When it’s time for a new door on your garage are you asking: “What’s the best garage door?” Every Madison WI homeowner wants to know. Replacing a garage door is a major decision and it impacts your home and family every day. Making the right choice is important. As you evaluate the many choices – you’ll find more than you expect – consider these key points:
- Color – there are dozens of colors beyond the basic white you see so often. Choose one that complements the trim and color of your house.
- Windows – don’t underestimate the value of natural light and the appeal of windows. Modern door windows come in many sizes, shapes and finishes.
- Insulation – the environment in your garage easily infiltrates your home so consider the R-value of a new door. Check out the many insulated models available.
- Style – do you want ultra-modern, contemporary or old-school carriage house? Choose a style to complement your home’s architecture.
- Hardware – hinges and handles are more than tools, they’re accents and highlights.
- Materials – understand the features, benefits and drawbacks of the garage door materials available.
Finding the best garage door means making choices. There’s no single best design, material or finish that’s right everywhere.
Choosing The Best Garage Door – Begin With The Structure
While styling, color and trim is important, the place to start is with the bare bones – what is the door made from? When you are deciding which door is best for your home your choices usually fall into three basic categories:
- Steel garage doors
- Wood garage doors
- Aluminum garage doors
These are the three most popular material choices. Each has its own special qualities that contribute to curb appeal. Each has its advantages and drawbacks. Begin by comparing each in three categories:
- Durability – which material lasts longer, resists the environment and stands up to the daily expectations of your family?
- Energy-efficiency – does one material insulate and protect against outside temperature extremes better than another?
- Good looks – is there a clear favorite to enhance the appeal of your home?
The Most Popular Garage Doors – Made From Steel
Steel garage doors are popular because they offer so many variations in color, design, size and finish. The benefits putting steel doors on top of the list include:
- Durable, long lasting – steel doors are resilient, resisting cracking, warping and the effects of extreme weather conditions.
- Customized options – modern steel doors can be customized to fit any architectural style. They can be clad with insulation and can be made to mimic the look of wooden doors.
- Return in investment – steel garage doors are affordable, low-maintenance and relatively easy to repair.
Nothing’s perfect, is it? Steel garage doors have drawbacks, including:
- Energy efficiency – steel by itself is a poor insulator so an added layer of insulation is required to improve energy efficiency.
- It dents – steel is vulnerable to impacts from cars, bikes and basketballs. The thinner the steel panels, the more vulnerable they are.
- It can rust – steel rusts. You can protect it but if it gets scratched, it will rust eventually.
Steel doors can be customized to your liking. Would you like a door that appears to swing out to open instead of going up? No problem. Do you want the look of an old-world wooden carriage house door without the upkeep? You can have it.
If you live where prevailing winds are a concern, you can get steel doors designed for extreme wind loads, too.
For An Historic Appeal – Wood Garage Doors
There’s something special about natural wood, isn’t there? Especially when applied to garage doors on one of the many classic-styled homes in the Madison area. If you’re seeking a carriage house look, real wooden doors are hard to beat. And, you’re in luck. There are many manufacturers providing classic wood doors.
In addition to their historical appeal and the overall aesthetic attraction of wood, benefits include:
- R-value – wood is the most energy-efficient material of all your choices. Natural wood has the highest R-value by itself.
- Insulation – not only does wood insulate your home from temperature changes, it also insulates you from exterior noises.
- Impact-resistant – a solid wood garage door withstands impacts from soccer balls, rocks and bike handlebars.
- Customization – there are many wood types available for custom looks, plus many stain colors, window designs, panel molding and hardware.
Unfortunately, real wood comes with a list of disadvantages, including:
- Maintenance – wood is sensitive to moisture and can host mold and mildew when exposed to too much snow and/or rain. Real wood must be refinished on a regular basis.
- Weight – wooden garage doors are heavier than steel or aluminum. They must have heavy-duty springs to support their weight – and heavy-duty openers to keep them functioning properly. The extra weight makes installation more complicated, too.
- Cost – wooden garage doors are the most expensive. You pay extra for styling and curb appeal.
Aluminum Garage Doors – The Light Weight Choice
There are two popular styles of aluminum garage doors – solid and nearly all glass. Using aluminum frames to secure panels of glass, the all-glass versions are appealing in ultra-modern designs and for commercial installations – restaurants, showrooms, etc. The more conventional aluminum panel doors rival steel for looks and style. Aluminum’s beneficial features include:
- Modern appeal – using a lot of glass these doors draw attention to the house and highlight contemporary styling.
- Light weight – the thinnest of the door materials it takes less effort to open and close.
- Durability – aluminum resists corrosion and rust. It requires little maintenance beyond lubrication on springs and an occasional washing.
- Energy-efficient – paired with highly energy-efficient glass, aluminum is a good insulator. Additional insulation on panels is an option.
Along with these benefits, consider its drawbacks:
- Limited custom options – you can’t paint an aluminum frame garage door. It will come with a powder-coat finish to prevent corrosion. That reduces color choices – although more and more are becoming available all the time. In addition, there are fewer options for hardware.
- Aluminum dents – aluminum garage doors do dent and that can put glass panels at risk.
Does The Best Garage Door Combine Features?
For most people, choosing the best garage door comes down to pros and cons of these three choices. However, manufacturers have given you another option: wood composite doors. Composite wood doors – also called “faux wood” – are made from recycled wood and plastic fibers. They combine the benefits of several styles and engineering designs. While relatively new, their benefits, especially compared to real wood, include:
- Affordable – you get the look and outward feel of real wood without the same upfront cost.
- Lighter weight – using a blend of wood and plastic makes finished doors lighter and easier to lift/lower.
- Durable – composites resist mold, rot and insects.
- Looks like real wood – doors are available with many stain colors and textures to mirror real wood.
- Insulation – composites on their own are good insulators and these doors can be bolstered with additional insulation.
Are these benefits enough to push you toward one of the new styles? Before you make a decision, consider the disadvantages, too:
- They show wear – composites are subject to cracks and chipped paint. Over time, especially when facing direct sunlight for hours each day, the finish can fade, crack and chip.
- Not ‘real’ – while these doors are getting better all the time, they don’t reflect the natural beauty of real wood. They look like wood, especially from a distance, but up-close they don’t compare. Especially after a few years in the elements.
Find The ‘Best Garage Door’ In Our Showroom
Northland Door Systems provides you with an in-person, hands on experience to help choose the right door for your home. It has the most complete garage door and garage door opener showroom in southern Wisconsin. In Sauk City, just a short drive north of Madison, you’ll find a selection of the best garage door and opener brands available. Selecting a new garage door is a significant decision. It makes sense to take advantage of all the latest information at your fingertips, right?
Northland Door Systems’ factory-trained, experienced technicians will match a new door and door opener to your home and family lifestyle. We represent only high quality garage door brands and the most advanced garage door opening systems in southern Wisconsin. Call or email Northland Door Systems at 608-251-3627 and let us guide you to the best garage door for your Madison WI home.