SHOULD I INSULATE MY GARAGE?
Whether facing the extreme summer heat of Phoenix or Las Vegas or the bitter cold winters of Detroit or Milwaukee, regulating the temperature of your garage can be challenging. Adding insulation to your garage door could help maintain temperatures and improve your home’s energy efficiency.
The goal of insulating your garage door is to slow the transfer of heat. In the winter, this means slowing the speed at which heat escapes your garage, and, in the summer, it’s a matter of preventing the heat from entering.
If you can slow the rate that heat transfers into or out of your garage, you’ll also slow the rate it transfers into your home. Ultimately, this will keep your inside temperature regulated and save money on your electric bills.
- Benefits of insulation
- Challenges of insulation
- R-value ratings
- Types of insulation
- Adding insulation vs. buying a new door
- Choosing a new door
- DIY or hire a professional?
Insulating your garage door offers several benefits. Let’s review a few of the key advantages:
- Energy efficiency: This is especially true if your garage is attached to a bedroom or used as a living space, workshop or utility room.
- Protection: Abrupt weather changes can affect car batteries, fluids and tire pressure, as well as change the consistency of paints, fertilizers, cleaning supplies and motor oil.
- Durability: Non-insulated doors are more prone to denting or creasing.
- Noise reduction: Insulation blocks outside noise, such as neighborhood children and vehicle traffic, and can also help reduce the noisiness of the door caused by the vibration of the panels.
- Resale value: Because of these factors, garage door insulation can be an added benefit and incentive for those considering purchasing your home in the future.
Insulating your garage door isn’t the right decision for everyone. There are a number of factors to consider before making this decision. These include:
- Attached or detached: If your garage is detached from the home, there might not be much value in insulation, unless you use the garage as a livable space or workshop.
- Full garage insulation: Is the rest of your garage insulated, as well? If not, adding insulation to your garage door might not provide as much temperature control as you’d like.
- Air flow: Outside air can still make its way into your garage through other seams, gaps or openings, such as windows and entry doors, so you’ll want to seal these exposures before insulating your door.
When deciding whether to insulate your door, these factors must be weighed against other benefits such as durability and stability. A garage door professional will be able to discuss your options and help you make the best choice for your situation.
Insulation’s ability to slow the transfer of heat is measured with R-values. Residential garage door insulation tends to have R-values of between R-6.3 and R-19. While the numbers increase exponentially, the added effectiveness progresses at a much slower rate.
R-values provide a good estimate of insulation value, but they are not a perfect science, as they do not account for other factors, such as wall and ceiling insulation and less-insulated parts of the structure like studs and windows.
In general, however, an energy-efficient R-18 garage door can keep a garage space about 10-14 degrees warmer in the winter and 22-26 degrees cooler in the summer, if the door isn’t opened and closed frequently.
Two primary types of insulation are used for garage doors. They are:
- Polystyrene: A rigid foam board, this insulation is more commonly known as Styrofoam. Used in two- and three-layered doors, it’s sandwiched between two layers of steel. R-values will vary from R-6 to R-9. You can also find this type of insulation in hardware stores for a do-it-yourself installation project.
- Polyurethane: This insulation starts as a thick liquid and expands as it sets, ensuring it completely fills the cavity of the garage door. Commonly known as “foamed in place” or FIP doors, most manufacturers offer this style of product. Found most often in three-layer garage doors, this style of insulation offers R-values of R-10 to R-19 and gives the door a solid structure to reduce noise and improve lifespan.
You can find other types of insulation kits for do-it-yourself insulation at local hardware stores or online. These types of insulation offer short-term solutions, such as seasonal insulation, but are subject to wear and tear, as they are not designed for long-term durability, and must be securely fastened to the door. Be aware these kits also do not generally provide 100-percent insulation coverage.
If you would like to add insulation to your garage door, you have two choices: add insulation to an existing door or replace it with a new, more insulated one.
When deciding, you will want to consider the cost, return on investment and condition of your existing door. Often, you will find replacing your door will be a better investment than retro-fitting insultation.
If you decide to replace your door, there are several factors to consider when selecting a replacement.
Garage doors come in a variety of materials, and each offers its own insulation potential. Let’s look at some of your choices:
When selecting a steel door, you can also choose between one-layer, two-layer and three-layer options. Here’s what that means for you:
- One-layer: Known as pan, hollow back, contractor-grade or non-insulated doors, single-layer doors are often installed as an extremely cost-effective option.
- Two-layer: The only difference from a one-layer door is that foam insulation panels are inserted into the hollow cavities on the inside of the door, enhancing the door’s insulation value but not necessarily improving the quality of the door.
- Three-layer: This door features a layer of steel on the exterior and interior, as well as a solid insulated core. Four polystyrene and polyurethane insulation options are available for the core.
Do-it-yourself insulation kits are available at your local hardware store or online. But, it’s important to understand the risks associated with completing your own project versus hiring a professional installer.
First, a professional will be able to assess the insulation situation of your entire garage and determine if insulating the garage door will provide adequate temperature regulation and produce a return on investment.
Second, adding insulation to your garage door might change its weight, affect its balance and put added strain on the springs. While it might not seem like much weight, adding even a few pounds can make a difference and require your springs to be replaced.
To test your door’s balance, pull your manual release cord and open your door halfway. The door should stay in place, not shoot up or slam down. If the door is off-balance, it will still allow air in from the outside.
Balancing a garage door and replacing springs can be dangerous and should be left to a professional.
If you have additional questions or would like to discuss options for insulating your garage, call us at 844-214-2724, and we’ll provide consultation on the best solution for your situation.