Custom garage door window inserts are smart and beautiful investments in a home, but there can be pitfalls in choosing the right one. The security of garage windows is just a big a factor as curb appeal so make the right choice.
Before making a decision about what type of garage door window inserts to install, however, you need to think about security. What is the need for the inserts? Are they simply decorative or should they be of a type to deter break-ins? These questions can only be answered by the homeowner based upon experience. A good idea, however, is to not have any garage window insert lower than eye-level regardless of style or material – most homes have attached garages leading directly into the living space. Giving a thief a waist-level entry point is not a good idea. Because garage door window inserts come in many different materials (plastic, tempered glass, and security meshed-wire glass) the level of security needed will depend solely on your comfort level. Next to a solid garage door lock, a secure window insert is one of the best ways to keep this area safe.
Garage door window inserts add major curb appeal to any door. Choose wisely, however, with respect to style. Selecting a more faddish window “insert-of-the-moment” may look ridiculous a mere few years down the road (think of the “eyes” on the Amityville house in the movie The Amityville Horror). Choose a style that is both elegant and timeless, but one that blends well with the homes architecture. The varieties of material are almost endless as are the construction and finishes.
These fine additions to your garage door can be had in beveled glass (giving a radiant, prismatic effect to sunlight passing through); stained glass (that casts a warm, colorful glow); or regular transparent materials such as Plexiglas, Lucite, or plastic. They can be tinted to cut glare to the interior. The view-through material can be coated with a UV blocker or can be shatter resistant.
The two major components of garage door inserts are the windows themselves and the molded frame in which they sit. Most windows are of a single pane, although some designs offer quarter panes or arched inserts in a fan pattern. Translucent or semi-opaque glass (such as “glass block”) gives privacy while allowing light to enter the garage space. When shopping for more decorative designs there are acrylic panes on the market that actually look like intricate, custom glasswork.
The molding (framework) is the second component for consideration. This is what will seal the window against drafts and the elements. Also be careful because buying an inferior molding will defeat the effectiveness of an insulated garage door. Poor molding contributes to a colder garage, and may leak during heavy rainfall. Plastic is probably the best molding option as it is not subject to rot or warping. All garage door window insert kits have their pros and cons, and no one type will meet all decorative and security needs. Budget, as well, is a consideration. Many inexpensive windows can be purchased for as little as $15 to $20 per unit. Plexiglas is perhaps the least costly material, and is easily cut to size.
Installation of garage door window inserts will vary. If replacing existing garage door windows, removal of the old window inserts comes first. This is nothing more than a do-it-yourself job by prying out the old and replacing it with a properly sized new unit. More involved are those garage doors where the homeowner must cut into the existing door to add these features. This is not a job for sloppy workmanship – the garage door window openings must be precisely and cleanly cut. Secondly, if the door is a more costly one, such as a cedar wood garage door, mistakes can mean a major replacement bill. If not comfortable assuming the responsibility the homeowner should consider hiring a professional group to come and do the installation. Or, another viable alternative, particularly if you have an old unattractive door, would be to upgrade the door with something more stylish (such as a molded fiberglass garage door) that comes from the factory with garage door window inserts already installed. Then it is a matter of simply swapping out the doors.
Garage door window inserts can add beauty and value to any home with a minimal cash outlay. As a home improvement project it is one of the better ones in terms of return on your investment. Working in a new custom garage with natural light is far more pleasant. Also, many garages perform double duties as play areas, workout spaces or craft areas. The use of window inserts is a great way to enhance the look and feel of a garage and they are manufactured for both overhead doors as well as side hinged garage doors.