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How to Choose the Perfect Garage Door

Whether you’re building a new home or looking to upgrade your current home’s curb appeal, you may find yourself on the search for the perfect garage door. Replacing an aging garage door offers one of the highest returns on investment of all home projects, making it a great move.
Once you’ve decided to install a new garage door, you’ll quickly find that there is a huge number of replacement options to sift through. Don’t worry, though. Our five-step garage door buying guide is designed to simplify the garage door buying process so you can more easily find a garage door that offers the exact look and function you’re after.

Step 1: Picking the Style

The first step in finding the best garage door for your home is narrowing the selection down to one of three main styles. These styles include traditional, contemporary and carriage house garage doors. Let’s take a closer look at each of these main garage door styles so you can make an informed decision about which style is best suited to your property.


Traditional garage doors are the most common style you’ll see in most neighborhoods. They feature a series of raised rectangular panels and sometimes include narrow windows across the top. Traditional garage doors are an excellent choice when you want a simple, clean look for your garage doors. Since these doors are fairly standard among residential properties, most homeowners can choose a traditional garage door for their home and expect it to blend in well with the style of their home.
Traditional raised-panel garage doors all have a similar look, but they come in a few different materials, designs and colors, so you can customize your traditional garage door. Steel is the most popular material choice, but you can also opt for wooden traditional garage doors. You can also customize a traditional raised-panel garage door by choosing your preferred panel design and color. Most standard raised-panel garage doors are white, but other colors are available as well.


Contemporary garage doors are the perfect choice for mid-century modern homes or homes that embrace clean lines and other popular features. Contemporary style garage doors tend to emphasize windows more as part of the design. For example, many styles feature a vertical series of windows on one side of the door. Some contemporary garage doors take the emphasis on windows further by being primarily constructed of glass. Larger window panels are typically made from frosted glass for privacy while still letting in natural light.
Contemporary garage doors come in several materials, including steel, aluminum and wood. A feature of mid-century modern design is an emphasis on celebrating the natural finishes of materials like wood and metal, so many contemporary garage doors have a clean, unfinished look. However, you can choose contemporary designs in custom colors to match the look of your home.


A third type of garage door to consider is the carriage-house door, also sometimes called a barn-style door. These doors reflect the antique style of the outbuildings that housed horse-drawn carriages in days gone by and feature decorative hinge straps at the sides and handles in the middle that give the impression of double doors. Though most of us today opt for a more modern transportation method, carriage-house garage doors can provide a rustic charm for many homes while offering the convenience and function of a modern garage door.
Carriage-house garage doors are an excellent choice for homes with an older architectural style. For example, colonial homes, craftsman homes, mission-style homes, Victorian homes and rustic farmhouses can all maintain their traditional aesthetic by including carriage-house garage doors as opposed to more modern styles. You can choose a design, color and material that suits your home. Carriage-house doors come in a variety of design options, so whether you want a rustic wood look, a cleaner look, no windows, lots of windows or any other design feature, you can find it.

How to Select a Garage Door Style

Each garage door style has its own unique features and selling points, so you’ll want to consider which style best fits what you’re looking for. The main factor that should determine your choice is the overall style of your property. If you love your home’s colonial style, for example, you’ll want to maintain that style by installing a carriage-house door. Remember that the right garage door can significantly enhance your home’s curb appeal.
If you’re not sure which garage door style would best fit your home, you typically can’t go wrong by selecting a simple traditional or contemporary garage door. These garage doors tend to fit in well with most homes that were constructed during or since the mid-twentieth century. Homes built earlier may benefit from a carriage-house style garage door.

Step 2: Selecting the Material

Once you choose the general style you’re going for, you’ll want to think about material options. Garage doors come in several types of materials, each of which has advantages and some potential downsides. Weigh the pros and cons of each material to determine the best material for your garage door. Let’s look at the five most common materials you’ll want to consider:

  • Steel: Steel garage doors come in a variety of styles, colors and textures. Some steel garage doors are even made to mimic the appearance of wood. Steel is a heavy-duty, durable material, and it tends to be low-maintenance. However, steel is prone to rusting over time. It’s also not the best insulator, which may be a concern for some homeowners. However, you can add insulation between steel panels.
  • Aluminum: Steel isn’t the only metal used for garage doors. Aluminum is another popular choice. It’s more lightweight than steel and is often paired with glass window panels. Aluminum tends to cost more than steel, but it is far less prone to rust and corrosion, making it a better choice for wetter climates. Like steel, aluminum is a poor insulator, though you can add a layer of insulation to an aluminum garage door.
  • Vinyl: Vinyl is generally the most affordable option and is also very durable. Unlike metal, vinyl is not prone to denting of any kind. Another advantage of vinyl garage doors is that they don’t require any maintenance. Vinyl garage doors don’t always offer the aesthetic homeowners are looking for, however. Like vinyl siding, vinyl garage doors cannot be painted or stained, so they cannot be customized.
  • Wood: Wood offers an unmatched aesthetic that can improve your home’s curb appeal. Wood can also be painted or stained, which allows you to customize the appearance. Wood garage doors can last a long time, but they require regular maintenance to prevent the wood from rotting. Wood is also a heavy material and tends to cost more since it’s a high-end option.
  • Fiberglass: If you like the look of wood but are leery of some of the drawbacks of real wood, fiberglass is a great alternative to consider. Fiberglass can help you achieve a wood-look garage door that is more durable than real wood and doesn’t require any maintenance. It’s also a more affordable material. The main downside to fiberglass is that it can become brittle and crack in cold environments.

Choosing the right style is essential for achieving the look you’re after. Choosing the right material can also help you achieve a certain aesthetic as well as ensure your garage door offers the function you need. Once you’ve chosen your preferred style and material, you can begin to explore more specific categories.

Step 3: Selecting a Design

The first two steps help to narrow down your options considerably. Your selection process isn’t done yet, however. In addition to picking an overall style and material, you’ll need to select a specific design you like. Clopay offers many different design collections you can choose from. Let’s look at a few Clopay garage door designs to give you an example of some options you might want to consider.

  • Value Plus Collection: If you want a traditional raised-panel garage door, one design option you’ll want to consider is the Value Plus Collection from Clopay. This design is made of steel with a layer of insulation in the middle. You can choose a Value Plus door that’s flush, but most options include raised panels, either short or long. These doors come in white, almond, desert tan, sandstone and chocolate.
  • Avante Collection: If you’re interested in contemporary style garage doors, the Avante collection is an attractive option to consider. This design features an aluminum frame with eight rectangular panels, and most options are translucent glass or acrylic. You can also choose mirrored glass and solid panels of either aluminum or cherry wood.
  • Canyon Ridge Collection: If you’re looking for a carriage-house style garage door, one design to check out is the Canyon Ridge Collection Limited Edition Series from Clopay. This series embodies the rustic sophistication of a barn-style door with windows at the top. It’s comprised of five layers, which includes steel and insulation along with full cladding and overlay. You can choose cypress or mahogany and can select the stain of your choice.

These are just three examples to take a look at. There are many other design options to consider. Also, remember that there are typically several ways to customize your garage door, both when you order it and after it’s installed.

Step 4: Choosing Insulation

Another step in the garage door buying process is determining whether you need to add some insulation and, if so, what kind. When you’re looking at insulation options, two terms you want to make sure you understand are R-value and U-factor.
R-value is a measure of how well insulation slows the transmission of heat. The higher the R-value, the more effectively a garage door can keep hot air from getting in during the summer and cold air from getting in during the winter. U-factor is also sometimes used to label a garage door’s insulation abilities. U-factor is essentially the opposite of R-value, so the lower the number, the better.
So, if you decide you want to include a layer of insulation with your garage door, what type should you choose?

  • Polystyrene: Polystyrene is a popular type of insulation for garage doors. Polystyrene garage door insulation is inexpensive and is available for purchase in aftermarket insulation kits. It comes in sheets that you can cut to size and attach to the different sections of your garage door. The effectiveness of the polystyrene depends on how thick the sheet is. Polystyrene will help a door operate more quietly and will improve your energy efficiency.
  • Polyurethane: Another popular option that performs better than polystyrene is polyurethane. Polyurethane garage door insulation comes in the form of foam that is injected into your door so it expands to fill all the empty spaces and bonds to the door. Doors insulated with polyurethane will be even quieter than polystyrene doors and will also provide better protection from extreme temperatures.
  • Intellicore insulation technology: While for many people, the question tends to come down to polystyrene vs. polyurethane, there is a third option you should consider. This option is Intellicore® insulation technology from Clopay. Intellicore garage door insulation capitalizes and improves upon polyurethane’s insulation capabilities. Intellicore foam fills the space in your garage door, giving it unmatched sound dampening, strength and energy efficiency. With R-values up to 20.4, Intellicore is the best choice for garage door insulation.

Insulating your garage door isn’t necessary, but it could help you save on energy costs. A poorly insulated garage door will allow your garage to be a similar temperature as the outside, which can cause your HVAC system inside to work harder if you have an attached garage. Insulation can also help with noise reduction, durability and protection, so it’s always wise to consider insulation when choosing a garage door for your home.

Step 5: Choosing Accessories

We’ve already looked at many ways you home in on the right garage door choice for your home, but even once you’ve found a design you love, there is still room for you to make it your own. There are several types of decorative add-ons for garage doors that you can consider to add your personal touch. In some cases, you may be pleased with a standard design as it comes, but adding accessories to your garage door can help you achieve a more exact match with the style of your home.
There are three main opportunities for customization to consider:

  • Color and finish: Many garage door models allow you to choose the color or finish you like best from a list of options. For some materials, you can also paint or stain your garage door yourself if you want to try a new color down the road. Colors for garage doors vary widely, so you don’t need to stick to more predictable neutrals if that’s not your style.
  • Window options: When it comes to windows, you can choose a garage door that doesn’t feature any windows at all, a door that’s primarily made of glass or anything in between. Some doors feature arched windows at the top, which is an attractive design feature.
  • Hardware: You can also personalize your garage door by choosing custom hardware. Hardware for garage doors includes pulls, latches and strap hinges. The right hardware can give your garage door a whole new look or enhance its style.

With numerous design options and opportunities for customization, you can always find a garage door that perfectly complements your home’s style and offers the look and specifications you’re going for. Focus in on color, window features or special hardware, or look at all three areas to create a highly-customized garage door you love.

Additional Considerations

We’ve covered the main steps of choosing your garage door, but we’re not quite finished. There are two more steps you’ll likely want to dedicate some time and attention to so that your garage door looks great and functions how you’d like it to.
The following two steps can be important for the overall longevity and functionality of a new garage door, so let’s take a moment to discuss choosing a garage door opener and weatherproofing your garage door.

Choosing a Garage Door Opener

One of the other things you’ll want to think about when buying a new garage door is which opener you want to use. There are many reasons to buy a new garage door opener. More modern systems may offer superior performance and have more features than older models. The right garage door opener can enable your garage door to function how you want it to. Here are a few factors to consider when you’re comparing opener options:

  • Horsepower options: Horsepower (HP) tells you how powerful the motor on a garage door opener is. In other words, it’s a measure of the opener’s lifting power. Residential garage door opener models typically range from 1/2 to 1 1/2 HP.
  • Controller types: In addition to the opener mechanism itself, you also want to think about the user end. What type of controller will you use to operate the door? It could be a remote, a wall-mount button or a keypad. It could even be your phone or your vehicle if you find a compatible opener. Make sure you choose an opener that offers convenient control for you.
  • Lighting options: When comparing openers, you’ll also want to pay attention to the lighting each option offers. A security light comes standard with many garage openers so you can see in your garage at night when you activate the opener. Some newer models feature lights that are motion-detecting so they can come on even if you enter the garage through an interior door.
  • Internet-connected openers: In this Internet of Things era, it’s probably no surprise that you can also find internet-connected openers on the market. Having a WiFi-enabled garage door opener allows you to operate the door and check its status using a mobile app.

Although not required for a garage door installation, it’s important to review your opener options because a new opening system can add a lot of functionality to your garage. The right garage door opener can make using your door more convenient.

Making Sure Your Garage Door Is Weather-Resistant

There are numerous products available for weatherproofing your garage door. If you live in a climate where your garage door needs some extra protection to keep rain, snow or other elements out, you need to weatherproof your garage door. Here are a few categories of products you’ll want to consider:

  • Weather-stripping: Weather-stripping can be applied to the sides and top of a garage door to help keep the elements out. Weather-stripping usually comes in rolls of a flexible vinyl or rubber. You’ll want to replace your garage door’s weather-stripping periodically to ensure it remains effective.
  • Bottom seals: Bottom seals close off the bottom of your garage door from the elements. They are made of a flexible material, like vinyl or rubber, and fit into an existing groove at the bottom of your door, called the retainer.
  • Threshold seals: Like the bottom seal, a threshold seal is also intended to block cold air, insects and more from entering at the base of the door. Threshold seals, though, are attached to the driveway via an adhesive. You’ll especially want to add a threshold seal if your driveway slopes, which could potentially lead to flooding in your garage.
  • Panel weather-stripping: Panel weather-stripping is essentially the same as the weather-stripping we discussed above, but it’s intended to protect any gaps between panels on your garage door. This applies to garage doors that do not have interlocking panels.

When your garage door effectively resists the elements, it can last longer and provide better protection for your garage and your home. Take some time to find out what weather-proof features your garage door comes with and what features you may want to add. A professional installer can help you determine how to weatherproof and protect your garage door so it performs well and remains durable.

Find Your Perfect Garage Door from Liberty Door and Awning

To learn more about the quality Clopay garage doors we offer here at Liberty Door and Awning, visit our garage door product page. You’ll find a variety of styles and features to fit any homeowner’s preferences. If you have questions about how to choose a garage door or about specific product offerings, reach out to one of our representatives. As the largest dealer of Clopay garage doors in New Jersey for more than two decades, Liberty Door and Awning has the expertise and the wide selection to help you find your perfect garage door today.

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