Before we can talk about which type of garage door might be right for you, let’s take a look at what single panel doors and sectional doors are.

Sectional doors are the style for the majority of garage doors installed today. These doors generally have four or five horizontal panels joined together with hinges. This means that when the door opens and closes, it can bend and follow a curved path that is primarily vertical.

A single panel door (also known as swing doors or up-and-over doors) used to be the popular style. This door is a single, solid piece. Because it has to hinge and move as one large unit, it must swing outward when it opens and closes.

Advantages of a Single Panel Door:

  • Generally lower expenses. Most single panel doors will be less expensive to install. Because they are less common, this will not always be the case, but often. Additionally, due to fewer moving parts, single panels are generally less expensive to maintain, replace parts, and repair the door.
  • Material and design variety. Sectional garage doors definitely come in a lot of styles, but they are options that work with a segmented structure. Some designs can be hard to execute. With a single panel, you have one large canvas for design that is not interrupted with seams and can be a wide variety of materials.
  • Vintage look: A lot of the current popularity of single panel doors is the appeal of their vintage appearance. They may fit better with homes that feature mid-century designs.
  • Lighter weight: Usually single panel doors are significantly lighter than sectionals, which makes them much easier to open manually.

Drawbacks of a Single Panel Door:

  • Safety: Safety is, of course, a huge concern with garage doors. While properly installed and maintained  garage doors are incredibly safe, the possible failures on a single panel door can be more dangerous than on a sectional. This is often because of the extension spring used in these older style doors. If extension springs break, they can cause serious injury or leave the garage door vulnerable to entry.
  • Cost of repairs: While the single panel is ideally a lower expense because of the door and the fewer parts needing repair, if the door does fail, it can be an enormous cost. Rather than having one section fail, it would be the entire door. One failed or dented section can be replaced or repaired much more easily and less expensively than having to replace the full one-piece door.
  • Space for opening and closing: The single panel door requires more space to open and close. Because it tilts out as it opens, the door needs feet in front of it to open. You will need to keep at least a few feet of driveway clear to allow for that. That angle also can cut into the usable space inside the garage. It is possible that a single panel will rest a tiny bit closer to the ceiling, but overall, sectionals are far more compact. 
  • Weather: Usually, sectional garage doors stand up better to extreme weather conditions. This includes cold. Sectionals are generally better at insulating the garage, which will make the garage much more comfortable and potentially significantly save on heating costs.

Advantages/Drawbacks of a Sectional Door:

The advantages and disadvantages of a sectional door are largely the opposite of those for a single panel.

In summary, though, the advantages tend to be:

  • Durability and reliability
  • Insulation and weather resistance
  • Usually less expensive in case of failure
  • More compact opening and closing
  • Larger selection to choose from

While the disadvantages tend to be:

  • Less suited to replicating a vintage look
  • Tend to be more expensive to purchase and install new


Sectional doors are more popular and the safety, space, and variety considerations tend to lead people towards those doors. But single panels have a lot to offer, especially if you are looking for a vintage appearance. We at Overhead Door Company of Portland can help you through this decision. Then, whatever door ends up being best for your house and your needs, we can help make it a reality for you!