Steel vs. Aluminum vs. Wood Garage Doors: Which Is Best?

Your garage door does way more than just add a bit of curb appeal to your home. They protect the contents inside. As garage doors come in several types of materials, choosing the best one can help you save money, protect your belongings, and complement your home’s aesthetic. 

The different materials affect the appearance, cost, and durability. The three most common garage door materials include steel, aluminum, and wood. While there are other types of garage doors – like glass or fiberglass, these materials are not useful in every climate. 


Why Choose Steel Garage Doors?

Chances are, most garage doors in your neighborhood are made from good old-fashioned steel.

Most new home builds include a steel garage door because they’re inexpensive to manufacture. However, steel garage doors are extremely popular with homeowners looking for a replacement door as well.

At the low-end, you can still get a basic steel garage door for around $1000. However, most of the major manufacturers have introduced a variety of styles, textures, colors and window options to let you customize your garage door to match, or enhance your home’s exterior.

Steel garage doors can be insulated, or non-insulated, depending on how they’re configured. When they have insulation, in addition to the energy savings, they also dampen sound better, and are more impact resistant. 

Easy Maintenance

Steel doors require no special maintenance. In general, homeowners should wash their garage doors at least twice a year.

If you live in an area that uses road salt and de-icing materials, clean your steel doors more frequently to reduce the chances of rust build-up along the bottom edge.

Eco-friendly and Durable

When you add insulation to a steel garage door, it adds several benefits.

The biggest reason to choose an insulated steel garage door is the cost savings. Not only is the door itself less expensive, but you’ll also save money on utilities.

Homeowners with attached garages see the biggest benefit. Insulated steel doors can help keep homes cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, so your HVAC system uses less energy, thus reducing your utility expenses. 

Your steel garage door also protects your investments from weather damage. Because they are so durable, they stand up to storms, warping, and fire. They also better withstand impact damage from basketballs or other toys. Steel garage doors reduce noises from the outside, especially when they are insulated.

Manufacturers typically use recycled steel to make new garage doors, which makes them more environmentally friendly. If you are looking for a sustainable material for your new garage door, steel is one of the top choices. 

Many homeowners with steel garage doors use their garages as additional living spaces because of the warmth the doors provide.

The Numbers

Steel garage doors have a wide variety of prices. They range anywhere between $800 to over $5,000 for insulated and customized options. The features, hardware, and insulation choices can add to the price. 

A single-stall steel garage door weighs between 80 and 125 pounds. A double-door weighs between 150 and 200 pounds. Insulated doors weigh more than those without insulation. 

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Insulated doors protect garage contents
  • Economical
  • Versatile
  • Durable
  • Low maintenance
  • Eco-friendly

Cons:

  • Can rust
  • Not naturally insulated
  • Can dent

Why Choose Aluminum Garage Doors?

Aluminum garage doors are lightweight and versatile, giving garages a more contemporary look. Manufacturers can customize them with various anodized coatings and powder-coated colors, and add glass for more styling options.

If you’re looking at steel garage doors, you might really like the durability, cost, and styling that you can get with aluminum garage doors.

Durability of Aluminum 

Unlike steel, aluminum does not rust, but extreme weather can damage doors made of aluminum. Manufacturers can strengthen aluminum doors by adding insulation. 

Unique Styling with Full View Aluminum

Homeowners who want an industrial and modern look can choose aluminum garage doors. They can also add glass to show off the beautiful vehicles inside the garage. Aluminum doors create a unique look, which is why so many homeowners choose this lightweight and attractive material. 

In many homes, the garage has become the focal point. You can show off your home and the cars in the garage with full-view aluminum doors. 

Easy Maintenance

Aluminum garage doors are easier to maintain than steel doors. They are lightweight, so torsion springs and tracks have less wear and tear. With lightweight aluminum garage doors, garage door opener components last longer and need fewer repairs.

Aluminum is water-resistant, non magnetic, and doesn’t rust. So homeowners who live near the ocean or who have salt on the roads do not have to worry about damage from rust.

Aluminum garage doors are popular in warm-weather locations like Arizona, Florida, and California. However, aluminum garage doors can be used in all climates. 

Like steel garage doors, aluminum doors can be recycled, and many manufacturers use recycled aluminum to make new doors. Homeowners can keep their aluminum garage doors clean by spraying them with water from the hose. 

Adding Value to Your Home

Homeowners who want a modern look tend to choose aluminum, especially the full-view models that add a minimalist and clean look. A beautiful aluminum garage door can add significant value to a modern home. 

The Numbers

Garage doors made of aluminum tend to cost more than steel doors. People who choose aluminum doors often want luxurious and customized full-view models, which can cost between $2,500 and $7,000. Standard aluminum single-stall doors without any special features can cost as low as $700. A standard double door costs around $1,000 to $1,500. 

A single-stall aluminum garage door weighs about 70 to 100 pounds. Double aluminum doors weigh 150 pounds or less unless they have glass or insulation. Since they weigh less than steel garage doors, you won’t need as much horsepower in your garage door opener.

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Modern
  • Versatile
  • Low maintenance
  • Eco-friendly

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Privacy issues with full-view models
  • Not as durable as steel

Why Choose Wood Garage Doors?

Wood garage doors have a classic style that makes garages and home exteriors look like carriage houses from previous centuries. Unlike fiberglass or aluminum doors, you’ll even find side-hinged garage doors made out of wood.

Manufacturers can design wood doors out of several types of wood and unique hardware to give doors a customized look.

When looking at wood vs. steel garage doors, the two doors have several differences. 

Homeowners who want wood garage doors should consider the maintenance involved. Wood exteriors require maintenance to prevent fading, rotting, and warping. Wood garage doors will need to be painted or stained regularly to keep them looking new. 

Durability of Wood 

Wood garage doors are durable, but not like aluminum or steel. Over time, wood doors can crack and split, especially if hit with a baseball.

Also, wood is not water-resistant, so homeowners in moist climates could see their garage doors swell and shrink on rainy days and when temperatures change. 

On the flip side, wooden doors are easy to repair with wood fillers and patches. Homeowners can also cover problematic areas with new paint or stain. 

Styling Wood Doors 

Wood doors offer a luxurious look, especially on modern farmhouses and other retro home styles. They can even add style to modern and contemporary homes when designed in a complementary way. 

They add an elegance that other materials do not offer.

Wooden doors can have vertical or horizontal planks, windows, attractive trims, and other features. Since wood is a renewable resource, wood garage doors are eco-friendly. Manufacturers don’t usually use recycled wood, but they could – especially if they used hardwood from barns and floors. 

Regular Maintenance

Wood doors have the most maintenance. Homeowners that invest in wood doors need to invest in caring for them. Depending on where you live, they might need new paint and varnish every year or every five to seven years. If the door faces south or west and has constant sun exposure, it will need more maintenance than a door that faces north or east. 

In northern climates with freeze-thaw cycles, rain, snow, and ice can damage the wood. Doors made of natural wood are better suited to warm climates, as the constant temperatures keep the wood from warping. However, the beauty of wood doors makes maintenance worthwhile for homeowners who want a unique and elegant look.

Adding Value to Your Home

Most homeowners choose steel doors. Homeowners who want to customize their homes add garage doors made of other materials. The elegant look of wood garage doors adds value to a home in a way that a steel door does not. 

The Numbers

Wood garage doors are the most expensive option. The type of wood and workmanship affects the price. A standard single-stall door can start around $1,000 and can cost more than $2000. A two-stall garage door can be more than $10,000. 

Homeowners should also consider maintenance costs. Each time the door needs painting or staining, homeowners will need to buy the finishing material and pay for labor. 

Wood garage doors are significantly heavier than steel and aluminum doors. Therefore, they put more wear and tear on garage door opener components like tracks and springs.

A single-stall garage door can weigh between 300 and 500 pounds, while a two-stall garage door will weigh more than 500 pounds. 

Pros:

  • Attractive
  • Elegant
  • Eco-friendly

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Can’t be insulated
  • Maintenance heavy