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Insulated Commercial Garage Door 101

Insulated garage doors are ultimately a money saver. When it comes to protecting inventory, improving employee productivity, morale and overall efficiency, it’s hard to beat the results that come from the investment of something as innocuous as an insulated door. What do you need to know to make a wise purchase? We’ll bring you up-to-speed.

Types of Insulation

Insulation provides great value by preserving internal temperatures and energy efficiency, buffering noise and strengthening the door itself. There are two basic types of insulation to choose from:

Polystyrene (Styrofoam)

Most people have a familiarity with polystyrene, used to make everything from packing materials for electronics to coffee cups. For garage door applications, polystyrene is manufactured in sheets, expanded and molded to fit a form. The process helps polystyrene better line the front and back door panels. It generally has a low R-value, or degree of insulation, so it isn’t the optimal choice for severe climate protection.


The magic of polyurethane is in the blend of multiple chemicals. This mix foams to fit any size, similar to polystyrene, but the difference is the chemical composite creates a more resistant barrier, especially when it comes to heat.

Polyurethane fills the space between the front and back door panels, but it is typically layered with steel and sandwiched between exterior door material, which could include corrugated steel, aluminum, fiberglass, veneer, vinyl, etc.). The layering produces a door with a high R-value. Polyurethane provides a well-insulated, strong and fairly soundproof barrier.

Door Configuration

Both types of insulation are typically layered in an insulated door, but overall thickness is a result of insulation density, R-value, door material and panel layout/construction. Because polyurethane contains less volume than polystyrene, generally a polyurethane door will be thinner, regardless of the number of layers.

Insulation is obviously vital to the effectiveness of an insulated door, but seals, which block air flow, are also critical. For best results, each section should be sealed and use thermal breaks.

R-value: Thermal Efficiency

Just judging from the door types, it’s easy to see that insulated doors aren’t created equal. The distinguishing measurement is called the R-value. R-values indicates the level of “thermal resistance to heat flow,” so a high R-value rated product provides greater insulation protection. It’s one thing if the doors were just encasing vehicles, but if employees are working in such a (heated) space, the R-value should be high, anywhere from 12-16 and up.

A garage door specialist is the best resource to help you determine the right degree of insulation and construction for your business. Midwest Garage Doors specializes in commercial applications; we’ve been serving the greater Indianapolis area for more than 31 years. Contact us for a consult.

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