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What Is the Minimum Side Clearance for A Garage Door?

What Is the Minimum Side Clearance for A Garage Door?

Having enough side clearance is crucial for safe and smooth operation of your garage door. But how much clearance do you actually need? Let’s discuss some key factors when it comes to garage door minimum side clearances.

What are side-clearances?

Side clearances refer to the empty space between the edges of the garage door and the walls on either side when opening and closing. This allows the door to move freely without scraping or bumping anything.

Garage Door Minimum Side Clearance – Why it’s Important

Proper side clearances serve several important purposes:

  • Allows full range of motion – The door needs room to move along its tracks to open and close properly. Too little clearance can cause it to bind and jam.
  • Prevents damage – Friction against walls or hitting nearby objects can damage the door over time. Adequate clearance helps avoid this wear and tear.
  • Meets safety standards – Building codes and manufacturer instructions specify minimum side clearances that must be met for safe operation.
  • Allows for opener function – Clearance is needed so the opener’s hanging rails don’t grind on the ceiling or walls as they move.

Types Of Garage Doors and Their Minimum Side Clearances

The exact minimum side clearance depends on your specific garage door type:

  • Single car doors – Need a minimum of 3 inches clearance on each side.
  • Double car doors – Require at least 3 inches on each side, more is better.
  • Oversized and custom doors – May need 4 inches or more side clearance depending on size.


Checking your garage door’s side clearances against manufacturer and code recommendations helps ensure smooth, safe operation. Contact Mike’s Garage Door Repair if you need help evaluating or adjusting your clearances.

We Can Help

For all your garage door clearance and installation needs, call Mike’s Garage Door Repair at (+1) 970 682-3353. Our technicians serve Fort Collins and surrounding areas (Laporte, Fort Collins, Wellington, Larimer County, and Windsor). We’re happy to inspect your setup and ensure adequate side room for your door.


Q: Why are side clearances important for garage doors?

A: Proper side clearances allow the garage door to open and close smoothly without scraping or damaging the walls. It also provides room for the opener rail to function without grinding on the ceiling.

Q: What is the standard minimum side clearance?

A: Building codes require at least 3 inches of side clearance on each side of the garage door.

Q: Do I measure clearance from the door or the tracks?

A: Measure minimum clearance from the outer edge of the door in the fully open and closed positions to ensure enough space all along the range of motion.

Q: What if I don’t have the minimum clearance?

A: If your clearance is under 3 inches, you may need to move objects away from the side walls or make repairs to widen the space. Improper clearance can prevent proper operation.

Q: How much total clearance should I have?

A: A good rule of thumb is to have the door width plus 12-16 inches of total side room. For example, a 16 ft door would need around 18-20 inches total.

Q: What problems can insufficient clearance cause?

A: Lack of clearance may cause the door to scrape the walls, bind, or jam. It can also lead to damage of the door itself over time.

Q: When should I check the clearances?

A: Inspect the side clearances when installing a new door or opener to ensure proper operation from the start. Also check periodically to see if any creeping obstructions are impeding the door.

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