What Type Of Door Between The House And Garage? (Ultimate Guide)

What Type Of Door Between The House And Garage

You’re building your dream house, and you’re ticking every box to make it perfect. You want your house majestic, homely, and safe. However, you stumbled upon a requirement about the type of door between the house and the garage. What does that even mean?

We don’t blame you if you are unfamiliar with this requirement. They’re not the fanciest part of the house, and they look just like any other door to untrained eyes. However, the door between your house and the garage can potentially save your family and your property, so it’s important to take note of this.

What Type Of Door Between The House And Garage?

The Garage Entry Door

Formally, the door between the house and the garage is called the garage entry door. If your garage is attached to your house, it makes sense to have a garage entry door.

Some houses opt to not have a garage entry door, instead going out of the house and passing through the main door to access the garage. Some garages are also separate from the house itself, making a garage entry door irrelevant.

However, having a garage entry door has practical purposes other than the convenience of access. A garage entry door means that you don’t have to fight the biting winds of winter if you ever need something from your garage, keeping you safer.

The garage entry door is also special because the International Residential Code, a comprehensive code used in constructing personal houses, has specifications for this door.

Regulations for a Garage Entry Door

Regulations are placed for the garage entry door because the garage usually houses dangerous chemicals that are also often flammable. By implementing certain codes, you can ensure that when an accident occurs in your garage, it’s isolated away from your house.

According to the International Residential Code, the door between the dwelling (house) and garage should have the following properties:

  • Should not open to a bedroom
  • Made of solid wood or solid/honeycomb-core steel, at least 1 ⅜ inches thick
  • Fire-rated for 20 minutes, with a self-closing device

The first one can be further expanded such that a garage door should open to a room that has another door other than the garage door. The second and third ones are somewhat related to each other, as both are referring to a fire-rated door.

What is a Fire-Rated Door?

A fire-rated door is one that has been tested to survive certain fire situations longer than common doors. There are five ratings, each referring to the minutes that the door is tested to last against a fire. The ratings start from 20 minutes and can go as high as 180 minutes.

Note that the IRC only requires a 20-minute fire-rated door for residential houses, and the higher tiers of fire ratings are often reserved for commercial buildings. Plus, you will have to pay a premium the higher the fire rating is.

Aside from being capable of surviving fires largely unscathed, fire-rated doors can also prevent smoke and heat from crossing the other side. Each characteristic of a fire-rated door is tested individually before being provided a rating.

To understand how these ratings are given, you can check this video:

Of course, a fire-rated door is also accompanied by other parts of the assembly, which are also individually given their own fire ratings. The frame and the glazing are some components that are also tested and given a fire rating. Some door assemblies are provided their fire rating as a whole, so you need to use the entire assembly to maintain the rating.

Another important characteristic of a fire-rated door, as stipulated in the International Residential Code, is that it should have a self-closing device or an automatic closing mechanism attached. This is another measure taken to make sure smoke and fire are isolated away from the main house.

Since these doors are specially manufactured and designed to meet certain standards, they are more costly than non-fire-rated ones. For example, a fire-rated door can start at $350 while a common door can go around $200. However, the extra cost is more than worth it if it ensures your safety.

Why Do We Need a Fire-Rated Door?

Why Do We Need a Fire-Rated Door?

Aside from the fact that it is required by regulations, a fire-rated door gives you the ease of mind that you will be generally safe from fire accidents that can arise from one of the most fire-prone areas in the house.

Fire-rated doors have their ratings in minutes because these minutes will effectively give time to fire responders to come and put out the fire before it spreads further into the house, or give you time to exit the house safely.

With that said, you need to make sure that your fire-rated door is working properly, especially its self-closing mechanism. Also, in real-life accidents, extraneous variables may reduce the rated survival time of the door.

However, in most cases, a fire-rated door may be the only thing between you and danger.

Types of Fire-Rated Doors

Types of Fire-Rated Doors

By Classification

There are two types of fire-rated doors by classification. The first one is called fire-protective doors. Fire-protective doors do what most fire-rated doors do: fend off the fire, smoke, and fumes and keep them from crossing the other side of the door.

On the other hand, fire-resistive doors are fire-rated doors that not just keep fire and smoke away from the other side, but also radiant and conductive heat. Also called a temperature-rise door, these doors have their own ratings based on how much temperature they can restrict from flowing to the other side.

For the most part, residential houses will only need fire-protective doors. Temperature-rise doors have been declining from use lately due to the proliferation of sprinkler systems.

By Material

Apart from those, fire-rated doors can also be distinguished by the material from which they are made of. The first three are mentioned in the IRC, which are solid wood, solid steel, and honeycomb-core steel. Other materials that fire-rated doors are made of are fiberglass and fire-rated glass.

Solid wood doors are the most common, usually made of hardwoods like oak or maple. As in the name, these doors have a solid construction. To give them that fire-protective characteristic, these doors are filled with gypsum. Due to the cost of wood, high-end solid wood doors can get very expensive.

Solid and honeycomb-core steel doors are amazing fire-rated doors since steel itself is non-combustible. However, some manufacturers also add gypsum onto steel doors to improve fire protection. Additionally, most 180-minute fire-rated doors are honeycomb-core (also called hollow-core) steel doors.

Fiberglass doors have a similar reputation to steel doors, but without the potential rust and delamination that steel doors might experience. However, they are more expensive but not as much as high-end wooden fire-rated doors.

Certain types of glass have been developed for fire protection. Ceramic glass, wire mesh glass, and borosilicate glass are common materials used to make fire-rated doors with glass components. Because of the special characteristics of the glass door, they are easily the most expensive among the bunch.

How to Tell If a Door is Fire-Rated

How to Tell If a Door is Fire-Rated

Fire-rated doors have their ratings placed on any part of the door. These ratings are accompanied by the name of the company that tested the doors. Two such companies are Warnock Hersey/Intertek – WHI and Underwriters Laboratories – UL.

Although most brands will have varying labels and where they will be placed, you can start by looking at the hinge side or the handle area of the door. You should be able to see labels like these from Trudoor somewhere on the door. If your door is painted, feel around for an embossed area to find the label.

Other Considerations for the Door

As mentioned above, a fire-rated door assembly is given the fire rating for the entire assembly: door, frame, and other components. Using a different component with a fire-rated component will not maintain the fire-rated component’s fire rating, e.g. using a fire-rated door with a non-fire-rated frame will not make the entire installation fire-rated.

Always make sure that if you are buying individual components, they must be all certified to be used in a fire-rated door assembly. Better yet, simply buy the entire door assembly from one manufacturer to save yourself the hassle.

The IRC does not dictate the swing direction of the door, so you can get whichever you want. However, we recommend that you get a door that opens outward. That way, when an explosion occurs from the garage side, the door gets pushed back and doesn’t readily open, although the risk of this happening with an inward-opening fire door is unlikely.


You might have never expected the amount of reading you had to do to determine what type of door between the house and garage you should use. However, these specifications, codes, and regulations are in place to ensure the safety of you and your family.

Garages might seem to be an unlikely place for an accident to start, but if you start to check the things that are inside them, you’ll start to understand why you need a fire door for your residence, whether or not local building codes require it.

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