Garage doors, if maintained properly, can last around 10 to 15 years, a life time spent going up and down and up and down—until they don’t. While shopping for a garage door isn’t the most exciting task for home owners, as lots of factors are to be considered in it. It may seem extensive, but a garage door is a huge purchase that can affect your family’s safety and peace of mind. Not only that, but a garage door also contributes in your house’s overall aesthetic appeal. Plus, a recent study by Remodeling Magazine shows that a quality garage door will provide a significant return on investment, ranging up to 75 percent. Whether you are remodeling to sell or simply hoping to update a dinosaur of a garage door for your own convenience and well-being, here are some key tips that can help you in choosing the right one.
Do You Really Need a New Door?
Before you pull out your wallet, you need to make sure that your garage door needs to be replaced, and not repaired. Like any squeaky door, a noisy garage door may need lubrication or some loose parts replaced. In colder areas, ice on your garage door’s tracks may cause difficulties in opening it. However, once the track is cleared of any obstacles it should work fine. You may need to replace the torsion springs that counter balance your garage door, if they’ve worn out with time. Furthermore, a new garage door opener might be in order if you have consistent difficulties opening and closing the door. Lastly, issues with cold or hot air leaking into your house via the garage can easily be fixed by insulating your garage door.
There are some major issues that warrant replacing your garage door, however. The number one reason, of course, is safety. Garage doors can be very heavy, and one crashing down at the wrong time could spell serious injury, or worse, for pets or family members. If you suspect that your garage is a safety concern, replacement is by far the best option. Similarly, age and security concerns, as well as aesthetic concerns, are perfectly valid reasons to switch out your door for a better model.
What’s Your Budget?
Let’s face it, buying a garage door is quite a grand purchase. The actual cost, however, will depend on a number of factors. Plan ahead for decorative or functional extras such as handles. Additionally, be aware that you can also replace parts of the garage door, if the model doesn’t match with your preferred design and style. Generally, home improvement stores will offer lower prices, typically under $400 for a one car garage door and under $500 USD for a two-car garage door. An installed door may be double the price, so make sure to budget accordingly. Similarly, check that any quoted price you receive includes extras, such as the new tracks.
Installation by professionals will also cost extra, but will ensure the quality and future functioning of your door. If you buy a model from a hardware store with easy-to-handle installation, you can always try to tackle the job yourself. But, for any more complex replacement, repairs or installation procedures, calling in the professionals at OKDiscountGarageDoor.com will best ensure you get the most bang for your buck. Furthermore, having a professional do the job will likely save you time and money on repair and maintenance down the road, and they may have helpful advice about how to keep your new garage doors in mint condition.
An added cost may include your garage door opener. If your chosen replacement is the same weight as your old door and the opener is already operating without issues, you should be able to continue using the same one. If you’ve had any problems in the past, or if you opted for a considerably heavier door, a new opener is likely in order. Fortunately, any modifications you make now, however costly, will increase the value of your home when selling time comes around.
What Size Do You Need?
As car size and family car needs have increased over the years, so has the average size of garages. The first garages were in fact modified horse barns, and they’ve evolved into our modern day one, two or three car garages. The garage door you choose depends a lot on the size of your garage, as well as the number of cars you own. Today’s standard is typically 9 feet wide and 7 feet tall, but for larger vehicles the standard is 10 feet by 8 feet. A smaller garage fitting past standards could be a sign that your garage door is outdated and should be replacing it.
If you choose to have a professional install your garage door, they’ll likely suggest an ideal door size when they bid for the job. Individuals with larger trucks or multi-car garages will likely need something out of the ordinary size-wise. However, if your existing garage is too small, you may need to upgrade the entire space instead of just the door. Reducing the size of your garage door opening is a relatively simple operation, but increasing it will more likely require enlarging the garage itself. If you’ve the budget for it, in terms of space and money, you might even consider turning a too-small garage into living space and build a separate garage that better fits your desired specifications. Detached garages can also be beneficial in some instances.
Choosing the Right Material
There are a number of different materials used for garage doors, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. The most common are the following:
- Steel: The most popular option for garage doors, steel is inexpensive, durable, and low maintenance. It’s easy to repaint and style to fit your house’s façade. Unfortunately, steel is a poor insulator and can be quite noisy. Consider getting insulated doors (doors with a higher “R value”) to help increase energy efficiency and decrease noise. Having insulated steel doors makes them even more energy efficient than any other options. It’ll help keep your garage (and by extension, your house) cooler in summer and warmer in winter. Steel can also be dented easily, which is an important consideration if you’ve kids who like to play basketball or soccer in the driveway.
- Aluminum: Aluminum is similar to steel, as it can easily be painted and can even be given faux-wood texturing. It’s generally even lighter and less expensive, but is not a durable material as it dents easily. However, aluminum’s resistance to rust and corrosion makes it a good choice for humid coastal regions.
- Wood: Nothing matches the warmth and aesthetic appeal that wood doors bring to a home! Wooden garage doors are definitely a top choice, aesthetically. It can also be fitted with windows. While they tend to be quite sturdy, they’re also an expensive option and require more maintenance than a metal door. Wood doors will likely have to be repainted or re-stained every few years, and they may be susceptible to rot. Painted wood with flat panels is typically cheaper than stain grade wood, but doesn’t have the same curbside appeal.
- Wood Composite: A good alternative to regular wood doors is the wood composite. Made of recycled wood fiber, wood composite has the strength of steel and the appearance of wood, while at the same time being more resistant to rot.
- Fiberglass: A relatively rare option, fiberglass is light and not too durable, but is easily painted and highly resistant to corrosion. Fiberglass doors can be reinforced with aluminum to increase their durability.
Buying a garage door may seem easy and a straightforward task. As the garage door is apparently a purely utilitarian purchase, but, whether you realize it or not, your garage door makes a big statement. After all, it can cover almost one-third to half of the façade of your house, and an outdated or poorly matched garage door will stick out like a sore thumb. Wooden doors are clearly the best choice aesthetically, but a well painted steel or aluminum door can also look quite elegant. A prefinished door that matches your house’s color scheme is an easy solution, but a steel or aluminum option can easily be repainted. A good rule of thumb is to match the color you choose with the trim around your windows and doors. Check the manufacturer’s instructions when choosing which paint to use, so that you can be sure your painting won’t void the warranty.
The addition of windows has a pretty profound effect on the overall look of your garage door. Furthermore, the addition of a trim or a decorative arch above the door can better help it blend in with the rest of your house. Generally, you’ll want to make sure that the aesthetic of the doors you choose match your house’s aesthetic. You don’t want a sleek, futuristic garage door on an old-style colonial house, nor do you want something that looks like a barn door on the front of your modernist home. If you can’t quite picture things while shopping, many manufacturers offer visualization tools that will help you make the decision. Don’t forget that many external aesthetic features, such as trimming and handles, can be switched out if they don’t quite fit the style you’re seeking.
Depending on crime rates in your area, security may be a major reason behind your decision to replace an outdated garage door. Many people store valuable belongings in their garage, and the door between your house and the garage can be a major security issue if the garage door itself is not secure. Sturdy garage doors, especially roller, sectional, or up and over doors offer much higher security ratings than wooden doors, though they may not be as attractive. You can ask your salesperson or manufacturer about automation and locking as well, to make sure the model you’re buying closes securely.
As mentioned earlier, insulation for your garage door is important if you live in harsher climates with cold winters or hot summers. If you live in areas that experience high winds, however, you’ll want to opt for wind-rated doors. These are especially made to bear heavier wind loads, especially in areas that frequently experience hurricanes. Apart from resisting damage themselves, this kind of door will prevent wind damage within your house, as garage doors are typically a point of weakness to strong winds.
Your options don’t end at home improvement stores! Make sure to shop around online and with manufacturers. Check the warranty for each model, as they’ll differ from door to door. Even once you’ve found the perfect model, find different retailers and compare prices. It’s possible that local retailers may be willing to match the lower prices you find elsewhere, so it pays to do your research well!
Keeping Your New Garage Door in Shape
Finally, once you have made your purchase, the next step is making sure your new garage door will last. If you opted for a professional to do the installation, they may recommend maintenance practices, whereas if you did the installation yourself, refer to the manufacturer’s instructions. Wooden doors will need regular repainting or re-staining, and in sunny coastal areas, even a painted steel or aluminum doors will need more upkeep to ward off fading or peeling paint and rust. Make sure to keep the tracks clear, and replace any worn torsion spring on a regular basis. Lastly, keep an eye on the garage door opener to make sure it’s running smoothly and your new door should last for a long time!
While shopping around for a new garage door can seem like a daunting task, you’ll quickly discover that it has a positive impact on your peace of mind and security when you find a good one. And that goes without mentioning the aesthetic appeal and return on investment. Regardless, coming home to a new garage door may even feel like coming home to an entirely new house!