The Best Garage Door Buying Guide - A1 Garage Door Service
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If you’ve noticed your garage is looking a little tired and out of date or that it always seems to need repairing, then it’s probably time to consider an upgrade. Buying a new garage door isn’t rocket science, but there are a few considerations to think about before purchasing. We’ve produced this garage door buying guide so that you are clued up on all the essential information you need before making a decision on the best one for your needs.

Your Budget

With garage doors, there is a fine line between functionality and aesthetics. While you’ll want a garage door built for longevity and little in the way of maintenance requirements, curb appeal is also important. Having a style that matches your home exterior is beneficial; it will make it look more attractive, and if you decide to sell up at any time, it will add value.

A garage door can last 15 to 30 years; it’s not an item that you’ll be splashing out on regularly. So it’s worth the investment. You don’t want it to be an eyesore for the next couple of decades or keep on breaking down. Besides, statistics show that a garage door with curb appeal will pay for itself with the increased value it adds to your home.

Garage Door Size

If you already have a garage door, it is reasonably easy to take the measurements. If you are building a new garage or extending an existing one, you’ll need to think about size requirements. Typically a single car garage door is 7 feet tall by 8 feet wide. For a double car garage, the most common size is 7 by 16 feet; some prefer installing two single garage doors instead. While these are the most common sizes, there are plenty more options to choose from, including three-car garage doors. If you can’t find a door that fits your garage, don’t despair as you can easily get one custom made.

To measure for a new garage door, measure the width and height of the garage door opening, the side room width, from the wall to the opening, the depth of your garage, and the internal headroom; top of the door open, to the ceiling.

Garage Door Styles

There are three main garage door styles to choose from; however, they come in several different colors, finishes, and materials and can even be customized for your individual tastes.

Traditional Raised Garage Door

If you are looking for a sleek classic style to compliment the outside of your home, then traditional raised-panel garage doors will be ideal. Symmetric rectangular raised panels distinguish this type of door. As this is one of the most favored styles of garage doors, with its universal appeal, you’ll find it available freely in all materials and colors. Whatever the architecture style of your home, be it Cape, Spanish, Tudor, or Colonial, it is sure to enhance your home exterior.

Carriage House Garage Door

The original carriage house style goes back centuries to when horse and carriage were the primary means of transport. Carriage house garage doors reproduce the style found on the carriage houses of the past, but this timeless style is still a popular choice. The distinct decorative look has a charming appeal and complements both historic and modern homes. Traditionally carriage doors swung open outwards and were made of wood. These days they’ve been updated for modern use, so they open the same as other standard garage doors.

Contemporary Garage Door

A modern home needs a garage door to match. A functional, streamlined look characterizes contemporary garage doors. If you want your garage to blend in with the aesthetics of a modern home, then explore contemporary designs; steel and aluminum are common materials for this type of door.

Garage Door Materials

There are several garage door material choices to select from; mainly, it will depend on personal preference and budget.

Steel Doors

The most popular material for garage door construction is steel. Investing in this garage door material can be a good investment. Typically they are affordable, durable, safe, require little maintenance, and are rustproof. Steel doors also come with all sorts of outer layers, so you match the material with just about any style.

However, steel doors do have a couple of downsides. They are easy to dent and are poor insulators. We will discuss the insulation and energy efficiency considerations shortly. Returning to the higher chances of dents and dings for steel garage doors, if you have kids that like playing ball games near your garage, then you’ll want to think about the thickness of the steel panels. If you choose steel doors at the lower end of the price range, then the panels will be thin and can easily be dented. Look at the steel gauge number; the lower the number, the thicker it is; aim for 25 gauge over 28 gauge steel.

Wood Doors

Nothing beats the look or feel of real wood, and this equally applies to garage doors. Usually a little more expensive than steel, wood is the original garage door material and is still the second most prevalent after steel today. It’s especially popular if your home has a rustic look or a wood front door that will be complemented by the garage door. 

Wood is an energy-efficient garage door material and reduces outside noise, so if you are using your garage for other activities rather than just keeping your car in it, these might be factors to think about. It also won’t dent as steel does, so the kids can play ball games in the vicinity of your garage without you having to worry! Wood doors require more maintenance than other materials and can easily deteriorate if not looked after.

Faux-Wood Doors

Though many homeowners appreciate the look of a natural wood garage door, not everyone can afford the expense. Faux -wood garage doors still offer that beautiful real wood look but at a lower cost and less maintenance. Faux-wood doors are extremely convincing, and it’s difficult to tell them from their real wood counterparts.


Fiberglass is a good choice if you want little maintenance and durability. They consist of a fiberglass outer skin with a steel framework and an insulated foam core interior. Fiberglas is durable and resistant to corrosion, making them ideal for those living in coastal areas with a lot of salt in the air. Fiberglass requires little maintenance but tends to fade if it has too much sun exposure.


Aluminum offers similar benefits as steel, such as being corrosion free but is even more affordable. It is a very lightweight material, which makes it one of the easiest to install. Its lightweight properties also mean that it puts less strain on the door’s other hardware mechanisms, therefore requiring little maintenance. Aluminum is easy to dent and has a shorter lifespan than steel.


Vinyl offers affordability and, much the same as fiberglass, are ideal for coastal regions or humid ones. It also is easy to maintain and doesn’t dent easily. The main downside to vinyl is that if you grow bored with the garage doors color after a few years, you can’t repaint it. As the color is derived from the resin molding, it can’t be changed.

Energy Efficiency

An insulated door can help make your garage more energy efficient. If your garage door isn’t sufficiently insulated and you are in an area where temperatures plummet in the cold months, then there are many reasons why you should think about replacing it.

There are several reasons why an insulated garage door is well worth considering. For instance, if your garage is connected to your house, air from the garage can travel into the house. If this air is cold, even though you might have home insulation, it will have to work extra to deal with the cold air from the garage, costing you more in utility bills. For those who use a garage for other purposes such as a workshop or a home gym, insulation may help keep the temperature more bearable in winter, enabling you to make use of it year-round.

Freezing temperatures can also have an adverse effect on your cars, such as shortening the battery life, lowering the air pressure in the car’s tires, and thickening brake, engine, and transmission fluids. Other fluids can also become no longer of use if freezing temperatures impact them.

To know the energy efficiency of a garage door, you need to know the R-value of it.

Typically the R-values for garage doors are; wood R-3 to 6,  steel R-6 to 17,  fiberglass and vinyl R-4 to 12, and aluminum R-0 or insignificant enough to achieve a rating.

If you live in a region with severe climate changes, spend a lot of time in your garage, or it is connected to your house, then opt for a higher R-value. A garage door service should be able to help you choose the right R-value to match your needs.

Garage Door Parts

Garage doors need many mechanical components to work, such as rollers, cables, and cable drums. They can also have decorative and functional features such as windows so that natural light enters the garage and adds a touch of style. Two of the most important components are the door springs and the tracks.

Door Springs

These days most garage doors use torsion springs instead of extension springs, which were less hard-wearing and more dangerous. When you buy torsion springs, don’t go for the cheapest; spending a little more will prove cost-effective in the long run as you won’t need to replace them so often.

Garage Door Tracks

Garage door tracks are another important consideration, there are a handful of types to choose from, but the most common are standard radius tracks with a 15-inch radius. However, it all depends on the layout of your garage; there are also hi-lift tracks, vertical-lift tracks, and roof pitch tracks. The tracks are important as they allow your garage door to travel smoothly.

Garage Door Openers

We’ve gone from manually having to open our garage doors, to automated options, to the latest ones with remote controls, wi-fi operated and keyfobs. Automatic door openers also now have a manual release option. In an emergency such as a power outage, we can still get ourselves or vehicles out of the garage.

Below are the common garage door openers available:

Chain Drive Garage Door Opener

Chain drive openers are the most affordable, as well as being a robust and low maintenance option. This makes them the most common design, and there is a large variety of different brands to choose from. They use a bicycle-type chain to operate. The major downside to chain drive openers is that they are very noisy,

Belt Drive Garage Door Opener

A belt drive opener uses a rubber belt reinforced with steel; they are a durable choice and benefit from being a lot quieter than chain drive openers. They are a little more costly, though.

Screw Drive Garage Door Opener

These use a threaded rod system and, like belt drive openers, are a less noisy option than chain drives. They require minimal maintenance as they have fewer moving parts than other types; this means they open and close more smoothly.

Jackshaft Garage Door Opener

Jackshaft openers are less common but gaining popularity; they are wall-mounted, particularly useful if you have a high ceiling garage. While rail-mounted openers can limit your overhead space, as jackshaft openers are wall-mounted, you can use the extra space to provide additional storage room.

DIY Install vs. Professional Install

Installing a garage door by yourself can be done.  If you want to save money and get a good understanding of how your garage door mechanism works so that you can carry out any future repairs and maintenance, it could be a good choice. However, it is not recommended unless you have complete confidence in your abilities and the practical knowledge to back it up. A poorly installed garage door can result in it breaking and voiding its warranty or could even cause injury or death to a family member.

In contrast, a skilled garage door installer will perform the task faster, with minimal disruption. A professional installer will have fitted hundreds of garage doors and can provide you with a safe and trouble-free installation. If there are any future issues, you can rest safe that you haven’t invalidated the warranty.


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