Choosing garage doors used to be simple. It was a case of either traditional wooden double doors that swing open or, more common these days, a one piece up-and-over door. And the material choice was simple too, traditional swinging double doors would be wood and the newer up-and-over doors were steel.
Garage Door Choice Overview
Although those two types still exist there are now more formats and more materials to choose from. Roller doors and sectional doors have joined the line-up, both of which save space inside and out and offer greater security. In terms of materials, cedar and oak are the most common woods available, but aluminium and plastic (either GRP or UPVc) have joined wood and steel.
Which Type of Garage Door?
Let’s look at the different formats first. The traditional side-hinged double swinging garage door is arguably the best looking, particularly if your property isn’t modern. The downsides are that they are slower and trickier to open than any other type and probably require the most maintenance.
This is because the hinges take a lot of strain and anyone who’s had to lift doors to get them open properly will be familiar with this. They are also more difficult to secure because the locking door can only be secured at the locking point. This allows force to be used at the top and bottom of that door, unless you use window type security bolts, which further increases the time spent opening and closing the doors.
One piece up-and-over doors are the most popular door type for houses built in the last thirty to forty years. They can be opened with one hand, as long as the mechanism is properly maintained, and are light and cheap. They are harder to break into as the are secured at both sides.
Sectional and Roller Garage Doors
Sectional doors are relatively new and have many benefits. They are usually in four horizontal sections which are loosely joined to each other. As the door is raised the sections move up then back when they reach the top of the opening. Sectional doors therefore don’t take up any room with an overhang or the opening curve, so the whole width and length of the garage can be used.
This is good for large chunky vehicles like 4x4s or properties with short driveways. Sectional drives can also be insulated and weather sealed at the edges, preventing draughts and leaves and debris from coming in. This also makes them more secure, they are held in all the way down both sides.
Roller doors are nearly always made of aluminium and are a recent entry on the domestic garage door market. They have many of the benefits of sectional doors but often need to be made to measure and are therefore more expensive.
Which Material for Your Garage Doors?
You can now almost pick your material separately from the type of door you choose, with the exception of roller doors. These are really only available in aluminium and aluminium isn’t used to make any other type of garage door either. The aluminium can be painted any colour or even given a woodgrain finish.
Real wood is traditionally associated with side-hinged swinging double doors but sectional and one piece up-and-over doors are also available in wood, usually oak or cedar. Although wood is warm to the touch and a natural product, it does degrade and need more maintenance than other materials. But at least it can be repaired, rubbed down and re-finished to make it as good as new, whereas the other materials can usually only be replaced.
Steel and Plastic
Steel is used for up-and-over, sectional and double swinging doors and is the cheapest material available. You can have steel doors delivered plain, for you to finish, or pre-finished in a variety of painted colours, woodgrain finishes or plastic coatings. Although steel is sturdy and tough it is worth paying more for galvanised steel which will be able to shrug off rust more easily.
Plastic doors, either GRP or UPVc, are the revolution in the garage door market over the past few years. All types of garage door, apart from roller doors, are available and they are long lasting and lightweight. They come in a bewildering array of finishes, different colours, woodgrain effects, and their biggest advantage is that the doors themselves are completely maintenance free.
Electrifying Garage Doors
You might want to think about electrifying garage doors, either now or in the future, as automatic kits are getting cheaper. Although every type of garage door can be automated, it’s easier and cheaper with some so you need to take that into account before you make your final choice of garage doors.
If you are contemplating electrifying your doors, take a look in this section of the site. There are articles on electrifying all the main different types of garage door so you can make the right decision.