Looking to replace your existing loading dock doors or install new ones on an almost-finished building? Well, if you thought this was a simple point and click solution, you’re wrong. Just like storefront door systems, industrial overhead door systems come in all shapes and sizes. One answer may be right for one company but not for another. But you want to know what’s out there so you know what to look for. Then you can make the best decision for your new loading dock doors.

Types of Overhead Doors for Loading Docks

In general, there are three main categories of commercial loading dock doors: sectional, rollup and swinging. But, of course, that’s not all. There are several commonly-used types of loading dock doors that can benefit businesses in multifaceted ways:

Swinging Dock Doors

You’ll most often see this type of loading dock door at small restaurants and boutique businesses, though sometimes you’ll also see them at healthcare facilities. Made in two leaves with hinges on each side, these loading dock doors can swing completely open either out or in so traffic can go both ways.

High Speed Doors

This type of industrial overhead door is often springless and great for manufacturing settings. They stand up to heavy use and they also (as their name would suggest) move quickly. This benefits not only security and procedure, but increases energy efficiency, decreasing overhead costs.

Aluminum Sectional Doors

These affordable doors are low-maintenance and can be made with aluminum or glass panes. You’ll most often see aluminum sectional overhead doors on auto shops and parking garages. They’re durable and secure as well. While full-view aluminum and glass sectional doors are a bit more expensive, you’ll see these on trendy businesses and homes. They look great, can be customized in design and color, and the glass can be treated for UV protection and energy efficiency.

Rollup Overhead Doors

These are great space savers inside and out. Rollup doors are trackless, durable and great for facilities with spatial constraints, because when the door is fully open, it’s coiled into a small cylinder at the header of the frame. Rollup doors can also be made in fabric – most often super-thick vinyl – which is durable, secure, almost no maintenance, and impact-resistant.

Steel Sectional Doors

Perfect for back entrances and loading docks that take a lot of abuse, steel sectional doors are energy efficient, low maintenance and customizable in color, insulation, design, windows, and more. There are modified sectional doors called knockout doors that can withstand impact and bend/open in or out. That way, you may only have to replace a panel instead of the whole door if an accident occurs.

Automating Your Loading Dock Doors

Something to consider with any type of door is the opening mechanism and the door’s ability to be automated. Automation improves security and safety, and helps slow the wear and tear on the door by eliminating human error of manual opening and closing.

Modern hardware for industrial and commercial doors is awesome. With just a couple remote entry points and surveillance cameras, you can fully-control and monitor the use of your loading dock doors from anywhere. Plus, door automation eliminates human error in use, meaning less unbalanced wear and tear on the doors.

What Should I Consider When Deciding on a Loading Dock Door?

Like we said – every business is different. So on top of use and design, there are other things to factor into your choice of loading dock door as well:

  • Elements: Should you add an overhang for when it rains? What about lighting for when the loading docks are used late at night?
  • Safety: You’ve got general safety regulations to consider, but you also have to be ADA compliant.
  • Location: Where is your loading dock located? What angle are trucks backing up into the doors? How steep of a grade is the drive path?
  • Maintenance: Which combination of design, material and appearance is going to give you the most convenience and best durability while keeping maintenance low?

It’s always smart to consult a professional company that specializes in this work before making any big decisions. A primer like this article is great for helping you understand options and factors to consider, but they definitely don’t replace the advice of a professional. Give us a call for an on-site consultation; our technicians are friendly, experienced, and well-versed in the world of loading dock doors and equipment.