8 Items All Garage Door Buyers Must Consider Before Buying

We replaced our garage doors recently.  A lot of research went into our selection process so I thought I’d share what I learned. Buying a garage door is not an everyday occurrence, in fact, many people go through their whole lives never buying one. If you are considering buying new garage doors read on. I think you will find this article very helpful.

Wood composite blue doors

Our house was built in 1987. We’ve owned it since 1992. Around 2010, the garage door paint started to peel, revealing the composite board interior.

We painted over the peeled away spots, and lived with it like that for several years. When it was 30 years old in 2017, we decided to replace the doors. We purchased and installed new garage doors in the spring of 2018.

So when is it time to replace the garage doors? Replace the doors when they can’t hold out the weather. I’m not referring to the weather stripping. Replace the doors when the doors are warped and old, meaning even new weather stripping is not going to keep out the cold and heat. 

1. How Much Does it Cost to Replace the Garage Doors?

It costs between $270 and $2,082 to replace a garage door, according to Home Advisor’s 2019 survey $1,079 was the average garage door replacement cost, according to the 9,000 homeowners who answered their survey. These estimates do not include the cost of the garage door controllers or the labor. If you want to see how much our high-end garage doors cost, skip all the way to the end of this article.

30 year old garage doors

We painted over the peeled areas2. Should I Repair or Replace My Garage Doors?

The average garage door repair costs between $100 and $300, according to On Track Garage Door Service. Of course, these can be more. After paying for the repair, will you have a door that you like? Will it be safe and quiet? Will it keep out the cold and heat? Will it be attractive? A few hundred dollars for a repaired door might be a good investment. Our doors were beyond repair, so we replaced them.

3. How Long Do Garage Doors Last?

A new garage door should last between 15 and 30 years, according to the Overhead Door  Co. of Greater Cincinnati. Ours were on life support for their last few years. We got 30 years out of them.

Beyond the door’s lifetime, there is the door opener’s lifetime and the spring’s lifetime. They can have different life expectancies.

Garage door springs take a hit each time the garage door is used. Frequent use will kill the springs sooner. Overhead Door estimates that if a door used twice a day, its springs will last 14 years; but if it’s used 8 times a day, the springs will last 3 years.

The automatic garage door opener should last between 10 and 15 years. Ours lasted 15 years, so that was replaced right on schedule.

4. Should I Get a Garage Door Screen?

Lifestyle garage door screenGarage screen doorI never would have thought to add a screen to the garage entrance, but now that I see it, I want one! Lifestyle sells a screen that goes up and down on the door’s track. You can have either the door or the screen down. The screen has an entry door. It’s opaque from the outside, but you can see out fine from inside the garage.

If you love the Lifestyle screen but don’t want to spend the money, you can get a really nice “Garage Door Screens” garage door screen for quite a bit less.

Zipped up garage screen doors
Zipped up garage screen doors
Full width garage screen door
Full width garage screen door

It doesn’t go up and down with the garage door mechanism, but it also costs 1/10th the price of the one that does. This screen spans the entire garage door opening and zips shut. One popular competitor comes in sections which are supposed to seal together with built-in magnets. Some report the magnets are weak, so I’d go with this full-size screen instead.

5. What is the Best Type of Garage Door?

Wood doors have the nicest appearance at first but be prepared for the work required to maintain that beauty. Wood doors are subject to rot and warping, so their beauty can really fade. Regular painting or staining is required to keep wood nice. Faux wood looks OK from the road. You’ll be able to tell they’re not wood close-up, but who examines their garage door texture that closely? Garage door manufacturers can do wonders with composite overlays on steel and aluminum doors. It’s not going to be prettier than a brand new rich mahogany, but it will look really nice, without degrading over time.

If wood doors are so-so at insulation, aluminum is terrible. Steel sandwiching foam board is the best.

Wood doors require maintenance. Aluminum and steel don’t require maintenance if installed as is. If you paint a steel door, you’ll have to re-paint it soon enough.

Manufacturers also offer glass and fiberglass doors. They don’t offer anything superior to steel. I don’t get the appeal of a glass garage door, but I suppose they’re attractive enough. Glass doors have no insulation value. They don’t need to be maintained unless the glass breaks. Fiberglass requires a top coating applied every 2 years to maintain its integrity against the sun’s rays.  As with steel, fiberglass R-values vary with the insulation included in the garage door.

Beautiful (Expensive) Wood Garage Doors

C.H.I. mahogany garage doorsWhen I walked into the garage door showroom, I gravitated right toward the most expensive door in the shop. It was a rich, deep wood. The shine felt deep and luxurious. I thought a Rolls Royce would be proud to have this as its door. As far as the price was concerned, I was right. This door started at $4,000. For a door. I asked why, and the salesman answered, “It’s wood.”

Wood Doors Require Maintenance

Maybe it’s the raw material costs. Maybe it’s the beauty. A very expensive wood garage door can be about as beautiful a door as you can get. If you can afford a door like this, then you can afford the required maintenance, too. Because this kind of door won’t stay beautiful without a lot of work. Wood doors require re-staining every couple of years.  That’s just one downside in a pretty long list.

Not only are wood doors expensive, but they’re also weak. They can rot, scratch and warp. They expand and contract with the temperature, so their seals and weather stripping aren’t as effective as you might like them to be. They’re not terribly good at insulating the garage from extreme heat and cold.  They swell when it’s humid and rainy. Should there be a fire, a gorgeous wood door is combustible fodder for the fire.

Less Expensive (Less Beautiful) Wood Doors

Not all wood doors are as expensive as the nicest one in our dealer’s showroom. There are much less expensive wood garage doors. And none of them are as beautiful as that cedar beauty. By the time the price gets low enough to be affordable, a wood garage door is just another garage door. There’s nothing particularly attractive about a reasonably-priced wood garage door. It’s got all of the downsides of a wood door, without the sumptuous beauty of a high-end cedar door.

Wood Door Warranties Tell the Story

Judging by the warranty, manufacturers don’t think too highly of their wood door offerings. Clopay offers 1-year construction; 1-year paint and 2 years stain warranties on their wood garage doors. Overhead Door offers 1 year. C.H.I. Overhead Doors offers a 1-year warranty on their wood overlay doors. So the manufacturers are pretty unanimous that a wood door is not going to last very long. Salt spray voids the Clopay wood door warranty.

Aluminum Garage Doors

Aluminum garage door
Aluminum garage door

Aluminum garage doors are less expensive than wood. They also don’t rot or warp the way wood does or rust the way that steel can. But they will dent when dinged with common household objects such as cars and footballs. Aluminum doors are awful in very hot environments because they soak up the heat and transmit it right into the garage. Cars, fertilizer, pesticides and pool toys bake in the oven the aluminum garage doors create. With an attached garage, that heat makes it way right into your home, where your air conditioner is then in direct competition. So aluminum costs energy dollars in the heat.

Manufacturers differ on how long they’ll warranty their aluminum garage doors. C.H.I. offers a 3 year warranty on its aluminum garage doors. Overhead warranties its aluminum doors only a year. Clopay warranties its aluminum door against delaminating for 3 years, and its aluminum door paint for 1 or 5 years, depending on the application. Salt spray voids the warranty, so aluminum doors are a bad idea for beach houses.

Steel Garage Doors

Our new steel garage doors. We love them. The garage temperature is much better.
Our new steel garage doors. We love them. The garage temperature is much better.

Steel doors don’t require painting or staining. They don’t warp or rot. They can dent if made of higher gauge (thinner) steel so opt for the thicker more durable door. While steel by itself is a poor insulator many garage doors are made from two steel panels sandwiching 2 inches of foam insulation board. Insulated steel garage doors do a much better job at maintaining garage temperature than do wood or aluminum. Steel doors can look like wood but don’t burn like wood. A good steel door is also significantly cheaper than a good wood door.

Our house is a light gray. None of the standard steel door colors matched it. The installer complimented me on my choice of a white steel door. “Always get white,” he said. “You can’t go wrong with white.” I could have painted the steel garage door, but it would have faded at a different rate than the same color paint on my cedar shake house. Plus, paint means maintenance, and I don’t need any of that.

My biggest concern in buying a steel door was the possibility of rust. We had a choice between two brands that offered the same R-value, quality and approximate price. We went with C.H.I. in order to get the better warranty, as well as the ability to buy the upgraded “appearance” warranty package. C.H.I. warranties our door against rust (among other things) for as long as we own the home.

Glass Garage Doors

Fiberglass Garage Doors
Fiberglass Garage Doors
Glass Garage Door
Glass Garage Door

OK, I admit it, I don’t understand the glass garage door. At Reboot My Garage, we advocate covering garage windows to deter thefts from inventorying your garage contents. Installing a glass garage door feels to me like an invitation for disaster. Glass breaks easily. Thieves know this. Glass shows off your stuff to the world. It doesn’t insulate from cold or heat. I just don’t see the appeal. Clopay warranties their glass doors for 1 to 5 years, but exclude salt spray exposure. Overhead warranties their glass door for 1 year. At least they don’t exclude exposure to salt water. C.H.I. doesn’t offer glass doors.

Fiberglass Garage Doors

Some sources suggest that fiberglass is low maintenance and resistant to salt and moisture. But if you look at the fiberglass garage door warranties, this doesn’t seem to be the case.

C.H.I. warranties their fiberglass garage doors for 3 years, but specifically excludes exposure to salt and moisture.  Clopay doesn’t sell fiberglass garage doors. Overhead also excludes salt water spray exposure. Their fiberglass garage door warranty gives limited lifetime protection on the steel portion of their fiberglass garage doors. The fiberglass is warrantied for 3 years against delaminating so long as you maintain the top coat according to their specifications. This means you need to apply the top coat every 1.5 to 2 years to maintain good standing on your warranty.

Fiberglass garage doors will fade in the sun without proper upkeep, and they’re not warrantied against corrosion when they’re exposed to a salt water environment.

6. What Kind of Garage Door Springs Should I Get

Torsion springs are cheaper than extension springs, and they don’t last as long. If your garage door has a spring problem, you’re going to spend a day waiting for a repairman. You probably don’t want to fix garage door springs yourself. Garage doors are heavy. They require excellent balance adjustments. We opted not only for the extension springs. We bought a warranty upgrade that got us higher quality extension springs.  Extension springs have a 10,000 cycle lifetime. Our upgraded springs have a 30,000 cycle lifetime. A cycle is one opening and one closing of the door so chances are they will outlive us.

7. What Kind of Garage Door Opener Should I Get?

Our dealer gave us a choice between a LiftMaster with Wi-Fi and a LiftMaster without Wi-Fi. We hadn’t learned about the amazing things you can do with a smart garage door connected to the internet, so we chose the old-fashioned model.

Your dealer will match the right door opener horsepower to your new garage door. We wanted an exterior keypad which we got and love. We create guest access codes to give the dog sitters.

The operator unit near the ceiling includes a built-in light. We can turn that light on and off from the control buttons by the house door. We often use that light button for a quick trip to the garage. Our “regular” light switch is inconveniently located behind where the screen door opens. So the door opener light is a default garage light now.

Any garage door opener sold today will include motion sensors. These tell the garage door to stop if something crosses the door threshold. This saved my cat’s life on the first day with our new garage doors.

8. What Kind of Garage Door Has the Best Insulation?

Clopay Canyon Ridge Garage Door
Clopay Canyon Ridge Garage Door

The Clopay steel and composite Canyon Ridge door have a 20.4 R-value. The faux wood “is designed from real wood pieces.”

I don’t know. Look at these pictures from their site. Does this look like real or faux wood to you?

The Clopay Coachman doors range from 6.5 to 18.4 R-value. They are also a steel and composite door, but the overlay is more attractive. Coachman CGU has an 18.4 R-value; CG has a 9.0; and CD has a 6.5.

Overhead Courtyard Garage Door
Overhead Courtyard Garage Door

Check out the other Clopay door R-values here.

CHI Stamped Shaker Garage Door
CHI Stamped Shaker Garage Door

Overhead garage doors’ R-values range from zero to 16.22. Apparently, to get the best R-value Overhead garage door you have to get the Wind Load feature.

The Courtyard Wind Load has the wind protection feature. Its R-value is 12.12. The Thermacore Wind Load tops out at a 16.22 R-value. The non-wind-load door R-value is 12.76 available in the Courtyard 160.

C.H.I. Raised Panel door R-values range from zero to 17.19. Stamped Shaker and Stamped Carriage House runs zero to 16.5. Flushed panel is zero to 17.54. Aluminum-Glass doesn’t say. Accent Woodtones are 9.65 and 17.19. Overlay Recessed Panel is 12.35.

We Bought C.H.I. Steel Overlay Carriage House Doors

Our old garage doors, this photo is from Google Street View
Our old garage doors, this photo is from Google Street View

The opening to our garage was standard height. We were thinking about possibly getting a pickup truck like our neighbor’s. This truck is extra tall. If we did get it, it wouldn’t fit in the garage.

We’d need a taller opening. We weren’t sure we were buying the truck. But if we ever did, we were going to wish we had increased the garage header when we replaced the doors.

We had the garage door company increase the header before installing the doors. The carpenter did the work a week before the doors were installed.

I used the CHI website garage tool visualizer to pick our steel garage doors.
I used the CHI website garage tool visualizer to pick our steel garage doors.

Picking the Garage Door Insulation Value

We knew we wanted a high R-value door. We had figured out that aluminum was too hot, and wood was too vulnerable (and expensive).

So we set out to find the steel door design and color we wanted. Then we would choose the best-insulated door from that set.

We mostly gravitated toward Clopay doors, but the Haas doors looked pretty nice as well. We considered various shades of gray when we realized the obvious: it’s impossible to match the garage door color to the house. They’re going to fade at different rates, so even matched colors will not match after a while. So we chose bright white, which we still really love.

Our old wood composite doors, with a test image on the left side. We chose the white door.
Our old wood composite doors, with a test image on the left side. We chose the white door.

Picking the Garage Door Material

While the showroom’s $4,000 cedar door was pretty darn attractive, it was still a non-starter for our garage door needs. At $4k per door, plus labor and garage door controllers, it was very, very expensive Like $10,000 expensive.

And wood’s just not a great garage door choice. We wanted as little maintenance as possible. I thought this would lead us to vinyl, the way that vinyl fences are so little upkeep compared to wood fences. But vinyl melts in the sun, it’s not a very popular garage door offering. The question was, what’s the most insulated garage door material that requires the least amount of maintenance? The answer is: a steel door sandwiching a thick stiff foam insulation core.

Our new garage doors are taller than the composite doors we removed. We had the garage company add heigh to the garage door openeings.
Our new garage doors are taller than the composite doors we removed. We had the garage company add heigh to the garage door openeings.

Picking the Garage Door Springs, Brand, and Warranty

The carpenter was really enthusiastic about the Haas doors he recently installed. We got a quote for the American Traditions, a 13.45 R-value carriage house design also known as Model 921. The quote included 2 doors, 2 controllers, a keypad, 2 remotes, old garage removal, new garage door delivery installation.

We also liked the very similar C.H.I. 5800, also called the Steel Overlay Carriage House garage door. It had a 17.92 R-value, and the option to upgrade the springs from 10,000 to 30,000 expected life cycles (door up and down round trips). The upgrade also got us powder coating on all of the exposed metal. Both doors had a limited lifetime warranty against rust, and 3 to 5-year parts warranties.

We paid about 10% more for the C.H.I. over the Haas, and in exchange we got the upgraded springs and powder coated rails. This was the difference between $5274 and $5774. Our thinking was, let’s just get the best, so 10 years from now we aren’t waiting on a cold winter morning for the garage repairman to replace the springs.

Our Garage Door Costs, Including the Extra Carpentry

Our home with our new steel garage doorsThe delivery included two 9 x 8 ft., the rails, supporting hardware,  two 3/4 horsepower garage door openers, a pin code opener, two remotes, two wall buttons, the decorative hardware and the top row of glass windows. The job included removing our old doors and hardware. The cost for each door and the labor to install it was $2,222; the garage door openers and the labor to install them was $415 each. The Lifetime Package gave us powder coated hardware and springs 3 times stronger than normal. That was another $500. The garage door removal, replacement, hardware, and warranty came to a total of $5774. The carpentry to raise the garage door openings was another $1300.

People Also Ask

What’s the best smart garage door controller? I’ve just finished researching smart garage controllers. My favorite is the Xlive Pro Smart Video Garage Controller. You can’t go wrong with compatibility because it doesn’t use wires. It literally pushes the garage door opener with a mechanical device, so it works with any garage door that has a wall button (all of them have this). But the other reason I like it is its built-in camera. It works like the Ring doorbell. Motion kicks off a live session on your phone. You can have two-way audio conversations, and you can see the person at your garage in real time. It has the security I want in a smart garage controller, so it’s the one I’m going to get.