Today’s question is, “Does the door from my garage to my house have to be fireproof or different from the other doors in my house?”

The answer is definitely, “Yes.” Garages along with kitchens, are the places most likely to initiate a fire. Think about it. Your garage has gasoline in it along with paints, thinners, cleaning fluids and other flammables. If your car leaked some gasoline onto a hot engine, a fire could start. Or a bundle of rags with paint thinner might spontaneously ignite when bundled up on a shelf or in a cabinet. It happens all too frequently. You need a good door to keep the fire from spreading from the garage to the house too quickly.

If your garage is separated from your house, you have a built in fire separation by virtue of the space between the buildings. However, most garages are connected to the house and a fire could spread to the house in minutes. So in these cases, the door to the garage must be able to resist the fire for some period of time so you have a chance to escape and avoid injury or death. Most Building Codes require this. The International Residential Building Code, which has been adopted in many locales, requires a 20-minute fire rated door, or a solid wood, or solid or honeycomb core steel door of not less than 1 3/8″ thickness.

I recommend choosing the 20-minute door. The door should have a label that says this. Doors, along with many building products, are tested by the Underwriters Laboratory for safety. A 20-minute rated door has been tested to withstand penetration by a fire for at least twenty minutes. If you want more security, you can always exceed the minimum rating and install a door with an even higher rating.

Fire-rated doors, along with smoke alarms, will let you sleep at night knowing your family is safe.

I’m always interested in hearing your comments and experiences. Please feel free to post them and I’ll answer as many as I can.

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