Garage Door Buying Guide: Choose the Right Type for Your Home

In this buying guide, you’ll learn how to choose a garage door that meets your needs in terms of style, material, and security features.

Key takeaways:

  • Sectional, roll-up, side-hinged, slide to side, tilt-up canopy, tilt-up retractable
  • Steel, aluminum, wood, composite wood, vinyl, fiberglass
  • Automatic reversal, photo-eye sensors, force settings, manual control
  • Regular inspection, lubrication, balance check, auto-reverse check, weatherstripping
  • Insulation, R-value, weather stripping, thermal break for energy efficiency

Types of Garage Doors

Sectional doors are the most common, composed of panel sections connected with hinges. As the door opens and closes, wheels at the edge of each panel roll inside a vertical track on each side of the door opening.

Roll-up doors are built with 2″-3″ steel slat sections that roll around a drum above the door opening. These are typically found in commercial applications.

Side-hinged doors swing open and closed from a hinged frame on either side of the opening. They resemble traditional barn doors and are often made of wood.

Slide to the side garage doors operate just as the name suggests; they bend to one side of the garage and sit parallel to the wall. These doors are ideal for garages with little headroom.

Tilt-up canopy doors have a pivoting hinge mechanism so they can tilt up into the garage. These doors leave a portion of the door protruding from the garage, providing a small canopy.

Tilt-up retractable garage doors lift up and into the garage. They are suspended independently from the frame, which means no part of the door protrudes.

Considering space, convenience, and aesthetic appeal helps in choosing the right garage door style. Each type offers a unique set of advantages depending on the layout of your garage and your lifestyle needs.

Materials Used in Garage Door Construction

Steel stands as the most prevalent choice due to its durability, versatility, and ease of maintenance. It can also be insulated to improve energy efficiency. Aluminum offers a lighter alternative, resistant to corrosion, ideal for coastal areas. It’s often used for contemporary designs with a range of color and finish options.

Wooden doors hark back to traditional aesthetics, favored for their natural beauty. They require more upkeep but can be custom-crafted to fit any design. Composite wood, a blend of wood fibers and resin, presents a low-maintenance option with a similar appearance to real wood.

Vinyl doors are known for their durability, resistance to dents, and minimal maintenance, making them a practical option for busy homeowners. They perform well in climates with fluctuating temperatures and can mimic the look of wood without the same level of care.

Fiberglass is less common but offers unique advantages, such as resistance to saltwater corrosion, making it ideal for seaside homes. It can be designed to replicate the texture and color of natural materials like wood and stone.

Choosing the right material will ensure the door’s longevity, aesthetic appeal, and alignment with lifestyle needs. Regular maintenance and prompt repairs will preserve the material’s integrity and functionality over time.

Safety Features in Garage Doors

Automatic reversal systems prevent accidents by reversing the door if an object is detected beneath it. These systems employ sensors that trigger the safety mechanism, ensuring that children, pets, or any obstruction are not harmed or crushed by the closing door.

Photo-eye sensors, located about six inches above the floor on either side of the door, emit an invisible beam that, when interrupted, signals the door to reverse. Since 1993, safety standards mandate this feature on all automatic garage doors.

Force settings control the amount of energy the door uses to open and close. If the door encounters resistance that exceeds a preset threshold, akin to an obstruction, it stops and reverses. Regularly testing and adjusting these settings contributes to overall garage door safety.

Manual control features, such as a red emergency release cord, allow the door to be operated manually in case of power failure or malfunction of the automatic garage door opener, ensuring a safe means of entry or exit under any circumstances.

Regular safety inspections and maintenance, conducted at least once a year by a professional, are crucial. They ensure mechanisms are functioning correctly, moving parts are well lubricated, and no worn components pose safety hazards.

Maintenance Tips for Garage Doors

Regularly inspect your garage door for signs of wear and tear, particularly on moving parts such as rollers, hinges, and springs. It’s advisable to perform this inspection at least twice a year. To ensure smooth operation, clean the tracks frequently to remove any debris that could obstruct the door’s path.

Lubrication is essential; use a silicone-based lubricant or garage door spray on rollers, hinges, pulleys, and springs. However, avoid using WD-40 as it is a degreaser and can strip lubrication. Apply the lubricant every three to six months for optimal performance.

The door’s balance should be checked periodically. Disengage the automatic opener and lift the door manually. It should lift smoothly and stay open around three to four feet above the floor. If it doesn’t, this may indicate spring issues that require professional attention.

Check the auto-reverse safety features, which stop and reverse the door if an object interrupts the infrared beam between sensors or if the door hits something. Place a roll of paper towels in the path of the door; it should reverse when the door makes contact with the towels. If it doesn’t, the opener’s force setting may need adjustment or the sensors require alignment.

Examine weatherstripping along the bottom of the door to ensure it’s sealing properly. If the seal is worn or damaged, replace it to prevent water, debris, and pests from entering the garage. Weatherstripping also aids in maintaining energy efficiency by keeping outdoor elements out.

Lastly, keep the door’s appearance in check by cleaning it with a mild all-purpose cleaner at least once a year. For wooden doors, examine for water damage or warping and reapply paint or sealant as necessary to protect the wood and maintain aesthetics.

Energy Efficiency in Garage Doors

Enhancing your garage door’s energy efficiency reduces power consumption, which benefits both your wallet and the environment. Insulation is the key to this efficiency. It aids in regulating the garage’s temperature, mitigating heat loss in winter and keeping the area cooler during summer months.

Numerous modern garage doors come equipped with built-in insulation, typically foam, which provides a barrier against temperature changes. The effectiveness of this insulation is measured in R-value; the higher the R-value, the better the insulation.

Weather stripping around the door further seals gaps, preventing drafts and keeping the elements out. Additionally, garage doors with a thermal break—an insulating barrier that interrupts the thermal path—limit the transfer of heat or cold into the garage.

When considering a new or replacement garage door, opting for a model with a high R-value, durable weather stripping, and a thermal break could significantly contribute to your home’s overall energy efficiency. These features not only offer utility bill savings but also improve the comfort of any space adjacent to or above the garage.