Let’s pick up on our discussion about all the choices surrounding the selection of a composite garage door that I began a few weeks ago in our first blog post.
There are several well-informed decisions that have to be made when choosing to go with a composite garage door.
After choosing a composite door, many people think, “Alright, we don’t have to worry about rot or insects! Now we can move on to the next decision.” If a rot-free door is your only concern, then you will have more options available to you in the composite garage door arena.
If you want to take your information gathering to a deeper level, then one of the most important considerations is going to be the ongoing cost of owning a composite garage door.
For the sake of this discussion, let’s limit our focus to stained doors. Most composite doors are faux stained or stained with a wiping stain just like wood. While that, in itself, is not a problem, most people forget that their research started with the words, “rot free and maintenance free”.
So, if a composite door is finished with the same materials that are used on wood, then the clear coat becomes the most important factor.
What is the clear coat? It is the clear coating that is applied over the stain to protect it from the elements and to block the harmful UV rays that cause fading and damage. Some of the clear coats need to be reapplied annually based on your UV exposure to keep the finish from fading, cracking or peeling and just as important, to preserve your warranty.
So, while some composites have no wood in them at all and will not rot, the maintenance becomes about the preservation of your look and finish. When considering your finish, ask yourself:
- Will it be stained?
- Who is going to stain it?
- What will it be stained with?
Remember that the most important factor about finishing is what will be applied as the clear coat.
My best advice in searching for the door that most meets your needs, is to make sure you define specifically what you are looking for. Important issues to consider are:
- Are you looking for the same architectural detail that wood offers?
- Are you looking to have the same stained effect that wood offers?
- Do you want your doors to be only rot free?
- Do you want your doors to be rot free and maintenance free?
Each of these questions, and answers more importantly, will narrow the focus of your search as you move forward.
When it’s time to decide, ensure that you are armed with as much information as possible. There are some great composite materials out there, each with their own benefits. However, there are very few different types of finishing techniques out there. I would encourage you to search for the finish technique that is head-and-shoulders above the rest. I hope I have helped you feel better equipped to find the best one for you.
Keep in mind that just because your architect or designer has suggested a wood door, doesn’t mean that is your only choice. Remember that there are quality alternatives that provide the look and feel of wood.
Image: graur razvan ionut
I know, I know. I promised to continue with the considerations for a composite garage door discussion I started last week. However, with Jeld-Wen’s announcement earlier this month that they are ceasing production of their composite garage doors, many people have found themselves asking this question and searching for alternatives. You may be asking yourself:
1. Is there really an alternative?
2. Will I have to sacrifice the design I chose?
3. What about pricing?
Is there really a comparable alternative? YES! There are other composite door manufacturers in the marketplace. We have been flooded with questions, and have comforted many a customer during this transition. If you already picked out a Jeld-Wen design, provide it, and see what the solution looks like.
Will I have to sacrifice the design I chose? Probably not! The benefits of custom manufactured composite garage doors are numerous. If you like a specific design, then get it! If you like a specific design but want to make some changes, even better. It’s your house; it’s your garage, and you should have your heart’s desire!
What about pricing? I think you will find that apples-to-apples, pricing should be comparable across the board. Jeld-Wen made a good door, but rest assured, there are quality solutions available.
So rest easy. The same benefits that attracted you to Jeld-Wen are available through a few select manufacturers!
Image by Michal Marcol
So, you think you might want to go with composite materials for your garage door. You like the idea of not only an eco-friendly solution for the environment, but also, you want to move away from the rotting issues and the maintenance issues associated with wood.
Let's begin by answering the question, "What is a composite garage door?" Most composite garage doors are constructed by adhering various types of material to a steel door in an effort to achieve a wood-like appearance.
Understanding your choices when it comes to composite materials is the first step in the decision-making process.
Composite materials fall into 5 basic categories:
• Recycled wood and paper
• Low density Foam
• High density or Reinforced Foam
To help you make the best decision, ask yourself what design and finishing options are most appealing to you. If you like standard stamped or pre-molded designs, then fiberglass composite would be a good choice for you.
On the other hand, if you want to be creative in your design, match the architectural expression of your home, match the style of your front door, or only be limited by your vision, then a PVC, a recycled wood, or a foam composite product will be a good fit for you.
PVC is a plastic option that offers the same workability as recycled wood and will not rot. It is heavier than many of the low density foams but is still lighter than wood. The greatest challenge this option presents is the limited color options that are available. Dark colors cause the PVC to expand and contract which can lead to the overlay popping off the doors.
A recycled wood and paper product is heavy and may eventually have some rotting. After all, it does still have some wood or paper in it. Its durability, however, is usually superior to a true wood door. Think about your design….are there going to be areas where water accumulates at the edges, in the corners, or at the bottom? Wet environments and water accumulation, even in small amounts, create rotting environments eventually.
Benefits of a low density foam composite material include no rotting and a much lighter weight than wood and other composite materials. However, this option does not offer the durability that recycled wood or high density or reinforced foam does.
The fifth type of composite material is high density or reinforced foam, which offers the best solution for limitless design and durability.
Once you understand the different types of composites available along with the benefits and challenges they offer, the real choices begin. What kind of finish do you want? Will you stain or paint your door? Do you want only a rot-free door or do you want a maintenance-free solution? There are differences. I look forward to discussing those differences in our next blog posting!
*Image from: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=1499