Fiberglass garage doors are quickly winning over homeowners, but is fiberglass the best choice for you and your home? There are many considerations beyond just how these doors look. Style and price are common considerations, but many people forget to factor in weather and usage as well. The right decision is important because the garage door is generally the largest, single unbroken visual expanse on any home. A sturdy and attractive door can make the difference between mediocrity and true classic décor. The wide range of styles and fashionable colors and surface textures makes fiberglass garage doors one of the most attractive and cost effective ways to spruce up the public face of any home.
Fiberglass Door Styles
Fiberglass garage doors are molded from resins interwoven with blown glass threads for a binding lattice. Because of this manufacturing process these doors can be ordered in any color (with the addition of pigments) or any style (simulated wood grain, simulated stone, embossed, anything you can imagine). Architectural elements in an existing home are easily addressed – fiberglass molds probably exist for any decorative finish (simulated crown molding, cornice work, etc.) to meet any homeowner’s needs. These doors can be made in the single, overhead “up and out” swing unit, they can be horizontally articulated (as most doors are), or they can be made in multi-unit, “swing-out” carriage house style doors. From sleek and modern homes to the classic Victorian “painted ladies” of the past century, there is a beautiful door that will enhance any property. Many companies specialize in entry door / garage door combo sets that match color and style perfectly for a seamless and very complementary look. Imagination and budget are your only limitations when it comes to garage door fiberglass!
Pros of a Fiberglass Door Replacement
Considerations for replacing existing doors with fiberglass or using fiberglass custom garage doors at the time of building a new home are addressed mostly in terms of durability and maintenance. Unlike wood, fiberglass is not subject to rot. It needs no painting. Its flexibility makes it resistant to denting or chipping. A steel or aluminum door (both generally made of very light gauge metal sheets) is subject to the slightest dent or ding. A basketball thrown with little force against the average metal garage door is enough to produce a dent, for example. Steel, of course, is subject to rust. Paint does not adhere well over time to metal surfaces exposed to the elements, either. As the fiberglass garage door’s pigments are already incorporated in the completed product, painting is never needed. Maintenance usually consists of nothing more than an occasional washing with a garden hose and a mild detergent to remove environmental debris (bird droppings and surface dirt).
Fiberglass garage doors are also lighter in weight compared to their more traditional counterparts, but still maintain strength and durability due to many models having a thin steel inner frame. There is no warping (as in wood garage doors) or temperature related expansion or contraction (as with metals). The materials used in the resins these days are highly resistant to ultra-violet light fading from long-term exposure to sunlight.
Installing fiberglass garage doors presents no more difficulty than working with other materials. Working with fiberglass is as easy as working with wood. It can be drilled (for door handles and other hardware installation), sawn, sanded, and scored in the same ways as wood using the same tools one would use for woodwork. They are also available with garage window inserts in a variety of styles that allow light in without compromising beauty and security.
There are other nice features, too. Fiberglass presents no signal interference from the door for operating an automatic garage door opener remote control unit. Many companies make garage door insulation a standard, which keeps the garage cooler in the summer, warmer in the winter and helps to reduce outside noise as well as noise from the door itself.
Costs of these doors vary and, as in any other home improvement or upgrade, depend heavily upon the taste and budget of the buyer. On average, however, these doors can cost about the same as garage doors made of more traditional materials and given the longevity this can be a real bargain!
Cons of Choosing Fiberglass Doors
Disadvantages of fiberglass garage doors are few. The resins binding fiberglass are generally very yielding, and will respond with a certain amount of “give” before breaking. If backed into with a car suddenly, however, the stress along the door panel tends to cause it to splinter along stress lines. This means replacement of the entire affected panel as it cannot be effectively repaired in place, and the structural integrity of the fractured piece is compromised. Replacement is the best option. Fiberglass is subject to surface marring from abrasions and cutting; however, a real advantage to the “disadvantage” is that a very light sandpapering is usually sufficient to remove minor scratches, and a quick buffing with car wax will restore the surface to “like new” condition. Deeper gouges and cuts in the surface can be easily and inexpensively repaired with fiberglass filler repair kits purchased from any home improvement center. They are easily one of the best custom garage doors on the market.
In the end, curb appeal is a major consideration when budgeting for a new home, buying a used home, or when remodeling. Installing fiberglass garage doors is cost effective, almost maintenance free, and the new doors can yield a substantial return on their investment in a home that is “For Sale”.