According to most Cost versus Value Reports, replacing your home’s garage doors is one of the best investments in all of your property with a typical return of over 90%. The reason a garage door replacement is so fruitful is because it’s a multi-functional renovation. Your home can benefit in increased exterior aesthetics, better security, improved energy-efficiency (with an insulated door), and a return of convenience when replacing an old or malfunctioning garage door.
The big question consumers face however is finding out how to choose the right garage door for your home. Looks and style are going to be the “fun” selling points but you must also take into account the material that the door is constructed from, how thick and insulated the door will be (depending on if your garage is finished or not), what your maintenance capabilities are, if you want windows, and a few other miscellaneous details that help determine the ideal door for your needs. Let’s tackle them.
Garage Door Looks and Styles
With a home feature like windows, the looks and style are almost secondary as long as the products are energy-efficient and functional. With garage doors however, the appearance should very much be a driving force in your buying decision. Garage doors are a focal point of your home’s exterior and for as much as an intriguing design can add curb appeal, an eyesore can lower your market value (fairly or unfairly).
Some homeowners might not be aware that many different types of garage doors exist. You’re going to be somewhat limited by the construction of your garage as to what styles it can accommodate but your doors will open in one of four ways: swing out, swing up, roll out, roll up.
Once you’ve figured out how your garage door is going to open, you can pinpoint a specific style that you’re looking for. Three major options include:
Raised panel garage doors – a timeless classic. Raised panel doors offer the familiar pattern of rectangle boxes with optional windows on top. These types of doors offer a safe ROI as they are affordable, durable, and maintenance free. They might not draw awe, but they don’t draw ire either.
Carriage house garage doors – the carriage house design is very appealing. It provides, at least the look, of two tall rectangular doors that swing open. Modern manufacturing methods now offer the carriage look but in a swing up design as well.
Contemporary doors – there’s a pretty good risk/reward with installing contemporary doors on your home. These could best be described as ‘the others’ in terms of garage door styles. Some unique looks include windows to the side instead of the top, full-window design, staggered windows, reflective coatings, and unconventional panel shapes and sizes.
Once you’ve chosen the look and style of garage door you want to install, many of the other details fall seamlessly into place.
Four Garage Door Materials
Looks and materials go 1a and 1b when it comes to finding the right garage door for your home. What type of material you chose is going to have a trickle down effect on your door’s durability, cost, expected life span, and required maintenance over the years. The great thing about finding a style you like first is that most modern manufacturing methods allow them to be fabricated out of almost any of the major garage door materials including:
Wood and wood composite – the look of wood is warm, inviting, and luxurious anywhere in the house. One of the benefits of installing a wood garage door is the fact that the material can blend with almost any type of existing exterior décor including siding, brick, stone, and of course wood.
Steel – the most popular choice of garage door for homeowners simply because of its versatility. Steel garage doors come in a variety of thicknesses so you determine how durable (and costly) you want your door to be. Steel garage doors can also be painted for style change without replacement down the line.
Aluminum – a lightweight alternative to steel that is more affordable and more convenient to operate for those without an automatic opener.
Fiberglass – also very lightweight but used almost exclusively in coastal regions because it is more resistant to corrosion from salt-water than any other garage door material.
It’s also very possible to shop in reverse. What this means is basically finding a garage door material that suits your needs and budget first, then picking an available style from that particular material.
Maintenance and Durability Issues
When shopping for a garage door the thing that comes to most people’s minds is a basketball, bicycle, or car bumper colliding into the exterior. Durability is extremely important to consider even if it’s for those ‘just in case’ scenarios. A crumpled up garage panel not only looks bad, it prevents the door from opening thus costing you the building’s functionality.
Steel is one of your best garage door materials for durability. It is for the most part resistant to weather and 24ga steel and thicker will deflect most of the everyday bangs and bumps without damage like an aluminum door might be prone to do. There is no maintenance required with steel, aluminum, or fiberglass doors besides pressure spraying the dirt off them or possibly repainting them every few years.
Wood is an intriguing garage door material choice. It is also very resistant to bikes, balls, and the like while any damage that is incurred can be repaired in more of a DIY manner than steel or aluminum. Wood does require almost annual maintenance however in the form of staining and sealing to stand up to the elements.
Does How a Garage Door is Constructed Matter?
If you have a finished garage with insulation, sheetrock, and a heat source you’ll definitely want to upgrade to an insulated garage door. Steel, aluminum, and metal as a whole is a poor insulator and heat will escape like a sieve without reinforced panels. Wood is a much better insulator material-wise, but doesn’t hold a candle to the energy conservation that insulated steel or aluminum doors provide.
Are Windows a Benefit or a Liability?
Windows provide a nice contrast breaking up the monotony of a full-paneled garage door. They are an excellent source of natural light in the garage and provide a safe way to instantly check out vehicle head lights pulling up your driveway. There is a camp however that thinks windows provide a safety risk, creating an unnecessary access point for crooks to get at your tools, lawn equipment, vehicles, etc.
Some Final Garage Door Questions You Need to Ask Yourself
It goes without saying that you’ll want to carefully, accurately, and intuitively measure the size of garage door you need 3-4 times. You want to take aesthetics into consideration but also energy-efficiency. Regarding aesthetics, make sure the style of your garage door doesn’t clash with the layout of your existing features. Home automation is another thing to think about, ensuring your garage door and new opener is capable of operation from your Smart phone if so desired. Warranties can also range from 10 years to lifetime.
Despite all the options and steps recommended, finding the right garage door for your home is a fun endeavor. Don’t expect to open a garage door catalog and point to the perfect fit however – that takes the fun out of it!
Having issues with your garage door? Get in touch with New York Gates at 718-614-0616.