Garage door options wide open

When it is time to replace your old garage door or to select one for your new home, you will be amazed at the choices. The variety has exploded during the last few years with doors to meet your needs, your price point, and your exterior elevation, all consideration when shopping for a new door.

The most common type of residential garage door is a sectional door, which has horizontal panels hinged together and fitted with rollers. The rollers ride on two parallel tracks. Lifting the door is achieved using a chain, belt, screw or direct drive system. Most door styles operate manually, where you can lift the door or a garage door opener can be wired to include an outdoor keypad, which mounts to allow access from outside. A new feature we are seeing on many garage door openers is one that will alert you if you leave your garage door open.

There also are options to include glass panels in the door in styles from traditional to contemporary. There are even carriage house style doors available in a sectional door made to look like they are swing style doors.

Construction materials vary including steel, aluminum, wood, wood composites, fiberglass, vinyl and glass, all with different durability and price points.

Steel doors: The best steel garage doors are made of two layers of galvanized steel, the surface of which is either primed and painted with a tough topcoat finish or clad with a composite material. Steel doors can be painted to match your home and are available with or without insulation. Insulated doors have cores of rigid polystyrene or polyurethane foam insulation, which helps keep the garage warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. The downside of steel doors is that they can be dented.

Vinyl doors: Vinyl garage doors are promoted as being kid-proof, because they are difficult to dent or break. Typically built on steel frames, these too are filled with polyurethane insulation. Vinyl doors look similar to fiberglass doors but are available in fewer colours. They are durable and require little maintenance.

Fiberglass doors: Doors made from fiberglass are less prone to denting or cracking. They do not rust, but can break upon impact so you don’t want to be shooting a hockey puck at these doors. Two layers of fiberglass are typically bonded to a steel frame and filled with polyurethane insulation. Steel end caps help improve rigidity.

Aluminum frame doors: New modern home elevations are booming with aluminum frame garage doors fitted with aluminum panels that eliminate the problem of rust, but are easier to dent. They are available in contemporary brushed finishes, as well as in many colours. Translucent glass panels may be used in place of aluminum panels, which allow light in without compromising privacy or security.

Wood composite doors: In our climate a solid wood door is not a great choice due to expansion and contraction of solid wood. Composite garage doors are a better choice and typically have a wood frame covered with sheets of fiberboard. Better models offer higher-density fiberboard skins and include realistic details, such as overlays and grooves to simulate a real wood door.

Sue Wastell is the president of the London Home Builders' Association and Owner of Wastell Homes in London.     

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