Finding the right garage door

Garage doors: the challenge of choice

By Jordan Parsons, Ottawa Garage Door Expert

The other day I was asked a question. It seemed simple enough, but it actually required a big answer.

I was asked what kind of garage doors would go with a new garage that was not yet built. The garage would be for a family who wanted to use it for many functions – as a place for two vehicles, but also for storage and even for neighbourhood gatherings. It would have to be sturdy enough to withstand the activities of three teenagers.

This is what I advised:

There are many different styles and materials to consider. It really depends on your budget and the look you’re after. If this will be a two-car garage, will you want one door, or two? Some like the minimalist look of one door. However, with one door there will be more cycles put on the door with vehicles leaving at different times and people going in and out.  A single door will be more economical, but it is important to keep in mind that the cycles placed on a single door will result in more wear and tear and maintenance cost.


Classic steel doors are a good choice and have several panel styles and colour choices. However, if you choose steel, get the polyurethane-insulated garage door as opposed to non-insulated or polystyrene insulated. The polyurethane is the better choice as it chemically bonds to the steel back and front skins of the door unitizing the construction and strengthening the panels, as opposed to polystyrene, which is basically just glued-in styrofoam.  Also, polyurethane-insulated doors have higher R-value and are trimmed out with heavy-gauge steel end caps to support the hinges as opposed to wood blocking.


Wood doors are beautiful! If this is the look you are going for, they are worth the added cost.  They are available in solid wood with a rail and stile construction but are also available with a polyurethane foam-injected steel-base door. The wood is applied on top of the panels, so they look like solid wood, but they have much better insulation. You can have the stain colour matched at the factory to complement your home. They are fully customizable offering carriage house style, traditional or a modern look. Garage door openings are usually standard, but when they’re not, doors can be customized to any size. About maintenance: wooden doors do need periodic maintenance, as the finish needs to be kept sealed. 

Molded Fibreglass

However, there is an alternative: molded fibreglass is extremely durable and doesn’t need as much maintenance, but still has that authentic wood look. Molded fibreglass is available in many stain colours to complement your home.  Prefinished steel insulated garage doors have a baked-on finish and do not need painting.

Torsion springs

If it’s a busy household with doors opening and closing a lot, you might want to consider having the door’s torsion springs upgraded. Torsion springs counterbalance the door and have a standard life span of 10,000 cycles, and they cycle every time you open and close the door. These days a lot of families are using the garage as entry to the house, and the springs get a lot of cycles put on them, so if that’s your situation, it is a good idea to have the torsion springs cycle life increased. (If you choose two doors rather than one, there’s the advantage of less wear-and-tear on just one set of springs).

High-lift track and doors

If you will be using your garage more as a living space, you might want to utilize the wall space. If the ceiling of your garage is higher, the door can have high-lift track elevation to bring the door right up to the ceiling. The door can come up the wall and turn overhead, out of the way. That gives you a much more open area and allows you to take better advantage of wall space. High-lift doors are used in conjunction with wall-mounted garage door openers. A traditional motor hangs from the ceiling and pulls the door up from the top panel. The wall-mounted garage door opener is attached to the wall beside your door and turns the spring assembly.

Full View

You can have garage doors without windows, with windows, or as “full view” – almost completely glass panels which allow more natural light into your space. It’s a more contemporary look but is a growing trend with traditional houses too.

I hoped it was enough information to answer the question. When it comes to garage doors, the choices are almost endless. It’s what makes the process of choosing such a pleasant challenge.

Jordan Parsons is an expert at Al Parsons Electronics Ltd. Garage Doors and Openers.