Evolution marches on in the home. No product is immune from new materials
and technology, and that includes your garage door. Gone are the days when
you simply grabbed a pull rope or handle, and manually closed your heavy
wooden door with a reassuring rattle and slam. The new generation of garage
doors is lighter, safer and easier to operate, and much more stylish. So
when it's time to buy a new one, be sure to consider all the options.
Consistent with overall trends in home products, synthetic materials such as
vinyl and plastic have started to penetrate the garage door market, although
steel is still the material of choice. But plastic doors offer several
advantages. They are lightweight, durable, and unlike their wooden and steel
counterparts, they are immune to corrosion and rot. That means little or no
repainting and no treating with rust inhibitor. These doors are generally
warranted for 20 years or longer. And they glide up and down almost without
a sound. On average, however, the most common type is a steel-paneled door,
24-gauge steel backed by rigid-foam insulation, available in a flat finish or
wood-grain pattern. For durability and rust prevention, the stronger the
finish, the better, and that means baked-on primer with a polyester topcoat.
Wood doors used to be the most common, but no longer, partly because other
materials don't require as much painting and maintenance. If you do prefer
wood, you'll get hardboard panels framed by hemlock unless you want to go the
more expensive, custom route for a solid hardwood door.
Prices run the full gamut, depending on the material, insulation, and finish,
and prefab or custom. Steel doors tend to be most reasonably priced, with
wood not far behind and plastic topping out the mid-priced doors. Expect to
spend anywhere from several hundred for a basic steel double door to $3,000
or more for a custom door. When choosing a style, remember that a garage
door makes a big impact on your home's appearance and energy efficiency. It
may be worth the investment to go beyond basic. Try to match your home's
style. An ornate door with sculpting or ribbing may complement or overshadow
your home's architectural style, while an overly plain-paneled door might
stick out and look too bland. You can add windows in a variety of sizes and
shapes, from acrylic panes to laminated glass. Glass is the most resistant
to heat loss.
On the energy side, you'll need to match your door to your climate and
construction. An attached garage in a three- or four-season climate can
greatly affect your heat loss and energy consumption. Thicker insulation, up
to two inches of polystyrene or polyurethane, may be a good choice. Look for
a good weatherseal at the bottom in a rubber bulb or flange. In addition to
preventing water or cold air from getting in, it keeps dirt, leaves or other
debris out. Since 1993, garage door openers have had to comply with federal
safety standards that require the door to reverse automatically while closing
when making contact with an object, or if the electronic eye detects
something in the opening.
Sources used to create this article include Leslie Plummer Clagett and
Today's Homeowner magazine.