Wood or Steel For Your Garage Door?

Homebuyers like to see homes with garages and builders are happy to accommodate them. In fact, it’s fairly rare to find a home, even a townhome, built within the last 20 years that doesn’t include at least a single-car garage.

While today’s garages still primarily function to provide a protective, closed place to keep cars and other vehicles (bicycles, motorcycles), they have evolved into sophisticated storage spaces that feature special cabinetry, flooring, and hanging racks. So it’s not surprising that garage doors have also advanced beyond the standard white rectangles into stylish doors that complement the rest of the home.

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Garage Doors Need to Be Durable

Because they are the largest entrance to a home, garage doors need to be made from tough materials that not only hold up against the elements outside but also resist breaking and entering.

Garage doors also need to be relatively light since most homeowners prefer garage doors that open and close automatically. Garage door openers typically have one-half or three-quarter horsepower motors. A one-half horsepower garage door opener can lift about 300 pounds, the average weight of a two-car garage door. A three-quarter horsepower opener can lift as much as 500 pounds.

Wood Doors Look Beautiful But Steel Stands Up Better

Steel dominates the garage door manufacturing industry for its durability, strength, and resistance to extreme weather. In Florida, building codes require garage doors to withstand hurricane-force winds as well.

Most new garage doors are made with 24-, 26-, and 28-gauge steel. They are typically two inches thick, and have insulation with an R-value of 8. Much of the United States needs insulation with an R-value of 5 or 6, according to the Cellulose Insulate Manufacturers Association, so a typical steel garage door will provide sufficient insulation against very hot and very cold weather.

While wood remains a favorite for aesthetic reasons, wood garage doors are more expensive, weigh more, and don’t stand up as well in very hot or humid weather. Few come with warranties that last more than a year or two, compared to 10 or more years for steel-constructed garage doors. They also require more maintenance, including repainting and restaining every few years.

But wood looks good, and wooden doors have incredible curb appeal. For these reasons, garage door manufacturers make steel garage doors that incorporate wood overlays to bring the best of both products. Underneath the wood is that tough, resilient steel. Martin Garage Doors, for example, makes a Chalet model with two cypress overlay options that come in various stains. Looking at one, it’s virtually impossible to know that it’s mostly a steel door.

Steel is Eco-Friendly

Steel is also attractive because it can be recycled, and many garage door manufacturers use a good amount of recycled materials in their products. The Door & Access Systems Manufacturing Association International (DASMA) reports about 40% of the steel in garage doors is made from recycled material. Many recycle their scrap materials as well.

While wood is also a renewable material, certain kinds are in short supply. According to The Wood Database, several types of mahogany, cedars, rosewoods, walnuts, and pines are listed as vulnerable or endangered by the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES).