Have you been thinking about replacing your existing garage door? Are you considering an insulated steel garage door? Today more than ever your choices for insulated garage doors are almost overwhelming. Hopefully you’ll find the following information helpful in making the decision that’s right for your budget, home and lifestyle.
If your current garage doors are wood construction, you’ll most likely be upgrading to steel doors. A quick comparison between wood and steel doors reveals that wood garage doors while being old and currently outdated, actually offer a decent amount of natural insulation thanks to mother nature and the density of wood. Steel on the other hand is a natural conductor of both hot and cold and even though your garage might not be environmentally conditioned, steel will heat your garage up in the hot summers and cool it off dramatically in the winter. With that said we generally recommend that your new garage door be insulated rather than just hollow backed steel.
Different manufacturers will offer various overall thicknesses of garage doors, starting at 3/4″ going all the way up to 2″. Some of the common thicknesses of doors you’ll find are 3/4″, 1″, 1 1/4″, 1 3/8″, 1 1/2″, 1 3/4″ and 2″. Some products will only be offered insulated and others will offer a choice of insulated vs non as well as types of backing and insulation material. The two primary types of insulation that you’ll find are polystyrene and polyurethane.
Polystyrene insulated garage doors will be offered with no backing, foil backing, vinyl backing, steel backing panels and a double sided steel door, more commonly known as a steel sandwich garage door. Polyurethane doors will be offered in foam-back which can either fill the entire cavity of the door or approximately half of the overall thickness. Generally speaking the doors filled with polyurethane will be double sided steel sandwich doors.
When it comes to insulated garage door the sandwich type doors are the strongest, quietest and most durable of the insulated doors. Sandwich doors are most comparable to wooden garage doors and because of the sandwich or bonding process they are by far the most durable in my opinion. Polyurethane insulation will be more expensive and it will offer a better R value. Polystyrene tends to be a little more economical and not far behind in R value, both have their benefits.
The following is opinion on my part and some won’t agree. Polystyrene is a solid and when its sandwiched between two sheets of steel makes a strong quiet and durable door, it also offers excellent adhesion in the bonding process which means longevity. Polyurethane is injected into the door as a foamy liquid, adheres, dries and solidifies into a solid product. Because polyurethane is injected as a liquid there are going to be air bubbles where the foam doesn’t bond to the steel. This in my opinion weakens the door a bit, however the polyurethane does offer a little better insulation value.
Now here’s the big kicker when it comes to comparison of R values between manufacturers, there are not any industry standard testing methods. What this means to you the consumer is that one manufacturer might test a 2’x 2′ sample of a door and yield a significantly higher R value while another manufacturer tests a 10′ x 10′ actual door and even though the doors are virtually identically constructed, this door will yield a much lower R value. To me this can be very deceiving and makes it more difficult for the consumer to make a more intelligent decision.
To me personally, your investment in a new garage door shouldn’t be taken lightly, especially with the cost of new garage doors today. Some other things to consider in this decision making process are the following, do you have living space above your garage, how many walls does your garage share with your home, does your garage have HVAC, is it also your workshop and how long do you plan on staying in your home? Remember a good quality insulated garage door can also be touted as a great resale feature if you’re considering selling your home.
My final words of wisdom are that while the quality of the garage door is extremely important, the quality and reputation of the garage door installation company is even more important. Always check for length of time in business as well as online reviews.