If you are considering installing a new garage door, whether for the first time or to replace an outdated one, you probably know there are different materials to choose from. Each of these materials has its own pros and cons, and understanding them is imperative in helping you make the right garage door selection for your residential or commercial property.
Here are the top garage door materials you can choose from and their pros and cons:
Steel Garage Doors
Best for: All climates, subject to corrosion in salty environments
Steel is arguably the most popular material for garage doors in many commercial properties. It offers a myriad of benefits, but also has some cons compared to other options.
Steel doors are not only relatively affordable, strong and durable, but also a low-maintenance option. A top-quality steel garage door, such as a 24- or 25-gage steel door, will easily give you service for at least 10 years.
Plus, steel doors come in a wide variety of design options, making it easy to fit them into your home design. Steel doors also offer an insulation option to help you regulate your garage temperatures. Steel is also highly prone to dings and dents, which can accumulate over time and take a toll on the door’s appearance. It is also subject to corrosion especially when used in salty areas.
Steel itself is not a great insulator, but when layered with polyurethane insulation such as our Thermacore® insulated steel door line, they become highly energy efficient.
Pros of Steel Garage Doors
- Low maintenance: Steel garage doors require minimal upkeep, making them convenient for homeowners or business owners who prefer a hassle-free option.
- Very durable: Steel is a strong and robust material, providing excellent durability and long-term performance.
- Various style options: Steel doors come in a wide range of designs, allowing you to find a style that complements your residential or commercial property’s aesthetics.
- Cost-effective: Compared to some other garage door materials, steel is often more affordable, making it a budget-friendly choice.
- Energy-efficient: While steel itself is not a great insulator, high-quality steel doors can be layered with polyurethane insulation, such as the Thermacore® insulated steel door line, to enhance energy efficiency and regulate garage temperatures.
Cons of Steel Garage Doors
- Vulnerable to dings and dents: Steel is prone to accumulating dings and dents over time, which can affect the appearance of the door. Care should be taken to avoid impacts from vehicles or other objects.
- Not a natural insulator: Steel is not inherently insulating, which means it may not provide as much thermal efficiency as some other materials. Additional insulation options, such as polyurethane layers, can be added to improve insulation.
- Subject to corrosion in salty environments: In areas with high salt content, such as coastal regions, steel garage doors are more susceptible to corrosion. Regular maintenance and protective coatings can help mitigate this risk.
- Potential for noise: Steel doors can produce more noise when opening or closing compared to some other materials. However, advancements in technology have led to quieter operation options in modern steel garage doors.
- Weight: Steel doors tend to be heavier than doors made from certain other materials, requiring a sturdy and properly balanced opening mechanism for smooth and reliable operation.
Wooden Garage Doors
Best for: Mild, dry climates
Wood is often the number two option for garage doors in popularity. They have been in existence since the very early days of garage door use.
Wooden garage doors are preferred over other materials because of their aesthetic appeal. Wood gives your garage door a unique and distinguished look, and it can be customized to fit any style or design you want. Our signature carriage garage door collection has over 16 styles of wooden garage doors for you to choose from, making your house even more unique.
The biggest disadvantage with wood is that it requires constant maintenance. If not well taken care of, which includes regular repainting, priming, sealing and such, it can easily deteriorate and lose its aesthetic appeal. They may suffer cracks, splits, shrinkage, expansion and even rot. Wooden garage doors also have a short life and are very costly.
Pros of Wooden Garage Doors
- Aesthetically pleasing: Wooden garage doors offer a natural and classic look that adds warmth and charm to any home or property.
- Wood is a natural insulator: Wood has inherent insulating properties, helping to regulate temperature and potentially reducing energy costs.
- Endless overlay designs: Wooden garage doors can be customized with various overlays and decorative elements, allowing for a wide range of design options.
- Field-staining to achieve desired look: Wood can be stained or painted in different colors or finishes to match your preferred aesthetic.
- Durable: Well-maintained wooden garage doors can provide long-lasting performance and withstand daily use.
Cons of Wooden Garage Doors
- Heavy and difficult to operate manually: Wooden doors are heavier compared to some other materials, which can make them more challenging to open and close manually.
- Requires constant maintenance: Wooden garage doors need regular maintenance, including repainting, priming, sealing, and other treatments, to protect them from the elements and maintain their appearance.
- Can crack, warp, swell, or rot: Wood is susceptible to damage caused by moisture, temperature changes, and pests. Without proper care, wooden garage doors can develop cracks, warp, swell, or even rot over time.
- Shorter lifespan: Compared to some other materials, wooden garage doors may have a shorter lifespan, especially if not properly maintained.
- Costly: Wooden garage doors tend to be more expensive than doors made from other materials, both in terms of upfront costs and long-term maintenance expenses.
Aluminum Garage Doors
Best for: All climates, however extreme heat can reduce durability
This material is somewhat similar to steel and many property owners use it as an alternative. Aluminum offers similar advantages to steel but at a lower price. They are strong, long-lasting and thanks to aluminum’s natural resistance do not rust.
Aluminum doors are also perfect for fitting with many glass window options that allow more natural light into the garage, giving a home that beautiful contemporary look.
However, aluminum is lighter than steel. Because it’s lighter than steel, this material is more likely to dent and does not last as long as steel does, especially in areas with high wind speeds.
Aluminum also has a low R-value, meaning that they are less insulated than garage doors made from other materials.
Pros of Aluminum Garage Doors
- Aluminum is naturally resistant to rust: Unlike steel, aluminum garage doors do not rust, making them a suitable choice for areas with high humidity or proximity to the coast.
- Highly customizable: Aluminum doors can be easily customized and tailored to fit various design preferences, offering flexibility in style and appearance.
- Large glass windows allow maximum light to go into the garage: Aluminum doors can be paired with large glass windows, allowing natural light to illuminate the garage space, creating a bright and welcoming atmosphere.
- Low maintenance: Aluminum garage doors require minimal maintenance, as they do not need to be painted or sealed like wood doors.
- Cost-effective: Aluminum doors are generally more affordable than some other materials like wood or fiberglass, making them a budget-friendly option.
Cons of Aluminum Garage Doors
- Low insulation: Aluminum is not a great insulator, which means it may not provide as much thermal efficiency as some other materials. Additional insulation options can be added to improve energy efficiency.
- Not fully waterproof: Aluminum garage doors may not provide complete waterproofing, and water can seep through certain areas, especially around seams or joints.
- Less durable: Aluminum is generally lighter and less durable than steel, making it more susceptible to dents and damage, particularly in areas with high wind speeds or heavy impact risks.
- Less privacy when fitted with glass windows: While large glass windows can offer enhanced aesthetics and natural light, they may compromise privacy, allowing people to see inside the garage space.
Fiberglass Garage Doors
Best for: Warm, humid climates
Though uncommon, fiberglass material is best for garage doors fitted in highly salty areas such as beachfront properties. Fiberglass panels are extremely durable, more dent resistant than steel, and highly resistant to corrosion or rust.
Their high resistance to corrosion is what makes them a perfect option for coastal properties. In addition, fiberglass material requires almost zero maintenance. Fiberglass is a poor insulator and may fade due to long exposure to the sun.
Pros of Fiberglass Garage Doors
- Resistant to warping, shrinking, or corroding due to moisture: Fiberglass garage doors are highly resistant to the effects of moisture, making them an ideal choice for humid climates or areas prone to moisture exposure.
- Windows allow more natural light into the garage: Fiberglass doors can be designed with windows, allowing ample natural light to enter the garage space, creating a bright and inviting environment.
- Won’t contract or expand from temperature changes: Fiberglass is less affected by temperature fluctuations compared to other materials, ensuring that the garage door maintains its shape and functionality over time.
- Low maintenance: Fiberglass garage doors require minimal maintenance, as they do not require regular repainting, staining, or sealing like wooden doors.
- Lightweight: Fiberglass is a lightweight material, making the garage door easier to operate manually or with a garage door opener.
Cons of Fiberglass Garage Doors
- Fiberglass is brittle and is more susceptible to damage: While fiberglass is durable and resistant to moisture, it can be more prone to cracking or breaking upon impact compared to materials like steel or aluminum.
- Will often crack and develop a yellow tint with age: Over time, fiberglass garage doors may develop cracks and become discolored, particularly with prolonged exposure to sunlight.
- Limited design options: Compared to other materials like wood or steel, the design options for fiberglass garage doors may be more limited, restricting customization possibilities.
- May not provide the same level of insulation: Fiberglass garage doors may not offer the same level of insulation as other materials, and additional insulation may be necessary for optimal energy efficiency.
Wood Composite Garage Doors
Best for climates: All
Also known as faux wood, this material offers the ideal solution for people who want a garage door with a wooden look, but without the extensive maintenance required by wooden doors. This material is as strong as steel and can be painted or stained just like wood. It is also resistant to splitting, warping and rot.
However, the complex composition of the material makes them quite expensive when compared to other materials but can be a good investment due to the lower maintenance costs.
Pros of Wood Composite Garage Doors
- Low maintenance: Wood composite garage doors require minimal maintenance, as they do not need regular repainting, sealing, or staining like traditional wooden doors.
- Moisture, weather, and rot-resistant: Wood composite materials are highly resistant to moisture, weather elements, and rotting, ensuring long-term durability and performance.
- Made from sustainable materials: Wood composite garage doors are often constructed from sustainable materials, making them an environmentally friendly choice.
- Just as customizable as real wood garage doors: Wood composite can be painted or stained to achieve a desired look, providing the aesthetic appeal of real wood without the extensive maintenance.
- More durable than real wood: Wood composite is generally more durable than natural wood, with enhanced resistance to cracking, warping, and rotting.
Cons of Wood Composite Garage Doors
- Heavier than wooden doors: Wood composite garage doors can be heavier than traditional wooden doors, requiring a sturdy and properly balanced opening mechanism.
- Materials are quite expensive: Wood composite garage doors can be more expensive compared to doors made from other materials, as they offer the benefits of real wood without the associated drawbacks.
What is the best material for a garage door?
Determining the best material to use for your garage door depends on your specific needs as each type performs best in specific climates. After learning about each type and their pros and cons, you now have a better idea of what material to choose from. Consider each option carefully and consult a professional garage door dealer to help you settle on the one that meets your specific property’s needs.
The top materials for garage doors are steel, wood, aluminum, fiberglass, and wood composite.
Steel garage doors are low maintenance, durable, cost-effective, and offer various style options.
Steel garage doors are vulnerable to dings and dents, not natural insulators, and subject to corrosion in salty environments.
Wood garage doors are aesthetically pleasing, natural insulators, offer endless overlay designs, and can be field-stained to achieve the desired look.
Wood garage doors are heavy and difficult to operate manually, require constant maintenance, and can crack, warp, swell, or rot.
Aluminum garage doors are naturally resistant to rust, highly customizable, allow maximum light with glass windows, and require low maintenance.
Aluminum garage doors have low insulation, are not fully waterproof, less durable than steel, and offer less privacy when fitted with glass windows.
Fiberglass garage doors are resistant to warping, shrinking, and corrosion due to moisture, allow more natural light, and require low maintenance.
Fiberglass garage doors can be brittle and susceptible to damage, may fade with sun exposure, and develop a yellow tint with age.
Wood composite garage doors are low maintenance, moisture, weather, and rot-resistant, made from sustainable materials, customizable, and more durable than wood.
Wood composite garage doors are heavier than wooden doors and can be more expensive in terms of materials.
The best material for a garage door depends on specific needs and climate. Consult a professional garage door dealer for guidance based on your property’s requirements.