This discussion covers five different types of materials that are available for garage doors. Each has positives and negatives. The five material choices are steel, aluminum, wood, wood composite, and fiberglass.
Most residential garage doors are made of steel, as are nearly all commercial doors. Steel doors are reasonably priced, durable, low maintenance. Steel can be painted, and it is available in textures that mimic wood. Other considerations for choosing steel:
- When shopping for a steel garage door, three factors need to be considered. First, steel is a poor insulator, so insulated doors are a smart choice for saving energy.
- Steel doors can be one-, two-, or three-layered. Single-layered doors have no insulation. Double-layered doors have one layer of steel and one of insulation. Triple-layered doors have an additional backing layer of steel.
- Garage doors have steel panels that vary in thickness. Low-cost doors have thin panels of 27- or 28-gauge steel. Though inexpensive and suitable for many garages, these doors will not stand up well to minor impact. Midlevel doors offer 25- or 26-gauge steel (the lower the gauge number, the thicker the steel).
- Top quality doors are made of steel that is at least 24-gauge in thickness. Commercial-grade doors use even thicker steel. Some steel garage doors offer thicker steel on the outside than on the backing layer.
Aluminum doors share many of the characteristics of steel, with optional faux wood texturing and long-lasting finishes. Aluminum is lighter and less expensive than steel; it is more fragile, however..
The first garage doors were made with wood, and wood continues to appeal to those seeking traditional styles and materials. Wood doors are offered in a variety of styles. Wooden doors offer more architectural choices and can more easily customized. The lowest-cost wood option is painted wood with flat hardboard panels. Stain-grade wood doors cost more. Wood doors require more maintenance than do metal, composite, or fiberglass doors.
Composite doors are made with recycled wood fibers. They offer the strength of steel with the looks and texture of wood, and they can be painted or stained. Composite doors are superior to solid wood in resisting rot and splitting.
Fiberglass garage doors represent a small segment of the market. The panels, which are encased in aluminum frames, offer greater resistance to dents than do steel panels. Fiberglass is very light, a poor insulator, and can fade from weather exposure. But it is more resistant to salt-water corrosion than other garage door materials, which makes it a good choice for coastal locations.