During the winter there are two words most everyone dreads: “Alberta Clipper”. The legendary weather phenomenon swoops down from the Great White North and sends millions scurrying for the indoors. Unfortunately, this sort of bone rattling cold is the norm in these parts and every part of our lives needs to be suited to deal with it. The fact is however, that many Calgary homeowners spend more on heating during the winter than they have to because their garage door simply isn’t up to the job of keeping the Alberta climate at bay. So below we’ll go into just what type of garage doors Calgary homes should have in order to optimize energy savings during the winter.
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How to Pick the Right Garage Doors for Calgary Home
When the weather gets tough the tough get a garage door better able to handle it. Many homeowners are under the impression that garage doors are garage doors and there isn’t much difference between them other than color. But the fact is some garage doors are far better able to handle the severe Calgary weather than others.
Why Wood Garage door is Not Good
In order to ensure your expensive heated air isn’t sucked out of your home through the garage this winter you don’t need to contemplate custom garage doors. But at the same time you’re going to need something more than the standard wooden garage door as well. Why? Because while solid wood panels have a classic look and are nice and thick, they’re not really very effective from an insulation standpoint.
For instance, a solid wooden garage door may have an R-value of anywhere from 3 – 3.7 or thereabouts. Not bad. But it can’t hold a candle to an insulated steel garage door and its R-value of 17 or more. That’s the kind of difference that you’re going to feel in your comfort level and see reflected in lower monthly energy bills.
So without trying too hard we can already see the enormous difference the right garage door can make on your Calgary home. But what are some of the other considerations you should mull over before ordering garage door replacement? Let’s take a look.
Maintenance Costs of Garage doors
While your energy bill is the major consideration when contemplating the right garage door for your Calgary home it’s not the only one. Garage doors, as wonderfully convenient as they are, are not maintenance-free appliances. They’re big, complex mechanisms that can be negatively affected by severe weather just like any other type of mechanism. So it’s important to try and get a garage door that’s both energy efficient and low maintenance.
This is another reason why standard wood garage doors are not a great fit for the Alberta climate. More often than not snow winds up piling up against the garage door. And while this might make for nice wintry photos it’s really tough on the wood panels of the garage door. In heavy snow regions a wooden garage door panel has a significantly shorter life than it does in a dry climate.
Insulated steel doors are a much better fit for a number of reasons.
- They’re lighter so they’re easier on the garage door opener motor.
- They’re tougher and won’t succumb as easily to a falling branch or object blown on the wind.
- And they’re going to resist the corrosive effects of snow and rain better than wood.
On top of all they don’t need to be painted every couple of years like a wood garage door will. And they certainly won’t warp or crack the way wood panels can, and often do, over time.
“But wait!” You say. “Metal will still wind up rusting won’t it?” In time it will, sure. But it’s not going to rust as quickly as a wooden door will rot. If you are concerned about corrosion however, an even better choice might be a fiberglass door. Fiberglass doors aren’t actually 100% fiberglass. Instead, they have a fiberglass face that’s molded to a steel core. This makes them not only highly corrosion-resistant but incredibly tough and long lasting. And again, because they’re lighter than solid wood panel doors you’re not going to spend as much money in the long run on things like garage doors spring repair or service.
Aesthetics garage door
While it’s crucial that your garage door be energy efficient and durable in order to handle the often extreme climate, it also needs to look good. After all, the garage door is the largest single component of the exterior of your home. Therefore it needs to dovetail from a visual perspective with the rest of the exterior. But simply fitting in should never really be enough. It should enhance the curb appeal of your home if possible.
Because of that we often recommend the above mentioned insulated fiberglass garage door. Garage door panels with a fiberglass facing can be manipulated to look like any number of different materials. They can resemble smooth steel, hardened steel or any kind of wood grain you think matches best with the rest of your home. They can also take on any type of pattern you want to see in your door. From that of thin vertical panels to thin horizontal panels to large panels broken up into multiple smaller vertical or horizontal sections and much, much more. They’re as close as you’re likely to get to custom garage doors without actually ordering custom doors.
While you might think that an insulated steel door with a fiberglass facing sounds pretty heavy, it’s still considerably lighter than a traditional solid wood panel door. And that’s a good thing for a number of reasons. Including the fact that the lighter the door the quieter it tends to be. Why’s that? Because the lighter the door the less the motor has to strain to deal with it. Another area that generates a surprising amount of the noise associated with a garage door is the roller/track assembly.
The rollers are where all the weight of the door is brought to bear on the tracks.
- The heavier the door the more the rollers are going to dig into the tracks and the more noise they’re going to generate.
- A lightweight insulated fiberglass door is going to glide up and down the tracks much more quietly than a heavy door. This is especially true if the door has nylon rollers.
If you replace a solid wood door with an insulated fiberglass door the reduced noise levels are going to be quickly apparent. In addition, a properly insulated garage door is also going to eliminate a large amount of street noise that was infiltrating your home. In fact, you may be stunned when you realize just how much noise you were putting up with before – both from the door and from outside the house.
What Type of Garage Door Insulation is Best?
We’ve discussed how insulation makes the door both more energy efficient and lighter. And how it can help prevent garage door service calls. But what is the best type of insulation to have inside your garage door panels? Essentially, there are two kinds of insulation used in garage door panels today: polyurethane and polystyrene.
- Polyurethane – Polyurethane insulation is a kind of foam insulation that is injected into the void inside the steel/fiberglass panel. Once inside the panel it bonds directly to the inside of the steel plate and becomes one with it. Some have compared it to the way melted cheese in a grilled cheese sandwich bonds with the bread. But while there’s a little more to it than that, the fact is that once in place it’s not going to sag or slip and compromise the insulating capabilities of the panel.
- Polystyrene – Polystyrene by contrast is rigid insulation that is cut to fit into the panel as a single piece. To continue with the food analogy it’s more like a burger between two sides of the bun. You know it’s there but the bun doesn’t stick to it. But while polystyrene is light and affordable it simply doesn’t do as good a job as polyurethane. It (polystyrene) may be okay for more moderate climates, but when ordering garage door replacement in a place like Calgary you should opt for polyurethane.
One more thing about polyurethane: because it bonds right to the steel shell it also makes for a stronger door. And a quieter one as well. That’s because the steel panels don’t move around as much because they’re fused to the insulation. Everything moves as a single piece. A door with fewer rattling parts is also going to be easier on the motor and springs. Meaning less chance you’ll need garage doors spring repair any time soon.
The Bottom Line
The climate in Calgary definitely needs to be taken into consideration when it comes to the garage door you install on your home. Keep the above points in mind and call the pros at B&W Garage Doors if you have any questions or need garage door service or repair.