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)
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
- glass reinforced plastic (GRP)
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.
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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