Things to consider when buying a garage door

By Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects

Your garage door may be the first thing people notice when they pull up to your house, but appearance is just one consideration when investing in a new one.

“When replacing your garage door, there are lots of choices, so you either want to visit the garage company’s showroom or have them come out to your house. There’s great technology nowadays where they can take a picture of your house and show you what different doors will look like on your home," explained Angie Hicks with Angie's List.

Beyond the look, the construction of the door is really important. It’s the biggest moving part of your home and you want it to work well for a long time.

“The best-selling garage doors today are mostly steel garage doors, but carriage house designs are really growing in popularity,” said garage door professional Justin Evans.

The average 16-by-7-foot steel door will cost anywhere from 750 to 3,500 dollars depending on thickness and insulation. A rust-resistant aluminum door may be better for humid climates, while wood looks great and offers more options.

“Wood has classic charm," said Evans. "It’s completely flexible in terms of design. You can get more designs in wood, more custom-type doors in wood than you can with any material.”

Faux wood is something else to consider. It's less maintenance and usually costs less than real wood. One more thing to think about – how your garage door affects your energy bill.

“If your garage is connected to your home, you should really consider investing in an insulated garage door – especially if you have a room above your garage. This will help your energy costs as well as reduce noise in your home,” advised Hicks.

The price of your new door should include the installation, but Angie's List says to confirm that with your dealer. If you’re in a wind-prone area, she also recommends a storm-ready door with a built-in reinforcement system. An automatic opener is a separate item, so make sure it has enough horsepower to easily raise and lower your door safely.

How much do the most popular garage door styles cost?

Once you figure out the look you're going for, evaluate these most popular garage door styles and see what fits in your budget:

Aluminum garage door: Rust-resistant aluminum is ideal for humid, caustic environments. Replace solid panels with frosted glass for a modern look. The average cost for a 16-by-7 double door: $1,500 to $2,000.

Steel garage door: Steel doors offer the broadest range of color, insulation, and price options. You can get anything from an entry level, single-layer, non-insulated door up to a premium three-layer, 2-inch polyurethane insulated door. The average cost for a 16-by-7 double door: $750 to $3,500.

Wood garage door: There’s no substitute for the distinctive look of wood. It’s typically made of moisture-resistant cedar, redwood or cypress and offers the most flexibility for custom designs. Depending on climate and exposure, wood doors require more maintenance. The average cost for a 16-by-7 double door made of quality wood: $1,200 to more than $4,000.

Composite wood garage door: A durable, low-maintenance material that looks like real wood, faux wood composite eliminates many of the drawbacks of natural material. It’s moisture-resistant, so it won’t rot, split, shrink, separate or crack. It’s insulated, and can be painted or stained. The average cost for a 16-by-7 double door: $1,200 to $2,200.

Should you buy an insulated garage door?

Most garages aren’t heated, but your garage door still impacts your home’s energy efficiency. Construction materials and insulation technologies for garage doors have improved significantly over the last five to 10 years. Today’s doors provide a tighter seal against the façade to keep out the elements.

If your garage is attached to the house, your best bet is to purchase an insulated door, especially if there’s an occupied room above the garage. It will help reduce both noise and the utility bills.

Also, consider the direction your door faces. If it’s baking in the sun all day or getting blasted by the wind, an insulated door will better regulate the temperature inside.

What’s the safety factor for the garage door?

If you live in a high wind or hurricane-prone area, make sure your garage door can withstand the elements. “Because of their size, garage doors are more susceptible to wind damage than other exterior openings,” says Mark Westerfield, director of product development for residential garage door manufacturer Clopay.

Garage doors must have additional bracing, heavier gauge tracking and other necessary hardware to help keep them in place under extreme winds.

If you’re buying a new door, look for models that are “storm ready” with a built-in passive reinforcement system, which requires no advance set-up before a storm. 

What else do I need to know before buying a garage door?

If you’ve never purchased a garage door before, here are some common misconceptions:

• Buying a garage door opener is a separate purchase — not included in the price of a new garage door. However, most garage door installation companies also sell openers.

• Interested in carriage house doors, but think you lack the room for doors that swing open? Not to worry! Carriage-house style doors only look like they swing open. They actually move up and down on a standard track, just like every other garage door.

• Be sure to ask if the cost of the garage door includes installation. Most likely, it will.

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