Your garage door is warped, cracked or dented beyond repair. As you shop for a replacement, be prepared to make decisions about such issues as materials, insulation and budget.
Almost all of today's better doors are called sectionals because they're built in panels or sections (usually four) that roll straight up and back into your garage. One-piece doors, on the other hand, swing straight out and back, which means that you and your car had better not be too close when the opener is activated.
Insulated garage doors offer far more than just improved energy efficiency. They offer quieter operation (insulation blocks noise), better interior appearance (non-insulated doors tend to have an unfinished look from inside), and added strength (insulation is sandwiched between two layers of steel, fiberglass or hardboard).
Steel doors require little maintenance and are quite durable. When comparison shopping, consider the thickness of the steel. The higher the gauge, the thicker the steel and the stronger the door. Most steel doors come with the finish painted in white, brown or almond, but some now feature a special wood-grained surface that allows you to apply stain for a wood-grain look.
Wood doors offer that warm, richly stained or painted look that steel and fiberglass doors can't match. With wood, you also have a much greater range of styles and textures to choose from. Intricately carved or rough-sawed rustic panels, for instance, are available only with wood.
The main drawback is that wood doors require the same regular painting that any exterior wood requires.
Another common garage door material is fiberglass. Most fiberglass doors are inexpensive alternatives that offer a plain appearance, minimal security and poor insulation.
They are, however, particularly resistant to salt air corrosion, easy to lift without an automatic opener, translucent and require little maintenance. Much-improved insulated fiberglass models are now also available.
Steel doors are offered in flat, raised, recessed or ribbed panels. Wood doors come in these styles plus some more fanciful varieties. Fiberglass doors are usually made from ribbed panels. Windows are also an option worth considering.
You can buy garage doors at home center or through a professional installer. Unless you're a skilled do-it-yourselfer, consider having your door installed by a pro.