Garage Doors Buying Guide

Garage Doors
  • Getting Started

  • Garage Doors may be one of the mot visible portions of a house, providing curb appeal as well as security for the home. Manufacturers produce hundreds of styles that roll up a frame attached to the structure— even styles that look like they swing open. Special doors that swing open can be custom made to suit special needs.

  • What to Consider

  • Architectural style of the structure should be carried though to the garage door, especially if the garage is visible from the road.

    Usage of the garage will suggest features of the garage door.

        •  If the area is detached from the house and used only for storage of automobiles and tools, then a simple, attractive door will suffice.

        •  If the garage is attached to the house or underneath occupied rooms, or if it is used for hobbies, then a well-insulated door should be specified.


    Glass in the garage door add natural light, but may be a safety concern if the garage is along the street and easily accessible. Glass will add to the cost, so decide how much natural light is needed, if at all.

    High-wind or hurricane areas along the East Coast and Gulf Coast may be require reinforced garage doors. Due to the size of the door, high winds or wind-blown debris may cause the door to buckle, throwing he door off the track. Manufacturers have prepared specific doors for these geographic regions.

    Installation costs may be included or may not be included in the price of the door. Ask if the installation costs are extra or included. The cost of the door will be increased due to the hardware needed and for installation.

    As a do-it-yourself project, remember the hardware will be purchased separately from the door.

  • Design

  • Panel Designs will create the style of the door, from traditional to contemporary.

        •  Carriage House Panels may contain several layers of material that appear when closed as
    a solid swing door.

        •  Flush Panels may be flat or textured, used for modern designs.
        •  Raised Panels offer depth to the door and are considered traditional.
        •  Glass Panels add natural light and may come in a variety of styles, even art glass.


    Panel Skins are created in a variety of materials and available in several thicknesses and layers. Exterior skins may be made of one type of material with the
    interior skin created of a different material, or one of lesser thickness.

        •  Single layer construction consists of an outer skin of panels with or without glass. Has little to no insulating value.
        •  Double layer construction includes the outer skin with an inner layer of polystyrene or polyurethane insulation. The R-value is increased with the insulation.
        •  Triple layer construction includes two skins with the inner polystyrene or polyurethane sandwiched between the skins. Highest R-values with three-layer construction.


    Frames holding the panels may be constructed of a variety of materials. The frame may be insulated.

    Joints may be tongue and groove or shiplap to slow airflow or temperature transfer with the door is closed.

    Weather seals may be used between the sections, and a bottom seal should be installed if it is not part of the door construction. The bottom seal will stop drafts, may reduce water infiltration to the garage, and deter pests.

  • Materials

  • Wood panels offer an aesthetic provided only by real wood. Wood doors are produced from a variety of wood species — Redwood, Cedar, Fir, Mercanti, Hemlock, etc. — in a multitude of designs and layers, including multi-layers with insulation. A range of glass designs is available, also. Wood doors and be stained or painted and will need refinishing for maintenance over the years.  R-values will range with the thickness of the wood panels and the insulation.

    Composite Wood garage doors are created from wood fibers and resins to produce a wood-grained design that is stable, requiring little or no maintenance. When stained or painted it may be indistinguishable from solid wood. R-values range depending upon the insulation used between the layers.

    Fiberglass may look like wood with graining and coloring. Available in several layers, with insulation that will increase the R-value of the door, fiberglass will not require maintenance and will not warp, twist, or expand/contract with moisture and humidity levels. Recommended for use in double or triple layer construction. R-values will range with insulation.

    Steel garage doors are produced in a variety of thicknesses with or without insulation and is one of the most popular materials used. Steel outer skin with insulation may have an inner skin of another material to reduce the cost. Available in a wide array of colors, styles, R-values and prices.

    Aluminum garage doors are rust and corrosion resistant and can be powder coated in a vast range of colors or painted. The aluminum panels may be flat or wood grained to create the desired design.  R-values will range with the thickness of the aluminum and the thickness of the insulation.

    Vinyl garage doors are constructed in several layers with or without insulation, which lowers the cost.  Vinyl will resist dings and will not show scratches since the color is throughout the material. It will not rot or fall prey to insects — virtually maintenance free. R-values range with the type and thickness of the insulating layer.

  • Cost Considerations

  • Size of the door is a major factor. Two single doors will cost more than one double door.

    Material used for the skins will be a major part of the budget.

        •  Wood is expensive, depending upon the species. Maintenance is required and should be factored into the cost over time.
    •  Composite Wood is less than solid wood, and more than the least expensive steel, and will not require maintenance due to the composition of product.
    •  Steel doors with top of the line insulation may cost as much as wood, but lower quality steel with lower R-values will be in the affordable range.
        •  Fiberglass may cost as much as wood, depending upon the amount of insulation, but will not require maintenance over the years.
        •  Aluminum is in the mid-range of pricing.
        •  Vinyl is lower to mid-range of costs and will need little to no maintenance.
        •  Glass will add to the cost of the basic material and if decorative or art glass is desired, the price will increase.


    Insulation thicknesses will raise or lower the price, but will raise or lower the R-value.

    Combine materials to reduce the cost of the material by purchasing an expensive exterior skin, but a
    lower cost interior skin.

    Professional installation should be budgeted into the price but a skilled do-it-yourselfer can reduce the cost.

    Hardware for installation will cost extra.