Selecting the best material for a garage door usually depends on a combination of operational, financial, and visual considerations. Fortunately, homeowners have a variety of materials to choose from. Wood, steel, aluminum, fiberglass, vinyl, and glass garage doors are all available to the homeowner.
Years ago a garage was often found tucked away at the back of a home, out of sight, and the garage door was more functional than stylish. However, as you look around your neighborhood today, attached garages are now a normal sight, and the garage door has become a design feature of the modern home. So, how do you choose the best material for a garage door?
Read on to discover the pros and cons of the available garage door materials.
Garage door material types.
Steel Garage Doors.
Steel garage doors are immensely popular due to their flexibility in designs, durability, and value. They come in numerous design options and they are generally cheaper than a garage door made from natural wood. They are easier to maintain and more lightweight than wood, and can be made to give the appearance of wood, but with the strength and durability of steel.
The main problem with steel is that it is vulnerable to rust and deterioration. The bottom of a steel garage door is the most common area where rusting can occur in areas where salt is used during the winter months for de-icing.
• Maintenance is low
• Various design/style options
• Can rust easily if scratched
• Bad insulator
• Dents fairly easily
Garage doors made from natural wood can give your home that “touch of elegance”. The design options available can be daunting with different wood species, customization options, and colors. A wood garage door is a good choice if a homeowner wishes to give their garage a distinctive appearance. Wood garage doors can be extremely expensive, not only in the initial outlay but the cost of maintaining their beauty can mount up. If not properly maintained, a wooden garage door will start to fade, chip, warp, or rot. If you don’t live in an area with a mild climate, then a wood garage door may not be the best choice.
• Endless design options
• Inherent beauty
• Good insulator
• Can be stained for a customized look
• Difficult to operate manually because of weight
• Needs maintenance on a regular basis
• Can be prone to warping, swelling, and rotting
Fiberglass Garage Doors.
Often overlooked as a material for garage doors, fiberglass can be made to have the appearance of grained wood, giving the homeowner the best of both worlds. A “wood-like” door, but without the shrinking, warping, and rotting associated with natural wood, and because fiberglass has transparency properties, it allows more natural light to permeate into the garage.
• Will not shrink, warp, or rot due to excessive moisture
• Gives extra light to the garage interior
• Temperature changes don’t affect fiberglass
• Very low maintenance
• If damaged, it has to be replaced
• It is a brittle material and can be damaged by high winds
• Can yellow with age or crack
Aluminum & Glass Combination.
If you want to catch your neighbors’ eye, then aluminum and glass do will do just that. From a classic look to a variety of modern designs, aluminum and glass doors can be customized to your taste and home. Aluminum although lighter than steel is also not as strong. High winds or hail can cause severe damage to an aluminum door, which without the services of an expert, can be difficult to fix.
• Resists rust and corrosion
• Very customizable
• Allows the maximum amount of light into the garage
• Very low maintenance
• Weaker than steel
• R-value is low
• Without frosted glass, there could be privacy issues
• Not completely waterproof
Vinyl Garage Doors.
Vinyl garage doors are a popular choice for homeowners working on a budget. It is robust enough to resist scratches and isn’t affected by UV rays. Being a lightweight material, the garage door opener will have no problems when opening or closing the door. If at some time in the future, scratches do appear, then they won’t stand out because the color is consistent throughout the thickness of the vinyl.
• Lower priced material
• Very low maintenance
• Weather-resistant and durable
• No insulating properties
• Painting the door a different color is not recommended
Wood composite is an engineered product, constructed of wood fiber, plastics, and glues with a veneer to give it the look of natural wood, but with added strength making it a good choice for your garage door. Plain composite garage doors can be inexpensive however, customized designs can raise the cost considerably.
• Moisture resistant
• Repainting can be difficult
• Easily damaged
• Repairs can be a challenge
Glass garage doors aren’t completely made of glass. They are constructed with aluminum frames to give them stability and strength. They can be designed with a single row of glass panels at the top of the door, or each section of the door can have glass panels across the width of the door giving it the appearance of being totally glass.
• Abundant natural light into the garage
• Multiple designs to choose from
• Excellent curb appeal
• Approximately double the cost of a solid garage door
• Poor insulation properties
• Glass panels can be broken easily and need replacing
What is the right material for your home?
Having read everything so far, you will know that there are various choices for your garage door material, but before you make your choice, you should think about your budget, and where your home is located. The climate, weather conditions, and the neighborhood you live in can help you narrow down the selection of garage door materials.
If you are on a tight budget, then vinyl doors are a good option. If you are looking for a garage door that is durable, with low maintenance, and is energy-efficient, then a steel or a composite door may be your best choice. However, if your home is located in an area that has extreme temperatures, then an aluminum door will fit the bill, keeping the garage cool in summer and warm during the winter months.
What types of garage doors are suitable for coastal regions?
Living by the coast can be appealing, but it also has its drawbacks when it comes to your garage door. It may suffer from rust caused by the sea air, warping or rotting because of all the moisture, or fading if your coastal area is bathed in sunshine most of the year. However, choosing the right type of garage door will alleviate any problems.
Vinyl doors are perfect for coastal regions, as are fiberglass, aluminum, and glass doors. Each has properties that are resistant to rotting, fading, rusting, or warping.
Vinyl garage doors are manufactured using a solid, durable PVC material that will not rust, rot or warp, and the color doesn’t fade due to the sun’s UV rays.
Fiberglass doors are a perfect substitute if you want a wood garage door, but don’t want the maintenance issues. They can be made with a finish that cannot be distinguished from the real thing.
Aluminum is rust-resistant, but because aluminum is a lightweight material, it can be susceptible to wind damage from storms, etc. If you select aluminum, make sure it is strong enough to withstand high winds.
If you live in a coastal area that has mild climates, then a glass garage door would be perfectly suited to that environment. The aluminum frame will not rust and can be made with reinforcements to withstand the occasional high wind.
What is the most durable type of garage door?
According to The Cambridge English Dictionary, the word DURABLE means “able to last and be used for a long time without becoming damaged”. If you live in any of the northern states, then being durable to you means being able to withstand the harsh winters and the hot summers. If you have young children, then a durable garage door will have to stand up to bangs, dents, and scratches caused by basketball games, or other mishaps.
Whatever the reason for needing a durable garage door, experts agree that galvanized steel is the most durable type of garage door, offering strength, plus minimum maintenance.
What is the most common garage door material?
No matter where in the country you live the most common material used for garage doors is steel. Steel garage doors are not only long-lasting, very reasonably priced, but require the minimum of maintenance. They come in various styles and a range of colors, so you can tailor the door to match your home’s exterior color scheme. If you feel you need to keep the heat in your garage during the winter months or want your garage a little cooler during the summer, then consider purchasing an insulated steel door. They cost a bit more, but may well justify the extra cost.
What is the best type of garage door to get?
If you are considering replacing your garage door, one of the first things to think about is what the garage is used for. Is it only used to keep your car under cover, or is your garage a workshop, or a games room? If you have your workshop in the garage, then the more natural light you can get the better. A garage door with glass panels will give you plenty of light to keep the space bright. An insulated door will keep the noise down if the garage is a workshop, or if your son uses the garage to practice on his drum kit. If security is an issue, then choose a door that’s strong and provides privacy. Historically, the garage door is the weakest point of entry into your home, so if you live in an area that is prone to tropical storms or the odd hurricane, consider getting a garage door with reinforcing bars across each panel.
What is the cheapest garage door material?
The two most popular materials for garage doors are steel and aluminum. If you are working on a tight budget, and are looking to buy a new garage door, then aluminum doors, are on average, the lowest priced material. A double garage door may cost between $300.00 and $2,000.00 depending on style, finish, etc., while a steel double door ranges between $500.00 and $4,000.00. These costs are only general estimates from across the country and may be higher or lower depending on the company you choose and your location.
How can you tell if the garage door is steel or aluminum?
If you want to know if your garage door is made from steel or aluminum, the quickest way to find out is to disconnect the garage door opener and try to open the door manually. A standard double steel garage door weighs approximately 200 – 250 pounds, while an aluminum double door may weigh in at around 135 pounds. If you can raise the door relatively easily, then the chances are your door is aluminum. If, however, you struggle to raise the door manually, it is probably steel.