There are two basic types of garage door tracks, but each has several variations. The first style is a vertical track for overhead doors that lift upwards. Sliding door tracks are the second type, used for doors that travel sideways. Vertical track styles usually differ depending on the type of door being used.
Vertical garage door track lifts come in three main styles. The most common residential application is called the standard lift track. This type runs vertically about 76 inches (1.93 m) and then curves in a horizontal direction into the interior of the garage. Standard lift tracks can be used for canopy doors and retractable doors. A canopy door is the type that swings outward slightly as it is opened.
These same up-and-down lifts are often used in industrial or commercial settings as well. In such cases, one portion of is much the same as the standard lift track. A second vertical lift track is set above this first, however, but is set back slightly. This spacing allows room for a spring assembly, which adds lift strength and makes heavier commercial doors easier to open and operate.
The third type is the high lift system, which may be found in residential applications with high ceiling heights inside the garage. This type uses a combination of both the standard and vertical lift systems. In a high lift, a vertical track connects to a short horizontal track, and then to a second vertical track.
Sliding garage doors have two horizontal tracks, one at the top and one at the bottom of the door. These are used for panel doors with hinges that enable them to bend or fold against the side walls of the garage. Doors that operate on sliding tracks do not place extra weight on the garage ceiling.
Roller garage doors operate with just a vertical track. These doors are made with horizontal sections that roll up inside a horizontal drum assembly. The rolled door is stored directly above the garage opening and does not require space inside the main garage area.
Modern garage door tracks are usually manufactured from galvanized steel for strength and protection against corrosion. Older tracks often used unprotected steel, which was then painted and offered little in the way of rust resistance. Strong, durable garage door tracks are important to provide better operation for automatic garage doors.
It is common for garage door tracks to become damaged due to corrosion caused by their exposure to road salts. Such salt damage also frequent happens in garages exposed to ocean breezes. Other problems that may occur include metal fatigue or shifting of the foundation of the garage itself. Cleaning and aligning tracks and rollers can keep the system operating smoothly.