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What's the History Behind Garage Doors?

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Q: What's the history behind garage doors?

A: While Richards-Wilcox Doors has been around since 1912, it might be hard to imagine a time when garage doors weren't a common part of our Canadian homes.

Many people take their garages and garage doors for granted. Almost 75% of homes in Canada today have a garage and garage door as part of their home.

But, there was a time when houses did not have garages or need them at all.

Can you guess when this was?

Yes, it was prior to the invention of vehicles!

Before cars, people simply had barns where they kept their horses and carriages.

The door on their barns was often a carriage-style door which swung outwards instead of upwards, like the overhead doors we use today.

As the cost of vehicles became more affordable, people wanted a place to keep their car and protect it from the elements.

Putting it in the barn was not always the best option or most convenient - not to mention the car could start to smell like the livestock being kept in the barn!

As a result, people starting building garages with the specific purpose of storing their vehicles.

In larger Canadian cities, as cars grew in use, carriage houses were converted into parking structures. People who needed a place to store their vehicle could rent a space inside the carriage house.

Yet, carriage houses lacked sufficient space to accommodate everyone. So this, too, fueled the need for people to build garages.

With the need for garages growing, it created demand for their own unique style of garage door.

While carriage-style doors were quite common, many people found it cumbersome to have to open up each side of the door just to get their car in our out of their garage.

In addition, the frequent opening and closing added wear and tear on the doors and required them to be repaired and replaced more often.

In 1921, the first overhead garage door was invented by C.G. Johnson from Hartford, Indiana. His door creation folded upwards as it moved and became to be known as the sectional overhead garage door.

Here in Canada, Richards-Wilcox Doors was the first company to introduce sectional overhead doors nationwide to Canadian homeowners.

Initially, the new overhead garage doors were manually operated. In 1926, C.G. Johnson invented the first electric garage door opener. Subsequent decades saw technological advances and continued improvements to garage door manufacturing processes and designs.

In the 1970's, R-W Doors was among the first to start producing a full line of steel sectional overhead doors.

In the 1980's, we started producing polyurethane insulated garage doors, which were only one of three garage door lines offered in North America.

Today, we continue to utilize the latest technologies and advances in all our garage door lines.

If you long for the look of garage doors of the past, check out our Rockwood Series or Briarcrest Series of carriage-style doors - you can see them in person at our showroom!

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8268 Regional Rd 20, Smithville, ON