When shopping for garage doors it is easy to be swayed by the smoothest talking salesperson. Before engaging with the salesperson here’s some helpful knowledge to keep your buying decision based upon quality & value.
Types of Door Sections (panels):
Let’s start with material, Wood, Composite or Steel.
Wood Doors come in many standards and are the material of choice for customer overlay type doors. Cedar and Redwood are popular species for these doors for the inherent rot resistant properties. Hemlock is also very popular as it is stronger but is not as rot resistant. The downside to wood is that it will require you to finish paint or stain, usually this is not offered by the door company. The sections will have to be refinished many times throughout the life of the door to preserve the product from cracking, rotting and deterioration. We akin wood doors to a ball and chain of maintenance for the home owner. Prices are generally in the same ball park as quality two sided steel doors (see steel doors below) for standards and can get up to many thousands for custom overlay doors. Another consideration is that some wood doors have a “tail light warranty”. Meaning, the warranty is over for the sections after installer leaves your property. Wood is a natural insulator; it does not have thermal bridging as steel does. However, a wood door can not achieve as high an R factor (resistance to thermal transfer) as a two sided steel door. Quotes can take up to two days for custom wood doors. Aker Doors offers wood doors in all these categories.
Composite Doors are on the come back, kind of. Years ago the standard horizontal ribbed fiberglass door was quite popular. These are no longer available due to environmental landfill issues, but the industry has come up with other options. Green (environmentally friendly) products such as recycled newsprint made into a paste and cured in forms is one option available. These panels are then affixed to steel inner frames to accept standard hardware. There are also poly (plastic polymer) doors available. These doors tend to expand and get wavy in the heat and are easily broken in cold weather. Color fade and chalking has also been an issue. The verdict is still out on these options for various reasons. The newsprint door has seen many structural changes due to continual integrity failure. At this time Aker Doors does not offer a product in this category for the reasons stated, but we are keeping a close watch on these ventures.
Steel Doors are the most popular type of door for many great reasons. The industry has invested heavily in forming steel to much more than the standard raised panel look that we see everywhere. These doors now come in long panel, vertically impressed lines for a carriage house look and even cross buck impressed for an overlay look; all stamped right into the exterior steel. The steel is factory painted in as many as eight colors, depending on the manufacturer.
There are really only two types of steel doors, one sided (open Pan) and two sided (Sandwich) construction.
Pan, one sided steel doors, are a sheet of steel roll formed at the top and bottom of each section. Reinforcing vertical steel stiles are attached on the inside to accept hinges and hardware. Most often polystyrene insulation is inserted into the back side of the sections. This is recommended for unheated garages that are attached to your home. The insulation keeps the noise level down made form vibration when the door is in motion. Aker Doors does not quote an R value for this type of door as the steel thermal bridge eliminates the thermal value of the insulation. We also do not recommend using this type of door in a heated environment as condensation will occur. Moisture will pool in the bottom of each section and can waterfall dusty gray water on you when you open the door. We haven’t heard of anyone’s day getting better when this happends. Don’t be miss lead by some companies that insulate a pan door, cover it with a steel liner and call it a two sided steel door. This is still a one sided steel pan door with all the thermal bridging. Only a true sandwich two sided thermal door offers an R value with no thermal bridging.
Sandwich (thermal), two sided steel doors are much the same as pan doors except they have an interior sheet with insulation between them. It’s like two doors bonded together. There is a thick steel back up plate inserted behind the interior steel to reinforce the section to attach hinges and hardware. Some manufacturers use a small piece of steel for a backer plate at the hinge point and other use a full height of a section backer plate. Aker Door stocks only doors with a full height backer plate, they are stronger and do not require the additional purchase of an operator bracket to attach a garage door opener.
There are two types of insulation that are used between the steel sheets inside the door section, polystyrene for occasional heating & durability or polyurethane for heated garages and durability. The manufacturing process is different for each.
Polystyrene is cut to fit and glued to the interior of the steel door skins. This leaves voids as it is impossible to cut it precisely or efficiently to fill all the depressions of the steel. In fact most of the exterior surface steel is non-supported with polystyrene.
Polyurethane is much like foam in a can. The steel skins are assembled and then injected with the fluid polyurethane insulation. The material expands to fill every nook and cranny creating a truly consistent and measurable R value. It bonds itself to the steel eliminating the need for glue that can dry and break free from the steel in time like it can with polystyrene core doors. Two sided sandwich doors with either type of insulation are always going to be stronger and more durable than a one sided pan door.
Overlay doors are becoming more popular. The overlay materials vary from extruded PVC (polyvinylchloride), hardened polyurethane or wood. Typically the first two are used on production steel doors. This gives the homeowner the look and feel of a custom wood door and yet can save more than 50% of the wood expense. The homeowner also is free from the ball and chain maintenance of wood refinishing. The additional upside to a steel overlay production door is when a replacement section is needed you can buy just the one section, unlike wood where you typically have to buy a complete new door.
Paint Finish Warranties typically come in 10 year, 15 year, or lifetime; rust through measurements. What this usually means is that when a pin can be inserted through a rust hole, the manufacturer will pro-rate a discount on a replacement section. There are manufacturers such as North Central Door (located in Bemidji Minnesota) that have a hands down 10 year paint finish warranty. This is realistically a stronger warranty than any rust through warranty. Aker Doors offers North Central Doors and our other brands all have a lifetime rust through warranty.
Hardware, or what makes up the rest of the door system has different levels of quality also.
Track is what the door rolls up and on. Typically national manufacturers have continually been thinning down the thickness of track to save expense. Track is measured in thickness by thousands. The horizontal track wears out the fastest at the radius (the front curved part) where the door changes from vertical to horizontal. Aker Doors uses 0.62 horizontal track as the standard for all residential doors.
Hinges attach to the door and are the pivot points for the sections as they travel up the tracks. The industry typically uses an 18 gauge stamped hinge for residential doors and 14 gauge (thicker steel) cut hinge for commercial doors. Aker Doors uses the 14 gauge commercial hinges on all our residential doors.
Rollers go in the end hinges and guide the sections up the track. There are several varieties of rollers. Polymer (plastic) rollers have no bearings and are typically used in lighter (pan) doors. Steel roller can have 7 or 10 ball bearings. 7 ball bearing rollers are used for heavier (sandwich) doors when using polymer rollers for lighter doors. 10 ball bearing rollers are typically used for commercial doors. Aker Doors uses 10 ball nylon rollers as standard in all our residential doors. In addition we offer a white polymer roller with 10 steel ball bearings for a small up charge. This is the best of both worlds, quiet polymer with long lasting steel bearings.
Torsion Springs go on the shaft above the door and lift the weight of the door as a counter balance system. When engineered correctly the weight of the doors is no more than five pounds lifting weight at any given point of travel. This serves two purposes, the obvious one is that if you use your door manually it is easy even for elderly folks to open. The other is that a properly counter balanced door will add years of trouble free operation of not only your door but your automatic garage door opener as well. Torsion springs are engineered to last a predetermined amount of cycles. One cycle is the door moving from floor to open and back down to the floor. Many national manufacturers engineer springs under 10,000 cycles. We at Aker Door engineer our springs to last 15,000 cycles, a minimum of 50% longer life than standard. Springs have black carbon on them from the tempering process they go through. This easily rubs off on the installer’s hands and can make a big black mess to clean up. Our springs are coated to seal the carbon from coming off, keeping your home and new door clean.
Torsion Shaft is the metal tube above the door holding the counter balance system. Most manufacturers use a 16 gauge shaft and some still use non-galvanized steel dripping with oil. Aker Doors uses clean galvanized torsion shaft to keep your home and new door clean. We use 16 gauge torsion shafts for door up to 12 feet wide and 14 gauge (thicker) torsion shafts for wider doors.
Cables connect to the bottom of the door and wind up on the torsion shaft as the door is raised. They take the entire weight of the door and therefore should never be thought of as a place to cut back quality. Some national manufacturers have opted to use 3/32″ thick cables to save costs. Aker Doors uses 1/8″ galvanized aircraft cable with a 5:1 safety factor.
Future Service Needs. Eventually your door will require service. Many manufacturers have come up with creative counterbalance systems and hinging techniques. These proprietary parts should be a red flag to you if you plan to keep your home for a while. In many case manufacturers only allow one or two companies to sell their product in a given market so they will have an open book as to how much to charge you. Should service be required you will be forced to use the company that has these specific parts, eliminating any chance of a competitive and fair service rate or have your door converted to standard interchangeable parts for an additional expense. Aker Doors uses only standard interchangeable parts recognized by the National Association of Garage Door Manufacturers (NAGDM). This gives you control of your future service needs, not the manufacturer. You can purchase parts from any non-propriety garage door company and in many cases even from your local hardware store. Parts and service rates will be competitive because of this, saving you money in the long term.
Big Box Stores have attempted to be the one shop place for all your home improvement needs. However, we know that they can’t have an expert in all categories of products, especially for something as dynamic as a complete moving wall like a garage door. In fact much of the cheapening of the product and proprietary innovations mentioned above have happened because of the lack of expertise and the need for higher profit on their part. Go ahead and use these big box stores to compare pricing but you’ll find that you won’t necessarily save money and will have to do the research and work yourself. Aker Doors will come to your home and give you a complete estimate free of charge for installed product. You’re also welcome to stop by our warehouse/showroom facility in Ham Lake (just north of Blaine on the west side of highway 65). If you choose to install the product yourself, we’ll give you professional advice and help you with all of your technical questions. This is something that a big box store can’t offer you, and it costs you nothing more!
Choosing a Garage Door Company can be overwhelming. Don’t be fooled by large ads in the yellow pages. Yellow page companies are not responsible for what they print. Our local yellow pages have become more of a listing of deceptive companies than we would want. Many of the large one page ads are for one company listing under several different company names that aren’t even located in our state. They subcontract self employed individuals who are not trained in the profession. If something goes wrong you have no legal recourse much less any warranty. You have no way of knowing if they have any kind of insurance. If the technician gets seriously hurt while in your garage while not insured they can actually have your home owner’ insurance pay their medical bills. Something is wrong with this picture! Aker Doors has its own employees and we also sub contract some of our work when we’re busy. We have on file certificates of insurance for the subcontractor we use that are kept up date to protect you.
I wanted to send an email of thanks for the outstanding job relative to our new garage doors. You and your company did an excellent job start to finish on the project. Finally, give the install team thanks as well; they did a great job – conscious workers with strong customer service skills. I’ll be sure to pass your name to anyone needing garage door services.
I want to thank you and compliment you on your quality of customer service and the Haas Door I had installed. The gentleman on the phone patiently answered all my questions, a technician was installing the door the next day and it’s a heavy duty door. I’ll do repeat business with you!
I’d like to thank you and everyone at Aker Doors for a great job. The house has never looked better with curb appeal beyond what I thought. I sent some pics for everyone to see. Once again, thank you very much.