Garage doors sold and installed in Florida are required to meet certain standards of wind resistance. There was even a time when garage doors had to be reinforced with special beams and supports whenever an area was under a hurricane watch. If you have a newer garage door that’s designed for wind resistance you likely don’t need to take those additional protective steps.
How the wind is blowing and what it’s blowing affects the type of damage your garage door may need to withstand. That’s why garage doors need to be rated for positive pressure, negative pressure and impacts. Wind can either cause positive pressure – pushing against the door – or create negative pressure that sucks the door outward.
Both of these types of pressure have the potential to severely damage or even tear off your garage door. An old garage door that wasn’t designed for wind resistance and isn’t reinforced for a storm might succumb to positive and negative pressure. Even newer doors designed for wind resistance can still crumple or fail in severe hurricane conditions, but it’s less likely.
Like your home’s windows and exterior doors, garage doors play an important role in the safety of your home. A failed garage door creates an entry point from which winds can enter your home and potentially cause more serious damage. The buildup of pressure that can occur in your home after a garage door fails can lead to a range of devastating consequences, from blowing windows outwards to lifting the roof off your home.
In theory yes – there are garage doors that are rated to withstand up to 200 mph winds. You don’t necessarily have to get the top-of-the-line garage door to protect your home. There are several levels of wind and impact protection available on garage doors, ranging form W-1 for 90 mph winds and 12 pounds of pressure per square foot to W-9 doors that can withstand 150 mph winds and 54 to 81 pounds of pressure per square foot.
When choosing a wind-resistant garage door for your Florida home you should first ascertain the risk level for your location.
You can visit the ATC’s Hazard by Location map and put in your address to determine the wind risk for your home. You can also use Clopay’s Residential WindCode calculator to determine the garage door wind rating that will best protect your home based on it’s exposure, size, roof height and angle and the size of your garage door opening.
Your home’s orientation may affect the wind load to which it may be subjected. If the wind usually gusts towards the side of your home with the garage door, then it’s regularly subjected to positive pressure. If it’s facing away from the wind it’s subjected to negative pressure. In a hurricane, wind swirls around in all different directions, so it’s important for doors to be able to handle both negative and positive pressure.
What’s around your home also affects your exposure rating in South Florida. Different standards are applied to homes that are in urban and suburban areas, wooded areas, grasslands, open terrain and near water.
People living in two-story homes close to the beach in Miami-Dade have vastly different risk factors than someone living in Gainesville, Florida. Different parts of Florida have different building requirements.
South Florida homes in High Velocity Hurricane Zones are subjected to more stringent building standards. For example, garage doors in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties can’t be sold with standard windows and they must have adequate large missile impact ratings.
If you’re in a high-risk county, you’ll want to check a table for required garage door wind ratings to determine minimum requirements for homes with your type of exposure.
There are a variety of potential factors that can affect what your home’s garage door requirements will be. A one-story home in a suburban area in a 150-mph wind zone might only need a W-5 door, while a two-story home close to the ocean in a 175-mph wind zone might be required to have at least a W-8 garage door.
It’s likely in your best interest to speak with a garage door installation expert about which garage door will provide adequate protection for your property. If you have an old garage door that hasn’t been upgraded in a long time, it may be time to replace it. The strength of your garage door may be an important component in preventing hurricane damage in your home.