Carwashes are unique businesses, requiring special kinds of doors. They need the large overhead doors typical of any automotive business, but they need the customization of commercial door hardware and materials that can deal with the constant barrage of moisture. Carwash owners may have differing opinions about the best type of door, but one thing is for sure – the conditions in a carwash are harsh, and you will need a door that can stand up to high moisture and corrosive chemicals. Your typical overhead doors will not last in this environment. So how do we reconcile these two needs? Specialty doors.

Carwashes are one context where a fiberglass or steel door would a bad decision. Not only will doors made of these materials deteriorate visually, but the metal doors would likely rust, and otherwise fail mechanically. Exterior fiberglass and steel doors can withstand a lot, but in fairness, there’s really no other context for overhead doors that involves almost constant contact with pressured water and chemicals day after day. Choosing a door made of the right materials can mean your doors last 10 to 20 years, particularly if the door is well-maintained.

Why do You Need Specialty Doors for Your Carwash?

So why do you need special carwash doors? Here are some reasons.

  • Keep elements out – This is especially important during the winter, but you will also want to keep rain out, as well as high heat in summer. Keeping the elements out will help reduce equipment breakdown and prevent poor wash quality.
  • Reduce noise—Municipalities may require that carwashes have doors to reduce noise levels.
  • Control traffic flow – Drivers in self-serve and in bay automatic locations can become confused, even when there are signals. Doors opening and closing between cycles help reduce confusion.
  • Reduce wind tunnel effect – Otherwise, chemicals and cleaning products may not be applied consistently and effectively.
  • Reduce water runoff—Doors can help promote better drainage.

Choosing the Right Overhead Door for Your Carwash

Many experts recommend doors made of polycarbonate and vinyl. Which works best will depend on your operation. Either type, fitted with corrosion-resistant commercial door hardware, will be your best option for survival in the carwash environment.

Polycarbonate panels in an aluminum frame might have an edge when it comes to security, particularly when paired with pneumatic or electric operators. They tend to be shatterproof, unlike glass and metal, but also have a high impact resistance more like a steel door, only without the denting. A drawback of a vinyl door is that it can be lifted and penetrated by cutting.

More concerned about speed? Vinyl might be preferred. They can roll up at speeds as high as 34 inches per second. The polycarbonate door with a pneumatic opener is much slower, with an opening speed of 18 inches per second.

Both types of doors offer good insulation, with polycarbonate having the edge. But keep in mind, the vinyl door is quick so a speedy opening and closing may make up for what it’s missing in insulation value.

Which material looks best? It’s up to you. Well-insulated polycarbonate doors are manufactured in layers of polycarbonate walls framed in aluminum. Vinyl doors have a single layer, but you can mix/match colored or clear vinyl. Colored panels are available in a wide variety of colors. Both door types allow natural light into the carwash bay or tunnel.

When it comes to impacts, polycarbonate will most likely suffer damage, while the vinyl door will jump out of its tracks on impact and pop back into the track on the next opening cycle.

There’s a lot to consider. And these overhead door materials are specialty – they’re not used in many contexts. Thankfully, we understand the ins and outs of specialty doors of all kinds, whether for medical facilities, restaurants, laboratories or carwashes! Give us a call for a consult; we’re here to help.