbolt version. A single cylinder deadbolt requires a key to open from the outside, while the double cylinder requires a key on both sides, making them more secure. A Grade 1 deadbolt offers more substantial protection than other deadbolt types.

Handle and Locksets – Combine locksets and handle sets with deadbolts. They are considered secure because they can lock from the outside and inside. 

Reinforcements –  You can reinforce the wood or fiberglass door with door jambs, strike plates(paid link), and better hinges. 

  • Reinforce a door jamb by securing it to the house frame, making it almost impossible to knockdown
  • Replace screws measuring less than 2 inches with 2-inch screws to attach the hinges to the door
  • Use 3-inch screws to secure the hinges to the door frame.
  • Check to see how the strike plate, or keeper, is secured to the doorjamb. The strike plate is a small piece of hardware on the handle side of the doorjamb that holds the door-locking device, such as a deadbolt, in place when a door is locked.
  • A steel strike plate attached to the doorjamb with at least 3-inch screws provides robust security for a door.

To see the most popular door reinforcement products at Amazon just click here

Read an article about garage locks here.

Contact a security expert to check the existing door and do the installation if needed. 

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