Friends of mine were recently trying to decide about getting a new garage door. It’s one of those things you really don’t think about until you start to think about it. Of course ever since I’ve obsessively looked at garage doors whenever I drive around any neighborhoods. I also did a bunch of research about doors and garage door openers. My friends finally decided on new garage doors and couldn’t be happier. They also made their door opening taller to accommodate bigger vehicles just in case they get one in the future. This was a smart move since many older homes have smaller garages that can’t hold todays bigger cars. So, is getting a new garage door worth it?
Spoiler Alert! A new garage door can give your whole house a new and improved look. It can save energy and improve resale value. Here are a bunch of things to consider during this process.
Reasons to Get a New Garage Door
1-The Old One is Broken
This is the age old dilemma. Should you fix it or replace it? Unless your door is pretty new to begin with, you should replace it. Your door is probably old, which is why it broke. New doors are soooo much better. The sound of your garage door breaking is the sound of opportunity knocking.
2-The Old One is Unsightly
An ugly garage door can spoil the rest of your house. Maybe you bought a house and the previous owners had peculiar tastes or the design that seemed in at the time (at least to them) is just not a good fit for the rest of the house.
In any case, if the garage door sticks out in a bad way that’s a very good reason to change it.
3-It Improves the Appearance of Your Whole Home
A nice garage door however can give even a modest house a little face lift. Consider this: most garages face front and take up 30% or more of the frontage of the house. That 30% can either enhance or detract. Best to make it an asset rather than a liability right?
It should be in keeping with the overall style of the home and elevate that style.
4-The Old One is Noisy or Sagging
Is one side lower than the other? That’s not a great sign. One of the springs is weakening to the point where it can’t hold up the door properly. If your door is really old (20-30 years) give yourself the gift of a new door.
Do all your neighbors know you are coming home at 1am because the door is rattling off its hinges? Do everyone a favor.
5-Your Garage is Uncomfortable
Why does the garage seem 20 degrees hotter than the outside in the summer and 20 degrees colder in the winter? The sun pounds on it all day long and the gaps and lack of insulation let the cold air in in the winter.
If you have an attached garage, this has a compound effect. It makes your house more expensive to heat and cool. This is especially true if you have a room above the garage.
Get a new quality insulated door. It will have a better fit along the edges, top and bottom as well as between the sections.
Quality doors will also come with weatherstripping and a bottom strip.
This should reduce your energy costs.
6-You are Moving
Getting a new garage door is one of the few high return improvements you can make. So if you have a questionable garage door replacing it is a better option than repairing it.
It leads to an ROI of 85%-90% (even higher in western states) according to realtors. It also increases curb appeal and should have the effect of a reduced time on market.
7-Increased Home Value
Even if you are not selling, a new door increases the value of your home. An added benefit is that it makes your home nicer for you. Now. While you are still living there.
Garage doors come in a price range of fairly reasonable to downright crazy seeming. Be prepared to spend between $700-$4000 and up (and by up I mean up). The national average is somewhere on the higher $3,000 end. These costs don’t include additional labor. Additional labor would be making your garage wider or taller or additional framing that would be needed.
Obviously the budget will reflect the size of your wallet but it will also reflect the outcome you desire. For instance if you are selling you might just go with a reasonable door for a decent price. If you plan to live with it for a while I would get the best that you can afford. A good garage door may just out last you.
If you live in a four season environment get good insulation. The money you save in the long run on heating and cooling could more than make up for the upfront cost.
Likewise different materials have different price points but the cost of ownership over time can really have an impact. For instance wood can be beautiful but it needs constant upkeep to keep it that way.
This is Not a DIY Project
Honestly. I’m all for doing things on my own and saving money and having the pride of looking at the work I’ve done. This isn’t one of those projects. First of all you’re not saving that much money. The installation part is only a few hundred dollars (yeah I know money is money) but it’s worth it to have installers come in and do in 4-5 hours what would take me all day or more to do. It’s a ton of work and lots of parts.
On top of that, winding the torsion spring can be dangerous and needs special tools. In fact according to this study there were 1610 DIY garage related incidents in one year alone. Don’t be a statistic.
Another good reason to use a professional installer is that they will haul away your old door. That’s worth the price of admission right there if you ask me.
Also if there is a problem you have someone to call and they’re responsible for fixing it. This is a big investment, don’t be a hero.
Design Your Doors Online Before You Go Shopping
Technology is amazing. Nowadays I can go online and see what my glasses will look like before you order them on the website or see what that Ikea furniture will look like in my room without leaving the house.
It may not come as a surprise that you can see what your new garage doors will look like on your house before you buy them. It’s pretty cool and makes shopping for garage doors kinda fun. It certainly takes the guesswork out of the process that’s for sure.
Unless you are going for custom doors, here are some big names you should be aware of. Also some of these companies like Wayne-Dalton do custom work as well.
I added some brief info about the companies below but don’t get too hung up on the brand. Find the door you like with the features you want and realize that not all brands will have dealers in your area.
Bottom line is that these are all really good manufacturers so you really can’t go too wrong picking one of them.
Your mission here is to settle on some styles and know what features you want. Many manufacturers have a similar door to other brands so again don’t get too brand specific yet.
This was a very easy to use web app that made it easy to see what garage doors were going to look like. Probably the best in terms of usability.
They’ve been making garage doors since 1964 and have been in business since the mid 1800’s. They have a wide variety of consumer/residential doors as well as commercial entrances. They have a vast network of dealers across the USA.
Be prepared to download software to make this work. I used my iPad (smart move on their part to make it available like that) and it worked well.
They’ve been in business since 1954 and have a vast selection of residential garage doors. They also make commercial doors. They also make custom handmade wood garage doors manufactured by artisans in Ohio and Washington.
The web app is perhaps a little less refined than the Clopay one but it works just fine for me.
They’ve been making commercial and residential garage doors and entrances since 1944. They are innovators in the garage door industry and boast many firsts in the industry. They originated the “as long as you own your home” warranty which is copied by most manufacturers today.
C.H.I. Overhead Doors
Perhaps less intuitive than the rest just realize that you can press the “view on home button” on the bottom left before you do anything else. Also it’s not always obvious why you can’t advance to the next set of features.
Made their first garage doors in 1981. They may be young but they also make very good products. My friend Toby wound up getting their doors and are very happy with them.
All in all don’t judge the companies too harshly based on their “design a door” apps. They all work but they all have their quirks. Use it as it should be used, to get an idea of what you want and don’t want.
Shop Around Locally
Once you’ve settled on a few designs that fit your style and budget you should look around locally for a reputable dealer. Most of the big brands have a way of locating authorized dealers and installers. There may also be independent garage door companies that have a relationship with the big manufacturers. They may be able to sell and install more than one brand. Some dealers may sell some brands but not others.
Your final choice may be a blend of the installers you feel most comfortable with and the best doors they sell that meet your criteria.
Have the Seller or Installer Come Out to Look
This is crucial. They can measure and look and see if there are any potential problems. They may have ideas that could save you money or make the project nicer.
Mainly they will take accurate measurements. If anything is inaccurate it will be on them and not on you. That is the key.
Also if you want to enlarge or make any changes to your garage door opening this is the time to see what that will cost. You may also need to add some framing or little niceties.
Don’t be afraid to get a few quotes.
There are many materials better than wood
For the longest time wood was the king of garage doors. Now, not so much. Wood can look beautiful but really nice wood is expensive and it requires upkeep. Painting, staining etc.. Plus it expands and contracts and can warp.
There are many other choices:
- Wood Composites
Steel is probably the most popular choice. Steel won’t rust but it may fade over time depending on the finish and the amount of sun it gets. It is generally strong but if you get a single wall door make sure you go with a 24 gauge steel to prevent denting.
You can also get a double wall door that has a nice finish on the inside of the garage. That can definitely make the garage look a lot better. It also allows for pre-installed insulation.
If you live where there are four seasons I think insulation is worth it. In fact I would say that upgrading from the polystyrene to the polyurethane insulation is kind of a no brainer. Polyurethane has about twice the R value (R17/R18) than polystyrene and only adds about 20% to the cost.
The other great thing about steel is the enormous variety of styles and finishes. Many are very realistic wood-like finishes that are permanently adhered to the door. Most of the manufacturers warranty the finish for as long as you own the home.
Look for quality doors that have weather stripping, top strips and door bottom bubble that conforms to the floor and weather seals between the sections.
Fiberglass is a good choice for warm coastal areas. Where salty air can corrode steel. It is light and can have an interesting translucent quality. It doesn’t insulate well and can break somewhat easily especially in cold weather. It usually has some form of metal frame and can be a two walled door and may also be pre-insulated. It can also yellow with age although new technology has made that less of a problem.
Like steel aluminum is rust resistant and can be styled in a variety of ways. It is less strong than steel and is therefore less dent resistant. It also does not insulate well so even an insulated aluminum door has a lower R value than its steel counterpart.
Aluminum and Glass
Aluminum and glass has that awesome modern look that just makes some houses pop. Use with caution though. It’s certainly not right for every house and may look out of place on your classic colonial or farm house.
It comes in varying degrees of transparency and colors including a reflective mirror finish.
It is a pretty tough material but keep in mind that glass breaks.
Wood is the classic garage door material. Honestly it can be totally beautiful. If you have the wherewithal to keep up wood then by all means go for it.
The benefits are that you can make custom doors that are perfect for your home. So if you need or want a custom door then wood is your go to material. Also it won’t dent but it can chip crack and fray. Also make sure to ask if the panels are a single piece of wood or two pieces edge glued together. The latter can start to show seams over time.
If you absolutely must have wood be prepared to keep up with painting and staining etc.
Vinyl is said to be child proof. It is light and won’t rot. It is impervious to insects and above all it resists denting. The bad thing is that it can look like vinyl but it’s getting better. Choose double walled insulated (polyurethane) for the best performance.
5 Worthwhile Upgrades
If you’re like me you always second guess the add-ons. It always seems like a way to add money to the bill. Like sparkling water at a restaurant. “Tap is fine thanks.” But when it comes to garage doors here are some upgrades you’ll be happy you chose.
Unless you live in a magic place where it is 70 degrees all day every day adding insulation is probably worth it. But even of you do, there are more reasons to get the insulation. It makes your steel door stronger. Steel is much less likely to dent with insulation inside of it. Insulation also acts as a noise barrier. So those pesky neighborhood kids, I mean little angels, won’t bug you as much.
While you are at it, if you have anything resembling weather where you live upgrade the insulation from polystyrene to polyurethane. It might be 15-20% more but it doubles the R value of the insulation from R-9 to R18. Your energy bill will thank you.
Get Heavy Duty Springs
First I would recommend getting torsion springs instead of extension springs because they last longer in general. Second, I would recommend getting the heavy duty springs which should last about 2 times longer.
Springs have a lifespan measured in cycles (the opening and closing of the door) regular springs have about 10,000 cycles for about $50 or so more you can get one that has 20,000 or more. That’s a good value for the money.
Get a new Garage door opener at the same time
No sense investing in a new garage door only to have that tired old motor running things. If you didn’t have a garage door opener already I highly recommend getting one. Your not getting any younger so save the squats for the gym. Also it makes it so much easier to get the car in and out with groceries and such. Plus it’s much more secure than a manual door.
Get one with a belt drive since it’s much quieter and longer lasting.
You might consider getting a side mounted drive also known as a jackshaft garage door opener which saves on overhead room and mounts directly to the torsion spring mount. Like the chamberlain rj020 or the liftmaster 8500. These have no belts or chains.
If eyes are the windows to your soul then windows are the eyes to your garage. Or better put, they just make your garage look nicer. Maybe because they make the garage doors look more face-like and humans like faces. They also add some natural light in the garage. Make sure they match the style of the rest of the house. And by all means get insulated windows. No sense getting an insulated garage door with sad cold windows. No.
Get Nylon Rollers
Nice, quiet, smoothly rolling, nylon rollers. No squeaky metal on metal. It’s a simple thing but easy to forget. A quiet garage door leads to a happy house. Easy Peasy. Also they last way longer.
Understand the Warranties
Different parts of the door are covered differently. Some parts will be covered for as long as you own your home. This is usually the case for rust on steel doors. The hardware will have a different warranty as will the springs. Also upgraded hardware and springs may have a different warranty than the basic ones.
Just read and understand and ask questions. Most ethical dealers are transparent about coverage but may not know you have a question unless you ask.
As they say “The best surprise is no surprise.”
If you have an older garage door, upgrading to a new one is most likely a good investment in the future of your home. It’s one of the few home improvements you can make that both adds value and quality of life while increasing your resale value even over time.