The Ultimate Guide to Garage Door Types & Materials

Lawrence Bonk
Written by Lawrence Bonk
Updated July 30, 2021
Double sized wooden garage door
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Learn about the five different types of garage doors so you can make an informed renovation or replacement decision

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Front doors get all of the glory, but it’s the humble overhead garage door that can really spruce up the curb appeal of your home. After all, the wide expanse of a garage door will likely be the first thing people notice as they drive by or pull into the driveway. Residential garage doors are not something homeowners replace very often, so the whole topic may seem overwhelming at first. However, you’re actually only dealing with five basic garage door types.

You can contact a professional if you need a garage door installed quickly and efficiently. But if you want your ducks in a row before making a decision, keep reading to learn about garage door types and their materials. 

Garage Door Materials

Before we go into the five types of garage doors available, let’s talk materials. Garage doors feature several primary materials, each with its pros and cons.

Wood Garage Doors

It goes without saying that wooden garage doors are gorgeous. They boast a traditional and inviting look that will certainly turn some heads. Wood garage doors tend to be energy-efficient in warmer and dryer parts of the country, but they will struggle when facing extreme weather conditions. The wood could warp, rot, and expand when exposed to moisture, which will sour the aesthetics in just a season or two. Wood doors are also high-maintenance, so you will have to stain and paint them every couple of years.

Wood Composite Garage Doors

If the maintenance requirements of standard wood garage doors scare you, think about their wood composite cousins. Wood composite garage doors tend to be cheaper than real wood doors and should stand up better to moisture. These materials are not quite as beautiful as actual wood, but some higher-end wood composite garage doors are made with attractive high-density fiberboard. Wood composite doors are also filled with polystyrene insulation, making them much more energy-efficient than actual wood doors.

Metal Garage Doors

Modern garage door
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Many garage doors include durable metals, such as steel or aluminum. These materials excel in nasty weather conditions, which is why they’re a mainstay in the Midwest. They don’t rot, warp, or expand, and they are far less expensive than wood. Aluminum doors will dent if struck by projectiles, though steel doors can withstand even the heartiest of basketballs. Metal doors do, however, conduct heat, so your home’s air conditioner could struggle to regulate the temperature during the summer months.

Glass Garage Doors

If you are looking for a modern aesthetic flourish, consider a glass garage door. Though aesthetic marvels, glass garage doors are not the best choice for the privacy-conscious. Additionally, they can crack and chip when exposed to hail and strong winds, necessitating regular repairs. Glass doors tend to be thick, but they cannot match the durability of natural wood, aluminum, or steel. 

Fiberglass Garage Doors

Fiberglass has one key advantage when compared to other materials: It is incredibly light. This makes fiberglass garage doors incredibly quiet when they open and close. Fiberglass will also not warp, rot, or expand when exposed to moisture. However, fiberglass garage doors are not the best insulators. In other words, your heating and cooling bills could balloon during the summer and winter months. 

Main Garage Door Types

There are five different garage door types that you will typically find in residential areas. You will find these garage door types in wood, metal, glass, and the other materials above.

Sectional Garage Doors

Sectional garage doors are the most common type found in the United States. You are probably just a few feet from one right now. Sectional doors feature panels that split into sections (thus the name) held together with hinges. These hinges allow the door to bend and move up a vertical track as it makes its way to your ceiling. The sections that make up this design enable it to fit nearly any size or shape of garage. They are relatively cost-effective, safe, and come in a variety of visual styles. If you are replacing your sectional garage door, be sure to also replace the track it runs on to maintain safety. 

Sliding Garage Doors

Sliding garage doors feature a time-tested design that does not require electricity to operate. These doors do not bend upwards or run parallel to your ceiling. Instead, they bend to one side and run parallel to the interior wall. This is a good choice for garages with minimal headroom. Also, homeowners can choose to manually operate this type of garage door, as they do not typically require too much force to open and close.

Tilt-Up Garage Doors

As the name suggests, these doors open by tilting up and into your garage. This is another popular choice for residential homeowners, as they look great and suit various home exterior aesthetics. Due to the nature of the design, it is possible to build glass windows and screened-in entryways into a portion of a tilt-up garage door. Tilt-up models require an extraordinary amount of clearance to fully retract into the garage, which can be frustrating for space-conscious homeowners. They are also relatively expensive when compared to a standard sectional garage door. 

Side-Hinged Garage Doors

Otherwise known as swing-out doors, side-hinged garage doors resemble large barn doors when they open and close. This is because they include hinges on the side (thus the name), allowing the doors to swing open instead of moving up. As you could guess, side-hinged garage doors can help save space in the garage itself, as the doors position and swing outward. These doors can also swing inward if conserving garage space is not a priority. 

Roll-Up Garage Doors

You know how posters roll up into a cylinder for easy storage and carrying? That is the basic design behind roll-up garage doors. Roll-up garage doors feature multiple horizontal slats, which allow the doors to curve and bend as needed. As these doors open, the components wrap around a barrel found near the garage ceiling. They are typically durable and easy to use, though they tend to look drab and utilitarian compared to other door types. For this reason, roll-up doors are typically found in commercial or industrial settings instead of residential neighborhoods.

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