Which Garage Door Material Is Best?

May 20, 2016

Basic Intro to Garage Door Materials

Deciding to get a new garage door is the easy part—picking the right one for you can be overwhelming, though! At Overhead Door of Knoxville, we are here to help you select the best garage door for your East Tennessee home.

The most important option to consider in choosing a new garage door is what garage door material to use. The material that makes up your garage door will impact appearance, durability, life expectancy, cost, energy efficiency, maintenance, and more.

Our team at Overhead Door of Knoxville wants to equip you with some basic information about the most common options in garage door materials so you can do your homework. Then, you can call us to see samples and review the best possible door for your budget and needs.

Below, you can find some useful pros and cons, things to consider, and cost range for many of these garage door materials.

Types of Garage Door Materials

Steel Garage Doors

The first (and most popular) type of garage door materials is the steel garage door. It has many benefits and may be the most cost effective option available depending on your needs.

The steel door provides a good level of durability for a garage door, though the thinner steel doors are more prone to dents (such as basketballs) than thicker, denser door materials. In addition, steel garage doors typically have lower maintenance needs than other options, however without regular maintenance it will begin rusting.

Regarding looks, there are a variety of styles of the steel garage door, including faux wood and windows, and it can be painted to match the house trim and enhance curb appeal.

Here are some things to consider about steel garage doors that may impact your experience, and ultimately your decision:

  • Steel thickness is measured in gauges, where high numbers indicate thinner garage doors, and low numbers indicate thicker ones.
  • The steel garage door thicknesses range from thin and inexpensive gauges (like 28), to thick and more expensive gauges (like 24), to even thicker commercial-grade gauges.
  • Thin-gauged steel garage doors without windows may be the most inexpensive option available, but it also comes without the performance or aesthetics you might want in your garage door.
  • Steel garage doors are typically poor for insulation. If comfort and energy savings is important to you, consider an insulated garage door.
  • Overall pricing for steel doors is relatively reasonable compared to other options.

Wood Garage Doors

The best option for beauty, quality, and craftsmanship may be the traditional wood garage door.

Wooden garage doors were the first type of garage door material, and to this day they continue to offer the most beautiful impact on the aesthetic appearance of your home. Garage doors made from wood offer a variety of styles, including natural wood stains or painted surfaces, and can include windows.

Wood is a far better insulator than regular steel garage doors, however the insulated steel garage doors provide better insulation performance than their wooden counterparts.

While wood can be a beautiful and warm addition to your home’s garage door, there are a few drawbacks to consider:

  • Wood garage doors require regular maintenance and refinishing for the best longevity and appearance (think of them like furniture outside the home).
  • Painting or staining and water sealing needs to be considered every few years, depending on sun and water exposure.
  • Stained wood finished garage doors tend to cost more, but they do add a lot to the curb appeal of your home.
  • Generally speaking, wood garage doors are more expensive than most garage door materials, but a less expensive wood option is available if you select painted flat hardboard panels for your garage door.

Aluminum Garage Doors

Aluminum garage doors offer many of the features of steel doors with a more modern and sophisticated look and a generally cheaper price tag.

Aluminum doors are relatively maintenance-free and lighter than most garage door materials, so they feature a lower cost of ownership and require less worry. In addition, the finishes on aluminum garage doors typically last longer as well. The appearance of aluminum may be a draw as well, as it offers a variety of colors and finishes–like the popular faux wood textured finish.

The primary downside to using aluminum for your garage door is that it lacks the insulation qualities of other garage door materials, so it is not ideal for locations with extreme temperatures. Aluminum garage doors are also not as durable and are more prone to dings and dents than steel.

Overall, aluminum garage doors provide a variety of aesthetic and maintenance benefits, but aren’t as strong in traditional performance.

Glass Garage Doors

Glass garage doors are very similar to aluminum, as they also provide a sleek and modern appearance for your home.

There a a variety of options and designs for glass, and, like aluminum, garage doors made from glass are relatively maintenance free. Though glass is stronger than aluminum in that it won’t dent, there is the possibility that an object could break a pane of the door, which would increase the repair costs over the life of the door. Like aluminum, glass is a poor insulator and may not be the best option for comfort and energy efficiency in your garage door.

If you are interested in glass, discuss this with our specialists and we can help you with understanding what to expect from the durability of a glass garage door.

Wood Composite Garage Doors

A great option that combines the beauty of the wood garage door with the performance of a steel door is wood composite garage door material.

The wood composite material is made from recycled wood fibers and provides the strength of a steel door with the look and texture of natural wood. It is paintable and stainable, just like a traditional wood garage door, but a wood composite garage door better resists the rotting and splitting that can occur in a natural wood door.

Fiberglass Garage Doors

Lastly, a fiberglass garage door is a versatile garage door material that can also provide a beautiful appearance.

The lightweight fiberglass material is encased in aluminum frames and provides a much greater resistance to dents than thin steel and aluminum alone. It also is more resistant to salt water corrosion that can occur in coastal areas, providing a longer life expectancy than metal doors in the same locations.

Fiberglass garage doors can have the appearance of a wood door, replicating the wood grain of the natural wood without the additional maintenance required by a natural wood garage door. It can also be painted to complement the existing colors of your home.

Though fiberglass requires less maintenance than many garage door materials, it does require application of a clear protectant every few years (depending on the exposure to the sun and elements). Unfortunately, it can fade from this sun exposure. Fiberglass is not great at insulation either, so it won’t provide any comfort or energy saving benefits.

How to Pick the Right Material for You

As you can see, there are quite a few options available for the material of your new garage door, and the price range of them vary based on the performance and aesthetic features they provide.

Basic solid steel doors are the entry level option and provide few benefits. Mid-level doors cost a little more, but also allow for some customization. Custom doors can provide the best appearance and performance and require a much larger investment.

Our recommendation is to prioritize your needs and define your budget range for the project, then talk with us at Overhead Door of Knoxville so we can help make professional recommendations that make the most sense for your needs and your budget.

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