Today’s garage doors not only look smart–they are smart. It’s important that yours makes a statement, since garage doors comprise 40 percent of a home’s curb appeal and often serve as the main entryway. What are your options in terms of design and functionality?
There are many options that homeowners can choose from, including:
- Carriage style fronts
- High-end contemporary glass
- Steel features
- Arched and grooved wood panels
- Smart features like automated opening systems
With so many choices on the market, it’s a good time to put your knowledge to the test. We’ve outlined seven things you should know about purchasing a garage door:
- Materials have expanded. Today’s choices include variations of steel, aluminum, fiberglass, wood, and wood composite. There are pros and cons to each, so consider the amount of upkeep, weather conditions in your region and value of your home. For example, you may want the look of custom wood but don’t want the maintenance involved. If so, wood composite may be a better choice, because the material resists rot and splitting more readily than real wood. Wood composite also is less costly.
- Research variations in quality. After you decide on the material for your door, consider other factors, including quality and strength. If you choose steel, for example, cost and quality will vary based on weight and width. The garage door material will range from 28-gauge steel, considered the least expensive and thinnest, to 24-gauge steel, which is considered premium.
- Understand insulation ratings. If you’re interested in using your garage as a multi-purpose room, insulation ratings will be very important — whether you live in a hot and humid area or a state where freezing winters are the norm. Doors with a higher R-value will have better insulation, allowing your garage to better retain air conditioned or heated air. Ask your vendor about the R-value of various garage doors before you narrow your selection.
- Old or new, garage doors should be regularly inspected. You can spot problems before they happen by being proactive with regular checks, including:
- Monthly checks for debris in the tracks
- Yearly checks for frayed cables
- Regular lubrication inspection of: bearings and hinges, spring and chain-drive system
- Know when to call a service technician. On average, garage doors can last anywhere from 15 to 30 years, but lifespan can be affected by accidents, inclement weather and wear and tear. Any damage could unknowingly compromise the function of your garage door system, including grinding, scraping or whirring sounds, an inability to lift the door manually and sagging. If there are signs your garage door is not functioning properly, you should immediately call a service technician to determine if you need a repair or replacement.
- Garage doors should have sensors. In 1990, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission advised families to disconnect and replace garage door openers if sensors did not automatically reverse upon detecting an obstacle. That advisory came after dozens of children were killed or injured in accidents involving garage doors with automatic openers. If you have an aging garage without sensors, get an upgrade or a replacement.
- Garage doors come with smarter options. The past several years have ushered in more and more innovations related to smart home technology. That means you have the ability to open and close your garage door remotely — even if you’re miles away. You can also program it to open when you return home. Other applications enable you to monitor activity around your home and garage while you’re away.
While garage doors have become more complex over the years, you can make the best choices about new installations or upgrades with some background knowledge. Contact a garage door system specialist to help you review your options.