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Insulated vs Uninsulated Garage Doors: Is It Worth It?

reasons insulated garage doors twin cities

Have you been considering replacing your garage door? You’re not alone.

Replacing garage doors is an easy way to update your house. It’s also one of the most valuable renovations you can make. One study found that homeowners recoup 74% of the cost of a new garage door when they sell their homes.

One of the newest trends is to choose an insulated garage door. The insulation in these doors minimizes energy loss and provides a number of other benefits. But these advantages come with a much higher sticker price than a traditional uninsulated garage door. 

You might be asking yourself, “Is insulating my garage door worth it?”

In this guide, we’ll compare insulated garage doors vs non-insulated garage doors and help you determine if insulating your garage door is the best choice for you. 

Read on to find out what an insulated garage door can do for your home.

What is an Insulated Garage Door?

An insulated garage door uses insulation inside the door’s structure as a buffer between outdoor and indoor temperatures.

During a home’s construction process, workers add insulation, usually made of fiberglass, to the walls to create an airtight seal. That way, the inside of your home is not affected by the weather outside. This saves money on your heating bills and keeps you feeling comfortable within your home. These insulation capabilities can accomplish the same thing for your garage.

added home value insulated garage door Twin Cities

Uninsulated garage doors usually consist of a single panel of metal or wood, offering few benefits beyond being a barrier for your garage. Insulated garage doors, by contrast, consist of two panels or a hollow door frame filled with an insulating material, such as Clopay’s Intellicore Insulation Technology. This form of insulation is a best-in-class material for insulating garage doors.

At idc-Automatic, we use the same insulating technology in our custom garage doors. When you purchase an insulated custom garage door from idc-Automatic, you’re investing in a high-quality garage door that will give you many benefits over a single-panel, uninsulated garage door.

What are the Benefits of an Insulated Garage Door?

The following five points will show you the benefits you can experience when you purchase an insulated residential garage door:

1. Garage Door Insulation Saves Energy

energey efficient garage door impact energy bill Twin Cities

Most energy-saving tips focus on the inside of the house. It makes sense! Insulation, energy-efficient windows, and better heating systems can all reduce your energy loss.

So it’s no surprise that most advice on saving energy overlooks your garage. Garages aren’t always considered part of the house. But garages often have conditioned rooms above them. Many have a door that connects directly to the house, as well.

Because garages aren’t considered living space, the construction standards are different. More gaps and air leakage is allowed. As a result, energy is lost which explains why garages are one of the least energy-efficient parts of your home.

This means that uninsulated garages transfer cold air to the rooms next to them. They also allow cold air into your home via gaps in the door.

Adding insulation to your residential garage door can help you save energy. By moderating the temperature in the garage, you’re reducing the amount of energy required to heat the rest of your home.

That’s true even if your garage isn’t insulated.

In the past, people thought that an insulated garage door was unnecessary. After all, the rest of the garage is rarely insulated. The engineers at Clopay Doors decided to put this idea to the test.

They measured temperatures inside of an uninsulated garage in 20-degree weather. With a single-layer door with no insulation, the temperature inside the garage was only 30 degrees. But with an insulated garage door, temperatures inside the garage climbed to 42 degrees.

garage door buffer zone outdoors Twin Cities

Although that seems like a small jump, those 12 degrees make a big difference. Your car is less likely to sustain damage if the temperature is above freezing. The same is true for paints, sealants, and other chemicals often kept in garages.

It also has a big difference in heat loss from the rest of your house. Garages tend to act as a buffer zone between the heated indoor and outdoor weather. This in-between space is warmer than the outdoors, which means that you won’t be bringing gusts of cold air directly into your home. And because your heater won’t need to work as hard, you’ll save energy.

2. Insulated Garage Doors Are More Durable

Another benefit of an insulated garage door is added durability.

Insulated garage doors for both residential and commercial are constructed differently from single-layer garage doors, which make them stronger. Since your door needs to stand up to cars, kids, and equipment, this added durability makes sense.

Many of today’s insulated doors are made with a steel or aluminum frame. The frame is filled with solid-core insulation, which is then sandwiched between single or dual steel panels. This style of construction creates a lightweight, energy-efficient door that’s less likely to dent than older, uninsulated doors.

By contrast, older garage doors tended to be made of thin steel sheets wrapped over the panel frames. With no insulation, these panels could be easily dented by cars, items stored in the garage, and even basketballs or children’s bikes.

insulated garage door extra durability Twin Cities

These dents from daily activities meant more maintenance for homeowners. They could also lower a home’s curb appeal or value. Insulated garage doors, which contain multiple layers of insulation, steel, and aluminum, are less likely to be damaged. 

Added durability increases your garage door’s lifespan in other ways, too. Because of their size, garage doors are often damaged by bad weather. Dents and scratches from wind-borne projectiles are one of the most common types of weather-related damage. Insulated garage doors stand up better to these types of projectiles as well.

In commercial settings, loading docks see a variety of objects and equipment passing through their threshold. A multi-layered insulated door is more likely to hold up to the wear and tear that this environment regularly experiences.

Simple wind, rain, and sun can also take a toll on a garage door. Cold weather can warp metal components of a door. And heat can stress door panels, particularly those made of vinyl or acrylic. Extreme temperatures can also affect lubrication, springs, and the drive mechanism of your garage door.

Insulated garage doors tend to hold less heat than uninsulated doors. They also help to maintain moderate temperatures just inside the door — where your opening mechanism is usually located. That means that these components aren’t exposed to such extreme conditions, which helps to prolong their lifespan.

Want to keep your kids and family safe around your garage? Read our Garage Door Safety Guide.

3. Insulated Garage Doors Are Quieter

An insulated garage door tends to be much quieter than an uninsulated garage door. Although noise dampening isn’t usually the most important factor, it’s an added benefit of an insulated door.

Many garage doors tend to produce some noise. For older garage doors, the primary offender is usually the track mechanism. Loose chains on the track tend to produce a loud, jerking noise. And worn rollers can also grumble and squeak. Badly lubricated hinges and springs are another common contributor.

If your door is making a lot of noise, check these areas first. For best performance, hinges, tracks, and roller bearings should be lubricated every six months or so.

However, not all noise problems can be solved through maintenance. On some garage doors, the panels themselves vibrate and create noise. Lightweight doors without insulation tend to make the most noise.

If you have a living space directly above or next to the garage, this noise can be a nuisance. It’s particularly problematic for rooms directly above the garage.

If your garage door makes lots of noise, it may be time to consider some noise reduction solutions, like replacing it with an insulated door. The insulation dampens most of the vibration. It can also help to dampen noise from outside the door.

Insulated doors also tend to make less noise because they’re more tightly constructed than other doors. Because each panel is made of layers of material sandwiched tightly together, there’s less loose material to make noise. And because they’re often heavier than uninsulated doors, they’re less likely to jolt or vibrate on the track.

lubricate garage door 6 months Twin Cities

4. Insulation Helps to Protect Your Car and Belongings

Insulated garage doors can also help to protect your car. A car stored in a garage with an insulated residential door is less likely to be in freezing conditions. Since cold weather can affect your car in a number of ways, your insulated door can have a big impact on the life of your car.

Some of the ways that freezing weather can affect cars include:

  • Shorter battery life or dead batteries
  • Thickened transmission, engine, and brake fluids
  • Low air pressure in tires
  • Unreliable spark plugs and wiring

The lower the temperature, the less likely your car is to run properly.

insulated garage to store car Twin Cities

Remember that experiment about whether an insulated door on an insulated garage had any effect? That insulated door raised the temperature from 30 to 42 degrees. Since car batteries are most reliable between 30 and 90 degrees, just the door can make a big difference.

That temperature difference can also prolong the life of other items. Those cans of paint in the corner of the garage? Extreme heat and cold can change its consistency. It will become unusable more quickly than if it were in a temperature-controlled space. The same is true of many fertilizers, cleaning supplies, and motor oil.

5. A Warmer Garage Is More Convenient

Many people use their garages for more than just parking their car. If you work out in your garage or use it for hobbies, an energy-efficient door makes sense. Keeping your garage warmer makes it easier for you to do occasional activities in it.

In cold climates, like here in Minnesota, that added warmth can make a difference. Getting to and from the house is easier when you have a warmer buffer zone to pass through. If you need to carry groceries or move your children from the car to the house, it’s easier to do so in a warmer area.

If you heat your garage or use it for more than occasional activities, you may want to go a step further. The garage is usually the least energy-efficient part of a home. That’s because construction standards are different for garages than they are for living spaces. Garages generally have less insulation and more air leakage than the rest of your home.

keep garage warmer Twin Cities

To create an energy-efficient activity space in your garage, you’ll first need to identify where you lose the most heat. Leaks between the doorframe and foundation, and around windows and doors, are usually the biggest culprit. Single-layer garage doors, particularly aluminum, also allow lots of heat to leak out.

You can fix these problems in many ways. Caulking gaps between the foundation and the frame will also make a big difference. You can add rolled insulation to the walls, or blow foam insulation into finished walls. Finally, there are weather stripping kits available for garage doors and residential doors.

Of all of the energy efficiency solutions available, an insulated door usually has the biggest impact. But choosing the right garage door can be a challenge. Read on to learn more about how to compare and choose an insulated door.

Are Insulated Garage Doors Worth It?

The biggest concern homeowners have when making their decision usually comes down to price. If an insulated garage door costs more than a single-panel, uninsulated garage door, is the difference in price worth it? Would you be better off spending less on your garage door and putting your money into other upgrades or bills? When considering insulated garage doors vs. non-insulated ones, the benefits outweigh this reasonable concern.

In the long run, an insulated garage door could save you money. Your heating bill is high enough in the winter, and using air conditioning units in the summer is expensive. With an insulated garage door, you have an added barrier between the weather outside and your controlled climate inside. Every degree of heating or cooling raises your bill at the end of the month, and you’ll save money using an insulated vs uninsulated garage door.

The increased durability of insulated garage doors can save you money, too. Insulated garage doors can deter intruders with their durability, keeping your possessions in your garage and home safer. Insulated garage doors are also more resistant to damage, saving you money in repair costs. And if noise levels are important to you, the benefit of a quieter garage door could be reason enough to invest in an insulated model.

How to Choose an Energy-Efficient Garage Door

Garage door insulation can be confusing. Manufacturers can use several different types of energy efficiency ratings. Other factors, like materials, also affect how energy efficient a door is. The way that your garage door is constructed can also play a role.

Choosing Energy-Efficient Materials

add curb appeal to home Twin Cities
The materials used in your garage door have a big impact on its appearance. And since a garage door can add considerable curb appeal to your home, it’s a good idea to choose a well-designed door.

The good news is that most doors, regardless of material, can be insulated. If you’re looking for an energy-efficient garage door, look for a double-layer or triple-layer door.

  • Single-layer doors are made of just one layer, with no added insulation
  • Double-layer door has an added layer of insulation, usually polystyrene
  • Triple-layer doors have a thicker layer of polystyrene or polyurethane insulation, usually the most energy-efficient

If you’re choosing a single-layer door, you’ll only get the insulation from the panel materials themselves. Most of these materials provide relatively little insulation.

If you’re selecting a double-layer or triple-layer door, most of the insulation will be done by the internal layers of polystyrene or polyurethane. That means you can choose your finish based on aesthetics instead of heat retention.

Modern garage doors usually use one of four types of materials:

  • Steel: This is the most common material for new garage doors. It’s usually chosen for its low maintenance requirements, wide variety of designs, and durability. It provides moderate insulation.
  • Aluminum: Aluminum provides a lightweight alternative to steel. Aluminum can give your garage an updated, modern look. However, it’s a poor insulator.
  • Wood: Wood offers homeowners a high-end, classic look. Wood doesn’t provide much insulation, so it’s usually chosen for appearance rather than energy efficiency.
  • Composite wood: Like wood, it’s generally not a good insulator. However, composite wood is often layered over steel and insulation in double- and triple-layer doors. It’s a popular way to get the classic appearance of wood doors with more energy efficiency.

Understanding R-Values for Garage Doors

Understanding how manufacturers measure insulation is one of the first steps in choosing an energy-efficient garage door. In general, you’ll see one of two types of ratings used: R values or U-factors.

R value Twin Cities

If you’ve been looking for an insulated garage door, you have probably seen R-ratings, or R values. This is the most common measurement for insulation in garage doors.

An R value is a measure of how effective a material is at insulating a garage door against heat loss. An R-value is determined by the thickness of insulation, and by its chemical properties. Higher R values mean that less heat passes through the door.

Different types of insulation can have different R-ratings.  A garage door with 2” thick polyurethane insulation can have a different R-value than a garage door with 2” thick polystyrene insulation.

People often think that higher R values provide significantly more insulation. Many people assume that an R-16 door is twice as effective at insulating as an R-8 door. While an R-16 door will provide more effective insulation, the actual difference is only about 5 percent.


R-ValueReduction in Heat Flow


When it comes to garage doors, understanding R values is even more complicated. R values can be measured in two different ways:

  • At the center of the panel, where insulation is thickest
  • For the entire door assembly

Garage doors that report the rating for the door assembly are more accurate. That’s because they take into account the frame and the space between panels.

Not all manufacturers rate their doors this way. That means that when it comes to R values, you might be comparing apples to oranges.

Many manufacturers who report the R-value for the entire door assembly have an R-value between 5 and 10. As the chart above shows, that works out to about a 90% reduction in heat flow.

But other manufacturers choose to rate the insulation in their doors from the center of the panel. In these cases, garage doors could have R values between R-16 and R-32.

Although the center of the panel has thick insulation, it’s important to keep in mind that the entire door might have a lower insulation rating. That’s because the frame, hardware, and seals can’t be insulated in the same way as the panel.

Martin Hollaway, a green building advisor, wanted to find a way to compare the two rating systems that manufacturers use. He found that the R-value of the entire door assembly is about one-third of those for the center of panel of that door.

So if you’re comparing doors and are confused about the R values of different garage doors, you’re not alone.

Garage door installers can help you figure out the right level of insulation for your garage door. We can also help you learn about how a specific manufacturer determines their R values. With this information, you’ll be able to compare doors more effectively.

The U-Factor: An Alternative to R-Values

Some manufacturers have started to rate insulated garage doors with a U-factor instead of an R-rating. U-factors, or U-values, take into account the entire assembly: frame, panels, and hardware. If a garage door is rated with a U-factor, you can rest assured that the rating applies to the entire door.

Like R values, this is a measurement of how much heat is transferred through a material. U-factors for a door range from 0 to 1.

Unlike R values, lower numbers are considered more efficient. So a garage door with a U-factor of 0.30 is more efficient than a garage door with a U-factor of 0.60.

Other Factors That Affect the Energy Efficiency of a Garage Door

Although your door’s insulation is the biggest factor in saving energy, here are a few other tips to keep in mind.

  • Choose windows carefully: Garage door windows are nice to look at. Unfortunately, they’re not always energy efficient. The glass and acrylic used in most garage door windows tends to allow a lot of heat to escape. If you’re in a cold climate, consider a garage door without windows. And if you must have windows in your garage door, look for a door that has energy-efficient windows.
  • Make sure that your door fits properly: If there are gaps between your garage door and the walls, or beneath the door, an insulated door will be less effective. Make sure that your door is installed properly, which will minimize these gaps. You can also install weatherstripping around the door to prevent cold air from leaking in. Weatherstripping is inexpensive and easy to install. Many hardware stores also carry garage door sealing kits.
  • Invest in high-quality hardware: Surprisingly, your garage door’s hardware can actually help you save energy. You can limit energy loss by making sure that your door has a high quality track, frame, and rollers. These parts ensure that your door rolls into place with minimal gaps and air leakage. If your track mechanism is warped or misshapen, it’s easy to air to leak in around your garage door. By replacing it with a higher quality system, you’ll cut down on air leaks.

What Are the Best Insulated Garage Doors?

idc-Automatic’s custom insulated garage doors provide the best insulating capabilities on the market. We sell top-of-the-line insulated garage doors in our semi-custom 5 Series and our fully custom, handcrafted 7 Series. We offer a full range of customization options to create the perfect garage door for your home. Get creative and trust the experts at idc-Automatic to craft the beautiful, insulated garage door you’ve always dreamed of.

We also offer various Clopay insulated garage doors. The 4-Layer Canyon Ridge® Carriage House offers a quiet, insulated and beautiful garage door that can provide protection and curb appeal to your house for years. The Canyon Ridge® Louver is another great option with its 5-layer steel base for added protection and insulation. Even Clopay’s Classic™ Steel garage doors come in multilayered options for homeowners who want a classic look with all the benefits of an insulated garage door.

You can view our full range of insulated garage doors online. If you’d like to learn more about choosing and installing a garage door, contact us!

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