A garage is a safe place to park your car. It can also be used as extra storage space, projects such as woodworking or home improvement, or even for band practice or other hobbies. In fact, 55% of Americans spend 1-2 hours each week in the garage doing hobbies and other activities.

Whatever the use, your garage is a vital part of your home, and a garage door is the portal into that world. You need a door that blends utility and safety features in a way that matches the decor of your home.

5 Things to Look For in Garage Doors

There are a few key factors to look at when purchasing a new garage door: insulation ratings, installation costs, safety features, and future maintenance are all key aspects of a good garage door. 

1. High R-Value Insulation Ratings

A lot of energy can be lost when doors are poorly insulated. Garage doors are no exception; heating and cooling make up at least half of the energy usage in an average home, and most of that quickly and easily escapes out of certain kinds of doors. One brand of doors measured the difference in one of the coldest months, January, and found a 100% difference between insulated- versus non-insulated doors

Sound insulation is a secondary benefit: insulated doors create a sound barrier that makes it easy for your kids to rock out without annoying the neighbors. 

To tell if a garage door will offer that kind of insulation, look for its R-Value. The higher the R-Value, the better insulation it offers. There are typically recommendations for best R-Value a region should accept: Utah sits within the 5-6 range, meaning that for optimal insulation, the R-Value needs to start at 5. 

2. Design that Complements Your Home

While the idea of garage doors often conjures a traditional, simple white garage door, there are many styles available to suit all styles of homes. Look at different colors, lites (windows), designs, hardware such as handles or hinges, and more. Some popular styles include:

  • Traditional Raised Panel. These are the most common garage doors, with symmetrical, raised rectangular panels. While you’ll often see these in white, there are multiple colors including natural wood options available.
  • Contemporary. Contemporary garage doors feature clean lines and large, simple panels. They may also have modern windows embedded in the door for added design and curb appeal. These windows can have varying degrees of light transmission for security.
  • Carriage House. Carriage house garage doors or “barn style” garage doors have a rustic look, often adorned with hinges, handles, and/or windows. These doors look great with craftsman and mission style homes, among others.

3. Reasonable Price–Including Installation

When you’re searching for the perfect garage door, don’t forget that your budget should include the price of installation. Labor typically costs around $300 per unit, while the cost of a new garage door can range on average from $300-1100 per unit.

4. Safety Features

Auto-Reverse: Consider the safety of your family and your property. An auto-reverse feature is an absolute must: according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, since 1982 73 children were caught, trapped, and eventually died. Even now, injuries (an estimated 20,000 annually) can be attributed to garage doors installed without proper safety features. There are a few different auto-reverse systems; they can be an electric eye, a door edge sensor, or any other device that provides equivalent protection, and are, in fact, legally required by the CPSC for all newly installed doors.

Manual Control is another recommended safety feature. If there’s a power failure of any kind, you should be able to manually operate your garage door. If it’s installed properly, it will stay on its tracks and operation will go back to normal as soon as power is restored. 

Motion Detection lends itself to home security as well as personal safety. If the lights turn on immediately upon opening your garage door, you’ll be able to see better and avoid tripping over those hobbies you’ve been working on. It also works as a deterrent to any would-be home invaders. 

5. Future Maintenance

Like many home features, a garage door requires a full annual check-up and inspection by a professional. 

Preventive maintenance is key. The average garage door opens and closes 1,000 times per year: that kind of activity merits regular inspections. Look out for regular wear and tear throughout: pay attention to cables, tracks, and weather strips as these are particularly prone to damage. Gettin an annual garage door tuneup (we offer these from many of our Jones Paint & Glass locations!) will help keep all parts well-lubricated, tightened, and inspected for damage. The garage door springs are considered the most dangerous feature of your garage door, so they should be handled only by a professional.

Keep the facade of the door in good condition by regularly cleaning it. Not only does it keep it attractive, but rust or warping can lead to functional damage.  

Final Thoughts

A good garage door keeps your family safe and comfortable. There’s a wide range of materials and constantly evolving features available, so its a good idea to talk to an expert about your specific needs.