Text by Blair Korchinski
Most garage doors today are sectional and run on tracks that allow the door to roll up just under the ceiling. This style works best with automatic garage door openers and offers low-maintenance service for years.
A less-popular design, especially on the Canadian prairies because of our winter weather, is the double carriage door. These doors swing out away from the garage, requiring that snow be removed and grass be trimmed short. They do offer design options not available with overhead doors though, and can be an excellent choice in the right circumstances.
There are many choices to be made when choosing a garage door. There are a variety of materials and styles. Some doors have windows while others are solid. While steel and aluminium are now the most common materials, manufacturers offer doors in wood, wood composites, fibreglass and even in some plastic and metal combinations. Varying amounts of insulation and different insulation materials are also available. Styles range from an industrial look to a variety of raised panels. As part of both style and function, doors may span an entire garage, or two or more smaller doors may be chosen.
When deciding which door is suitable for your purposes, you need to take all of the available options into consideration. If you simply want a door for an unheated garage that nobody ever sees but you, an inexpensive industrial style may be for you. For most of us though, a garage door is a large part of the front of homes. Most modern garages are either heated or are adjacent to heated areas, making energy efficiency a factor.
Lifestyle also plays a role. If you have kids that will be banging into the door with balls and bicycles, a heavy-gauge metal is a good choice. If you repaint your house often, wood is a better option than plastic. If noise from the door opening is an issue, you will want to choose a model that is insulated and quiet. If you don’t plan on installing a garage door opener, you will want a door that is as light as possible.
Steel is the most common material used in making garage doors because it is durable and paintable. Many manufacturers offer vinyl coatings over the metal to reduce maintenance and give it a neat, modern appearance. Steel doors can be insulated easily to improve energy efficiency and reduce noise. Dents, dings, and scratches can generally be repaired using automotive bodywork materials and techniques.
Should you choose a steel door, it is important to remember that when considering gauges of metal, the lower the number the thicker the material. While heavier gauge of metal offers more durability, it is also much heavier.
Aluminium offers the same advantages as steel, although it is lighter weight and some consider it to be more prone to damage.
Wood composite doors have several features that consumers find attractive. They are cost efficient, energy efficient and made from recycled materials. Because they are made in moulds, they are available in a wide variety of designs and styles. They accept finishes in much the same way as other wood products. While not as durable as steel, wood composites are durable enough to last decades.
Fibreglass doors are also becoming increasingly popular. Long-lasting, relatively lightweight and low maintenance make fibreglass another excellent choice.
Finally, a few manufacturers are beginning to make garage door panels from recycled plastics. The panels are held in place with metal hardware. While these products are new, there is no reason why they shouldn’t be at least as durable as products made from more traditional materials and they have performed well in accelerated ageing tests.
Wood is still a common material in the manufacture of carriage-style doors though, and some manufacturers are making insulated versions that include steel fittings to reduce wear. If you are considering carriage doors as part of your design, solid wood is an option worth considering.
Most garage door manufacturers, installers and retailers will have a variety of brochures and a knowledgeable staff available to help you. When making your choice, it is recommended that you consider all your options and see what is available, and what suits your needs and tastes.