Choosing the Right Style

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: 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: 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Aluminum: Inexpensive aluminum doors, once common, have largely been replaced by sturdy versions with heavy-duty extruded frames and dent-resistant laminated panels.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.