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Picking a Retrofit Door

The recent introduction of hydraulically opening doors that can be retrofitted to older buildings – even hard-to-fit Quonset huts – expands the market of replacement doors. Whether it’s time to retrofit an old building or build something new, consider these four key items before making a decision on a new door, advises Jason Myrik of Midland Door Solutions.


Pesky latches are easy to forget. Certain overhead bifold doors come standard with a single-latch system and safety switch for easy operation. A single-latch ultimately saves time compared with a double-latch system, and the safety switch eliminates the risk of potential damage when you forget to release the latch, Myrik notes. 

“For more convenience, some manufacturers offer an automatic latch, which allows you to open the door with the push of a button – even from the comfort of a vehicle using a remote control,” he points out. 

Beyond convenience, bifold, as well as hydraulic, doors allow you to use the full height and width of the doorway when entering or exiting a building. Such doors can be retrofit to an old building.

Opening Speed

Large sliding doors can be an effort to use, especially in the winter. Hydraulic doors, on the other hand, open as much as 25% faster than other large doors, Myrik notes. “When choosing a hydraulic door, look for a strong, durable operating system with an electric-over-hydraulic power unit, up to 5 hp.” 

Certain bifold doors use nylon straps that wrap over themselves. Straps like cable systems account for stresses that are five times greater than the weight of the door, but due to the wrapping effect, it increases the speed of the door. 


Myrik recommends going with an all-steel door built from heavy-gauge steel tubing and a robust truss system.

Another aspect to consider is component durability. Look for doors built with cold-formed steel hinges welded to the door’s frame and linked together with cold-formed hinge pins. 

Beyond the frame construction, look for a door built with welded construction rather than a bolt-together design. Welded doors offer a stronger frame design with less chance of parts loosening over time, resulting in virtually no maintenance.


When retrofitting a new door on an existing building, the strength of components is especially important. 

“Work with a manufacturer that understands what it takes to make a door that lasts. A good manufacturer will start by inspecting the structure (from the jamb and steel header to foundation) to ensure the building is suitable for a retrofit,” Myrik points out. “Upon inspection of the building, the manufacturer will design a new steel header and jamb to mount to the face of the building. From there, the manufacturer should work closely with the contractor to ensure the support frame jamb and header system are adequately sized for the existing structure.” 

Also, using a heavy-gauge steel frame door structure enables the building to handle the stresses exerted by the door. 

What to look for in a manufacturer

When choosing a door manufacturer, consider the firms that are willing to work one on one with you to build a door to exact specifications on time and on budget. Find a company that will take charge of the entire process – from design to manufacture to installation and finish work. This ensures the door is done right the first time. 

A partnership with a manufacturer means questions get answered and, if needed, warranty work gets completed quickly, Myrik says.

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