Wide Open

"WHY DO WE HAVE TO CONSTANTLY fight this nickel and dime battle with the builder?" asks David Osso, garage door marketing manager for Mt. Hope, Ohio–based Wayne-Dalton. After some consideration, Osso says price is the major factor that forces many builders to settle for low-end garage doors. Susan McCormack, marketing specialist for Cincinnati-based Clopay, agrees. "For builders, it’s a price point. They just want to get the cheapest door possible."

Now garage door manufacturers are building their brands and producing wares with more marketable features. Innovations in safety, appearance, and insulation offer builders a chance to push a product they traditionally never upgrade. These innovations allow builders to offer higher quality, better-looking garage doors that improve the cosmetics of the home. Offering these products not only makes the builder stand out, it increases builder profits and satisfies buyers.


"Garage door safety has been a big issue," says Mike Martin, advertising director for Salt Lake City–based Martin Door Manufacturing. The Door and Access Systems Manufacturing Association (DASMA) recently passed DASMA-116–a standard that requires all new garage doors to include lift handles on both the interior and exterior of the garage door. The handles offer a safe place to grip the door for opening and closing.

As part of DASMA-116, even doors with openers must have handles in case the power goes out and the openers won’t work. "Hands can get smashed in door joints; [this] usually happens during a power outage," says Martin.

To further help protect hands and fingers, many manufacturers have designed joints that make it virtually impossible for children and adults to catch their fingers. "We’ve shielded all of the joints in all of our models," says Martin, describing the company’s pinch-resistant Finger Shield garage door system. Wayne-Dalton and Winston-Salem, N.C.–based Amarr also have pinch-resistant joints. Amarr introduced its pinch-resistant design about one and a half years ago. "It installs a bit different than the old style hinge; however, it’s been well received," notes Greg Gilmere, executive vice president of Amarr.


Safety is important, but many buyers are concerned with aesthetics. "Considering the visual and wall space that garage doors command, looks are critical," says Osso.

Although steel doors are less expensive, they can look cheap. Wood may be an appropriate alternative. "Wood doors have been in decline for many years, but there has been a recent upsurge in high-end, carriage house specialty wood doors," notes Osso. Carriage house doors are particularly hot with custom builders. According to Gilmere, the carriage house design has gained popularity in recent years because it is more readily available. Several years ago, only a handful of companies produced carriage house doors; now dozens of manufacturers offer them.

If the carriage house design isn’t right for that high-end project, try a copper garage door. Martin Doors’ copper-coated door is equipped with its Finger Shield design, making it pretty and safe. Although copper garage doors don’t rust, which makes them easy to maintain, they are priced three to four times more than regular steel models, says Martin.

For builders and buyers who don’t want to spend big bucks for wood or copper, there is always an insulated steel garage door. In addition to its basic thermal and energy-efficiency benefits, the insulation helps keep the door quiet as it opens and closes. "You want to have a quiet door," says McCormack, who notes that the more insulation in the door, the quieter the door is. Because the noise factor is a tangible difference that many buyers will notice, insulated doors can be an easy upsale for builders who place rooms near or above their garages.


"Options are tough on builders," says Gilmere, who sympathizes with the difficulties of keeping track of who wants what, when, and where. Most often, buyers are more concerned with upgrading their kitchens and baths than they are their garage doors. "They just don’t think about it," says Gilmere, who notes that garage door openers are often the only garage upgrade builders offer. Of all the possible options and upgrades in a new home, the garage door may be one of the easiest to sell because safety, aesthetics, and noise are common concerns among consumers.

RELATED ARTICLE: CARRIAGE CHARISMA: The Carriage collection of wood garage doors combines the look of swinging carriage house doors with the convenience of a sectional door design, the maker says. All panels, rails, and stiles are made of kiln-dried hemlock or fir. The doors also feature heavy-duty hardware and solid frames with no finger joints. Wayne-Dalton. 800-827-3667. www.wayne-dalton.com. Circle no. 107.

STEEL YOUR WALLET: WeatherGuard Plus insulated steel garage doors are 2-inches thick and feature a pinch-resistance door design. Insulated with CFC-free polystyrene, each door has an R-value of 8.34 and can be specified with or without DecraGlass-tempered decorative glass. Doors are available in short, long, and flush panel designs in white, almond, brown, and sandstone colors. Amarr. 800-503-3667. www.amarr.com. Circle no. 108.

WOOD WORKED: According to the manufacturer, the Plantation collection of custom wood garage doors is manufactured by skilled wood craftsmen. The collection is also available in five basic pre-designed selections, while custom designs may be specified. Each door comes standard with black powder–coated hardware and tracks. Windsor Door. 800-946-3767. www.windsordoor.com. Circle no. 109.

GARAGE MIRAGE: Reserve semi-custom garage doors are available in six designs, in three wood choices and three window styles. The wood panels are offered in cedar, redwood, or hemlock. Windows are available in rectangular, square, or arched styles. The hemlock doors can be painted, and each door can be stained before installation. Clopay. 800-225-6729. www.clopaydoorcom. Circle no. 110.

COPPER TOPPER: The company’s Copper doors feature Series II insulation, glossy black powder–coated hardware, and a 99.9 percent copper finish. In addition to adding aesthetic appeal, copper is practical because it won’t rust. Each door is furnished with the company’s Finger Shield system, which is designed to prevent accidental pinching or crushing of fingers. The doors are available in five styles and sizes up to 24-feet wide by 20-feet high. Martin Door Manufacturing. 800-388-9310. www.martindoor.com. Circle no. 111.

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