When purchasing a garage door you will need to consider a variety of factors. When you visit a garage door showroom or enter the buying process you will need to have some basic answers ready to make an informed purchase. Garage door buying questions help to narrow down the best possible fit for your home. Here are the top 10 questions to consider when purchasing a new garage door.

What size garage doors should I get?

The most common garage door sizes are 16×7 double car doors and 9×7 single car doors. These measurements display the width of the door first and height second. Door sizes are based on vehicle sizes throughout history. Larger door sizes have been trending higher in recent years. Doors measuring 18×8 and 10×8  have become more popular as a way to accommodate larger vehicles.Obviously, you will need to measure your current door opening if you intend to replace it. In the case of new construction, you may want to consider slightly larger than standard size doors.

Do I need an insulated or non-insulated door?

Chances are you probably don’t live in a tropical climate so getting an insulated garage door is very important. In cold weather climates an insulated garage door will save you money and make your home more comfortable. However, if you have a detached garage that you don’t intend to use for a workshop a non-insulated door is likely the best option. Non-insulated doors are best suited for garages used for storage that won’t be climate controlled.

What R value of insulation do I need?

All homeowners in northern states with cold winters should strongly consider a garage door with a high R value. All homeowners will need to decide between polystyrene insulation, polyurethane insulation or no insulation. If your garage will solely be used for storage and is detached from your home no insulation is necessary. Polystyrene insulation is essentially styrofoam insulation with a vinyl covering. It can be found in both open backed “pan doors” or double sided steel “sandwich doors”. Polystyrene is an economical option for insulation in a garage door. To achieve higher R value of 17 and higher polyurethane insulation must be used. Unlike polystyrene insulation polyurethane insulation is often injected into the door cavity. This allows all spaces to be filled with insulation so no air pockets exist. When in doubt always use a higher R value polyurethane insulated door.

Is Torsion or Extension hardware best?

Generally speaking you should always have torsion hardware installed on your door . Torsion requires a minimum of 12 inches of space above the top of the door for the shaft, bearing plates and spring to conservatively fit. The weight of the door  and forces exerted are more evenly distributed, resulting in smoother operation and increased safety. Extension hardware is mainly used when doors are being installed on openings that lack proper headroom for torsion hardware. Simply put, extension hardware should only be used if a torsion system won’t fit. An extension setup involves one spring on each side of the two horizontal tracks counterbalancing the door.

What are the headroom requirements?

Most builders today know what type of space is required to install torsion spring systems on new construction. They often leave at least 15 inches above the header for both the torsion system and operator rail. In the event they make a mistake or you are retrofitting an older door, low headroom and extension hardware setups are viable options. Bottom line, leaving 18 inches of headroom above  the door will allow just about any type of door and operator combination to be installed without problem.

What size opening should be framed?

The raw door opening should match the exact door size. So if you have purchased a standard 16′ wide x 7′ tall door you should build your opening the exact same size. It is okay to cheat the framing in 1″ on each side. This allows the door to rest flush against the inside of the door jamb 1″ on each side. Alternatively you can order a door 16’2″ wide to accomplish the same goal. This is commonly done with garage doors anyways. When in doubt, always build your opening the exact same size as the door you intend to purchase. For commercial door sizes and applications always consult the manufacturer or door professional for specific instructions.

How much do garage doors cost?

Garage door costs can vary greatly based on the options you select.  The size, style, insulation, material and construction of the door will determine price. Larger door will obviously be a big factor in price – the larger the door the higher the price tag. The style of door you select whether it be raised panel or carriage house influences price as well. R value also changes prices considerably. The higher the R value the higher the door price will be. A single steel sided pan door will cost much less than a double sided steel insulated door. The same can be said about steel, fiberglass and wood doors. As a general rule the more options needed in a garage door the higher the price will be. Single sided steel raised panel non insulated pan doors are by far the cheapest option. Doors can range from as little as $250 to $10,000  plus. The days of access to only a few basic door models are long gone. Now its all about customization and design options which greatly raises costs. Always request a free estimate for purchasing a garage door.

Should I put windows in my door?

Windows are definitely a great option in garages that lack natural light. Security and privacy should also be considered as windows are easily broken into or looked through. On a standard 7ft garage door most people can easily look at what is being stored in your garage. Generally speaking windows greatly improve the overall look of your garage door. With the amount of options available by most door manufacturers, matching windows to your home design should be very easy.  Most professional dealers offer a “door vision” system where they can take a picture of your home and crop in garage door design options so you can visualize before selecting options.

What material should I get?

The two main garage door materials are steel and wood. Each material has specific advantages and drawbacks. Wood doors are widely known to be more aesthetically pleasing and can better match the design of many houses. On the other hand, they require more maintenance and come at a significantly increased price. Steel doors have the advantage of lower maintenance, increased durability and lower upfront costs. However, even the best looking steel doors can’t match wood doors in curb appeal.

How long do garage doors last?

Just like any consumer good, you generally “get what you pay for”. Stick with a common name brand garage door manufacturer with high ratings. The lifespan of a garage door depends largely on a few factors, door grade purchased, material, climate, usage and maintenance.  If you plan on flipping a house for a sale  a builder grade non insulated single sided steel pan door will be suitable. However, if you are looking for something long term consider purchasing a premium series double sided steel door. They are much more durable than wood doors or single sided steel doors. Climate also becomes a factor with extreme wind, cold, heat and rain. Direct sunlight over the long term will certainly fade paint. Preventative maintenance can also extend the life of your garage door.  Generally speaking garage doors last between 10- 30 years.


Do you see an important question that didn’t make our list?

Find your local door pro and give them a call. Door professionals offer free consultations and estimates. Most have walk in showrooms with fully functioning garage doors to answer your questions. Use our professional door dealer search option at the top of the page. Type in your city to get started!