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Garage door buying guide

rhl_ | Posted in Energy Efficiency and Durability on

There are only a few articles on GBA on garage doors. 

I plan to replace my garage door soon, and it would be great to get some advice on how to specify an energy efficient door.

For example I have a set of spring loaded “green” hinges. 

what is the best recommendation regarding weather stripping? 

How about door material? Metal or wood? Something else? 

Any special considerations for double wide doors? 

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  1. onslow | | #1


    For what its worth, I have Clopay polyurethane filled metal doors that perform well. Not stupendously, but pretty well. They come in different R ratings. Much, much better than the ones with the fragile and near useless EPS insert panels. Other brands may be just as good, but Clopay could make the window and panel combo I wanted. The garage is insulated to about R15 whole wall and roof R 20. It averages around 40 in the worst part of winter, which may be more reflective of the one and half shared walls with the house. R-30 on those.

    From past door experience, the 16' single doors tend to seem a bit floppier than the nines I have now. Those doors were very low end which might have a lot more to do with it though. I designed for 9' doors since they all face south and bear the brunt of our spring wind fest. The Clopays seem pretty silent til about 30 mph winds, partly because the wheels fit the tracks better than my old doors. Wheel and axle quality is something that is easily overlooked, but makes a huge difference in how nicely the door opens and how it stays stiff in the down position.

    Just looked up "green hinges" which seem to address the floppy door syndrome. They look like a nice upgrade intended to make the door stand up straight. Could be the answer for wide doors, though I think the axles and wheels enter into the equation as well. Didn't think to check and see if they make upgraded wheels too.

    The overlap between panels on the Clopay do seem to sit tighter than prior doors, which is nice for wind and driven rain. The side seals are pretty normal vinyl flaps on synthetic nailing strips.
    The bottom seal is a bulb cross section which works well if it has a flat level place to engage. The concrete contractor did me well on that front. The three ribbed ones I use to replace all too frequently died from having the ribs get frosted to the apron. Opening the door on a cold February often left bits stuck to the cement. Bad water management due to being at the bottom of a long sloped driveway didn't help. Spraying silicone on the bottom edge might have saved me the aggravation.

    Having dealt with and maintained a 16' wood door, I would not recommend them. If you have lots of money and want to make a statement, that's up to you. I can tell you that the weight of them means installing much beefier openers that cost considerably more and even more to repair. You can counterbalance weight, but mass is still at play. The whole track frame needs to be much heavier duty as do the lifting springs. God help you if it ever breaks a spring and you need to lift it manually. And God rest your soul if it ever comes down on you when the spring breaks.

    I will give the semi-murderous door one advantage. It was almost as old as myself when I last refurbished it and as far as I know, it is still in use. I just leave the age info at the Beatles being only a few years older than me.

    Making sure whatever door you put in is square and true with the tracks and floor/apron will be the biggest task. Most of the re-hab work I did on garage doors was straightening tracks, fixing wonky wheels and balancing springs. Leveling the floor contact was seldom possible, which is where the big bulb bottom gaskets shine. It is possible to the down stop to compensate for the slope some opening have. Unfortunately, lazy installers often just set the first panel down and build up. This makes the whole thing wonky from the start. Be sure to level the first panel and then build. Even a half inch droop will come back to haunt you.

  2. rhl_ | | #2

    It seems like the summary is:

    Reduce air leakage:
    1. Use spring loaded hinges such as green hinges
    2. Get better weatherstripping
    3. weatherstripping/track system such as:

    2. Getting a high R-value is good

    In terms of manufacturers, its really hard to distinguish noise from truth, however, I get the sense that:

    Clopay/Garaga may have better products.

    I have no data or evidence to back any of this up.

    Anyone more informed?

  3. walta100 | | #3

    The way I see it if you are not heating the garage why insulate the garage?

    If you are heating the garage you have money to burn and it just does not matter.

    I doubt that if you wrap a bit of R7 insulation in 22 gage steel the insulation matters much with that much steel connecting the inside and the outside. You will note all the literature tells you about the R value of the insulation installed in the door and not the R value of the assembled door. It is like insulating the ceiling of your screened porch.

    The insulated doors will make less noise as they rattle less.


    1. Trevor_Lambert | | #4

      I don't follow the logic with this statement.
      "If you are heating the garage you have money to burn and it just does not matter."
      What is the connection between wanting a heated garage and having money to burn, to the point that you don't even care what it costs ($ and environmental wise).

  4. walta100 | | #5

    The way I see it if you decide to spend your money making sure your car does not catch a cold does it really matter of it costs 1 or 4 hundred dollars a month you are going to do it. Maybe it makes sense to heat the garage of some rare and exotic machine that sells for than the cost of the average home but then the fuel costs become chum change in that world, or if you are going to heat the garage once or twice a year to make a necessary repair how it does make sense to spend thousands on a furnace and insulation. If playing with an old car is your hobby the fuel cost become a normal expense does the number matter?


    1. Trevor_Lambert | | #7

      I think you're making arbitrary distinctions. I would say that having the car at a reasonable temperature is at least half of what putting it in the garage is for. You made a joke about the car catching a cold; I could make the same joke about having the garage at all, is your car going to catch a cold if it's wet?

      Insulating the garage helps plenty, even without active heating. You get a good amount of heat out of the ground when it's -20 outside, and insulation absolutely helps a lot to retain that. By the same token, in the summer the garage can be relatively cool, using the ground as a heat sink and insulation to reject the outside heat. I had an insulated garage with no a/c that was cooler than the accompanying house with a/c.

      Aside from how it relates to the vehicle, a lot, perhaps the majority of garages are used for additional purposes like a workshop. Even just storing something like latex paint or wood glue, you can't do that in an uninsulated, unheated garage in cold climates. Ask me how I know.

      "If playing with an old car is your hobby the fuel cost become a normal expense does the number matter?" I would say yes, but it's certainly subjective. There is definitely no logical reason to conclude an answer one way or the other. If you decide to go on a plane trip for a holiday, does it really matter how much it costs? That question is equally valid as the one you posed.

  5. AlexPoi | | #6

    Your problem won't be the insulation. After all a garage door will be around R10 while your windows are R6 at best. The real problem is air sealing. It's hard to air seal a sectional door especially the top of the door.

    I heard good things about Garaga doors and their sealing kit.

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