Whether you’re a new homeowner or are refreshing the look of your existing home, buying a garage door is an exciting opportunity for you to breathe new life into your home’s exterior. Many homeowners replace their garage door once in their lifetime, so finding the perfect mix of function, fashion, and affordability is an important part of the process. The modern garage can trace its lineage directly to the carriage houses of the colonial period and even earlier. But while the idea of having a space dedicated to the storage of your transportation isn’t a new one what is new (relatively anyway) is the automatic overhead garage door. Those carriage houses had large cumbersome wooden doors that swung open on hinges and typically weighed hundreds of pounds each and while some of those original colonial carriage house doors are still in use (and you can still buy carriage house-style doors for your garage), the overwhelming majority of garage doors today are sectional, automatic doors.

garage door buying guide

In this guide we’re going to take a comprehensive look at the modern overhead garage door and provide you the information you need to choose the right one for your home.

Table Of Contents

  1. Choosing the Right Garage Door
  2. Common Types of Garage Doors
  3. Things to Look for When Purchasing a Garage Door
  4. Garage Door FAQs
  5. Conclusion

Choosing the Right Garage Door

Automatic overhead garage doors come in an array of styles and materials powered by different types of motors using different drive train mechanisms. As such choosing the right one for your home can seem like a daunting task. It doesn’t have to be however. All you really need is the right information and that’s where we come in. Below we’ll explain your garage door choices so you can make an informed decision.

Common Types of Garage Doors

While custom garage doors are available in virtually any shape, size and material and, as we mentioned, you can still opt for old fashioned carriage house doors if you wish, most overhead automatic garage doors sold today fall into one of the following 3 categories.

The Sectional Door:

Make no mistake, almost 90% of all overhead garage doors sold in North America are sectional doors and that goes for whether they’re automatic or manual. That’s mostly because sectional doors just make a ton of sense. They rise vertically and then – because they are divided into rows of hinged panels (or sections) – they’re able to ‘turn the corner’ and slip into the space above your car. They’re easily automated, can last for up to 20 years and are available these days in wood, steel, fiberglass, aluminum, composite and other materials as well. They’re also affordable, low maintenance and have designs that are extremely attractive.

The Up and Over Door:

Up and over garage doors also slip into the space above your car like sectional doors but they take a different path to get there. The up and over door is a single rigid panel that swings out a bit toward the driveway before assuming a horizontal aspect and tucking into the space above the car. You’re not likely to see this type of garage doors replacement  in the city where driveway space is at a premium but you will see them occasionally in the suburbs or in rural areas. There are some up and over designs that keep most of the movement inside the garage but in order for them to have enough room to open you need to have your car well inside away from the door or else it will get hit. Their big plus is that they’re very secure.

The Roll-up Door:

Roller garage doors have been popular in factories and warehouses for many years but recently they’ve begun to pick up a residential following as well. This is mostly due to the fact that some urban garages can be very tight, so much so that even finding room for a sectional replacement door can be a challenge. The roller door rolls up into a tight coil directly above the door opening. As such it doesn’t monopolize ceiling space in a small garage. The roll up door can be activated remotely like the other types of doors which makes it extremely convenient and there are fewer moving parts involved than there are with a sectional door. Meaning there are fewer things that could go wrong.

For efficient and excellent garage door service in the Calgary area call 403-275-6048

Things to Look for When Purchasing a Garage Door:

Once you’ve determined which type of overhead door is right for you there are other decisions to be made both aesthetic and practical before proceeding with the installation. Below are the main things you’ll want to consider.


While as recently as 20 or 25 years ago the number of garage door designs available to the homeowner was extremely limited (basically variations on the wood panel sectional) today you have a wide array of styles to choose from. You can still have a standard wood panel door if you wish or you can choose faux wood grain designs imprinted on fiberglass or composite doors. There are sectional doors that don’t look like sectional doors, steel doors that look like wood doors, doors with rows of vertical windows, rows of horizontal windows and doors that are made entirely of glass panels. You also have an array of colour choices so you’re sure to find a door that matches your home’s exterior.


Classic wood garage doors are still popular because they look great. However, wood is susceptible to rotting and cracking and will require a fair amount of attention to ensure they remain in good shape for a prolonged period of time. That maintenance includes regular cleaning and painting and the replacement of rotting panels before they become a security concern. Steel and aluminum on the other hand won’t crack and are extremely secure. However they will corrode in areas near the ocean where there’s a lot of salt water in the air. Fiberglass is fast becoming a favourite with homeowners everywhere because it’s low maintenance, can be made to mimic almost any surface and typically lasts a long time. Impact resistant glass is another material that’s becoming popular. It has a very modern air about it and can be tinted, frosted or etched. It also never has to be painted or stained and it won’t rot or corrode.


These days it simply doesn’t make sense not to have an insulated overhead door. An insulated garage door can raise the temperature in the garage by 10 or 20 degrees on the coldest winter days. And a warmer garage means that the room or rooms that adjoin it will also be warmer and require less supplemental heat, a warmer garage is better for your car as well. It can extend the life of the tires and other parts and you may never suffer from a dead battery on a brutally cold day again. It’s also easier to turn your garage into a 4 season workshop if the door is insulated. An insulated door is also more secure than a hollow panel door. Finally, an insulated replacement garage door will have a positive effect on your home’s market value.

The Opener:

Even though it is the torsion or extension springs (depending on the model) that do most of the heavy lifting on a garage door it’s the opener that actually gets the door started and regulates the speed at which the door opens and closes. If the garage door opener fails on you you’ll have to get out of the car and open the door manually every time you arrive home. Therefore it’s important to get a dependable, high quality opener. “But aren’t they all high quality?” you ask. Sadly no. There are plenty of discount garage door openers on the market that sound like a something out of a steel mill and breakdown a year after you install them. Liftmaster is known to make some of the best garage door openers on the market so you’d be wise to give them serious consideration.

Beyond that you can choose either chain drive, belt drive or screw drive openers. Chain drive is the most popular (mostly because of price) but can also be slightly noisier than the other types. The remote for your garage door should have decent range, an easy to understand and use keypad and a reputation for reliability.

Security and Safety:

Since the overhead garage door covers the largest opening on your home it needs to be a snug fit and made from high quality materials that won’t easily give way to a burglar’s attempts at forced entry. One of the biggest mistakes people make is to drive away without closing the garage door behind them. This is more common than you think. Today however it’s fairly simple and affordable to install devices that will allow you to access your garage door via the Internet. This way, even if you’re sitting at the airport and you realize you left the door open you can close it using your cell phone. Keep in mind too that certain types of garage door insulation will act as fire retardants that help contain a house fire rather than contributing to it.


Most garage doors come with a standard 1 year manufacturer’s warranty on parts and workmanship. Although it’s also possible to sign up for extended coverage. Extended coverage provides the kind of long-term peace of mind many homeowners find appealing, in the end however the choice is entirely yours. Frankly the best insurance against the replacement garage door failing is to purchase a high quality garage door  and to make sure it’s installed by competent, experienced garage door installation experts like those at B&W Garage Doors. Installing the door yourself or having the local handyman do it may not only lead to premature failure it may also void whatever warranty the door carried.

Additional Considerations:

A few other things to consider will be the weight of the door (should the opener ever fail this could be an issue since you’ll have to open the door manually), the speed with which the door opens and closes and whether or not you want windows. This is a potential issue because clear glass windows can provide potential thieves the ability to ‘window shop’ before deciding whether or not to break into your home.

Raised-Panel Garage Doors

Garage Door FAQs:

How do You Choose the Right Replacement Garage Door for You?

The garage door is one of the most important components of your home’s exterior; perhaps the most important. It covers the largest opening on your house and that means it has all sorts of aesthetic, practical, energy consumption and security implications. When choosing the right garage doors replacement make sure you select one that will match the overall design and colour scheme of the house and will also meet your other criteria for safety, energy efficiency and convenience. It’s usually a mistake to select an overhead garage door based solely on price just because the door plays such a vital role in the appearance and functionality of the entire house.

What Size is a Standard Garage Door?

There are custom garage doors and there are standard garage doors. A custom garage door can be made to fit any size and shape of opening but will cost far more than a standard door. Standard garage doors by comparison come in a variety of predetermined sizes. The most common garage door sizes whether new or replacement are:

Some garage door manufacturers’ offer a broader range of sizes so if your garage door opening does not adhere to the above specifications you may not need to purchase a custom door.

What is the Best Material for a Garage Door?

To some degree that will depend on where you live. As we mentioned above steel doors provide a high level of security and are also available with a range of attractive finishes. However, if you live near the ocean the salty spray from the water can create major corrosion issues. Likewise wooden doors are a perennial favourite because people love the natural material and how easily they can be repainted. If you live in a really damp area however it’s likely that your wooden garage door installation will suffer from rot or you’ll need to do plenty of maintenance to stay ahead of that rot. Glass is an attractive option that can provide your home with a clean, beautifully contemporary look. However, if you live in the city and choose glass panels that are not opaque you may be opening your home up to unwanted attention.

Should I Get an Insulated or Non-Insulated Garage Door?

At this time in history with energy conservation such an important economic and environmental issue it simply doesn’t make sense to install a non-insulated garage door. Yes, it will be cheaper to buy a hollow panel door but what you save in upfront installation costs will be gobbled up quickly when you’re paying extra to both heat and cool your home. No one can tell you what’s right for your home except you but in our opinion it is wise to at least consider the long term financial implications of a non-insulated overhead door. You work hard for your money. Why let all that expensive heat you’re paying for escape into the atmosphere through your uninsulated door?

Are Garage Doors Steel or Aluminum?

Garage doors are available in a variety of materials as we outlined above including steel, aluminum, fiberglass, various composites, glass and wood. Steel and aluminum are popular choices for those seeking a higher level of security for their home. When insulated, both steel and aluminum will provide excellent thermal protection in that they’ll keep the heat out in the summer and keep it in during the winter.

What is the Best Garage Door Opener?

Liftmaster makes some of the best, most reliable, most affordable garage door openers and replacement parts on the market today. They have a long held reputation for quality and dependability and their recent merger with Genie means that they’ve added that company’s extensive industry experience and expertise to their arsenal. If you’re looking for a hard-working, quiet, energy efficient garage door opener you can’t really do better than Liftmaster/Chamberlain.


The garage door has come a long way since the days of the first carriage houses centuries ago. Today, most garages are built right into the house providing you unparalleled convenience your ancestors only dreamed about. But with that convenience comes a slew of other considerations as well including safety and security, energy efficiency, aesthetics and more. In order to ensure you wind up with the perfect overhead garage door for your home make sure you take the above information into account. If you do you’re sure to wind up with a stylish, hardworking home addition that will add to the comfort and value to your home for years to come.

Whether you need garage door installation for your home or business, including 24/7 emergency repair service, call the company more folks in Calgary trust than any other to get the work done right: B&W Garage Door Specialists.

We’re a family business with big business resources and know how. And we’re the only garage door company in Calgary that puts your satisfaction above everything else. 

For garage door services and replacements in the Calgary area contact B&W Garage Door Specialists at 403-275-6048