Your garage door is probably the most underrated appliance in your home. You don’t think of it very often, and if you’re like most people, you probably don’t pay much attention to it until it breaks. Don’t be too hard on yourself; you’re in good company. Although it’s recommended that you keep a regular maintenance schedule on your garage door, most of us don’t. When it breaks, we call the repairman and have it fixed. But everything has a defined lifespan, and that includes your garage door. Here are ten things you need to know before buying a garage door:
1. Garage Door Installation is NOT a Do It Yourself Job
Although you may be quite handy around the house, and tempted to save a couple hundred bucks on labor, think this through and you’ll realize it makes more sense to leave this to a professional. First, they can do the job much faster. They install doors every day. They don’t have to read the directions and make extra trips to the hardware store. They’ll show up, install your door, and be on their way.
Second, reputable garage door installers will guarantee the parts and labor. If you install the door yourself, who do you call when something doesn’t work? Troubleshooting time and the time it takes to correct the situation will make you wish you had called a pro to begin with.
Lastly, there’s the issue of safety. If you install your own door, you’ll spend most of your time on a step ladder. The risk of falling isn’t worth it. Not to mention how embarrassed you’ll feel when you have to call a pro to finish the job you can’t finish because you have a cast on your ankle and door parts lying all over the garage floor.
2. Garage Door Styles
As with anything you buy for your home, there are a variety of styles. With garage doors, function matters, but you’ll have several appearance options to choose from too. There are traditional styles with raised panels; some come with glass panels on the top row. There are carriage house style doors that look much like barn doors. They appear to open at the sides, but actually open from bottom to top, like traditional sectional doors. You will also see contemporary doors that come in trendy designs; with opaque glass at non-symmetrical sections and other interesting looks. Contemporary doors cost more than other doors. These are just a few of the options you’ll be presented with.
When you purchase a new garage door, you have a number of material options:
If you live in a humid environment, aluminum might be the best choice because of its ability to resist rust and corrosion.
Since steel is one of the most common door materials, you’ll have more choices of color, style and price range.
There’s no doubt that wood looks fantastic, whether it’s on your garage door, or the siding of your home. Although wood products made for outdoor exposure are usually fabricated of moisture-resistant wood, they still need more frequent maintenance to keep up the finish. If you don’t mind refinishing the door every few years, or paying someone else to do it, it’s an attractive option.
Composite wood is a great option since it provides the attractive look of real wood, combined with moisture resistance. It’s insulated, won’t rot or crack, and can be painted.
4. Do You Want Windows?
Many garage doors come with windows, mainly in the top row of panels. There are positives and negatives when it comes to having glass in your garage door panels. Depending on the style of your home and garage door, windows can greatly enhance the look of your garage. In addition, you’ll have some natural light shining into your garage during the daytime.
On the negative side, windows need to be cleaned. Some garages have panels with one sheet of glass. Fancier doors sometimes have glass panels that have grid style glass, with four or more sections of glass per panel. If you don’t mind monthly sessions with Windex and paper towels, this might not be an issue, but if you would rather spend that time doing something else, you might not want a door with glass.
5. Sound Level
When you’re spending upwards of 1,500 to 2,000 dollars to have your door installed, there’s no reason to have a loud door. There are two ways to be certain your door is as quiet as possible, and they aren’t overly expensive. First, be sure your installer uses nylon rollers. The extra cost is miniscule. More importantly, get a new belt-drive opener. They are well known to be the quietest type. The results will justify the cost.
6. Do You Need An Insulated Door
Your garage is most likely not climate controlled, so you might ask “why do I need an insulated garage door”? As long as your garage is attached to the house, an insulated door will help improve the energy efficiency of the home. Insulated doors are also quieter than hollow doors.
7. Not All Doors Have The Same Strength Rating
Garage doors are not created equal when it comes to their ability to stand up to harsh weather, particularly in windy locations. Garage doors are the largest opening in your home, and if not able to withstand high winds, they can easily be damaged or removed from the house altogether. Some locations that have frequent hurricanes or other windy weather events, require garage doors of a certain strength rating. Your door installer should be well aware of local codes.
8. Finding a Qualified Installer
There are several ways to find a qualified installer for you new garage door. You can do it the old fashioned way and check with neighbors and friends. This is a pretty reliable way to get accurate information, but it takes a lot longer since many people may not have had to deal with a garage door problem lately. In today’s world, it’s pretty easy to find information on almost any product or service. There are websites that deal specifically with home contractors. Sometimes their websites want some of your personal information though. So you may want to check Google reviews or yelp.com.
9. New Technology
Technology hasn’t restricted itself to computers and phones. Newer garage doors have some updated features as well. You can actually use your smartphone to operate your garage door from anywhere. Let’s say you don’t remember whether you closed the door. Just open the app on your cell phone and see the status of the door. Your neighbor wants to borrow a tool and you’re not home? No problem; push the button and they’re in. They can close the door with your keypad if you have one, or you can close it with your phone. No more programming temporary codes.
10. It’s Not All About Price
There’s no doubt that, while searching for just the right door, price will be on your mind. Although there are many aspects of garage door installation to consider, you need to get the best door for your needs. This is a major decision that will affect the curb appeal of your home, as well as functionality you’ll use many times daily. When you consider the amount you’re spending on your door installation, it’s well worth it to drop another couple hundred for that belt-drive opener and nylon rollers. When it comes to price, it goes without saying that you should get more than one estimate. And the lowest price isn’t always the best. Analyze the differences between the offers, and get the best door for you, installed by the contractor you feel you can trust the most.
Now that you have a more in-depth understanding of garage doors, and which one is right for you, you can feel comfortable that you’ll have the knowledge to find the right door, at the right price. Making the right decision on your garage door will serve you for years to come.