With so many different styles of hangar door to choose from, we decided it would be helpful to separate those which operate horizontally and those vertically.

Not all hangar door designs will suit your needs, each has their own style, advantages and disadvantages depending on the design and size of the building. So it’s important to research them properly. Deciding on a horizontal or vertical moving hangar door should be one of the first choices you make.

We’re covering each of your primary choices for hangar doors:


Vertical Lifting Hangar Doors

This style of hangar door lifts vertically as the name suggests and is ideally suited for buildings that don’t have space to the left or right side for a horizontal operating door.

The bifold door and hydraulic door both lift vertically and outwards offering a cantilever design over the apron, while the fabric door lifts straight up, folding upon itself every several feet. In the open position all vertical lifting hangar doors hang over the opening so researching door safety features is advisable.

The bifold and hydraulic door design suggest they are better suited to general aviation size spaces such as t-hangars and box hangars. The fabric door has less structural design limitations than its counterparts and can be used on much wider buildings using a series of mullions or on tall buildings as seen in the space and marine industry.

StyleSize of OpeningCost
Bi-Fold Hangar DoorsTypically up to 75ft wide openingsLeast expensive style of vertical lifting hangar door
Hydraulic Hangar DoorsTypically up to 80ft wide openingsBest in box hangars; sometimes considered less maintenance
Fabric Hangar DoorsNo limitsMost expensive; however over a certain size becomes your only option

Bi-Fold Vertical Lifting Hangar Door

The bifold door is a steel door frame, operated using an onboard motor and a series of cables or straps that together will lift or lower the door to your preferred height. These doors require a significant amount of headspace due in part to the 2-leaf hinged design and imposes structural load across the header and the jamb columns of opening. The bifold door is commonly the least expensive choice of vertical lifting door and commonly seen on fly in communities, t-hangars, or box hangars.

Bi fold hangar door for small airplanes only

Hydraulic Lifting Hangar Door

The hydraulic door is a single leaf steel design which utilizes a hydraulic cylinder on each side to lower or raise. It can be argued the use of pistons over cables or straps provides less maintenance and stronger sealability than the rival bifold. The hydraulic door is a newer yet established design and is commonly used on box hangars. It competes for business against the bi-fold door and uses the reduced headspace requirement to its main advantage.

Comparison: Vertical Lifting Doors or Horizontal Moving?

Fabric Vertical Lifting Hangar Door

The fabric door consists of a fabric sheet that slides up or down within a guide rail on each side of the opening. As the door begins to open the fabric folds upon itself until it reaches the top where it will hang from the building header.

The fabric door design does not hang out over the apron like a bifold or hydraulic door design would, and this could be an advantage if the door is operating in strong winds.

The fabric door is the most expensive of the three vertical lifting hangar doors until you reach a size where the fabric door is the only option.

Comparison: Vertical Lifting Hangar Doors or Horizontal Moving?

Horizontal Moving Hangar Doors

Hangar doors that move horizontally require pocket space to one or both sides of the opening. If there isn’t sufficient space for pockets the opening will need to be wide enough for the door leaves to stack often behind one another and still have space for the aircraft to maneuver in or out.

StyleSize of OpeningCost/Notes
Sliding Hangar DoorsTypically up to 50ft wide openingsEconomical option for standard box hangars, limited wind requirements, and no power.
Stacking Hangar DoorsTypically up to 50ft wide openingsTypically seen in low budget buildings (farm buildings/nested t-hangars) because top guide rail imposes structural load on the building.
Bottom Rolling Hangar DoorsNo limitsGood value option. Doors do not impost load on the building, but require outrigger space.

Sliding Horizontal Moving Hangar Doors

Sliding Doors are often confused with bottom rolling doors because they appear to look the same from afar, but the similarities end there. A sliding door is a single or series of door leaves made from wood, aluminum or steel and they hang from a top guide rail spanning the width of the opening.

This top guide rail imposes structural load onto the building. Across the bottom of each door leaf are two wheels that use a v groove bottom track sitting above the finished floor. Sliding hangar doors are commonly seen on low budget buildings such as farm buildings and nested t-hangars.

sliding door for large storage building

Stacking Hangar Doors

Stacking hangar doors consist of very narrow panels that are hinged so they fold tightly like an accordion. With this design the pocket requirement or loss of space to the clear opening is minimized. Very economical, the stacking hangar door is suitable for general aviation sized box hangars with limited wind zone requirements and environments with no power.

hydraulic hangar doors

Bottom Rolling Hangar Doors

Bottom Rolling Doors are a single or series of door leaves made from structural steel and use a top guide rail and bottom track to allow the door leaves to move left or right. The weight of the door goes through the wheels and into the ASCE rail embedded in the concrete foundation.

The width and height of a bottom rolling door is limited only by the design of the building. The door leaves must be stacked behind one another when the door is open, which means the aircraft hangar must provide space to the side, via outriggers , or somewhere within the opening. Bottom rolling doors can be designed for manual or motorized operation, subject to design particulars.

smaller commercial building door sliding

Image sources:


Have any questions about this topic?
We’re ready to listen.

Paul Blake Author
Director of Sales , View My Profile

Paul has over 14-years of sales and marketing experience in the hangar door industry. Prior to this, Paul spent 8 years working in a sales division of Apple Inc, where skills in supply chain, selling and customer service were taught at a multinational level.