Picking a garage door can be a bit of a process, given how many choices and styles are available. The fact is, the garage door represents the largest separate front piece of a house. So the type of door chosen makes a statement of impression about the rest of the house, or it at least gives a certain appearance from the outside.
Tips to Consider
There are number of tips to think about when choosing a door, some being practical and others being aesthetic. All help a buyer choose the right door for his needs and home. These include:
1. Choosing the type of door (stock, semi-custom or custom) – Stock doors involve pre-fabricated units that are essentially ready to install. The most basic of these is a pre-stamped or paneled aluminum garage door that simply fits a standard garage door cavity in a house. The hardware is predetermined as well, so the entire assembly bolts into place when delivered and installed. While these doors are the cheapest, they are also the most plain, with little in the way of decor or features.
Semi-custom doors are still reliant on pre-assembled parts and hardware, but they come with added features that a buyer can choose from. These may include high side window panels to let light into a garage, reinforced door framing for strength, and even alternatives for opening and closing aside from the standard up-and-over approach that comes with stock door systems.
Custom garage doors are exactly that. These garage doors are built to suit and often incorporate designs and features from older architecture, such as rounded door shapes, split door opening, stained wood paneling features with reinforced metal decorative strapping, and more. Because of the customization involved, this garage door category tends to be the most expensive and often requires unique installation methods as well, which also add to the cost.
2. The elements matter – Keep in mind that choosing the right garage door is also often influenced by the weather and conditions of where the door will be installed. In dry, arid locations, wood doors can do quite well, just requiring a regular oiling annually or every two years. In wet locations or those that see a lot of snow seasonally, wood will eventually wear down and disintegrate over time, and metal fixtures will rust. Pests can also have an impact. While a custom wood door may seem like a great idea, some conditions dictate that an aluminum-based door will last longer without repair, providing the same entry protection.
3. Measure to match – Some style doors won’t match the cavity designed for the garage door in general. In these instances the house or structure will need to be modified, significantly adding to the cost of the installation for a non-standard garage door. Planning ahead of time can avoid this costly mistake cropping up at the last second right before installation. At a minimum a buyer should be measuring the door size and hardware with the cavity available in the home or structure the door will go into.
4. Pay attention to the hardware included – Garage doors that are top-loaded utilize heavy-duty springs to act as a counterweight to the door’s weight. This effect makes it easy to lift the garage door when opening and closing. Buyers should make sure that there are at least two counterweight springs included in the hardware. If only one, the owner runs the risk that in time the single spring will break, in which case the door weight will slam down due to gravity. A second spring can hold the door without risk to life or property. It’s well worth the extra $100 for the additional spring.
5. HOA issues can be a pain – Many neighborhoods are established within a homeowner’s association, or HOA. These organizations are designed to protect a general look of the neighborhood, including how homes appear. Before deciding on a given garage door, a buyer should definitely read his applicable HOA rules for structure changes and appearance. Otherwise, the given HOA could sue the homeowner to remove the violating new garage door and replace it with an acceptable one. All the costs would be borne by the buyer since he agreed to the HOA rules when he bought the house in the first place.
6. Watch out for property taxes – In most jurisdictions, property tax for real estate is based on the last sale price of the property. However, a county assessor can update the tax base if the property is significantly improved. If a garage door will require a change to a home or structure, the work will often require building permits. That in turn triggers the assessors attention to come out and reassess the property value. If the new assessment is bigger, that means the homeowner will permanently pay more in property taxes each year in the future thanks to the changes. In this regard, going with a standard size door can be the long-term cheaper approach.
7. Decorations are nice, but security matters more – A good garage door needs to be a solid barrier from entry as well as a protection. There’s not much point to having a garage door if it can simple be pried open with little effort. Most modern doors are made with this principle in mind, but buyers should still check to make sure the materials and construction involved will provide a level of barrier, strength and protection. Thieves and burglars will often look for the weakest point in a design to get into a garage so, aside from the door being left open, any aspect that makes it easy to open or disassemble the door should be suspect.
8. Not all local suppliers carry a desired garage door – Buyers shopping around will quickly find that garage door sellers are often limited to just their brand or type of door. This is often the case with custom and semi-custom doors. A full custom fabrication is often built on site versus pre-fabricated, but manufactured doors are only available to the extent a dealer carries them. Otherwise a buyer can be facing a hefty cost to have a unit shipped from a manufacturer, adding to the expense considerably.
9. Check for insulation qualities – One of the biggest areas of heat and cold entering a home is through the garage door itself. By simply thickening or insulating the door with a layer of foam panels or buying a door with insulation, the stable temperature in the garage can reduce strain on the house HVAC system having to compensate. Doors with an R-value above 10 will do well in colder climate areas. Even basic aluminum panel doors can be insulated after the fact with foam cut panels available at most big hardware stores for little cost.
10. Make sure to include a warranty – Because of the mechanical nature of a garage door, most reputable brands include a warranty with their product. Buyers should be on the lookout for such protections because it will help with repair if something goes wrong with the design of the door, especially when new.
Picking a garage door can put the finishing touch on a home’s front appearance, but buyers still need to do their homework to find the right product. The above tips can help tremendously in avoiding unexpected mistakes.