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Choosing the Right Garage Door for Your Home

Finding the right garage door for your new home is not something that you should take lightly. In fact, just a replacement of a garage door down the line can recoup you over 90% of your investment according to the most recent Cost vs. Value Report (one of the highest ROIs of any project in the list). This gives you an idea of how important selecting the garage door for your new home, new garage, or addition actually is.


So what goes into determining what to look for in a garage door? Most of your choices will be driven by 1) looks 2) material 3) durability and 4) cost (not necessarily in that order). Each of the categories kind of feed of each other (high-priced doors will look nice and be more durable), but you need to find the perfect mesh of each choice in order to be satisfied.


Here's a breakdown of what's available to you and how each choice within a category adds value to your home.



Garage Door Materials

An important decision is whether you want to select the style first or the garage door material. Ideally, you can find one within the other. The garage door material that you select goes a long way in determining looks, but it is also the driving force that dictates durability, maintenance, expected life span, and cost. It's for this reason that many homeowners choose their garage door materials first, then find an accommodating style within. Major material options include


• Wood and wood composite – wood looks cool with almost any type of brick or siding and another major benefit is the fact that it can be refinished and brought back to life rather easily. This factor also makes wood the door with the highest maintenance required.


• Steel – a popular choice for a garage door because it is very versatile. You can choose varying thicknesses of steel throughout many different price ranges and modern manufacturing methods make intricate designs possible.


• Aluminum – considered basically “light steel.” Aluminum is more affordable and convenient for those without an automatic opener because it is lightweight, but it also dents much easier. 


• Fiberglass – an alternative to aluminum and steel in coastal regions because it is lighter than steel but also won't corrode with exposure to the sea salt environment. It also resists dents better than steel and aluminum.

Wooden garage doors on Garage Plan #160-10126

Attractive yet requiring some periodic maintenance to keep good-looking, wooden garage doors like these in a 2-car/RV garage with 2-bedroom, 1.5-bath apartment look good in any setting and up the curb appeal and value of the property (Garage Plan #160-1026).



Garage Door Appearance

The garage door is a focal point of your home's aesthetics and is a driving force behind the overall curb appeal of your property. Therefore, looks may be a bit more important in a garage door compared with an item such as a window, the characteristics of which are more about energy efficiency.


The first thing you need to figure out before you can start looking at styles is deciding how your garage is going to open (swing out, roll up, slide up, swing up). Once you've done that, you can delve deeper into choices within the major style categories, which include


• Raised-panel garage doors – a very safe choice in the garage door realm, the raised panel garage doors are the ones you're probably most familiar with. This style is the familiar pattern of rectangular boxes. You can add windows for natural light for these raised-panel doors. They are most often seen on roll up or slide up configurations on Traditional and Colonial style homes.


• Carriage-house garage doors – the king of the swing door market, the carriage house design is traditionally two tall rectangular doors that open from the middle, and overhead doors can mimic that look. Many homeowners of Craftsman style house plan are opting for the carriage look in their overhead sliding doors these days.


• Contemporary doors – In a nutshell, contemporary doors are classified as “everything else.” You might have windows to the side instead of on top, a door with full windows, staggered panels, reflective coatings, and just about anything else you can imagine. Nice for Modern or Contemporary style home plans or those who just want to make a splash on their cul-de-sac.

Craftsman House Plan #142-1082

This garage door on a 3-bedroom, 2-bath Craftsman style home plan looks like a pair of traditional "carriage-house doors" that open from the middle, but it is actually one double-wide overhead rolling door (House Plan #142-1082). The carriage-house appearance works well with the house design.



Maintenance and Durability Issues

Something to be considered when choosing a garage door for your new floor plan is maintenance and durability. The durability of your door is especially important if you have kids with bad balance on a bike or a wild throwing arm because aluminum, for example, dents very easily. A garage that crumples like a soda can is not only an eyesore, it's usually inoperable making you store your car, lawn tractor, etc. outside...or stuck inside. Unless you have extremely light duty in mind for your garage door, you might be better to stay away from aluminum.


Steel is strong (especially at least 24ga doors), and it requires no maintenance. The unfortunate thing about steel is that when it does experience damage (it's not impervious), there aren't many repair options. Wood – and extent fiberglass – on the other hand, does provide you with some easy fixes (replacing boards, puttying dents and holes), but then again both require almost annual maintenance of cleaning and staining or periodic painting.




Other Garage Door Options to Consider

It's hard to rate one garage door material as more affordable than another because there are so many individual options within each garage door type. For example, do you want windows? How about insulation? Should the door be pinch-resistant for little kids (and adults for that matter)? One torsion spring or two? How about an automatic opener?


All of these decisions determine how much you will spend for your garage door. At least now you know there's more to the process – and more to know – than picking a door out of a catalog. 


Footnote: the lead image is of a 2-car garage with a 1-bedroom, 1-bath apartment on the second floor (Garge Plan #163-1041). For more information, click here.


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