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Purchasing Your First Garage Door

Garage doors come in a variety of styles and materials. If you’re wondering what to know when buying a garage door, this garage door buying guide has answers. To start, you’ll need to take the style, age and location of your house into account. Then, you’ll need to ask yourself some questions about what you’re looking for in a new garage door. The following tips for buying a garage door are designed to help you answer those questions.

What Are the Reasons to Buy a New Garage Door?

When buying a garage door for the first time, you need to consider the purpose of your investment. Are you replacing the current door out of necessity, or do you just want a fancier door than the one you have now?

In the former case, you should consider the reasons the current door needs to be replaced, whether the issue comes down to rust, rot or damage. Your main priority should be to find a door that will not fall into a similar state during the years you remain at your residence. Even if you’re just looking for a change of style, consider the following three factors as you make your selection.

1. Practicality

One of the main motivating factors behind any home-improvement undertaking is practicality. After all, the pieces that comprise your home are in place to keep you warm, comfortable and secure. As the largest entryway to your home, a garage door should provide you with all three qualities.

To ensure your next garage door is a practical fit for your home, consider the material of the panels in addition to the dimensions and cost. Ideally, you should have a door that will insulate your home and withstand the elements. Moreover, the door should be stable enough to withstand the impact of bumps and resist any possible break-in attempts.

2. Durability

Most people make the purchase of a new garage door out of necessity. After all, the typical homeowner doesn’t even give much thought to their garage door until it starts to malfunction or show signs of damage. While the former issue is typically a matter of garage-opener replacement, the latter generally means it’s time for a new door.

If your current door no longer works or needs to be repaired, ask yourself how it happened. Is the door made of a material that generally requires maintenance it did not receive? Is it made of a material that lacked the durability needed for climate factors in your area? If you can avoid this problem with a different type of garage door, let that information guide your decision. 

3. Novelty

While not the most common of reasons to buy a new garage door, some people replace their doors to add an element of novelty to their exterior facades. If you’re more into a unique or modern look, an antique-looking door might not suit the theme. For example, a conventional wooden door with windows might be ill-suited for a more modern house.

Some people buy new garage doors so they can have more options when it comes to color. Perhaps your current door is metal or vinyl, yet you wish to paint the door with some bright or dark hue of paint? Whatever the case, just make sure novelty does not supplant the essential qualities of practicality and durability when you purchase your next garage door.

What Is the Best Garage Door Material?

If this will be your first-time purchase of a garage door, you need to find out what material will best suit the climate of your region, as well as the safety and insulation of your household. Some materials have the advantage regarding savings, while others offer more aesthetic appeal and stylistic options. Your ultimate choice should take curb appeal and practicality into equal consideration. Garage doors are typically made of the following four materials.

1. Steel 

Steel is a reliable, affordable option for residential garage doors. As one of the world’s most durable materials, steel doors are durable and require little maintenance. Moreover, steel allows for a plurality of style options — you could have a thin, single-layer door or a thicker, double-layer door.

However, steel also has its drawbacks. The main enemy of steel is rust, which is caused by moisture deposits and water exposure. If water evaporates onto a steel panel, rust can take root along the surface and spread like weeds. In its most concentrated spots, rust can eat right through a metal panel. You can also dent steel if you happen to bump the door with your automobile. Plus, insulation is not one of steel’s best qualities, which could make it more expensive to keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

Given its pros and cons, steel is an affordable option, but not too practical if you live in a damp or cold climate.

2. Aluminum

Aluminum is a durable material with similar properties to steel. Like all types of metal, aluminum is sturdy and reliable as a basis for the panels in a garage door. Aluminum is also an affordable material — more so than steel, in fact — and therefore suitable for homeowners on a budget.

Unlike steel, aluminum does not easily corrode due to the oxide within the chemical makeup of aluminum, which regenerates naturally. Therefore, aluminum doors can usually weather any exposure they receive in wet climates.

On the downside, aluminum is slightly weaker than steel and thus easier to dent unless a garage door made of the former consists of insulated double-paneling. Insulation is essential with aluminum doors, which otherwise do a poor job of keeping interiors protected from the flow of outside temperatures. Consequently, the low cost of an aluminum door can lead to high heating bills in colder parts of the country.

3. Vinyl

Garage doors made of vinyl are generally sturdy and therefore ideal in areas with harsh weather patterns. The surface of vinyl is resilient and rust-proof. As such, the effects of rain, hail and snowfall are of no consequence to vinyl garage doors. Even if you accidentally hit a vinyl door with the bumper of your automobile, the impact is unlikely to leave any dents.

Vinyl, however, can also be a costly option. The color selection of vinyl garage doors also tends to be limited. Consequently, vinyl is not a typical choice among homeowners on a budget or anyone looking for a door to match a unique color scheme.

4. Wood

When it comes to garage doors on residential properties, wood is the most time-honored option. As one of the world’s oldest building materials, wood structures tend to last through the ages if well-preserved. That’s why you see some homes with wooden garage doors that were installed decades beforehand. Wood is also a versatile material that can add to the visual appeal and market value of a residential property. Over time, you can treat wood with finishes to enhance its natural appeal or painted in a variety of colors.

Wood is a high-maintenance material. If not properly treated — and retreated periodically — would is vulnerable to rot when exposed to harsh, wet weather. As such, wood is not the most durable option for homeowners that cannot or will not maintain a garage door as needed.

As a wood alternative, composite wood will give you all the insulation and stylistic options of the real thing, without being prone to water rot or cracking.

What Types of Garage Doors Are Best for Inclement Weather?

When the weather in your area goes through harsh patterns, the effect on your garage door could depend on the panel material. While some materials are better in inclement weather than others, each material has its strengths and weaknesses. More than anything, garage doors must be able to withstand two particular weather conditions.

1. Winter Freeze

Garage door opening systems are programmed to be sensitive toward any foreign matter. Consequently, the buildup of gunk within the tracks or underside can cause a door to reverse course when you prompt it to close. Unfortunately, gunk can form unbeknownst to you if the oils that lubricate the movement of your door manage to freeze in subzero weather.

Overall, garage doors made of wood and composite wood offer the best protection against freezing conditions. Wood provides better insulation than metal to the garage interior, which can help you insulate your living quarters and save money on your electrical bill during subzero temperatures.

2. Water Damage

Water can have a corrosive effect on certain garage doors — steel is the most vulnerable type in this regard. Water can also have a detrimental impact on untreated wooden garage doors. The garage door types with the best water resistance are those made of aluminum, vinyl and composite wood.

Should I Spend More or Less on a Garage Door?

The amount of money you invest in a garage door will in part determine the level of quality you can get, providing you buy from an honest, reputable seller. While maintenance and upkeep are also essential factors in the durability of a garage door, the material itself will determine what types of maintenance are necessary.

1. Longevity

Most people only buy two or three garage doors throughout their entire lives. As such, a garage door is a long-term investment. As with most long-term investments, you’re paying for something intended to last for 20 years or more. However, only certain types of garage doors will give you that degree of longevity.

For example, if you see yourself living at your current residence for the next 15 years — slightly beyond the average residential occupancy of most American homeowners — and hope to make your purchase of a garage door last throughout that time and beyond, wood or composite wood are likely your best options. So, you’ll need to keep the door adequately maintained with touch-ups and recoats every few years.

2. Affordability

When it comes to home improvement, you get what you pay for. If you’re willing to invest extra money, you will likely get a longer-lasting product. However, not all homeowners are in the market for top-of-the-line options. A wood garage door, after all, can run well into the four-figure range.

If, for example, you have set an $800 to $1000 cap on your new garage door, you might have to go for an insulated, double-layer steel or aluminum garage door. If you live in a relatively dry environment, steel could be a suitable option, though you should still have the surface coated to protect against rust. If you live in a rainy area, rust-proof aluminum would be the better of the metal options.

Should I Get a Customized Garage Door?

For some homeowners, a distinct exterior façade is one of the more enjoyable aspects of owning a property. Whether you have unique design tastes or want your house to stand apart from the neighboring homes in your community, a unique garage door can complete the transformation.

While there are various looks to the pre-designed garage doors on the market, some people have their own concepts of the ideal door. Whether you want a unique color or window scheme, customization could be a worthwhile route, as long as you’re willing to spend the money. You might even want a door that opens up in a different way. In general, there are two primary areas where you can really customize the look of your new door.

1. Windows

Windows are a beneficial feature for just about any garage door. In addition to their aesthetic appeal, windows bring natural light into your garage. The added light can come in very convenient if you use the space as a workshop during the daytime.

For all their advantages, however, windows can also weaken the insulation of your garage door unless measures are taken to make them airtight around the edges. To that end, the best option is to pay the extra amount for insulated glass, which will help protect your garage — and your whole house, in turn — from the coldness of winter.

2. Opening Style

While most of today’s garage doors are of the roll-up variety, this has not always been the case. On certain older homes, earlier design styles such as the sliding or swing door can still be found. Some of today’s homeowners even prefer these older options, which include the following.

  • Swing-Out Door: These consist of two doors that open outward from the middle. This can be a convenient option for homeowners who prefer to use the ceiling space in their garages for other purposes than a door track and opening unit. However, you must provide driveway clearance before you activate the opening switch.
  • Slide-Up Door:This consists of one or two doors that slide up and out of the way to allow vehicles to pass underneath. With the slide-up door, you free the attic space within your garage without having to clear room on your driveway just to activate the door.
  • Swing-Up Door: Like the roll-up but without the bend panels, the swing-up door consists of a single panel that rises to a 90° angle and slides into the garage ceiling to allow the passage of your vehicle.

Of course, most of today’s homeowners do prefer the conventional roll-up door because it folds into the ceiling without consuming any space as it moves. In addition to being the safest option, roll-up doors are the easiest to integrate with automatic opening systems.

Garage Door Products From AE Door & Window

A garage door is one of the most important investments you can make for your home — it also is a home improvement project with a significant return-on-investment. To make sure your new door is installed correctly, leave the job to a licensed professional. For garage door installations in the greater Cincinnati area, turn to AE Door & Window. Check out our garage door collections and request a quote today.



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