By Steve Graham, Networx
When buying a new garage door, sectional doors are the obvious choice for most homeowners. They are segmented into four or more panels that roll up to be parallel with the garage ceiling. They are safe, easy to open, and they don't need clearance space in front of the door. The harder decision is which style and material to use. Here is a rundown of the basic types of sectional garage doors.
Carriage-house style garage doors are popular on homes with traditional designs. They are roll-up sectionals designed with the hinges, handles and patterns of classic carriage-house doors that swing open on hinges. You will probably still see the lines between the sections, but some manufacturers design the top panel to be larger and more authentic-looking.
Other vintage styles have curves and design flourishes that mimic old barn doors or arched entryways for Spanish courtyards. At least one company makes sectional garage doors that look like French doors, with translucent poly-carbon panels.
Steel is probably the most secure, durable and strong garage door material. Many manufacturers emboss steel with patterns and coatings that mimic wood and can match most vintage styles. However, steel is easier to maintain than wood. Steel does not crack, warp or chip. Galvanized steel also won't rust, though colors may fade.
Steel doors may be slightly more expensive than basic wood doors, but the energy savings and extended lifespan make steel a better value in the long run.
Despite the advantages of steel, many homeowners still prefer a more classic wood look. Wood doors are normally either composed of plywood over solid wood framing, or solid wood panels. High-quality solid wood can be the most expensive garage door material, even though it may not last as long as steel doors.
Inexpensive fiberglass and aluminum doors also are available. Like steel, aluminum can be finished with faux wood finishes. It won't rust, crack or chip. However, aluminum dents more easily than steel.
Fiberglass doors have a more contemporary look and are resistant to corrosion. They also can be translucent, so they let in light without being transparent. However, they may crack and become discolored over time, and they offer poor insulation.
There are also garage doors made of polycarbon, glass and other materials that may be stronger and more fade-resistant, but more expensive, than fiberglass.
Also consider doors and windows in your garage. Window frames can be easily cut out of wood panels. Small, regular swing-out doors also can be fitted into sectional doors.
For safety, look for pinch-resistant designs. Also consider insulation in the door, and weather strips under the door and between panel sections. Click here for more information on energy-efficient garage doors.
Taking into account the general look of your home and the desired lifespan of your new door, consider a variety of designs and materials when buying a sectional garage door.