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Garage Door Buying Guide

Garage Door Image

A garage door is a big investment, adding style and interest to your home. The style, color and condition of the door has a big impact on your home's overall appearance and curb appeal. When shopping for a garage door, consider how you use it. If it's also a workshop, utility room or play area, then you'll need a door with good insulating properties. Here are a few tips to help you choose the best garage door for your home.

Garage Door Sizes

The first thing you must do when selecting a garage door is to determine what size door you need. Garage doors are available to fit virtually any opening. Just measure your opening, and take the measurements to your local Lowe's to get the door you need.

Garage Door Styles

Since garage doors make up a large portion of your home's exterior, the style you choose should complement the rest of your home's exterior. Windows and window panels are one way to add style and your own personal touch to a garage door. Double-paned windows allow natural light in but keep extreme seasonal temperatures out.

Another way is panel design. There are four main panel designs to choose from:

  • Flush panels are flat, slightly textured panels that can be used to complement the surrounding wall area without drawing too much attention to the door itself.

Garage Door Flush Panel

  • Long-raised panels give depth and distinction to the door, while adding to the home's overall appearance.

Garage Door Long Raised Panel

  • Short-raised panels also lend depth to the door. They are excellent additions to Victorian-style homes with intricately detailed trim, the symmetrical facades of colonial-style homes or the strong architectural lines of a Tudor home.

Garage Door Short Raised Panel

  • Painted panels add more pizzazz to plain, raised panels when the sloped portion of the panel is painted in a contrasting color.

Garage Door Painted Panel



Garage Door Construction

Most garage doors are either wood or steel.  Wood garage doors offer a wide variety of options. You can find anything from standard, raised-panel designs to doors that mimic the ornate styles commonly used on the carriage houses of the 18th and 19th centuries. Wood doors are also available in several species, either paint or stain grade.

Steel garage doors are usually more economical than wood doors and are the most common type of garage door. Most manufacturers offer several colors out of the box. You can also paint the door to match your home. There are three distinct types of steel doors to choose from:

Single Layer Garage Doors

Single Layer Garage Doors

Single-layer doors are stamped from a single sheet of galvanized steel. These are usually the most economical of all steel doors.

Double Layer Garage Doors

Double Layer Garage Doors

Double-layer steel doors have a galvanized steel skin on the outside with a thick layer of either polystyrene or polyurethane as a backer. The backer provides soundproofing and additional insulating value to the door.

Triple Layer Garage Doors

Triple Layer Garage Doors

Triple-layer doors are constructed of the same materials as double-layer doors with the addition of a galvanized skin on the inside to protect the polystyrene / polyurethane from damage. The additional layer of steel makes triple-layer doors the strongest, most secure and most soundproof of all garage doors. These are also available with thicker insulation for greater R-value (a measure of thermal resistance).

Garage Function: Workshop or Living Areas

More and more homeowners are using their garages as extensions of their living space: as children's play areas, workshops, hobby areas, laundry rooms and more. As the activity in the garage increases, so does the need to maintain a constant, comfortable temperature in this space.

For the attic, walls and crawl space, you can use the same techniques outlined in our article on home insulation to increase the comfort level in your extended living space. But there is one more, often overlooked, space in your garage where you can increase insulation value and energy efficiency — the garage door. Below are some tips for choosing the right garage door for these purposes.

  • Good insulating qualities. Look for a door with an R-value of at least 3 in moderate to temperate climates. In harsher climates, go up to an R-value of 10.
  • Weather seals between the sections. The seal may be designed into the mating surfaces of the panels, or it may be in the form of gasket material that compresses when the door is closed.
  • A bottom seal / threshold. If the door doesn't come with a bottom seal standard, you can always add one to keep drafts and rain out.

Shop for Garage Doors and Openers

If you have a garage workshop, get the highest R-value you can in the door to make heating and cooling your work space easier.