For most homeowners, garage doors are an important part of their lives. When searching for a new home, many potential buyers have garages on their checklist of desires. When preparing to put a home on the market, sellers realize that garages and their doors are a crucial factor in a home’s curb appeal.
If current trends continue, garages will only become more common. Consider these statistics from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB): In new constructions of single-family homes in 2014, 61.9% included a two-car garage. Another 23.5% included a garage that could hold three or more cars. Only 10% were classified as “other,” which would include carports, street parking or a driveway without a garage.
In other words, garages are a part of America’s residential landscape — and there’s no sign of that changing.
But what if your garage is due for an upgrade? Perhaps you’re looking to put your home on the market and you want to make sure your property stands out. Or perhaps you want to improve your garage for yourself by upgrading your door’s functionality, its look or its level of insulation.
Regardless, we know that choosing a garage door is only getting harder, mainly because the variety of colors, materials and designs is only growing more varied to meet consumer demands. That’s why we’ve putting together this guide on how to choose a garage door style.
So, if you’re in the market for garage doors in North Carolina but are finding yourself asking, “Which garage door should I buy?” then this guide is the place to start.
Importance of Making the Right Garage Door Choice
Before we get to the basics of choosing the right garage door, we wanted to spell out some of the reasons why making the right choice is so important.
As we mentioned before, a home’s resale value is a strong motivating factor behind garage door replacement projects. According to the National Association of Realtors, a garage door is one of the most appealing home improvement projects for potential buyers, with an estimated project recovery value of 87%. That means you will, on average, recover 87% of the cost of a new garage door upon selling your home.
However, even if you aren’t planning on selling your home anytime soon, a new garage door is still a great investment. In the same study cited above, a new garage door also ranked among the best home improvement projects for owner satisfaction, meaning those who added a garage door just for themselves felt the project vastly improved their home.
Excited yet? You should be! Now, think about all the ways your garage door impacts your life at home.
It’s a large surface, meaning your garage door is a visual centerpiece of your home. When people drive by your home, your garage door stands out! That’s why you want to make a thoughtful choice about your garage door design.
As such a large surface, your door also has a profound impact on the insulation of your home. While many homeowners put a layer of insulation between their garages and the rest of their house, those who want above-average insulation often turn to their garage doors. Garage door designers have responded by creating specially insulated doors that will make a garage as cozy as a den with a fireplace!
Security is also a concern. Because of the location and size of a garage door, many thieves target garages during break-ins. Their hope is to find a home with an older garage door, which tend to have inferior and possibly archaic security measures — if they’re secure at all. Newer garage doors are much better at deterring intruders.
Finally, safety technology is much better on newer garage doors. For those with young families or pets, a new garage door is a great way to ensure little ones avoid accidental injuries. Considering the weight of a garage door and the power of a garage door opener, injuries can be significant or even fatal. The latest safety measures drastically reduce the chance of an accident.
If you’re ready to start thinking about the ideal garage door, you first want to establish the style of door that will best match your home. Depending on the architecture of your home, different styles may work better than others:
- Colonial or Victorian Homes: If your home was built over a hundred years ago or is designed to look like it was, you want to invest in a door that mimics that look. Because people didn’t drive cars back then, many garage doors made to match such homes are designed to look like old carriage house or stable doors. They may have paneled wood or a more modern material designed to mimic paneled wood, plus divided light windows and decorative hardware like wrought iron.
- Arts & Crafts: Popular around the turn of the 20th century, these homes pair especially well with garage doors that have raised panels and arched windows. Because window design was so important to arts and crafts architects, matching garage windows with the windows already installed throughout the home is a great place to start.
- Ranch: Ranch-style homes have fewer architectural flourishes. As such, many ranch owners opt for simpler, more straightforward garages. Because ranch homes are designed horizontally — meaning they are longer than they are tall — horizontal slats work well visually. To emphasize the flatness of the garage door, you can also choose to opt out of handles. It’s worth noting that this was one of the first architectural schools of home design to incorporate garages regularly. As such, you may choose to maintain the look of the original home design.
- Modern: Modern and contemporary homes are all about making a statement. Consequently, these homes pair well with bold garage door design choices. V-shaped paneling would look strange on most homes but goes well with a modern home. Asian-inspired design also fits in well with the geometry of modern design, as do steel and other non-wood doors.
In addition to picking your design style, you also need to choose a color. Needless to say, there are many different directions you can go with color.
Some people look for contrast. For example, if your home is painted a light color but has more boldly-colored shutters or trim around the windows, you may choose to use the same color on your garage door.
However, you can go over the top with this approach, since your garage door is much larger than your shutters. Using a complementary hue lets you visually add much more of your home’s secondary color. This could be overwhelming, especially on a multi-car garage.
If you have nice wood grain finishes throughout the exterior of your house, you can also opt to match those. This will give your garage door a luxurious and high-end look even if you go with a faux-finish.
Some people still prefer the clean look of a white door, however. While design options have increasingly become more varied, this traditional garage door look is still a popular choice — especially with newer homes.
Those with brick houses sometimes choose from the tan family of colors to match their door to the mortar between the bricks.
Stock Versus Custom
If you have exacting tastes, it might be worth it to invest in a custom or even semi-custom door. However, know that such an approach increases the price of a door significantly. But if you have a particular vision for the project, you might find that nothing less will satisfy.
Luckily, even if you can’t justify a custom door, there’s a wealth of options in stock doors. You won’t necessarily need to sacrifice design.
However, know that if you have a custom-sized garage entryway, you may need to invest in a custom or semi-custom door regardless. Fortunately, home designers and contractors are unlikely to design new construction with a custom-sized garage door, so newer homes usually use a standard-size door unless the original homeowner specifically requested an alternative size.
In addition to color, you need to choose your materials. Each material has certain advantages and disadvantages.
Real wood is the pinnacle of luxury. As such, it also can be a bit more pricey. However, if you have solid wood entry doors, matching your garage door can increase the cohesion of your exterior design. However, wood is also harder to maintain — especially in certain climates. Harsh winters and salt water can damage wood, meaning homeowners will need to do more to maintain their investment.
On the other hand, aluminum doors are more affordable and, in certain conditions, more durable. However, many homeowners — especially those with young kids who may use a door as a back stop for a baseball game — worry about denting with more affordable aluminum doors.
Luckily, design improvements have made many of these choices easier. For example, even the more budget-friendly garage doors are more durable these days than their predecessors. They also come with faux-wood grain looks that make it easier to blend them in with older homes. On the other hand, wood door designers have found increasingly effective ways to protect doors from the elements, thereby reducing the amount of maintenance required.
As we mentioned above, newer garage doors are designed with insulation in mind. But if you want robust insulation in your door, you may be limited to certain designs. That’s because insulation must be installed within a hollow door. That’s not possible if you want solid wood doors.
However, even in solid wood doors, modern design has increased the insulation capability on a wide range of options. A lot of this has to do with tight fits between joints. Even without extra insulation, a door without any drafts will be more energy-efficient than older doors that are better insulated but drafty.
Look at the listed insulation factors for new doors. If it isn’t listed, ask the vendor. You may be surprised to find that certain materials are still energy-efficient even if they aren’t filled with special insulation.
Pay Attention to Homeowners’ Associations
If you live in certain neighborhoods or gated communities, you may have a homeowner’s association (HOA). Keep in mind that many HOAs have restrictions concerning changes to the exterior of your home. Because of the size of a garage door, making a change of this scale will likely fall under these guidelines. And considering how obvious the change will be, you are certainly not going to get away with flouting these bylaws.
So make sure you start with your HOA guidelines if this situation applies to you. It’s possible that some of the rules may be open to interpretation, but ignorance is not a solid defense if you aren’t sure if your new door violates the regulations or not. If the HOA opts to sue to force you to replace the door, know that you will be responsible for the replacement costs. While a new garage door is a great investment, buying two doors is not!
Decoration vs. Security
Many beautiful garage door designs feature lots of windows and other decorative elements. However, depending on the security needs in your area, you may need to weigh the benefit of design against the security risks of extra decoration.
Because garage door designers are aware of the importance of security for their customers, they have done a lot to make sure their doors are both beautiful and secure. However, there are limits.
For example, while the door itself may be extremely secure, know that many burglars like to scope out a potential target ahead of time. If they can see into your garage and notice something enticing enough to risk a break-in, they will likely come back — even if it means finding a different way into your home. The door itself may have been secure, but the windows made it an attractive nuisance to the criminal element.
If you really want windows but are worried about security, consider frosted glass. This will allow light in but will obscure the contents of your garage. Additionally, talk to your vendor about door security measures. They will be able to point to particular issues that may influence the security of your door while giving you tips on how to maintain a door to keep it secure.
Partnering With an Excellent Vendor
Finally, when choosing a door, the key is to work with a vendor you can trust. By partnering with a good vendor, you can discuss your concerns and they can respond with a door that meets your needs.
If you are in the Winston-Salem, Wilkesboro or Piedmont Triad region of North Carolina, look no further than Marvin’s Garage Doors. As the leaders in Winston-Salem garage doors, we have the experience to make sure you find the perfect door for your home.
Since 1970, we’ve been helping both residential and commercial clients find doors that fits their needs and match their lifestyles. As a Clopay® Master Authorized Dealer, we offer a wide selection of America’s best-made and highest-quality garage doors and accessories.
So if you’re ready to choose a garage door or you’d like some help finding your perfect match, contact us today. We can’t wait to hear from you!