5 considerations when choosing a new garage door

Along with the substantial increase in the use of electric garage door openers since the 1990's domestic garage doors have become a mine field of choice now for the discerning house owner. The increasing value of 4x4 vehicles and cars has also fuelled the requirement for higher specification and more secure garage doors, with a multitude of varying designs, sizes and intricate mechanisms now available. It is only natural that home owners have come to rely on increasingly high tech products to protect their investments at home, and garage doors are no exception, especially if you have an attached garage leading through to your main house. If you are one of the many households with one or more cars it may be time to consider looking at some of the superb new garage doors available.


An obvious first consideration in the process of buying, although because garage doors vary so much in a number of ways this is a difficult area to recommend. Prices vary depending on the material primarily as well as the size; for example, timber doors are generally higher priced compared with steel or fibreglass (GRP) garage doors. However, those who require the look of wood but maybe cannot afford a timber door can buy relatively lower priced models produced in aluminium or steel with highly developed laminate finishes recreating very realistic wood effects. The mechanism can have a massive effect on the price, for example: a vertical boarded one piece up and over door, say in a 7' x 7' size, can be around £800 where as if the door was a vertically boarded round the corner, sliding type garage door it may well be around £3,000 (in the same timber species of course). Insulation, glazing, factory finishes, special sizes and so on all contribute towards increasing the price but one piece of advice - beware a 'cheap' garage door - they are large items and with cheap parts or insufficient panel strength you may well find you have a problematic purchase, this is especially true with side hinged and roller garage doors (see our article on roller door pricing). Very generally the order of prices for garage doors goes like this (lowest to highest):

  • Steel up and over doors
  • Steel roller shutter doors
  • Steel/GRP side hinged doors
  • Upvc up and over doors
  • GRP up and over doors (higher quality doors)
  • Steel sectional garage doors
  • Aluminium roller shutter doors
  • Timber up and over doors
  • Timber side hinged doors
  • Timber sectional doors
  • GRP sectional doors
  • Timber round the corner doors
  • Silvelox timber up and over doors.

Of course this list is very general and many of the doors would swap places once special sizes, colours, windows, etc were added and there are exceptions to some of the door types as well from certain manufacturers.


Materials generally used are steel, timber, aluminium, PVC and GRP. With timber garage doors you will get an enormous variation in price with different timber species, and the most common species are usually cedar wood, oak, hemlock, iroko and larch. More than the price however the door panel material also affects the potential overall performance of your garage door. A steel garage door should usually be the strongest and sectional doors can be supplied in double skin panels up to 45mm thick with incredible strength and insulation properties. Timber is very versatile and the designs are limitless if a standard design does not suit. Aluminium is generally only used for insulated double skin roller doors and a couple of specialised sectional doors. GRP is also very versatile and is used extensively now for most mechanisms as it does possess great strength if correctly produced - again beware of cheap GRP doors, they are only usually cheap as they have very little material in them. Sometimes the material you need is dictated by your house exterior, local planning regulations or maybe even location. For instance if you live in a coastal area it would not be a good idea generally to use a steel garage door that is prone to corrosion, especially when constantly exposed to saltwater. A GRP (fibreglass) garage door will be a better option. If you prefer the look of timber but do not have the time or desire to maintain such a garage door then you can consider a steel up and over or sectional door with a laminate woodgrain finish, now available in most colours required.


This is a very important and much overlooked consideration. A lot of people simple choose a garage door by design and size but give little consideration to how it may (or may not!) operate in their garage design. The operating mechanism that your garage door is based upon (sectional, roller, canopy, side-hinged, etc) depends a lot on the areas inside and outside your garage. If you have a narrow garage and have limited space near the entrance, then it is usually best to buy a roller door rather than an 'up and over' one piece door. If your garage has a low ceiling, you might want to consider a side-hinged door rather than a sectional one, since the latter requires a bit more headroom. Side hinged garage doors have enormous benefits for regularly used garages as you only open one side to enter and exit, like a normal door. Do not forget to check garage door sizes carefully to ensure they fit well with your garage door opening, many people order garage doors as they are standard sizes to find they have to make great adjustments around the sub frame usually compromising the overall performance of the door and frame. It is easy nowadays to get a purpose made garage door at very little extra cost. Also, if you are planning on using an electric door opener then check with a specialist on the best door and motor combination. A lot of companies will tell you a canopy type door cannot be electrically operated but this is nonsense. The real issue is having a canopy door capable of being automated as there are many quite flimsy up and over garage doors that have been sold over the years that cannot be automated as the panel is too weak. A Hormann or Garador (post 2004) canopy door can be easily and safely automated with the correctly specified electric operator (Hormann or Garador would be best but Marantec and Seip also work superbly)


This is one of the most commonly asked questions - How secure is the garage door?

This is a very difficult question to answer as there are so many ways a potential intruder may attempt to break through a garage door, depending if he has tools, etc. Most modern garage doors have very good locks as standard, look out for the industry standard, a euro profile cylinder lock with a good quality handle and internal locking rods, preferably not cables, although some are very effective. Roller shutter garage doors use different locking methods and have many extra devices to help make them more secure, check with the individual manufacturer if you are not sure and security is high on your priority list. The resistance to attempted break in is obviously governed by the strength of the actual door panel itself and a good example of a low security garage door is the ABS up and over door. This is a door panel made from a fairly thin plastic type material which can be cut through with a sharp knife very easily to gain access to the internal lock and then opened, all very quietly as well. The locking on a door can be fantastic but if the door panel construction is flimsy then the lock is useless as the door can be bent or smashed through. At the other end of the scale is a door like the Hormann LPU40 sectional which has panels constructed form double skinned, foam filled steel sections offering great resistance to forced entry with or without tools. The most secure garage doors generally are double skinned sectional doors, good quality side hinged doors, Hormann, Novoferm and Garador steel up and over doors and good quality insulated aluminium roller doors, particularly the Seceuroglide Excel which has a security level 1 rating as awarded by the LPCB. The Silvelox up and over door system is exceptionally secure but has a price tag that scares a lot of people but if you want a no compromise, bespoke timber garage door with security then take a look at the Silvelox range. The Rundum Meir round the corner door system also has considerable secure features. A common mistake is to fit a budget electric door opener to a garage door forgetting that in doing so you usually remove the manual locking system and then in basic form rely upon the electric operator towing fixture to hold the door secure. Whilst this may be reasonably OK adding certain latching devices can bring the door up to much higher levels of security. Check with the manufacturer or specialist what can be done if you need security.

Reliability & Maintenance

  This final consideration for some people actually convinces them to buy or not to buy a garage door. Nowadays many of us are very busy and have little time or enthusiasm left to maintain major household implements, even on weekends. Well here is a revelation - most modern garage doors don't really require huge amounts of maintenance, even timber doors properly treated before or on installation can have a protection that requires just cleaning (like most items) to maintain a long lasting beautiful panel finish. GRP garage doors and Upvc doors are virtually maintenance free, again, just keep clean. High quality steel up and over, side hinged and sectional doors are all galvanised and painted using modern techniques and paints that last a very long time. Mechanisms may require a little attention occasionally, especially if the door is used very frequently or you live near the coast where the corrosive effects of salt water may well cause issues if not checked. Again higher quality garage door mechanisms tend to have components that are galvanised or zinc plated to maximise the life span. Regular oiling, regular cleaning and regular checks on moving parts will of course be recommended just like it is with your car. A remote control garage door is considered a 'machine' in legal terms so again it is obvious that some maintenance may be required but most modern electric operators have Kevlar and nylon belt drives that do not require oiling at all. A correctly fitted modern, high quality garage door should be an item that causes you no real issues at all in the long term, but remember if you 'buy cheap you buy twice'. Check the credentials of any installer if you feel his price is a bit low, if it seems too good to be true you should remember that it usually is.

For full advice on any aspect of choosing a garage door call The Garage Door Centre free on (0800) 525442 or email us directly enquiries@thegaragedoorcentre.co.uk

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