Pass Door in a Garage Door


Ask any real estate agent how important a garage is in the sale of a home and they’ll tell you it ranks right up there with bedrooms, bathrooms and large country kitchens. Nearly all garages have at least two entrances -- an overhead garage door and a pass-through pedestrian door. Not all pass-through doors are conveniently located, unfortunately. Stored lawnmowers, grills and wheelbarrows often block backyard pass-through doors, and if you’re standing in the driveway, you don’t want to go through the house just to access an inconvenient pass-through door in the backyard.

If you want an accessible pedestrian access to the garage, you don’t have to hire a carpenter to tear out a garage wall and frame a new door opening. You can add a pass door right in your existing overhead garage door. While this option has been available for years in large commercial garage doors, it’s a relatively new addition on the residential garage scene. Before you call a garage door installation company near you, read on to learn whether a pass door is the right solution for your needs.

Pass Door Benefits

A pass door in the garage door allows neighbors and friends to enter the garage directly if you’re waiting for them in your garage workshop. No more tearing their jeans trying to climb your fence or accidentally leaving the gate latch open and letting the dog escape.

If you aren’t thrilled about exhibiting the contents of your garage every time you go in or out, a pass door will prevent passersby from seeing what you have stashed in your garage.

Pass doors help conserve energy in climate-controlled garages because you don’t have to open the entire overhead door to go in and out. The garage door opener will see less wear and tear, which could make it last longer as well. Some garage door openers must be disengaged before you can raise the door manually. In the case of a power failure, a pass door offers an easy walk-through exit.

Pass Door Basics

A pass door located in garage doors swings on a set of hinges and can be locked when not in use. One notable difference between a house door and a garage pass door is that the pass door opens outward, unlike standard residential doors, which swing inward. Because the pass door jamb and frame fit flush within the existing garage door, swinging inward isn’t possible. While this takes a little getting used to, it’s not a problem for most homeowners, a would-be intruder trying to kick in the pass door will meet with substantial resistance.

During installation, the panels of the original garage door are removed and then cut to fit the new jamb. However, the very bottom strip of the existing garage door must remain so as not to compromise the structural integrity. This creates a step-over threshold. Depending on the type of pass door you choose, the threshold could be a few inches high and could potentially create a tripping hazard. If you plan on rolling heavy items in or out of the garage with a dolly, you’re going to have to bite the bullet and open the overhead garage door.

Choosing a Pass Door

You have three options for obtaining a pass-through garage door:

1. Buy an entire custom garage door that comes from the manufacturer complete with a pre-installed pass door. That’s the most expensive option, but it’s also the best way to ensure that the door fits snugly and operates smoothly. Another plus is the ability to get a lower step-over threshold since the door is manufactured as a single unit. If you’re planning to replace your old garage door anyway, this might be the best solution. 

2. Alternately, you can purchase a pass door kit that allows you to alter your existing garage door. This is a reasonably priced choice if your garage door is nowhere near the end of its useful life.

3. For the cheapest but most challenging option, buy the individual pass door components separately. However, unless you are a DIY master and fully understand how a pass door installs, a kit is probably going to work better than buying the components separately.

Who Should Install The Door?

Installation of a pass door is more complicated than just measuring and cutting the panels of your existing door and then installing the precut jambs and the stabilizing skins. You must remove the entire garage door from its tracks before you can proceed. The problem with this is that garage door springs are notoriously dangerous to remove and reattach. From personal experience I can tell you that an exploding garage door spring sounds pretty darned similar to a gunshot, and if it strikes you when it comes off, it might hurt nearly as badly. If you’ve never installed a garage door before, find an experienced garage door company to handle this project.

Glenda Taylor writes for

Updated January 28, 2018.

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