In residential architecture, the garage is a space that is mainly used for storage and car parking. Although the garage door is usually not a very thought-out part of the design of a residential project, it often occupies a large part of the front elevation of a house, and can play an important role in its general curb appeal.
The garage door is typically a large door that is opened manually or by an electric motor, and its size and design are determined by the vehicles that will need to pass through it. Raynor, a North American company that specializes in garage doors, describes several of the most important factors that go into choosing the right garage door.
Types of Garage Doors
When it comes to identifying the different types of garage doors available, most people can remember one or two basic prototypes. However, there is a wide variety of models and options available that are unknown to most designers and clients. Becoming familiar with all the potential options can be helpful in the process of selecting a functional and aesthetic door.
Raynor specifies four basic types of garage doors for residential properties: Non-insulated steel Doors (Pan Doors), Polystyrene Insulated Doors, Polyurethane Insulated Doors, and Aluminum Rail and Stile Glass Doors. Although each of these modules can be similar in appearance, it is the different options and materials of each one that sets them apart.
Perhaps the most important factor to consider when choosing between these four types is the level of insulation needed. In this case, factors such as the type of climate that the project is being built for and how the garage itself will fit into the structure of the house - attached, detached, or underneath rooms (bi-level) - make a big difference.
Steel Pan doors are typically not insulated. They offer virtually no R-value. Pan doors are a good choice for detached garages or moderate climates with an attached garage. However, insulation can be added to pan doors for minimal R-value and noise suppression.
Aluminum rail and stile glass doors are focused on aesthetics. While these types of doors have historically been considered non-insulated doors, Raynor now offers various ways to make them more energy efficient including insulated rails and stiles along with many options for insulated glass.
Polystyrene insulated garage doors are three-layer doors. Polystyrene insulation is bonded between two layers of steel providing a good R-value. These doors are a good choice for harsher climates (both cold and hot) as well as attached garages. Many aesthetic options and design elements are available to tailor these doors to your house for exceptional curb appeal.
Polyurethane insulated garage doors are also three-layer doors. However, these doors feature a “foam-in-place” insulation that entirely fills all voids between the two layers of steel. Polyurethane offers the highest R-value available. This choice is particularly recommended for attached garages, garages that are underneath rooms, and harsh climates (both hot and cold). The Aspen™ polyurethane doors also feature Raynor’s proprietary WeatherLock™ section joint and seal system. Similar to polystyrene doors, many aesthetic options and design elements are available.
Door designs vary according to the style of each home and the specific requirement of each user. However, there are a series of models that adapt well to the types of housing that we usually find in our cities. As can be seen in the Raynor catalog, the more classic styles show embossed woodgrain texture and feature geometric patterned moldings and accessories that provide a more elegant appearance. The most minimalist styles present an industrial look that is well suited to modern-style homes. Beyond the texture of the coating, the white, black and natural wood tones work very well in most of the typologies.
Windows of garage doors generally have an opaque treatment to ensure the privacy of the garage without obstructing the passage of light. While there are many garage door window options available, it is important to choose the correct type of glass for the type of door selected. For example, a pan door will only require single pane glass, but an insulated door will need insulated glass to maintain as much R-value as possible.
Garage Door Construction
Another factor to consider are the 3 basic construction methods that each "type" of door can fall into.
- Construction Steel Layer: Constructed of 25 or 24 gauge steel or a thinner non-insulated steel skin, it offers basic protection and safety. R-value: N/A
- Construction Steel - Insulation Layer: Constructed of 25 or 24 gauge steel or a thinner steel skin, this model is equipped with a layer of expanded polystyrene board insulation and a thin protective vinyl back cover. Its insulation increases energy efficiency and soundproofing and adds greater structural integrity for quieter operation, offering good protection and safety. R-value: 10.25
- Construction Steel - Insulation - Steel Layer: Constructed with expanded polystyrene insulation or polyurethane insulation between two steel liners, it provides maximum energy efficiency, soundproofing, and structural integrity. With the quietest operation of all types of doors, this model offers maximum protection and security. R-value: 10.25-18.0
Door Parts and Security
Some garage door parts can be dangerous, making it important to become familiar with the different parts and how to treat them safely.
- Section Joints: A garage door section joint is the area between the sections of the door, which should not be handled directly to avoid accidents.
- Bottom Brackets: These are the two brackets that are attached to the lower left and lower right corners of the garage door, connected to the cables that lift the garage door. Only an experienced technician should repair these brackets.
- Torsion Springs: Garage doors are counterbalanced by torsion springs. They are usually mounted above a closed door, parallel and horizontal to the top section of the door. They provide lifting power for the door by winding and unwinding while the door is opened and closed. These parts include the springs, cables, the bottom brackets attached to the cables, cable drums, and the center bearing bracket that holds the torsion spring shaft.
- Photoelectric Eyes: These are sensors that are mounted 6 inches off the floor on both sides of a garage door and operate with a door opener that sends an invisible beam across the door opening. If that beam is broken while a motorized door is closing, the garage door opener will cause the door to reverse direction to the fully open position, as Federal law requires that all residential garage door openers sold in the United States since 1993 must include additional protection against entrapment.
- Lift Handles and Pull Ropes: A lift handle is a handle attached to the door that allows for the manual opening or closing of a door. A pull rope performs the same function and is usually attached to the bottom bracket in the lower corner of the door.
- Garage Door Openers and Remote Controls: Openers are electric motorized devices that open and close garage doors. They include an internal reversing mechanism that causes the door to reverse when it hits an obstruction. Openers are usually operated by a wall-mounted push button, a hand-held remote control, or a keyless entry pad that requires you to enter a numerical code. Like the other devices and parts presented, they should be kept away from children, for safety reasons.