Although your garage is designed to house your car, most of the time it ends up being a store room for tools, bikes, things destined for the tip and who knows what else. Whatever you keep in it, you’ll need to be sure your garage door keeps things safe and secure. However, security is not the only consideration when choosing a garage door, as add style can also add value to your home.
- If you’re very sensitive to sound or have living space directly above or adjacent to a garage, a belt-driven or direct-driven model is your best choice.
- If you live in a densely populated area, the signals from all of your neighbors’ garage door openers may interfere with your own opener. Look for a dual-frequency garage door opener, which automatically switches between two frequencies to reduce interference.
- This technology selects a new, nonrepeating access code from billions of possibilities every time you use the remote control. This keeps would-be burglars guessing at your opener’s code, and it also keeps your neighbor’s remote control from accidentally opening your garage door.
- If this feature doesn’t come standard with the unit you chose, it can generally be added as an option.
- This allows you to keep using your Garage Door Opener during power outages; however, it’s a rare feature, included only on a few higher-end models. Absent a battery backup, the garage door opener should have a manual release that will let you open and close your garage door by hand in the event of a power outage.
- Lights are standard equipment on all the garage door openers we evaluated. Look for lights that you can control independently of the door’s opening or closing; some models also come with a motion sensor to automatically activate the lights when you’re in the garage.
- Smart/connected homes are becoming a thing of late. If you would like the ability to check on the status of your garage door (whether it is open or closed), or be able to open or close it remotely, a garage door opener that’s compatible with some type of Internet-connected controller is a must. In most cases the compatibility will be built in, but you’ll need to spring for an Internet gateway to connect to your home network. A few models have the gateway built in.
Choosing the Right Style
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.
Common Garage Door Materials
Wood Garage Doors: 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 Doors: 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: 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.
Less expensive aluminum doors have aluminum frames and panels made of other materials, such as high-density polyethylene. Because of its light weight, aluminum is a good choice if you have an extra-wide double door; it won’t put as much strain on the operating mechanism.