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Best Garage Doors: How to Specify the Right Option for Your Project

sectional garage door from Hormann
(Image credit: Hormann)

The best garage door will not only offer a high level of security, ease of use and, in many circumstances, good insulating properties too, but it is also a key factor in the kerb appeal of your home. 

A garage door is no small feature, and it’s often either part of, or right at the front of the house, so not paying attention to its appearance can compromise a home’s exterior hugely.

If during your self build project you lavish attention on the windows, the front door and exterior walls but neglect the garage door, the overall picture of your home won’t be what you’d hoped.

When deciding on the best garage door, there is more choice available than you may think. Garage doors are available in a range of materials and configurations to suit every style of home and lifestyle. 

Here we explain all you need to know about choosing the right garage door for your home.

(MORE: How to Add Value to Your Home)

Layer garage door from Zakuna

Made bespoke and integrated with the wall cladding system, this Layer door from Zakuna comes in a range of timber finished in a choice of stain colours. POA (Image credit: Zakuna)

If you’re a self builder, you’re at a distinct advantage, being free from constraints such as choosing a garage door to fit an existing opening or a configuration which suits the width or height of an existing garage.

But it also pays to begin your search for a garage door prior to starting on site to give yourself more choice and design scope, rather than having to choose from a limited range that will fit the predetermined space.

Up and Over Garage Doors

This one-piece design is the classic garage door. As the name suggests, it lifts up from the bottom, either sliding out of the way below the garage ceiling when open, or creating a canopy at the front. 

up and over canopy garage door with timber infill, style 2009 vertical in Golden Oak, Hörmann.

This up and over canopy garage door with timber infill, style 2009 vertical in Golden Oak, complements the warmth of this home’s brick exterior. From £2,119 for a single door excluding fitting, Hörmann (Image credit: Hörmann)

It’s a sound choice for a garage that’s actually used to park a car in, as it’s space-efficient. However, enough room is needed to allow it to move forward of the opening as it lifts up and down, so the combination of a short driveway and a car parked waiting to drive into the garage could be an unhappy one. 

These doors can be opened manually or automated. 

Roller Garage Doors

This insulated aluminium RD77 Double Superior Garage Door

Maximise roof storage by opting for a roller door. This insulated aluminium RD77 Double Superior in White costs from £1,695, Rollerdor (Image credit: Rollerdor)

Like a sectional, a roller door opens vertically, but this design makes a roll above the opening rather than having internal tracks. 

They’re suitable for garages without good headroom, when you want to leave the ceiling free – for storage, perhaps – or where something inside the garage might block other mechanisms. 

Both insulated and non-insulated designs are on offer, and they can be teamed with a remote control. 

Sectional Garage Doors

sectional garage door from Hormann

Opt for a sectional door to create a parking space close to the garage that doesn’t impede its opening. This version in Silkgrain RAL 9016 Traffic White costs from £1,499 excluding fitting, Hörmann (Image credit: Hormann)

Rather than moving outwards like the up and over, a sectional door, made up of panels, moves upwards vertically and then backwards under the garage ceiling to open. 

This style of door maximises space both inside the garage and in front of it. Large versions for big garages are available, and there’s a choice of insulated double-skinned doors, or single-skinned for a garage that doesn’t require insulation. 

The design offers a good seal against the weather and can be electrically operated. 

Side Sliding Garage Doors

side sliding garage door from Rundum Meir

This side sliding door from Rundum Meir is made from solid timber laths, with the curtain suspended from the top track that runs on a channelled groove. The design allows it to run around corners, as shown here. POA (Image credit: Rundum Meir)

If stashing the open garage door in the ceiling isn’t possible, a design that moves round the corner and down the side of the garage on a track is an alternative. 

Side sliding doors are useful when you frequently need access to the garage on foot, as you don’t have door all the way to get a bike out, for example. 

They work well on large openings and can be automated. 

Bifold Garage Doors

The Jersey doors from Urban Front are fully automated 2+2 bifold doors

The Jersey doors from Urban Front are fully automated 2+2 bifold doors. They are available in all of Urban Front’s E80 door range designs and provide U values of 1.1W/m2K. POA (Image credit: Urban Front)

Bifold garage doors are another option when the garage height is an issue, as they don’t need wall space for a mechanism. 

Whether outward or inward opening, they require sufficient room to fold back. The panels allow the garage to be accessed without opening the door fully. 

A bifold door can also be automated. 

Side Hinged Garage Door

Double doors opening to either side are often traditional in design, so could work for an older home, although contemporary versions can be sleek and modern. They could have a one-third, two-thirds split or half-and-half across the opening if you prefer. 

Although generally opening outwards, there are models that open to the inside, and the slope of your drive could influence the choice. These doors might be selected where the garage isn’t a home to the car, with one door opening sufficiently wide for on-foot access. These combine well with a ceiling used for storage as there are no tracks there, but enough driveway space to swing them open is essential. 

It’s possible to automate them. 

Choosing the Right Material for Your Garage Door

Garage doors can be made from various materials, although not all styles are available in all materials.

Materials include:

  • timber
  • steel
  • aluminium
  • glass reinforced plastic (GRP)
  • PVCu

round the corner door is from Rundum Meir

This round the corner door is from Rundum Meir, which manufactures both one-off round the corner and overhead door systems. Automated solid oak around the corner doors start from around £7,200 (Image credit: Rundum Meir)

Doors made from timber can be sympathetic to older homes, but contemporary-style timber designs (try Rundum Meir) are also on offer. 

Treatment before installation can reduce maintenance requirements, but do check with the manufacturer/ supplier to be sure of how much work will be needed to keep the particular model sound.

Good quality steel doors are strong and come with a wide choice of surface finishes and colour options. Maintenance requirements depend on the finishing or coating, but aren’t too onerous.

Aluminium is mostly used in insulated double-skin roller doors. Both coloured and timber lookalike effects are available. The surface will need to be kept clean of grit and debris. Strong and stable but light, requiring only a regular wash down with running water. They can have a timber effect, or white or coloured finishes.

Choosing the Best Garage Door With Good Insulating Properties

How you intend to use your garage should influence your decision here. “Single-skinned doors are ideal for freestanding garages that do not need any thermal insulation, for example when used to store a car,” says David O’Mara, marketing manager at Hörmann UK. This is perhaps not the case for integral garages, or those garages used for any other purpose, however.

The style of the door will also make a difference. “Traditional up-and-over garage doors don’t have the best insulation, letting in draughts and making the space unsuitable for anything other than storing a car, so if you plan to use your garage as a home gym rather than just somewhere to park car then it is worthwhile doing research into the types of garage doors available,” says David.

CAPTION Double-skinned sectional doors are one of the best options. “The double-skinned insulated LPU 67 sectional garage door from Hörmann offers higher levels of thermal insulation, which is ideal if the garage is used as an extra room,” adds David.

Identifying the Best Garage Door for Security

A well-fitted garage door with adequate locking is vital because the contents are frequently valuable – whether a car or tools – and also because an integrated garage could provide a way into the house. 

Manufacturers supplying doors with the official police security initiative Secured by Design accreditation are listed on the website. The initiative is designed to improve the security of our homes and buildings, so choosing an accredited product can bring peace of mind.

The advice from industry experts is to opt for a ‘responsible’, experienced installer to ensure correct installation and to prevent the door from failing over time. This is especially important when it comes to automated doors to ensure they comply with necessary regulations.

The Milano (from Urban Front) up and over garage door

The Milano (from Urban Front) up and over garage door on this house has been chosen to match the front door and features a zig-zag pattern. POA (Image credit: Urban Front)

Garage Door Costs

There are automated garage doors available that are upwards of £20,000, but they are of course top-end examples. Expect to pay from around £850 for an up-and-over single garage door in steel (installation will usually be an additional cost); GRP, aluminium roller and timber are generally more costly. 

You can find sectional doors starting from around £1,400 for insulated versions, and roller doors from around £1,300. 

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