Exploring New Home Construction

Choosing A Garage Door? Ask Yourself These 4 Questions First

If you're in the market for garage doors, stop and think carefully before making this investment. The right choice of door will provide you with many years of attractive looks and trouble-free service, while the wrong choice will have you regretting your decision for the same number of years. So while you're researching garage door installation, mechanics and so on, make sure you ask yourself these four helpful questions for choosing the doors themselves.

1. Which Material Makes the Most Sense for Your Needs?

The sheer range of available garage door materials can get your search off to a bewildering start. Each material has its own pros and cons, making some choices better than others for individual needs. Natural wood offers the richest, most traditional look, but it can rot and warp over time and you'll need to re-apply paint or stain every so often. Composite wood is more moisture resistant, making it a better choice for homeowners in humid areas. Steel is available in more color and style options than other materials, but it can rust if you don't maintain its paint job. Aluminum doesn't rust, but it can dent easily. Ultimately, you have to weigh the various characteristics of these materials against the challenges they'll face from your environment.

Your choice of material should will also affect how much you pay. If you're on a tight budget, you'll probably want to get steel doors. A pair of steel doors measuring 16 feet by 7 feet can be had for as little as $750, although deluxe options can range up to $3,500 in price. The same pair of doors in natural or composite wood would start at $1,200, while you can expect to pay at least $1,500 for aluminum.

2. Do You Need Natural Light?

Many people like to use their garages for more than just storing cars. If you've been thinking about creating a workshop or art studio in your garage, you might decide that natural light is essential for your work. At the same time, however, you don't necessarily want to perform that work with the garage doors wide open for the whole world to peek in on your progress. If this describes you, then you need to make sure you're looking exclusively at garage doors equipped with windows. Even if you don't really need natural light, the addition of windows can make an elegant statement that adds to your home's curb appeal.

Garage doors with windows come in a variety of styles, from the clean straight lines of standard rectangular doors to the curved upper edge of carriage-style doors. Even if you choose larger windows, you don't necessarily have to give up any privacy. Choose opaque windows instead of clear glass, and you'll still get the benefit of natural light without allowing others to see inside your garage.

3. Is Your Garage Too Hot or Cold?

If your garage is too uncomfortable to spend any time in during the summer or winter months, it's probably poorly insulated (or not insulated at all). This not only discourages you from getting full use out of your garage, but it can also contribute to unnecessarily high utility bills. Today's insulated garage doors can create an effective thermal buffer between the outside world and the exterior wall of your house. You also get the benefit of a less noisy garage, thanks to an insulated door's ability to muffle outside sounds.

A typical insulated garage door has an inner core of lightweight insulating material sandwiched by sturdy panels. You can determine the degree of thermal protection by choosing a door with the appropriate R-value for your climate and anticipated needs. For example, a value of R-8 reduces heat flow through the door by 90 percent, while a value of R-32 offers a 97 percent reduction in heat flow.

4. What Kind of Mechanical Systems Should You Choose?

If you're like most homeowners, you're not terribly interested in the technical details of your garage door; you just want the installer to do a good job. But the product you select will influence your garage door installation requirements. For instance, torsion springs, which attach to the top of the garage door, do a better job of distributing the load across the entire door surface than side-mounted extension springs do. The larger and heavier your choice of door, the more this matters. (Torsion springs are also the components of choice for double doors.) You may also have to decide between hot-dipped galvanized steel tracks and powder-coated steel tracks. The latter cost more, but they present a nicer image by avoiding that utilitarian "bare metal" look.

Choose the right garage doors and you just might fall in love with that most utilitarian of spaces. Ask your local garage door installer, such as those at Shank Door, for specific recommendations to help you make the smartest possible decisions.