Top 15 Things You Should Know Before Buying a Garage Door

things to consider when buying a garage door

There is a lot to think about when shopping for a garage door, a home upgrade that will last 20-30 years.

Things to consider when buying a garage door include issues around price, style and functionality.

This garage door buying guide discusses 15 things to know before buying a garage door. Think them through for your situation.

Visit links on this site for deeper research, get multiple quotes on cost, and you’ll be more likely to make an informed decision you’re happy with in the years to come.

*15 garage door buying tips are included.

1. Know your Budget – And What You Get for the Money

Garage door cost is $1,200 to $10,000 or more installed. A price list is found in the next section.

Most homeowners pay between $1,500 and $2,800 for a good-quality 2-car garage door that isn’t wood. If you want wood, cost can easily double or triple.

Did you know? The average return on investment, or ROI, of a garage door is more than 100% according to the 2023 Cost to Value Report – a highly respected source for home builders.

2. You Have Material Options – Each with Pros, Cons and Costs

Garage Door Guides has full pages on each material available. So, here is an overview of your options and their costs.


Steel garage doors are the most popular type in all but the priciest neighborhoods. They’re available in several steel thicknesses – the lower the number, like 24 gauge – the thicker and more durable the door.

steel garage door

You have many style options and choices for color, windows, panel design, wood-look overlays and insulation levels from 0 to R15 or higher.

*Steel garage door prices range from $1,200 to $6,500 based on size, design and the options you select. All brands make steel doors. Wayne Dalton, the Overhead Door Co. and Raynor are among those with an excellent selection.


A solid aluminum door, like a steel door but made from aluminum, is lighter weight but might not be as durable. Many aluminum garage doors feature aluminum framework and large glass panels, like those from the Overhead Door Company, that deliver a modern look that is gaining popularity – though fairly costly. Hormann makes very attractive aluminum doors.

Hormann Aluminum Garage Doors

Other top brands to consider are Haas, Wayne Dalton, Overhead Door, Clopay and Amarr garage doors.

*Aluminum garage door cost starts at $1,500, but most are in the range of $2,200 to $4,000. They top out closer to $8K.


These are often called faux wood garage doors because the fiberglass is formed to have wood-like texture. And the material is colored to resemble genuine wood, right down to the woodgrain. Wayne Dalton, CHI and Overhead Door are among the brands offering a nice selection of fiberglass garage doors.

Fiberglass Garage Door

*The cost of a fiberglass garage door starts at around $1,800 (single car) with average costs closer to $5,000 for a 2-car size.


In looks, a composite garage door is very similar to fiberglass. Faux wood, in other words. The material blend varies by manufacturer but can contain PVC, polymers, wood fiber and high-density foam.

Built in layers, some composite doors are known to delaminate – the layers fall apart – after 5 to 10 years.

Faux wood composite garage doors

Two out of 20 homeowners had this issue with one Clopay door – but issues aren’t restricted to that brand.

*The average price of a composite garage door is $2,500 to $4,500. Pay less, and you might get one that falls apart.


A vinyl garage door might also be called a PVC or plastic garage door. Most are lightweight and affordable with a wood-look design embossed on the vinyl top layer. Wood colors, from light to dark, and graining, are included in the design.

Vinyl Garage Doors

Vinyl is a good choice where salt is used on roads. Splashed onto steel doors, salt can cause rust. That doesn’t happen with vinyl.

*Vinyl garage door cost averages about $2,400 for a 2-car garage door.


If you want a garage door with premium looks and quality, consider genuine wood. Many wood species are available in an attractive array of designs and accessories. But you have to be willing to pay more, keep it maintained and, possibly, buy a heavy-duty garage door opener to lift the added weight of a wood door.

clopay Reserve Wood Custom

*Wood garage door cost starts around $4,500 for a 2-car model. Most cost closer to $6,00-$8,000 with an upper end over $10,000.

3. Quality – You Get What You Pay For

Most manufacturers make basic, better and best grades of door. Cost usually matches the quality.

You get what you pay for

4. Wood Garage Doors Need More Maintenance

This one is quick, easy and obvious – a wood garage door must be kept sealed against the weather or rot can start. This is mentioned so that you go into your buying decision with “eyes wide open” regarding both the good looks and the high-maintenance requirements of real wood garage doors.

5. It is Useful to Understand Layer Lingo

Here is a short glossary of common terms you’ll see or hear when buying a garage door.

  • Single-layer construction is cheap and not very sturdy.
  • Two-layer construction adds a sturdy base layer that improves performance in high-wind areas. It generally makes the door more durable.
  • Three-layer & four-layer construction usually includes insulation and a top overlay of fiberglass, composite or vinyl to give a steel door the look of genuine wood. Cost is higher. Looks are more appealing, but this third layer doesn’t add durability. In fact, in some cases, the overlay separates. This usually leads to the expense of garage door replacement.

Buying tip: The thickness of the layers is also important. A 2-layer door constructed with 24-gauge steel will be much more durable and dent-proof than a 2-layer, 26-gauge steel door.

6. You Have Garage Door Style Options – What Looks Best with Your Home?

More than a dozen garage door styles can be identified. Among the most popular are Carriage House (traditional), Contemporary (often aluminum and glass), Modern (minimalist appeal), French (like French doors), Farmhouse (comfortable and homey), Craftsman (simple but attractive) and

Buying Tip: See the Garage Door Styles page to browse a gallery of door styles.

garage door styles

7. You Can Design Your Door with Cool Tools on Manufacturer’s Sites

Most brand websites include software that allows you to visualize what a specific garage door design will look like on your home.

big and best garage door brands

The design tools usually allow you to upload a picture of your home – or choose a stock photo from the site’s gallery. Then, you can select a door and choose options. Start over with a new style or clear the options and try different selections.

Here are a few of the best garage door design tools.

8. Match your Door to Your Neighborhood Standards

If most garage doors on your street are steel, a wood door or even an expensive fiberglass or aluminum and glass door won’t be a good value. ROI will suffer. If you don’t care, buy whatever door you want, of course.

Conversely, in a toney neighborhood where upscale garage doors are standard, a plain steel door will look out of place and might harm your ability to sell your home.

Did you know?

Buying tip: Take a stroll or drive around your neighborhood to survey what materials and styles are most often used. Choose a door that fits in with the rest. And then use your window, panel and accessory options to tailor your door to your preferences.

9. Garage Door Insulation –Paying More for an Insulated Door Might Be Worth It

garage door r value, garage door insulation

Garage door insulation is recommended if you:

  • Have an insulated garage (walls and ceiling) and…
  • Have a heated or air conditioned garage and…
  • Use the garage door as a workshop or home gym (or other purpose) in very warm or very cold weather

Buying Tip: Insulation will pay you back in lower energy bills in 5-10 years and it will make the garage more comfortable in harsh hot or cold weather.

10. DIY Garage Door Installation is Difficult – or Dangerous

Most installations require two people – and its best if they have experience installing the type of door you’ve chosen.

And working with garage door springs can be dangerous if they become detached once they’ve been tensioned.

Buying Tip: Yes, you can save $250 to $700 on average with DIY installation. But if you want to stay safe and have the door properly installed and balanced, it is best to hire a pro.

11. Windows – There are Advantages and Disadvantages

Garage door windows come in many shapes and styles.

They allow light into the garage, but also allow others to see what you have stored there.


Garage Windows. Modern And Vintage Window Frames For Garage Door

Plus, windows don’t look great with some modern door styles.

Buying Tip: If security is an issue, skip the windows or choose tinted, shatterproof options.  

12. Wind Rated Doors for High Wind Zones are Available

Most of the best garage door brands make door designs to withstand hurricane-force winds. See the Garage Door Guides Impact Hurricane Proof Garage Doors page with Ratings, Manufacturers and Costs.

hurricane zone

Buying Tip: If you live in Florida, Texas or other storm-prone region, the Building Code and/or your insurance company might require homeowners to install garage doors with an appropriate wind rating. Your garage door dealer or installer should know what’s required.

13. New Safety Features are Offered

All doors are required to have motion sensors to stop the door from closing if something is in its path.

But now you can also find safety features that protect fingers from getting pinched or allow manual closing in the event of a power outage. Or you can install motion detectors that will close the garage door if someone approaches it – security against potential thieves.

Buying Tip: When you get garage door installation estimates, ask the contractors what safety features are available, and choose those that fit your needs.

14. Heavy Duty Springs are Worth the Extra Money

Springs are rated for 10,000 to 20,000 cycles – a cycle is one opening and closing. If the door is opened/closed twice per day, 10,000 cycles occurs in 13 years, 8 months. However, most of these springs last around 10 years.

Heavy duty garage door spring

You can upgrade to 20,000 cycle springs for $75 to $125 and get twice the wear from them. If you go in and out of the garage a lot, the upgrade might be worth it.

Buying Tip: Ask about upgrading the springs and the cost of the upgrade when you get garage door installation prices from local contractors.

15. It Might Be Time for a New Opener

If your current unit is more than 10 years old, isn’t working “like it used to,” or you prefer smart features like a built-in security camera or WiFi control, consider a garage door opener upgrade.

And if the garage door you’re buying is heavier than the old door, a more powerful opener might be needed.

Buying Tip: You might get a deal on a combination of the door and a new opener – and you’ll have a fresh opener under warranty up to 5 years.

Take your time to consider garage door buying tips. And when you’re ready to compare prices and get your questions answered, request free written garage door estimates from prescreened, experienced garage door contractors where you live.

Learn More In Our Garage Door Sections

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