When you think about redesigning your home, you may consider making cosmetic changes to the kitchen or living room. To spruce up the exterior of your home, consider upgrading your garage door. Though installing a new garage door may not strike you as a typical home renovation project, it can pay off. In fact, a new garage door has a national return on investment (ROI) of 94.5% — the second-highest ROI of any home renovation project.
If you’re looking for a new garage door, there are a variety of styles and materials to choose from. Consider which garage door material is best for your house and needs with this comprehensive guide.
How to Choose the Best Material for a Garage Door
Each garage door material has pros and cons that contribute to its unique qualities and curb appeal.
The type of garage door you select should be conducive to your living space, design preferences and climate.
Think about these garage door features before making your decision:
- Durability: A garage door protects the valuables inside your garage. Most garage door materials last for decades, but others need proper maintenance to guard against wear and tear. Look for a sturdy garage door material that can withstand moisture or insect damage, especially if you live in a humid climate.
- Energy-efficiency: Insulated garage doors can help block unpleasant air drafts, regulate the temperature of your home and save money on energy costs. Each garage door material has different insulating properties. If you like the look of a garage door material but want stronger insulation than it provides, you can often add a layer of insulation inside the door.
- Aesthetic appeal: Garage doors make up a large percentage of the exterior of your home. The right garage door material can enhance your home’s curb appeal. Visualization programs such as the Door Imagination System can help you decide which garage door material complements the rest of your home.
- Cost: Thinner garage door materials may save you money upfront because they are easier to install and maintain. While insulated garage doors may cost more at first, they can save you money on energy costs over time. Weigh the short-term and long-term costs and savings to help determine which types of garage door materials make sense for your home.
1. Steel Garage Doors
Steel garage doors contain two layers of galvanized steel. The following Clopay® collections offer quality steel residential garage doors:
- Classic™ collection
- MODERN STEEL™ collection
- GALLERY® collection
- COACHMAN® collection
- GRAND HARBOR® collection
Pros of Steel Garage Doors
Steel garage doors are popular because of their:
- Durability: Steel garage doors provide long-lasting resilience that can withstand many home climates. They are also resistant to cracking and warping due to moisture.
- Modern aesthetic: Steel garage doors offer extensive customization options. Classic steel garage doors have been around for decades, but manufacturers have also created new steel door designs to accommodate modern trends.
- Cost-effectiveness: Steel garage doors often have an affordable upfront cost. Since steel garage doors are durable and low-maintenance, you can also save money in repair costs over time.
Cons of Steel Garage Doors
Consider the following drawbacks of steel garage doors:
- Energy-efficiency: As a poor insulator, steel needs an added layer of polyurethane insulation to provide optimal insulation benefits.
- Vulnerable to impact damage: Steel’s durability depends on its panel thickness. Thin steel garage doors are more cost-effective, but they may be more prone to dents. If you live in a neighborhood with children or an area with heavy precipitation, you may want to invest in a thicker steel garage door.
- Sensitive to rust: Steel garage doors may rust over time. Inspecting a steel garage door once every couple of months can help you catch and prevent rust buildup.
What You Can Customize With a Steel Garage Door
You can customize a steel garage door in various ways, including:
- Door design: Steel garage doors are available in several different panel configurations. The COACHMAN® collection pairs products with a swing-out garage door design with the convenience of an overhead garage door setup. Carriage house garage doors in the GALLERY® collection include long and short panel options.
- Thickness: Steel doors in the COACHMAN® collection come with four-layer construction, which includes two layers of insulation and two layers of galvanized steel. Garage doors in the GALLERY® collection and the Classic™ collection are available in three-layer, two-layer or one-layer construction.
- Insulation: Two-inch Intellicore® polyurethane is one of the most reliable insulation options available, followed by 2-inch and 1 3/8-inch polystyrene. For added protection, you can choose a hot-dipped layer of galvanized steel with baked-on primer to prevent rusting. WINDCODE® reinforcement is also available to protect your garage door against damage from heavy winds.
- Color: There are many color options available for the finish of your steel and wood composite overlay. The COACHMAN® collection features four color options, the GALLERY® collection has ten shades and the Ultra-Grain® finish features four options to make your steel door look like wood. For 15 color options, check out the Classic™ collection. Some garage door collections are even eligible for Color Blast®, a program that allows you to paint your steel door any color you choose.
- Windows: You can customize the shape and design of your steel garage door windows with different horizontal and vertical grille options or decorative patterns. Each steel garage door collection offers six types of glass for your windows — including clear, seeded, rain, obscure, frosted or insulated.
- Hardware: To complete your unique steel garage door, you can choose metal handles, hinges and step plates that accommodate your style.
Steel Garage Door Level of Maintenance: 1/10
Compared to other garage door materials, steel is the easiest to maintain. While it’s prone to denting, steel is resistant to moisture and insect damage. To prolong the life of a steel garage door, you can follow these steps:
- Inspect the garage door panels for dents or rust.
- Wash with mild soap and water.
- Apply a wax coating to maintain its finish.
What Type of House Looks Best With Steel?
With their versatile design, steel garage doors can complement almost any type of house.
They may be best suited for dry climates because of their sensitivity to rust and corrosion.
Take a look at how these steel collections pair with different home styles:
- COACHMAN® collection: Carriage house garage doors complement the style of a Victorian, Tudor, Craftsman or Mediterranean house.
- Classic collection: Traditional, simple steel garage doors pair well with Cape Cod and Ranch homes.
- MODERN STEEL™ collection: A modern steel garage door can enhance the aesthetic of a modern or contemporary home.
2. Wood Garage Doors
Manufacturers create wood garage doors from solid wood panels. You can choose a quality Clopay® wooden garage door from one of these collections:
- CLASSIC™ WOOD collection
- RESERVE® WOOD collection MODERN series
- RESERVE® WOOD collection LIMITED EDITION series
- RESERVE® WOOD collection SEMI-CUSTOM series
Pros of Wood Garage Doors
Homeowners choose wood garage doors because of their:
- Aesthetic appeal: Wood garage doors can enhance the curb appeal of any residence. The natural textures and colors found in wood panels add timeless beauty to a home’s exterior design.
- Energy-efficiency: Wood has the highest inherent R-value of all garage door materials. This insulation regulates the temperature of your home and acts as a sound barrier against outdoor noise.
- Resistance to cracks and dents: A wood garage door can withstand impacts from basketballs or rocks without denting or cracking.
- Adaptability: If you notice mold or rotting on your wood garage door, you can switch out the affected panel instead of replacing the whole garage door.
Cons of Wood Garage Doors
Wood garage doors require more care because they are:
- Vulnerable to moisture damage: Certain species of wood can rot or grow mold when exposed to excessive moisture. If you live in a rainy or coastal climate, you may need to take extra care of your wood garage door. Wood panels can also swell or shrink in harsh temperatures.
- Sensitive to pest damage: Termites and other insects can eat through wood and damage the structural integrity of a wood garage door.
- Expensive: Even though you can find wood types to accommodate your budget, wood is generally more costly than other garage door materials.
- Heavy: Solid wood doors need heavy-duty garage door springs to support their heavy weight. The bulkiness of solid wood may also complicate installation.
What You Can Customize With a Wood Garage Door
When you order a custom-made wood garage door, you can personalize any of the following features:
- Panel style: A single panel style creates a simple, cost-effective garage door. For a more enhanced aesthetic, you could choose a raised panel garage door. Carriage style garage doors feature a historical appearance with a durable wood overlay.
- Wood type: The species of wood used in a garage door determines its thickness and quality. Plywood is the most affordable wood species and options range up to redwood, which is the most expensive. Certain types of wood, like cedar and redwood, are more resistant to mold and warping.
- Thickness: The garage doors in the RESERVE® WOOD collection MODERN series have four layers, including a layer of polystyrene insulation. The LIMITED EDITION series features five-layer doors for optimal insulation. You could also add WINDCODE® reinforcement to your garage door if you live in a windy area.
- Windows: Garage doors with offset window options include a standard window with tempered glass. In the LIMITED EDITION series, you can choose from different window shapes and glass types, including frosted and obscure.
- Color: A wooden garage door has natural beauty on its own, but you can add a wood finish for a customized appearance. Modern wood garage doors have nine wood finish options.
- Handles: Metal handles, hinges or step plates complete the look of your garage door. Each collection of wood garage doors features different hardware shapes to choose from.
Wood Garage Door Level of Maintenance: 10/10
Wood requires the most amount of maintenance to keep up its timeless appearance. To maintain your wooden garage door, you need to:
- Inspect your wood garage door panels for rot.
- Search the panels for wood-eating insects or bite marks.
- Remove old, chipped wood finish and replace it with a new coat.
- Examine the metal hardware of your garage door, including the springs and tracks.
- Wash with mild soap and water.
What Type of House Looks Best With Wood Garages?
As a traditional garage door material, wooden garage doors typically look best with traditional-style homes. Check out these collection and home style pairings:
- CLASSIC™ WOOD collection: The traditional garage doors from this collection complement the exterior aesthetic of Craftsman, Cape Cod or ranch homes.
- RESERVE® WOOD collection MODERN series: A modern wood garage door enhances the curb appeal of a Mediterranean or modern home.
- RESERVE® WOOD collection LIMITED EDITION and SEMI-CUSTOM series: Carriage house doors accommodate the appearance of a historic home, like a Tudor or ranch style.
3. Wood Composite Garage Doors
Composite wood, or faux wood, is made from recycled wood and plastic fibers. The following Clopay® collections feature quality faux wood garage doors:
- CANYON RIDGE® collection LIMITED EDITION series
- CANYON RIDGE® collection MODERN series
- CANYON RIDGE® collection ULTRA-GRAIN® series
Pros of Wood Composite Garage Doors
Faux wood is a suitable garage door material because of its:
- Affordability: With faux wood, you can enjoy the aesthetics of a wood garage door at a fraction of the price.
- Lightweight: The recycled plastic in wood composite lightens the door’s load on the springs and track.
- Durability: Faux wood resists mold and rotting.
Cons of Wood Composite Garage Doors
Along with the benefits of wood composite garage doors, consider their drawbacks:
- Lacking natural beauty: Wood composite garage doors may look like wood, but you can’t replace the natural beauty of solid wood garage doors.
- Vulnerable to cracks and paint chips: Over time, wood composite garage doors can crack due to wear and tear, and the paint finish can chip.
What You Can Customize With a Wood Composite Garage Door
Select what you want in your faux wood garage door, including:
- Panel styles: The various panel styles and wood overlay options available in faux wood are similar to those of wood garage doors. Besides traditional options, the CANYON RIDGE® collection MODERN series features faux wood planks for a clean look.
- Thickness: Garage doors in the CANYON RIDGE® collection LIMITED EDITION series feature a five-layer steel construction with a faux wood overlay. The products in the MODERN and ULTRA-GRAIN® series have four layers with optional insulation.
- Insulation: You can bolster your wood composite garage door with a 2-inch layer of Intellicore® polyurethane insulation, providing an R-value of 20.4. The models in the CANYON RIDGE® collection LIMITED EDITION series come with a Clopay® Safe-T-Bracket® safety feature and WINDCODE® reinforcement for areas with high winds.
- Wood species: The wood cladding materials available include Clear Cypress, Mahogany and Pecky Cypress. Mahogany and Clear Cypress are available as overlay materials as well.
- Windows: Each garage door collection offers a variety of window shapes and grilles for a decorative pattern. Glass options for windows include clear, seeded, rain, obscure, frosted and insulated.
- Finish colors: Wood composite garage doors come with one of six wood finish options, including walnut finish and whitewash.
- Hardware: You can enhance your wood composite garage door with different metal handles, hinges and step plates.
Composite Wood Garage Door Level of Maintenance: 5/10
Wood composite garage doors are easier to maintain than wood, but not as easy to maintain as steel or aluminum frame. To prolong the life of a wood composite garage door, complete the following:
- Inspect the faux wood panels for cracks or paint chips.
- Fix paint chips by applying a fresh coat of wood finish.
- Wash with water and mild detergent.
What Type of House Looks Best With a Wood Composite Garage Door?
Like solid wood garage doors, wood composite pairs well with traditional homes. Consider the following collection match-ups for your home:
- CANYON RIDGE® collection LIMITED EDITION series: A wood composite garage door from this collection may complement the design of a Craftsman or a ranch home.
- CANYON RIDGE® collection MODERN series: The MODERN series accommodates the look of a modern or contemporary house.
- CANYON RIDGE® collection ULTRA-GRAIN® series: The ULTRA-GRAIN® series is ideal for Craftsman or Mediterranean houses.
4. Aluminum and Glass Garage Doors
Pros of Aluminum and Glass Garage Doors
Many homeowners choose glass garage doors because they offer:
- A modern aesthetic: The simple lines of an aluminum garage door draw attention to the front of your house, and glass panels highlight the aesthetics of a contemporary home.
- Light weight: Aluminum is the thinnest garage door material and may put less strain on your garage springs and track. Its light weight may simplify the installation process, as well.
- Durability: Glass and aluminum are naturally resistant to rust and corrosion, which may be valuable in wetter, coastal areas.
- Energy-efficiency: Aluminum is an effective insulator, especially when paired with energy-efficient glass.
- Affordability: An aluminum frame garage door puts less pressure on a garage’s springs and track, which may reduce its need for maintenance and repair.
Cons of Aluminum and Glass Garage Doors
Along with these benefits, consider the following drawbacks of aluminum frame garage doors:
- Limited custom options: You cannot paint an aluminum frame garage door, but you can add a powder coating to prevent corrosion. Along with the color, you may have fewer options for hardware types and the thickness of the garage door.
- Sensitive to shattering: While manufactured glass is generally safe, the glass panels could crack over time.
- Vulnerable to denting: Aluminum frame garage doors may dent, which could affect the integrity of the glass panels.
What You Can Customize With an Aluminum and Glass Garage Door
Aluminum frame garage doors from the AVANTE® collection are available with the following custom options:
- Glass: The AVANTE® collection features a wide variety of glass types, including gray-tinted and clear acrylic. Add insulation to the glass panels for an energy-efficient sound barrier.
- Colors: Aluminum frame garage doors and their hardware are available in seven standard colors, including dark bronze and clear aluminum. The Avante® collection is also compatible with the Color Blast® system, giving you endless garage door color options.
- Safety: If you live in a windy area, WINDCODE® reinforcement can strengthen the integrity of your aluminum and glass garage door.
Aluminum/Glass Garage Door Level of Maintenance: 3/10
Glass garage doors are relatively easy to maintain if you follow these tips:
- Inspect parts for cracks and other damage.
- Lightly clean the glass panels with mild soap and water.
- Apply a coat of car wax after cleaning to restore luster.
- Use brushes and cloths instead of abrasive materials.
What Type of House Looks Best With Aluminum Frame Garage Doors?
Aluminum frame garage doors tend to look best with modern and contemporary homes. The clean lines of aluminum frame garage doors highlight the symmetry and simplicity of these homes.