A Guide To Garage Doors

AAA Print

Garage doors represent nearly 40% of the home’s curbside exterior. Making a careful selection of the best door for a house can add style, architectural appeal, and interest to the exterior. Before buying a new garage door, consider how the garage is used throughout the year. If it is used for a workshop, hobby room, or play area; then choose a door with excellent insulation properties to keep the garage warm during the colder months.

The Different Types Of Garage Doors

Choose a garage door that complements the architectural style of the house. Picking a panel design is a good place to start. There are flush panel doors, which are flat, with smooth or slightly textured panels that tend to be passive visually. The next style to consider is the long-raised panel door. These doors provide depth and distinction to the door adding a minor detail to the overall appearance. Short raised-panel doors also provide depth to the door. They are a good choice for Victorian, Colonial, or Tudor style homes with highly detailed trim. There are also window panel inserts in a variety of styles including divided lights and sunburst versions. Choose doors with double-pained windows, which will let the light in and keep extreme seasonal temperatures out

Painting raised panels can also add another dimension to the door. Add a contrasting color to the panel recess to brighten up a plain garage door.

Wood Vs. Metal Garage Doors: Material Tradeoffs

Wood is a versatile material for garage doors. There are standard raised-panel doors with a wide selection of designs. Wood garage doors can even mimic the traditional styles of 19th century carriage houses. Of course, wood doors can be painted or stained to match existing architectural details. A wood garage door does require more frequent maintenance to keep it weather tight and functioning well.

If lower maintenance is desirable, a steel garage door will probably be a better choice. Steel doors tend to be more economical then a wood door. Most manufacturers will offer a number of colors as off the shelf doors. Steel doors are easy to paint and match the home decor if it’s needed. There are 3 distinct types of steel doors available today.

  • Single-layer steel doors are stamped from a single sheet of galvanized steel. They will be the least expensive of the three types.
  • Double-layer steel doors also have a galvanized steel skin on the outside surface with a thick layer of either polystyrene or polyurethane as the inside skin. The inside skin provides both soundproofing and additional insulation for the door.
  • A triple-layer steel door is constructed of the same materials as the double-layer door. But it usually features a galvanized skin on the inside to protect the polystyrene or polyurethane from damage. This addition of a second layer of steel makes a triple-layer door the strongest, and most secure choice for a garage door. Triple-layer doors are usually available with a thicker layer of insulation, for higher R-value of thermal resistance, which makes them warmer in winter and cooler in summer.

Garage Door Insulation Values

Many homeowners are incorporating their garages as extensions of their living space. Garages are being used as workshops, children’s play areas, hobby rooms, game rooms, laundry rooms, and more. With activities throughout the year, the garage needs to maintain a comfortable temperature through all the seasons.

Look for a garage door with good insulating qualities. In moderate climates, choose a garage door with at least an R3 insulation value. In harsher climates, choose a garage door with at least an R10 insulation value. Other features to look for include weather seals between the door sections and a good bottom seal at the threshold of the door to keep drafts out. Higher R-value doors will mean lower heating and cooling costs throughout the year.

Garage Door Spring Options

Garage doors typically use either extension springs on either side of the door track on lighter doors or 1 or 2 torsion springs located above the door opening. These are typically used on heavier doors. The purpose of the spring system is to counterbalance the garage door and make opening and closing the door an easier task. The better spring systems will also have a safety containment cable to protect against damage or injury in case of spring failure.

Garage Door Maintenance Tips

Clean the exterior surface of the garage door with a mild detergent and a soft sponge, and rinse with a hose at least once a year. Check all moving parts and lubricate as needed. Check cables and springs for signs of wear. Torsion springs that show signs of wear should be replaced by a qualified technician. Cracked or broken garage door extension springs can be replaced by the homeowner. Check bolts and hardware to make certain they are still tight.

Last Updated: June 7, 2012
AAA Print

About Bill Washburn William "Bill" Washburn has a BA in advertising from the Art Center College of Design and has taught at the University of Southern California and Northrup University. Writing from a well-connected studio in the rural foothills of the west coast, he is a frequent speaker at local art associations and has published numerous articles discussing periods of art history and the fundamentals of drawing and painting. William is a master gardener who grows his own culinary herbs, organic heirloom vegetables and a variety of fruits. He writes frequently about his gardening experiences on his website Pioneer Dad. He is an accomplished advertising writer, fine art painter, and art director with more than 20 years' experience. 

Note: The information provided on this site may be provided by third parties. The owners and operators of this site do not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, and compliance of the content on this site. Such content is not and shall not be deemed tax, legal, financial, or other advice, and we encourage you to confirm the accuracy of the content. Use is at your own risk, and use of this site shall be deemed acceptance of the above.