The right garage door can have a huge impact on your home’s looks. Since a garage door often takes up a lot of the front of your home, upgrading the door can improve your home’s curb appeal and increase your selling price.
It’s no surprise that a garage door replacement is considered one of the most high-value home remodels. The average amount that a homeowner recoups on the cost of the remodel is 87% of the garage door replacement.
Increased curb appeal and more selling power are just two of the reasons that many homeowners like this repair. In a survey done by the National Association of Realtors in 2015, garage door replacements rated a 9.5 out of 10 on their Joy Scale by homeowners. The scale ranges from 1 (not worth it) to 10 (best investment).
But how do you pick the right garage door?
Read on to find out more about how to choose a garage door.
The Four Types of Garage Doors
One of the biggest differences in garage doors is the opening mechanism. It’s also one of the first decisions you’ll need to make. Garage doors can open up, swing out or slide sideways. Choosing which one you want depends on the size of your garage door opening, the height of your garage ceiling and what’s positioned in front of and to the sides of your garage.
Roll Up Doors
Roll up garage doors do just that: A track mechanism helps to roll the door along the garage ceiling, where it’s out of the way. Because of their convenience, roll up doors are one of the most popular styles of garage doors.
The majority of roll up garage doors consist of five to eight horizontal panels, which creates the flexibility needed for the door to roll properly. They are usually called sectional doors.
There are two other types of doors that use the same rolling track mechanism: Slide up garage doors and rolling garage doors.
Slide up doors contain just one section. They lack the flexibility of sectional garage doors. These doors retract partially into the garage. Most slide up door mechanisms leave about one third of the door jutting out.
Finally, roll up doors can be made of many narrow horizontal panels. These rolling doors are like sectional doors, but have many more sections. They tend to roll more tightly and smoothly than sectional doors.
Swing Up Garage Doors
The swing up (or tilt up) garage door is less common than rolling doors. The majority of these doors are fairly old, and it’s difficult to find new hardware for the sliding mechanism.
Like slide up doors, garage doors that swing up are made of a single panel. Unlike slide up doors, most of the door juts out when the garage is opened. The extra space needed to open the door comes with benefits, though. Because the track mechanism is positioned at the side of the garage door opening, your garage usually has much higher headspace than those with roll up garage doors.
Swing Out Garage Doors
Swing out garage doors are often called carriage doors. These garage doors consist of two panels that meet in the center. Hinges on either side allow the doors to swing open.
Because of their history, carriage garage doors are usually seen as classic and elegant. They’re good for wide garage door openings, because the weight of the door is distributed into two different panels.
Although less common, swing out doors can take other forms, as well. Accordion doors contain multiple panels, but fold to one side. Like other swing out doors, hardware is mounted on the side instead of along an overhead track. Folding doors usually contain from four to eight panels.
Slide Sideways Garage Doors
Sliding garage doors can be a good choice if you have lots of space around the garage door opening, and prefer a relatively flat profile. Many people choose them because of their space-saving structure.
These doors are mounted on a heavy track above the garage door opening. The door slides along the side of the house when opened, leaving lots of room both inside and outside. Sliding doors can have one or two panels. If you choose a two-panel model, you’ll have more flexibility. These doors can split to slide open on either side of the garage opening, or bypass each other for a more compact look.
Choosing the Right Material for Garage Door
Because garage doors are such a prominent part of your home’s profile, it’s no surprise that people choose the material for a garage door carefully.
Most modern garage doors are made of wood, steel or aluminum. However, garage doors don’t need to be made of a single material. It’s common to make the frame from one material, and the panels from another. This technique allows door manufacturers to include insulation. It’s also a common technique to strengthen garage doors to meet hurricane or high wind standards.
- Classic appearance
- High return on investment
Wood garage doors give homes a warm authenticity. Because they have a wide range of potential designs, wood doors give homeowners the most flexibility. Whether you’re looking for a garage door for a cottage, a contemporary home or a classic home, you can probably find a wood door that matches your style.
Wood garage doors come in two styles: Wooden frames and panels, or doors with a wooden skin. True wooden frame and panel doors are usually heavier. These types of doors are often made with high-quality, appearance-grade wood.
Wooden skinned doors usually have a wood frame and a central layer of insulation. A hardwood skin is then wrapped over the frame. These garage doors are lighter than solid wood doors, but are also quite durable. If you’re concerned about energy efficiency in your garage, these insulated doors may be a good choice.
Both styles can be painted or stained to maintain look of natural wood. If you’re planning to stain your doors instead of paint them, make sure that the door is made of high-quality wood. Panels should be made of solid wood rather than wood strips. This will allow the stain to be absorbed evenly.
Wood doors do have a few downsides, however.
The maintenance requirements of a wooden door are higher than those of other doors. Expect to refinish your door regularly. If you live in a damp climate, you may find that maintaining a wooden door takes significant work.
Second, the warranty on a wooden door is short. A one-year warranty isn’t uncommon for wooden garage doors. By contrast, a steel or aluminum door can sometimes carry a lifetime warranty.
- Low maintenance
Most steel doors are constructed from a steel frame filled with insulation, then wrapped in a steel skin. They tend to be moderately heavy, and available at a wide variety of price points. Many homeowners like steel doors because they have very low maintenance needs, yet are fairly durable.
Like wood, steel garage doors come in many different styles. One of the most popular styles is a wood grained panel. The surface of each panel has a natural wood grain panel, which makes a steel garage door resemble a painted wooden door. This allows homeowners to get the natural appearance of wood without the high maintenance.
Steel garage doors are often used on modern and midcentury homes. Contemporary homes often use modern panels, which lie flush with one another, and don’t contain any windows. By contrast, midcentury homes like the classic ranch house are well suited to steel garage doors inset with a row of decorative windows.
Although steel is fairly durable, door panels dent more easily than those in wooden doors. Also, scratches in the paint will need to be touched up quickly to prevent the door from rusting. If you choose steel doors, look for a lower gauge, like 24 or 25-gauge steel. It’s thicker than the more common 27 or 28-gauge steel.
- Good for wide garage doors
Aluminum is one of the most versatile choices. Because it’s lightweight and doesn’t dent easily, aluminum is a good choice for wide openings or slide out doors. If your door has an overhead track, a lightweight aluminum door won’t put much pressure on it.
There’s a wide range in quality in aluminum doors. To find a high-quality one, look for a heavy-duty frame and dent-resistant panels. Make sure that the insulation within the door has a high R-value.
Aluminum doors can have aluminum panels or a plastic/polyethylene skin. Aluminum panels can be a lower-weight alternative to steel panels. They offer many of the same styles, and can be slightly more durable.
Plastic, vinyl or polyethylene doors are sometimes associated with low quality. If you use these materials, look for a durable door that contains a UV-resistant additive. This will help it keep from fading in the sun.
Customizing Your Door with Details and Decorative Finishes
There are many other ways to customize your garage door. These decorative touches can add to your curb appeal, and help your garage door blend in with the style of your home.
Panel design is the most noticeable feature of most garage door styles. Many garage doors have a simple flush face. Others use a grooved panel design, which has small grooves between flat panels.
However, there are many ways to upgrade your garage door panels. For mid-century homes, consider traditional garage doors with a classic raised panel or ranch panel design. Raised panel designs break up the expanse of the garage door with three raised rectangular panels placed horizontally across each of the structural panels.
Carriage house panels are another choice that will give your home an upscale appearance. This style has two side-by-side panels that resemble old-fashioned carriage doors. It’s common for these panels to be made of (or resemble) wood, and to have handles and other decorative hardware that add to the appearance. True carriage doors will swing out to open. However, roll up or tilt up garage doors are often designed in a carriage door style.
Finally, consider a ribbed panel design for your garage door. Ribbed panels have a sleek, modern appearance that’s well-suited to contemporary homes. They’re made of narrow horizontal panels that are usually flush with one another. Natural wood, steel, glass or a combination of materials are all common choices for ribbed garage doors.
You may be considering adding windows to your garage door to improve lighting or add a view. The right windows can make your garage into a pleasant workspace and create a dramatic impression.
The most dramatic windows are the all-glass panels found in some contemporary homes. These doors are windows in a light aluminum frame, and provide full visibility. Clear, tinted and mirrored glass are all possibilities.
A row of decorative window inserts replacing one panel on your garage door is more common. If you’d like a view from your garage, consider placing your windows in the third panel from the bottom. If you’d like light, but would like to maintain your privacy, place them in the top panel.
Decorative windows are usually rectangular or arched. You could also consider a sunburst pattern, in which all of the windows curve gradually to form a single arch.
Specialty windows can be more complex. These options include wrought iron and lead inlays. The patterns in these windows can be quite dramatic: Leaded solitaire and marquise patterns have detailed inlays in them.
If you’re considering decorative windows, consider whether their primary function is increasing light in the garage or boosting curb appeal. To increase light, consider simpler silhouettes with few inlays. If your primary focus is improving your curb appeal, both specialty windows and simpler silhouettes can work.
Paint and Finishes
Color is one of the most dramatic ways to make a statement with your garage door. It’s also one of the easiest ways to change up the look of your current door. As a general rule, the wider your garage door, the more dramatic the impact.
If your home is beige or grey, consider a white garage door. White is often used to brighten up neutral colors. So it’s no surprise that white garage doors are one of the most popular colors.
White can also be a good choice for brick houses. That’s because the white will brighten up a brick exterior and make your home look lighter.
If you’d like your garage door to blend in, consider painting your garage door the same color as your home. This will help the door blend in to your home and allow other details to stand out.
You can also use contrast to make your garage door stand out. If your home is white or light colored, look for a contrasting color to make a statement with your door. Cool shades like blue and green tend to make a bold and sophisticated statement. Warm browns and reds can warm up the exterior of your home.
Many homeowners use decorative hardware to create visual interest on wide garage doors. On some styles, like carriage doors, this hardware is fundamental to the design. Consider whether you need — or want — decorative hardware on your garage door.
Common hardware options include:
- Functional or decorative hinges
- Decorative studs and clavos
Hardware can be purchased as part of a door, or added afterwards. Using hardware that’s a similar color or material in your front door and gates can help to tie together the facade. When choosing decorative hardware, make sure that it matches both the overall design of the door, and that of any nearby doors and gates.