When the time comes to install a new garage door, one of the first choices you'll need to make is what material you'd like that door to be made from. There are five basic materials used to make most garage doors today: wood, steel, aluminum, vinyl and fiberglass. Read on to discover the pros and cons of each material so you can make an informed choice for your home.
Wood Garage Doors
Pros: If you have a rustic or country-style home, it's hard to beat the natural look of wood. A wood garage door can also be stained or painted most any color. If you ever decide to change your home's exterior colors, re-painting a wood garage door is a simple task you can tackle yourself. Wood also has natural insulating properties and will not develop dents.
Cons: Wood requires periodic staining, painting and waterproofing to protect against moisture damage and rot. Wood garage doors are also quite heavy, so you'll need a more durable, expensive garage door opener than you would with a lighter material like fiberglass or aluminum.
Steel Garage Doors
Pros: Steel is incredibly strong, so it offers an additional level of protection against break-ins. It's also a low-maintenance option. It does not need to be painted or stained. Today's steel doors are coated with specialized polyester materials that help prevent them from rusting.
Cons: Steel is heavy so, as with a wood garage door, you will need a heavy-duty opener. If you live in a coastal area, the salt in the air may also cause the steel to corrode (especially once the door has aged and the polyester coating is beginning to break down). Steel may also be dented if you bump into it with something heavy.
Aluminum Garage Doors
Pros: Aluminum garage doors give you a similar, modern look to that of steel, but they are lighter in weight and therefore compatible with a greater array of openers. Aluminum doors don't rust, and since aluminum is an easy metal to shape and mold, they come in an array of patterns and designs.
Cons: Aluminum doors dent easily. This makes them a poor choice for homes with children who may run into the garage door with toys or bikes. Aluminum is also much easier than steel to cut through if a determined burglar wants to enter your home.
Vinyl Garage Doors
Pros: Vinyl garage doors are another low-maintenance option. They don't require painting, and they won't rust or corrode. They're easy to clean -- just spray them off with the hose. Today's vinyl garage doors are also colored in such a way that they resist fading due to sun exposure. They're also lightweight and impossible for kids to dent.
Cons: Many homeowners feel that vinyl garage doors look "cheap" and plastic-like. It's also impossible to change the color of a vinyl garage door once it's in place (you can't paint it or stain it). Vinyl doors that are not insulated also do a poor job of keeping heat inside your garage.
Fiberglass Garage Doors
Pros: Fiberglass doors are lightweight and usually very affordable. They perform well in harsh coastal environments where the salty air would corrode steel and perhaps cause wood to weather prematurely. Fiberglass garage doors come in many styles and finishes.
Cons: Fiberglass garage doors do not insulate well, and the material can become brittle in cold temperatures. Thus, they are a poor choice for homes in cold regions. Fiberglass also tends to yellow as it ages, and it may crack if struck with a heavy object.
What garage door material is right for you will depend on your priorities. If you value aesthetics and don't mind doing a little maintenance, for example, perhaps a wood door would suit you. If you want a low-maintenance option that the kids won't ruin, maybe vinyl is the best choice. To learn more, talk with a garage door company in your area, such as Shank Door.