Choosing A Steel Garage Door, Layers and Gauges of Garage Door Steel
A steel garage door is chosen a high percentage of the time today for a number of different reasons. Cost, durability, ease of maintenance, and variety top the list. The number of options out there has expanded over the years, and today you can get steel doors that look just like painted wood, in almost any style you can imagine.
One thing to consider when choosing doors is if you are going to keep the home long term, or if you are planning to sell sometime in the not-too-distant future. If you are planning to sell soon, you should be looking for a door that will add a classy look to your home. Giving it curb appeal enhances the value of your home to prospective buyers. On the other hand, if you are planning to keep your home for the duration, the primary focus should be on durability and insulation value.
Steel Garage Door Construction
When purchasing a steel garage door you will find they come in one, two and three layer designs. A single layer design uses one sheet of galvanized steel without any insulation. This is the most economical choice for an unheated, detached building. However, there is almost no insulation value with this type of door. Also, you will find the singe layer steel door often has a shorter warranty than other types.
The two layer design has a layer of galvanized steel on the outside and a foam insulation backing on the inside. The backing reduces noise and helps to insulate the garage. These are much more energy efficient than the single layer type, but the exposed insulation layer on the inside is easily damaged. A two layer door is a good choice for a garage that will only be used for parking vehicles, and isn't subject to bumps and scrapes from the inside.
A triple layer design is the best value in the long run. This type has a layer of foam insulation sandwiched between the galvanized steel used on the outside and another layer of steel on the inside, to make this type the strongest of the three. The steel on the inside helps to keep the foam from becoming damaged, and the three layer door is of the quietest and most secure.
Sometimes these are called "solid" garage doors, and they have the added value of lasting for many years. A three layer design is your best bet if the space is also used for bike and lawnmower storage or as a workshop, where the inside of the door might see some wear and tear.
Sometimes you will see doors listed as having four or five layers. These are essentially three-layer designs with an outer skin and/or decorative "slats" installed on top of the skin. The outer skin (the fourth layer) is usually fiberglass or vinyl, and the fifth layer is the decorative slats that are sometimes made from a wood composite material. The decorative slats are designed to give it some character and make it look like a real wood carriage house door.
One thing to keep in mind is that not all garage door steel is created equal! Steel comes in different thicknesses, or gauges. The lower the number, the thicker the steel. A high gauge number means the garage door steel is thinner, and won't be as strong. A door with 27 or 28 gauge steel is not going to be very resistant to dings and dents. The top brands will be made of 24 gauge metal, and some are even thicker.
A steel garage door is fairly inexpensive and you can find them just about everywhere. They are easier to install than wooden doors. You also do not have to worry about painting them, but they can be painted if you like. Many have a lifetime warranty against warping and rust-through.
They are not prone to mildew or mold, and they are weatherproof. One of the biggest advantages to steel doors is their durability. If purchased with a decent thickness, they can withstand a lot and they are suitable for just about any type of weather. In addition, a steel door is low maintenance. Washing the door occasionally is the only maintenance that is required to keep it looking like new.
Steel garage doors are not always the best choice for a home aesthetically. Certain styles of homes look much better with real wooden garage doors with a stained finish, particularly upscale homes with a prominent garage. A metal door does tend to show dents and scratches. If you live in a coastal area with salty air, any scratches will start to rust very quickly, and you may want to look at aluminum garage doors instead.
The cost, durability, and ease of maintenance that comes with a steel door makes it the most popular type of door sold today. Make sure you get the right type (one, two, or three layer) for your situation, and buy the thickest gauge garage door steel you can afford. With all the different options that are available, a steel garage door is the smartest choice for most homes.
For more information on other types of garage doors, go to our Related Pages menu on the right near the top of this page.
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