Choosing Right Garage Doors

Types of Garage Doors

Garage doors come in four basic types: They may swing out, swing up, roll up, or slide to the side.

Swing-out carriage-house doors or sliding barn doors are a good choice if you need to keep the ceiling clear or if you want their distinctive look. Otherwise, the most popular option by far is the sectional roll-up door.Before purchasing a roll-up door, measure the space between the top of the garage door opening and the ceiling or overhead framing. Standard tracks require headroom of about 14 inches. If you don’t have that, you can get low-headroom track, which costs about $100 more. There are also tracks specially made for garages with unusually high walls or cathedral ceilings.It’s important to pick a door that suits the style of your house. If you live in a Craftsman bungalow, for example, you might want something that looks like the swing-out doors found on garages behind early Craftsman houses. Manufacturers of modern roll-up doors make them in styles that mimic the old swing doors, complete with faux strap hinges on the sides and a pair of handles flanking a deep groove in the center.

Most styles, whether traditional or contemporary, feature panels, trim, and other detailing. Doors with true frame-and-panel construction tend to be sturdier than those with decorative detail that is merely glued or nailed on. Many styles have glass panels on the top row, which looks inviting from the street and brings daylight inside. You can also find roll-up doors with shatterproof glass or frosted plastic in all the panels, for a more modern look.

Wood Garage Door: Wood offers a charm and authenticity that other materials merely mimic. Wood doors can be made locally in whatever size you need, and they stand up well to bumps from basketballs. The downside is that they require frequent repainting or refinishing, especially if you live in a damp climate.Wood doors range from midprice to very expensive, depending on whether they consist of a lightweight wooden frame filled with foam insulation and wrapped in a plywood or hardboard skin (the least expensive) or are true frame-and-panel doors made of durable mahogany, redwood, or cedar. Wood doors usually carry a short warranty, perhaps only one year.

Steel Garage Door: Metal is a better choice than wood if you don’t want a lot of maintenance. Steel leads the pack because it is relatively inexpensive yet tough. Bare steel rusts, so you need to touch up scratches promptly, and steel also dents.Minimize this risk by choosing doors with sturdy 24- or 25-gauge panels rather than 27- or 28-gauge (the higher the gauge number, the thinner the metal). Or consider a steel door with a fiberglass overlay, which resists dents and doesn’t rust. Fiberglass will need periodic repainting or restaining, though, because the color fades over time.High-quality steel doors may have lifetime warranties on the hardware, laminations between the steel and any insulation, and factory-applied paint. Budget doors tend to have shorter warranties on some components, such as paint and springs.

Aluminum Garage Door: Inexpensive aluminum doors, once common, have largely been replaced by sturdy versions with heavy-duty extruded frames and dent-resistant laminated panels. Rugged and rust-proof, these are a wonderful choice — if you can spend $10,000 or so on a garage door.

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