Everything You Need to Know About Buying a New Garage Door

Replacing your garage door is one of the best value investments you can make to your home.

By Jennifer Tuohy on Behalf of The Home Depot

Buying a new garage door is a once- or twice-in-a-lifetime project for most homeowners. If the time has come to replace yours, either as part of a remodel or because the old one has outlived its useful life, you are likely in unfamiliar territory. In this article, we’ll help you understand the many aspects of buying a garage door so you can choose the perfect one for your home with confidence.

Replacing your garage door is one of the best value investments you can make to your home. According to Remodeling Magazine’s 2015 Cost vs. Value Report, which estimates the return on investment of remodeling projects, the benefit of replacing your garage door is second only to replacing your front door. When it comes to increasing curb appeal, newer, more attractive doors are clearly a winner. Here are the six most important factors to consider for your new garage door.

1. Cost

Garage doors don’t have to be an expensive investment. Prices start at less than $500 for a single car garage door and under $100 for a simple garage door opener. From there, they go up based on size, material, insulation levels and decorative elements, plus the horsepower and features of your garage door opener. A standard two-car garage door with an automatic opener and professional installation will typically run somewhere between $1,500 and $2,000.

2. Size

Before you begin your quest for a new garage door, measure your garage’s opening. You should do this even though a professional will be installing the door for you, because size will be the best guide for determining how much your door will cost and what style and materials are going to work best for you. Here is a handy guide for measuring your door.

3. Material

The next step is to determine the right material for you. The material you choose affects the look, longevity and maintenance requirements of your door. The four main types of material are steel, aluminum, wood and composite wood.

Steel is the most popular material, as it has the widest range of options in color, insulation and price. Modern steel doors can be embossed with wood grain patterns to give you the look of wood without the maintenance. They can also be painted to match the exterior of your home. Steel is also a very durable option, as it doesn’t warp or crack. Most doors are hot-dipped galvanized steel with the primer baked on, meaning it won’t rust or require frequent repainting. The biggest drawback to steel, however, is that it can dent—and when it does, it’s not a simple repair. To mitigate this, consider a lower gauge steel door. The lower the gauge number, the thicker the steel, and the less susceptible it is to denting. Top-quality steel doors usually are at least 24 gauge.

Aluminum is a good choice if you want a more modern-looking door. An aluminum frame paired with frosted or clear glass or acrylic panels creates a striking aesthetic. It is also rust-resistant and extremely lightweight. Aluminum, however, is even more susceptible to dents than steel.

Wood offers a truly signature look and is hard to beat for superior curb appeal. Although they come with a higher price tag and higher maintenance requirements, they can be easily painted or stained to achieve the exact look you want. Wood doors are less susceptible to accidental damage and can be more easily repaired. Additionally, when properly cared for, they offer expectation durability.

Composite Wood is an excellent alternative to real wood because it is durable and low-maintenance. These doors often have a steel interior and a faux wood composite overlay to achieve the benefits of steel with the look of wood.

Once you’ve decided on your size and material, you can determine whether you want to buy a ready-made door or if you’ll need to have one configured to fit your specific needs. Many retailers offer online tools that you can use to put together the ideal garage door.

4. Insulation

Should you insulate your garage door? Yes! If the garage is attached to the house, insulation is an added layer of defense against wasted energy. This is especially important if you have a room above your garage.

When you are shopping for a door, you may see the following insulation options:

  • Single layer doors –no added insulation
  • Double layer doors –polystyrene insulation
  • Triple layer doors –polystyrene or polyurethane insulation. Polyurethane is a liquid that expands and hardens, offering a higher insulation value than polystyrene, which is cut to fit the door panel.

All insulation has an “R-value.” The higher the R-value, the better the insulation. As well as improving energy efficiency, insulation also helps reduce noise, improve security (as it makes the door stronger) and increase durability.

5. Style

While the material you choose will largely dictate your style, there are other additional features to consider, including windows, hardware and paneling, all of which can increase the elegance of your garage door. A popular style right now is the carriage door (pictured above). Additionally, window designs that incorporate wrought iron, arches or grills can transform the look of an ordinary garage door and help your home stand out from the crowd.

6. Garage Door Openers

Once you’ve got the perfect garage door, you need a garage door opener. The first choice to make is the way your opener will be operated: either by chain, screw or belt drive.

  • Belt drives use a rubber belt to open and lower the door along the rails. There is no metal on metal contact, resulting in a quieter, smoother operation that requires no ongoing maintenance.
  • Screw drives use a threaded steel rod to raise and lower the garage door, which needs to be lubricated regularly.
  • Chain drives work by attaching a chain to a metal trolley. It is the most economical option, but the metal-on-metal interactions result in a nosier operation then the other choices.

The second choice is the horsepower of the motor. The higher the horsepower, the more weight the opener can handle. The standards are ¼, ½ and 1. Some newer models offer 1 ¼. You will need to check the weight of your new door in order to determine the minimum horsepower you’ll need. A higher horsepower motor is generally more durable, as there is less strain on the motor during use.

In addition to the above, all door openers should have a manual emergency release and sensors that prevent the door from shutting if something is in the way. Optional extra features to consider include vacation settings that allow you to disable the opener while you are away, battery backup that can open the door when the power is out, and wireless keypads that allow you to open the door from the outside without a remote control.

A relatively new feature is the addition of “smart home” capabilities to garage door openers, courtesy of a Wi-Fi connection. These garage door openers can be operated via a smartphone app, which lets you know if your garage door is open or closed and allows you to open and close it remotely. It can also integrate with other smart home devices you own, so your house can do useful things such as turn on your lights when you open your garage door.

Now that you’re armed with all the information you need to choose your new garage door, selecting the right one will be an easy and straightforward decision, one which will have a positive impact on your home’s appearance, safety and value.

Jennifer Tuohy is a mother of two who writes about technology for homeowners. Her expertise ranges from the latest updates in garage door openers to sustainable smart home solutions. You can view a selection of garage door openers like the ones Jennifer mentioned here at The Home Depot.

Lindsay is the the Senior Manager of Media Engagement for Coldwell Banker Real Estate and manages the brand’s media and social media department. She is also a licensed real estate professional. In 2017, she was named a top 20 social influencer in the real estate industry in the annual Swanepoel 200 power rankings.

Lindsay lives in Livingston, NJ with her college sweetheart and now husband Joe and recently welcomed another Joe into her life as she became a mom in June 2016. Lindsay and her two Joes love spending their time playing with their cat Rory, watching sports and vacationing in Cape Cod.

26 Comments

  1. Ron Payne
    April 20, 2016

    Hi Lindsay,

    Really great job on the article. Well researched and well written.

    Best,
    Ron

    Reply
    • Lindsay Listanski
      December 2, 2016

      Thanks so much Ron!

      Reply
  2. James Bergman
    May 18, 2016

    I will admit that I am a little surprised that prices for garage doors can start under $2,000. I doubt many people take the cheapest option, but I’m still surprised. However, I do have a strong preference for wooden garage doors. I feel like they are more sturdy. I say this because my sister hit two garage doors when she began driving. The first was aluminum and was horribly bent out of shape. The second was a wooden door (w had moved) and if she hadn’t said anything I never would have known it had happened.

    Reply
  3. Nash Rich
    May 18, 2016

    I feel like the price to get a garage door replaced was pretty reasonable. It’s a big door with lots of moving parts! I’ve always thought wooden garage doors look nice, but it does make sense that they would be a little pricier and take maintenance. They look really classy though.

    Reply
  4. Kairi Gainsborough
    June 13, 2016

    I really appreciate the estimates on how much I can expect a new garage will cost. It makes it much easier to plan ahead and budget for the project. An automatic open is actually a lot less expensive than I would have guessed! That will make me feel a bit better about splurging on extra features, like a high horsepower motor.

    Reply
  5. Gregory Willard
    June 16, 2016

    I have been wanting to get a new garage door for a while now, but I never knew what to look for. I had no idea that prices start at less than $500 for a single garage door. I always assumed you could have to spend thousands of dollars for just one door. I will have to remember that. Thanks,

    Reply
  6. Jack Davis
    June 17, 2016

    That’s a great idea. It’s amazing what little things can do to a garage door. At first glance, it looks like you got completely new doors. The problem with garage doors is that they are so large and are usually at the front of a house. So they are often the first things people see, yet nice garages are so expensive as you said. Adornments like these are an excellent way to spruce up the look without breaking the banks.

    Reply
  7. Alise Harper
    June 23, 2016

    My daughter just crashed the car into the garage door and we will need a new door. Thank you for all the tips about buying a new garage door. I really like how you pointed out knowing the size of the opening to know the price range and know what kinds of materials that will work and look best with the house. I will definitely measure the opening and look up the materials and style I want before calling a professional so the process will go smoothly. Thanks for all the great information!

    Reply
    • Lindsay Listanski
      December 2, 2016

      So glad you enjoyed it! I happen to run through my garage door at 17 years old :)

      Reply
  8. Maggie Allen
    June 24, 2016

    Wow, I didn’t even know that you could get a garage door made out of wood; that’s pretty great! Since these doors need to be big and sturdy, I thought that metals were the only choice. However, if wooden doors last a long time and can be easily repaired, then I should probably look into them. My house has a very rustic style, so they would fit right in!

    Reply
  9. Charles Miller
    June 25, 2016

    Thanks for making such a cool post which is really very well written.

    Reply
  10. johncbenavides
    June 30, 2016

    The most important safety tip to remember when replacing garage door springs is to replace both of them at once to avoid causing further damage.

    Reply
  11. Rachel
    July 26, 2016

    I absolutely love the look of the wood garage doors. Even if you get a faux wood door, I think it really brings a beautiful look to your home. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  12. Tobias Armstrong
    July 27, 2016

    I had no idea that you could get garage doors made out of so many different materials. I’ve always had steel doors, so I guess that’s made me a little biased. I could see wood being a really nice material though, as long as you keep it up well. I really liked your advice in general though, so thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  13. willimas
    August 15, 2016

    I have read your article about Buying Garage door.you have shared nice and helpful information.i have also need the informtion like Broken Garage Door Spring,Jacksonville Garage Door Repair .i hope you will share related information.Thanks

    Reply
  14. Gregory Willard
    August 15, 2016

    Our garage door on our house is so old that we decided to have it replaced. I had no idea that you should consider insulation when choosing the door. It always seemed like you should choose the look over anything else.

    Reply
  15. michaeorales
    August 31, 2016

    Now that you’re armed with all the information you need to choose your new garage door, selecting the right one will be an easy and straightforward decision, one which will have a positive impact on your home’s appearance, safety and value.http://www.sarasota-garagedoor.com/

    Reply
  16. Chivas
    September 4, 2016

    Hi Lindsay! Thanks for the useful info. Buying a new garage door is no easy task. Many people don’t realize what a big part of the house their garage door is. When selecting a new garage door, we can break it down into three major categories to consider: style, insulation, and glass design. Make sure to buy a garage door opener with a rolling code feature. It makes it much harder for a potential burglar to access the code that will open the door.

    Reply
  17. willimas
    September 9, 2016

    Hi’ you have shared helpful about garage door i think all in one information in this article.

    Reply
  18. Marisa
    October 3, 2016

    Thanks for posting! I think the most useful part of this post is the discussion on materials. You briefly touched on style, which is very important for the garage door aesthetic. This link brings up some of the differences between carriage style doors and traditional doors in more detail: https://www.omahagaragedoor.repair/blog/traditional-and-carriage-overhead-garage-doors/

    Reply
  19. Jen Pack
    October 19, 2016

    I live in an older house and am always looking for things I can do to increase it’s value. I have never given much thought to the garage though, and had no idea it made such a big difference in the value of my home. The garage door we have now is wood. I was leaning towards steel initially for a replacement material, but I think the more modern look provided by aluminum might be a better choice, especially since I live in a very snowy/rainy state, so I’m sure the rust-resistant aspect would be a major plus.

    Reply
  20. Derek Mcdoogle
    October 26, 2016

    My wife called me this morning because when she was trying to leave to go to work the garage door wouldn’t open. You mentioned that Composite Wood is an excellent alternative to real wood because it is durable and low-maintenance. Are there certain garage doors that work better in certain climates or areas? Hiring a contractor to come and install new garage doors might be a good option.

    Reply
    • Lindsay Listanski
      December 2, 2016

      That is a great question. I will toss it to our experts at Home Depot to see if they can assist!

      Reply
  21. Venus Algus
    December 28, 2016

    Estimating cost need full measurement for exact size of garage door. Repairing old door cost higher and meet at the exact price of new door.

    Reply
  22. Scott
    January 19, 2017

    I didn’t realize that the higher the R-value the better insulation it has. It makes sense making sure there is insulation is important to help save on your energy bill. My parents have been talking about getting a garage door installed. I’ll have to talk to them about what they think is best for their situation.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

7 Quick and Easy Home Tips to Read Before You Begin Spring Cleaning
4 Must-Do Home Tips to Keep You Dry This Spring