The Ultimate Garage Door Guide - Dodds Garage Doors

The Ultimate Garage Door Guide

A comprehensive guide to replacing, repairing and maintaining garage doors

A garage door is the largest moving part of your home and can represent up to 40% of your home’s facade. Replacing the garage door consistently ranks as one of the best home improvements in terms of ROI (return on investment). For these reasons, it is essential that it is both functional and stylish, and choosing the right garage door is important for both the safety of your family and the value of your home. By understanding the different elements that go into garage door design you will be able to make more informed decisions on which one is the best fit for your house, and how to best care for your door. 

10 Questions this Guide Will Answer

Repair or Replace

There are several reasons you may consider repairing or replacing your garage door:

  • Breakage: If your garage door is opening and closing unevenly, making loud noises or not opening at all it is likely time for a repair. Lots of minor repairs can be done quickly and inexpensively by a trained professional (maintenance and repair tips can be found later in this guide) however, if you find that repairs are needed frequently it could be time to replace your garage door or garage door opener. 
  • Age: Garage doors can last up to 20 years or more after which they will require more frequent repairs and replacing the door will likely be a better investment. 
  • Curb Appeal: Doors with dents or flaking paint can also be touched up for a fresher look, but again after some time, a new door would be needed for a polished appearance.
  • Home Renovation: The garage door shouldn’t be overlooked during home renovation projects, as it takes up a huge section of your home’s facade.

Benefits of Replacing your Garage Door:

  • Increases the Value of your Home: Replacing a garage door delivers one of the highest ROIs (return on investment) of any home improvement project — 94.5% according to Remodeling Magazine’s 2020 report!
  • Curb Appeal: A new, sleek garage door will instantly boost your home’s curb appeal keeping your home looking fresh for years to come.
  • Improves Safety: A broken garage door can close erratically and poses a hazard to everyone but especially to children and pets. Additionally, old doors with brittle parts can make your garage an easy target for break-ins. A new door will close smoothly, safely and securely with proper installation. 
  • Decreases Utility Costs: Properly insulating your garage door can decrease your family’s heating and cooling costs, especially if there is living space attached to the garage, or if the garage is used as an additional livable space with frequent traffic from the home.

Choosing a Door

Door Styles

When choosing a garage door it’s important to take into consideration the architectural style of your home. If you’re not sure what style of door would look best, take a look at similar homes in your neighbourhood to see what you prefer. 

Garage Door Modern Door Wood Look

Modern – For modern homes simple doors with straight lines are best, you’ll want to avoid doors with excessive embellishments. Most modern homes have a cool-toned colour palette making white, black and grey easy colour options. However, for modern homes with warm wood accents a solid wood or faux-wood door look can make a strong and flattering statement.

Almond coach house garage door with decorative hardware and paneling

Coach house – Coach houses have a warm, rustic feel to them and look best with doors with subtle detailing and decorative handles and hinges. These homes tend to have warm-toned facades making white, tan, sandstone and brown fitting colours. 

Traditional garage door with simple paneling

Traditional – Traditional homes are very common in suburban and urban areas and doors with conservative detailing will fit in perfectly. These homes are quite varied in their colours and style, giving lots of flexibility to the choice of the garage door. 

Colours

Since the garage door takes up a large section of a home’s exterior, the colour you choose makes a big impact. There are a couple of key elements to keep in mind when choosing the right garage door colour for your home.

  • To match or not to match: There are two big options: matching or contrasting. If you want to achieve a more neutral look choose a colour that blends into that of your home’s exterior. Alternatively, a contrasting colour can be chosen to make a bold statement, this is best done with a front door or windows to match.
  • Fading: Paint with a high reflective value stops fading keeping your door looking better for longer. Look for high-quality manufacturers who mention the reflective value of their paint. 
  • Cleaning: Colour can affect the effort needed to maintain the door. Lighter colours will generally appear dirty faster than dark colours requiring more cleaning to maintain a fresh look. 
  • Heat: Finally, there are heat considerations to take into account. This is especially important if you use your garage as extra living space or if it is temperature-controlled. Darker colours will attract more heat than lighter colours which can affect the heating and cooling costs of the space. 

Classic shades include white, black, charcoal, sandstone, tan, bronze and brown. For an additional expense, custom colours can be ordered to match your house perfectly and blend into the surroundings or to contrast the exterior and provide a serious jolt of personality to your home. Bright colours have become more popular in recent years as people really take advantage of their garage door to make an aesthetic statement! Whatever choices you make, it is a good rule of thumb to use two or three colours on the outside of your home, which includes siding, doors, windows, roofing and any accent elements. 

White

White is the most popular colour for garage doors. Its timeless look allows it to complement all surroundings.

Black

Black is also a classic garage door colour that matches just about any exterior, but it can pack a visual punch when paired with light exteriors. It also conceals dirt better than light colours.

Charcoal

For a neutral look on a cool-toned exterior charcoal is the way to go. It's classy but not flashy and works well for most modern and traditional homes.

Bronze

Bronze is a very popular colour likely due to its versatility -- working with both cool-toned and warm-toned exteriors.

Sandstone

Colours in the sandstone and tan family work perfectly as neutrals for warmer toned exteriors.

Brown

Brown garage doors are warm and inviting and can act as a statement piece if contrasted against a lighter exterior. Brown will also conceal dirt better than most colours.

Wood Look

Whether real wood or imitation wood, these doors come in a variety of stains types and give a natural and homey feeling to any exterior.

Windows

Adding windows to garage doors has become very popular in recent years, likely because of the elevated and refined look it brings to the home. With a huge variety of windows on the market, there is something that fits just about any home. Adding windows can also increase the utility of the garage by introducing natural light, especially if it is already being used as extra livable space.

A variety of decorative inserts styles

As with colour, choosing the right window for your garage door is a matter of personal taste, and window inserts allow for a large variety of styles. More ornate windows fit in best with ornate homes, such as carriage houses. Whereas the simple square designs fit in better with a sleek contemporary look. 

  • UV Protectant: If you’re looking at incorporating window inserts into your garage door, check that the manufacturer uses UV protectant paint on the inserts. This prevents discoloration making sure they maintain a fresh look. 
  • Window Insulation Considerations: It’s important to know that windows will always decrease the overall insulation of your garage door however, insulated windows are better than non-insulated ones. If keeping your garage warm during cold Canadian winters is a priority, large windows may not be for you.
Sleek garage door with windows across the top

Placing the windows across the top of the garage door is a classic look. It allows for some insulation and keeps prying eyes out of your garage. 

Modern wood garage door with windows down the right side

Placing windows up the side of the garage door creates a more contemporary look. It also allows for some insulation, but frosted or tinted glass might want to be considered for privacy and security

Modern full glass and aluminum garage door

Full glass windows are a real statement piece and allow beautiful, natural light into your garage. However, that premium look comes with a premium price tag. Additionally, frosted or tinted glass should be considered to increase privacy and security, and insulation options are minimal, making the garage temperature hard to control.

Steel Insulated Garage Door With Windows

Clear Glass

Modern garage door with tinted glass windows down the side

Tinted Glass

Modern garage door with frosted glass windows down the side

Frosted Glass

There are several options for glass that decrease transparency while still allowing light to shine through. These glass treatments are popular as they increase the privacy and safety of the garage by keeping prying eyes out. Frosted and tinted are the most common options, but seeded and obscure glass also exist if they are more to your aesthetic taste. However, it’s important to know that tinted windows can appear more clear when lit from the inside, especially at night. 

Tip: Condensation on the inside of garage door windows can be an issue during the winter. If your windows are causing water to pool on the ground or drip onto your car, turn the heat down or off in your garage and make sure your windows are insulated.

Material

  • Steel is the most common material used for garage doors. It’s durable, accommodates insulation easily and is aesthetically versatile.
  • Fibreglass is also durable, cannot rust and accommodates insulation just as easily, however it is significantly more expensive.
  • Wood doors bring a warm, natural look to the home however, they require more maintenance as they are vulnerable to moisture and can warp. To get the wood look without the extra work steel or fibreglass faux-wood doors might be for you.
  • Full glass doors make a striking statement piece and light up the garage beautifully! However, they are more expensive than the standard doors and the insulation options are minimal, making the garage temperature hard to control.

Insulation

Insulation not only helps maintain the temperature of your garage but increases the durability of your door. Most garage doors are designed with insulation in mind and skipping it is a big disservice to the longevity of your door.

Benefits of Insulation:
  • An insulated garage door is more durable and will last longer than a non-insulated door. 
  • Maintaining a consistent temperature is important to preserving the items stored in your garage and to keeping any fridges or freezers at their intended temperatures and running smoothly. 
  • Depending on the layout of your home’s HVAC system, insulating the garage door may decrease your family’s heating and cooling costs
  • The insulation dampens sounds, decreasing the noise in the garage and possibly the home itself. 

The effectiveness of insulation is measured by its R-value; the larger the R-value the thicker and denser the insulating material. However, most homes will not require the absolute maximum insulation so it’s important to select the right R-value for your climate. If you live in Canada you’ll want to consider how harsh the winter is in your area. Dodd’s Garage Doors recommends a minimum R-value of 9 up to a maximum of 18 for your garage door. 

There are several factors that affect the R-value:

Generally there are two insulating materials used for garage doors: polystyrene and polyurethane. Polystyrene comes in slabs that are fit into the panels on the inside of your garage door, it is effective but if not perfectly fitted there can be non-insulating gaps. Polyurethane on the other hand is a blown-in insulating material that expands into every crevice, providing the best insulation and a stiffer, more durable door.

The thicker the layer of insulation the higher the R-value. 

Weather stripping and bottom rubber act as a seal around the edge of your garage door, protecting against airflow through the sides or under the door. Standard weather stripping is single-finned but can be upgraded to double-finned for a stronger seal. There are also weather strip covers available for a sleeker interior look. 

Tip: Do your kids play ball on the driveway? An insulated garage door helps prevent denting and keeps your garage door looking nice for longer.

Installation

There is no need to measure your own garage door as your installation consultants will be able to do it for you. There are so many factors that need to be taken into account before installation: location of the electrical, slant of the floor, the maximum weight the frame can support etc… that’s it’s best to leave it to the pros. However, you can take a rough measurement yourself if you want to learn if you need a standard or custom-sized door or browse more accurate price offerings before calling on an installation company. 

How to Measure your Garage Door

  1. Measure the width of the opening, from one side to the other not including any trim.
  2. Measure the height of the opening, from the floor to the top not including any trim. 
  3. Measure the sideroom for both sides of the opening, from the wall to the opening including the trim. 
  4. Measure the headroom, from the ceiling to the top of the opening including the trim. 
  5. Measure the backroom, from the wall with the opening to the back of the garage. 
Diagram of how to measure a garage door

Where to Purchase your Garage Door

When buying a garage door you may be drawn to the lowest price tag but you get what you pay for, cheap doors can lack durability and inexperienced installation teams can leave you with low-quality work that requires additional repairs down the line. Garage doors themselves can be bought from many home improvement retailers however, properly installing a garage door requires technical proficiency and individuals without experience in such installation should not attempt alone. A garage door is a motorized moving piece making it much more complicated than replacing a window or door. However, not all install teams are created equal and improper installation can decrease the longevity of the door and can even be a safety hazard

 

How to find a reputable garage door installation company:

  • Ask friends & neighbours-  Asking around your neighbourhood for anyone who has had good experiences is a great place to start.
  • Check reviews- Look at online ratings such as Google and Homestars this will give you a good idea of real customers’ experiences.
  • Experience –  Check the number of years the company has been in business – reliability is built over time. 
  • Get an in-person quote – There are so many criteria that go into proper garage door installation, it is the largest moving part of your house after all! That’s why in-person quotes are a must to be accurate. A good installation company should have someone come out to properly measure and quote your door. 
  • Warranty – Garage doors will generally have a manufacturer warranty for a couple of years, but some installation companies will also offer warranties on the door’s hardware, protecting you from costly repairs if these pieces break. A lifetime warranty shows that the installation company is confident in the quality of their work and that they stand behind it. 
  • Location – A local installation company is best as they will be aware of your area’s needs and be able to get to you quickly if repairs are needed. 
  • Custom Experience – Some installation companies will only offer standard installation. If you need a custom door or more heavy-duty hardware look for a company that is comfortable with custom installations.

Tip: Garage doors in the Toronto area are often custom sizes and will require more expertise to replace correctly. 

Maintenance & Repairs

Properly maintaining your garage door and opener keeps your family safe, boosts your home’s curb appeal and is the key to the door’s longevity. Since the garage door is the largest mechanical piece of the home it will inevitably accrue some wear and tear, whether used daily or left closed much of the year. To keep your door and opener in their best condition they should be cleaned and inspected once or twice a year. The maintenance listed below can be performed by the homeowner however, for larger repairs, replacing hardware, or installing electronic accessories (like new garage door openers) a professional is needed. 

How to Maintain your Garage Door:

Open and close your door fully, listening for any concerning noises and looking to make sure the door lifts evenly. If you discover any issues it is time for a repair.

Inspect your garage door both inside and out, as well as the springs, hinges and cables for any signs of rusting or other damage. Rust is one of the main causes of broken doors, but staying on top of it can prevent future repairs. If you find minor rust treat it with a rust remover, but if you find significant corrosion on springs or fraying cables, book a repair immediately. Alternatively, if you have a wooden garage door check for dry rot, if you find significant rot it is time to replace the door. 

Check that the weather stripping is providing a good seal on the door and that there are no cracks in it. Next, clean and condition your weather stripping to increase its lifespan. However, if you find that it is not in good condition you can either replace the weather stripping yourself or call on a professional. 

You can simply use dish soap and water to wash your garage door however, it is essential to let the door dry properly to avoid rusting or warping. A layer of wax can then be applied to the door for extra protection against the elements.

Lubricating the springs and hinges of your garage door keeps them running smoothly and increases the longevity of your door. This can be done by the homeowner if they are competent in the anatomy of the garage door but professionals can also be called to take care of this job efficiently and effectively. 

Tip: Waxing steel garage doors protects against rusting. This is especially important if the bottom of your door comes in contact with road salt frequently.

Repainting your Garage Door: Refinishing your garage door can be an easy and cheap way to freshen up its appearance. However, before you go ahead and get out the paintbrushes, make sure to double-check your garage door warranty, painting can often go against the terms of the warranty and end up costing you long-term.

For more helpful DIY maintenance and repair tips check out Dodds Doors on YouTube.


Upgrades & Accessories

Garage Door Openers

The garage door opener is the motorized portion of your garage door, making it important to get right for both the safety of your family and for smooth everyday operation. You can expect a quality garage door opener to last for 10 to 15 years or even longer with seasonal maintenance and timely repairs. 

 Standard garage door openers: 

A chain drive is the most commonly used opener due to its affordable price tag and durability however, it is also relatively loud when compared to other openers. If your garage is detached from the home or the bedrooms are positioned at the back of the home you likely will have no issues with a chain drive opener. 

If a noisy garage door is a concern for your family a belt drive opener might be the best choice. They are more expensive than chain drives but are the quietest type of opener and require the least maintenance

Instead of being installed on the ceiling, side-mount garage door openers are installed on the wall next to the door. This can be essential for small spaces or added as an aesthetic preference, as it removes the overhead boom creating a cleaner look. However, the price will be higher than a more standard option.

You also need to consider the power of the opener: 

  • ½ Horsepower: ½ HP is a good lightweight option that will work fine for smaller doors however if your door is heavy it will strain the motor leading to additional repairs and reduce its life expectancy.
  • ¾ Horsepower: A ¾ HP motor will work great for most doors, it will be more expensive than a lower power motor but it will also last longer. If you have a well-insulated garage door, a solid wood garage door, or a double garage door this is likely the best option for you as the motor will be able to accommodate the extra weight with ease. 
  • 1 Horsepower: 1 HP has plenty of power to move any residential door. The extra power will cost you in the short term but your door will run smoothly for years to come. 
 

Additional opener options:

An emergency key release appears as a lock on the outside of your garage door. When unlocked it disconnects the chain from your garage door allowing you to open it manually. If your garage door is the only entrance into your garage an emergency key release is highly suggested, it will allow you to access the garage if the power goes out or your opener malfunctions. 

A battery backup for your opener can be installed so you never have to open the garage door manually even if the power goes out.

New technology allows you to connect so many systems in your house to your phone via wifi– from your thermostat to your doorbell to your lights and now your garage door opener. You can now increase the security of your garage by getting notified when your garage door is opened or getting an opener with a built-in camera to monitor your garage from anywhere. Never second guess if you closed the garage door again.

Tip: Replace your garage door opener at the same time as your door. Your garage door consultants will be able to help you select the opener best suited to your new door and install the whole system so that it runs smoothly for years to come.

Upgraded Hardware

Hardware refers to all the mechanical parts that work to open your garage door: tracks, springs, rollers, ect. Generally, residential garage doors will be installed using standard, lightweight hardware however, some garage door installation companies will offer commercial-grade hardware for your garage door. The cost will be more upfront however, you may recoup the costs as it will increase the durability and longevity of your garage door system.

Standard residential rollers are made out of plastic but can be upgraded to more durable nylon ball-bearing rollers. The longevity of springs is measured in cycles — one cycle is one open and close of the garage door — 10,000 cycles is standard but upgrading to 20,000 to 25,000 cycles will keep your door operating smoothly for longer. A good installation company should be able to offer a lifetime warranty on upgraded rollers and springs due to their durability. Hinges can also be upgraded from the standard 16 or 18 gauge to the sturdier 14 gauge, and upgraded cables are sometimes called “airline quality”.

Table Summarizing Hardware Upgrade Options

Aluminum Capping

A brand new garage door can look out of place if it is surrounded by an old wooden frame. Aluminum capping can be installed on the wood frame outside your garage door to provide a sleek, clean look, with the added benefit of reducing maintenance. 

Front Door

 If you’re replacing your garage door to improve curb appeal you may also want to consider replacing your front door so that it doesn’t appear dull in comparison. You can get front doors that exactly match that of your garage door, or in the same style but different colours so that your front door draws the eye. 

Livable Space

Home gym in garage

Many homeowners have thought up creative ways to use their garage, it doesn’t only have to be used for your car and other storage. Now more than ever people are working from home, and having the garage function as an extra livable space can be a major improvement. Home gyms, home offices and playrooms for the kids are some of the most common upgrades. 

If you’re interested in a livable garage here are a few elements to consider:

  • Garage door windows: Let in natural light to make the space more homey and inviting. 
  • Temperature: Insulating your garage door will create a more consistent and comfortable temperature in your garage. If you’re still finding it too cold a garage heater can easily be set up, just make sure to follow all the safety precautions of the manufacturer. 

Installing a new garage door is one of the smartest home renovation investments you can make; increasing curb appeal and the overall value of your home. We hope that having read this guide you feel empowered to make an informed purchase decision both in terms of choosing the perfect garage door for your home and the best garage door company to install it. 

If you have any questions about your garage door needs or are looking for a licensed professional consider Dodds – the #1 rated garage door company in the GTA.