The Ultimate Buyers Guide to Garage Doors for Your Chicago Home

carriage style garage doorsWith many homes, the garage door is the first thing people see when they pull into your driveway or stop by for a visit.  If your garage door is old or damaged, it won’t offer a welcoming feel and could actually lead to injury or damage to your personal property.  From safety to material options to energy efficiency, homeowners have many things to consider before buying a garage door for their Chicago homes.  But don’t fret!  We’ll make choosing the garage door that is perfect for you and your home an easy and painless process.  Read on!

Safety First

Because the garage door is the largest door of your home, it is more important than ever to make sure you have a garage door that performs safely and won’t injure you or your family members.

Automatic Reversal System

One of the most important safety features of your garage door is the automatic reversal system.  This system is set up to ensure if the door is closing, and something gets in its way, the door will stop closing and return to the fully open position.  This could protect your belongings for sure!

Think how many times a child may have left their bicycle partially outside.  With the reversal system, the door will not crush the bike or anything else left in the way.

There is an easy way to check if you have the automatic reversal system on your door, or confirm that the one you have is still working.  Simply put a wooden 2 x 4 or cinder block on the floor of the garage where the door would close.  Once you indicate the garage door to close, it should begin closing, and then when it makes contact with the wood or block, it should immediately retract and fully open again.  If that doesn’t happen, it is time to get a new system and opener or have your current one repaired by a professional.

Motion Detectors

Another great safety feature for your Chicago garage door opener is the motion detector.  This feature is great if a child or small pet is moving about and decides to enter or exit the garage as the door is closing.  There is a detector on each side of the garage door opening.  These are called photo eyes, and they send an infrared beam across the garage toward each other.  If the beam is interrupted, a closing door will reverse itself to the open position.

It’s a great idea to test this safety feature as well, but we don’t recommend running across the beam as the door is closing to test its operation.  It’d be best to stand just inside or outside your garage door as it is closing and drag a broom or long stick across the bottom of the garage where the door would close.  The interruption of the beam should reverse the door immediately.  If not – get it checked out by a pro or get a new garage door opener installed.  It’s worth it to keep your family safe!

Manual Release

Chicago definitely sees its fair share of power outages based on seasonal and often impactful storms.  If you have an automatic garage door opener, you need to make sure you have a manual release and know how to operate it.  If your car is parked inside and the power goes out – you want to make sure you are able to use your car and exit your garage in case of an emergency (or just to get to work).

The manual release is also called a bypass.  By engaging the bypass, you are disconnecting the garage door from its powered elements, but keeping it on its track.  The cord and its handle are often red and should be pulled tightly with a small amount of force.  Once the door has been bypassed, you will be able to carefully lift the door by hand.

Most new garage doors have small knobs or handles on the side of the interior door which make raising the door easier.  If you have an older door, be sure to take great care in lifting the door and keep your fingers away from the panels as they open.  Should the door start to close, you don’t want your finger stuck between the panels.  Once your door is open, you can safely remove your car and when the power returns, you can reattach the manual release so the door will open and close automatically once again.

car inside of a garageSome people take advantage of the manual release to actually park their car inside the garage, especially during a bad storm.  The power may be out as a result of a hail storm or powerful thunderstorm.   If you typically keep your car parked in the driveway, it would be a great idea to park inside during these types of storms to keep the pounding hail and flying debris from damaging your vehicle.  Hail can range from the size of a pea to the size of a softball, so get your car inside! Don’t let a power outage stop you from parking inside – use that manual release and keep your car safe!

Your Chicago Garage Door Can Offer Great Curb Appeal

chicago skylineChicago is home to many great styles of architecture.  From the bungalows and framed two flats in the city to the ranch and colonial style houses in some of the surrounding suburbs, there is no shortage of unique and beautifully designed homes.  Your garage is part of your home, whether it is attached or detached or found in the alley, so it should complement your home’s style.   You will want to keep your neighborhood in mind as well as your personal style when choosing your garage door.  It is one thing to showcase your unique style, but it’s another thing to stick out like a sore thumb.  Read on to see how you can design a garage door that is just perfect for you and your home!

Garage Door Materials

Choosing the right material for your garage door is the first step. There are many options available to you, all with their own benefits and drawbacks.  Read on and decide which material is best for your Chicago garage door replacement.

Steel is Tops

Steel garage doors are the most popular for many reasons.  They are affordable, low-maintenance and most come with a varying degree of insulation available.  (We’ll get into insulation more in a bit).  Not only is steel durable, but you don’t have to sacrifice fashion for function.  Steel garage doors come in many styles so you can get the best of both worlds:  strength and aesthetics – that’s a win-win for most Chicago homeowners.

Aluminum Garage Doors

Aluminum is another material some homeowners choose for their replacement garage door when affordability is the driving factor.  However, it is important to know that aluminum garage doors are much more prone to dents so you have to decide if the savings is worth the potential damage to your garage door.  This is something to consider especially if your home is off an alley or you have children that could accidentally damage the door through play.

Garage Doors Made from Wood

wood garage doorIf you are looking for something with a more traditional look and feel, wood garage doors are an option you may want to consider.  They do often come at a higher price point than their steel and aluminum counterparts and have to be maintained more frequently to keep up their appearances.  So if repainting and staining doesn’t sound appealing to you, you may want to stay away from wood garage doors.  If you don’t mind the extra work and maintenance, and just love the look of wood – go for it.  Wood is a better insulator than steel as well, so you just need to weigh the pros and cons of each material.

It’s really a matter of personal taste, but wood, aluminum and steel all make great options for Chicago garage door replacement.  You’ll be happy with the new door no matter which material you choose!

Garage Door Color Options

Regardless of the material you choose for your Chicago area garage doors, you will be happy to know you aren’t limited when it comes to colors.  You will be able to pick a color that best matches or complements your home’s style and appearance.  From the more standard neutrals of white and almond to darker hues and even wood tones on steel doors, you can truly create the door that will work best!

Some folks choose the same color as their siding or trim, while others want the garage door to stand out more and they choose a contrasting color.  There is no rule to choosing the best color for your door, but as it is the largest door of your home, make sure you think about what will make you happiest in the long term.

Style and Panel Options for Your Garage Door

You probably haven’t ever thought about all the different styles available for garage doors.  But now that you are thinking of replacing yours, you’ll be surprised at how many choices you have.

The most standard garage doors offer four rows of panels, and those panels can be short or long.  In a single car garage door, the short panels would be four across and in a two car garage, there would be eight columns of panels.  If you don’t like as many panels on your door, you could consider long panels.  So on a single car garage door, there would be two columns of panels and on a two car garage door, there would be four columns.

Some garage doors come available with a flush panel or ribbed panel too.  It may seem overwhelming to choose between all these panel styles, so it’s a good idea to walk or drive around your neighborhood to see what some other houses offer.  This will give you a better idea of what might look good on your home!

If you want to make more of a statement with your garage door and/or prefer a more traditional look, you could consider a carriage style garage door. These doors offer different panel designs such as recessed or raised panels and some come in a bead board style.  What makes a carriage style garage door even more unique is the complementing hardware many homeowners choose to add to their door.  From decorative handles and hinges, you can add instant curb appeal with these subtle, yet beautiful enhancements.

Window Inserts

standard style garage doorAnother way to make your garage door more unique or add some style to your home’s façade would be adding in some window inserts.  These garage door windows replace the top row of panels on your garage door and come in a wide variety of styles.  Many Chicago homeowners choose a simple grid pattern that mimics the grids in their home’s windows.  Others opt for more decorative glass patterns to really make a statement.

Besides the addition of a decorative element, there is another benefit of windows in your garage door – LIGHT!  Most garages tend to be dark and even including a small row of windows to your garage door can make a world of difference.  If you tend to work in your garage or just prefer more visibility with some natural light, window inserts in your garage door can help you do just that!

Great Garage Door Openers for your Chicago Home

Whether you are replacing your garage door or just need a new inside of someone's garage

Belt Drive Openers

A belt drive garage door opener operates with a rubber style belt that runs the length of the rail.  Because of the use of rubber, this style garage door is the quietest with no potential metal on metal squeaking.  While these openers are more expensive than some of the other options, many folks find the quiet operation to be worth it.  This is especially true for people with rooms above their garage.

Chain Drive Openers

A chain drive garage door opener operates, you guessed it, with a chain.  It runs against the rail and works in conjunction with the motor to lift and lower your garage door.  This style opener uses a pulley system, so one great advantage is that the garage door can still be manually operated should there be a power outage. Chain drive openers are most economical and dependable, but you will definitely experience more noise with its operation.

Screw Drive Openers

Another option available for your garage door is the screw drive opener.  Here the lifting mechanism travels along a threaded rod to raise and lower your garage door.  Screw drive openers are the most compact with the fewest parts, so it conserves a lot of energy and can act more powerfully.  As a result, these openers are often used for larger and heavier garage doors.  You will experience some noise with the operation of a screw driver opener and sacrifice a little speed, but they are a great option to consider.

Smart Garage Door Openers

Nowadays, technology seems to be making everything out there “smart” and garage door openers are no exception.  If you like the peace of mind that comes with being 100% certain your garage door is closed when you are not at home, a smart garage door opener may be the perfect solution.  With the simple installation of an app on your phone, you are able to open and close your door with the push of a button (or touch of the screen, rather) and feel safe in the knowledge the door is closed.

Consider a Keypad

Many Chicago homeowners add a keypad to the outside of their garage as another source of entry.  While you would still have the remote opener, having a keypad outside is a convenient way to access your home.  This is especially true if you are going out for a jog or walk and don’t want to carry house keys with you.  When you return home, punch in your code on the keypad and up the garage door goes!

Many parents like this feature as well, so they can give their children the code as opposed to giving them a key which could be easily lost.  Just make sure to let your kids know not share the code with anyone – as you want to limit access to your home.

How You Use Your Garage Makes a Difference

Homeowners in the Chicago area use their garages in many different ways.  Most folks use them to store a few items and park their cars.  Others use the space solely for storage.  Some actually convert the area into an extended living space.  These are all things to consider as you choose your replacement garage door.

If the garage is attached to your home, you’ll want to make sure you are comfortable with the degree of insulation your garage door provides.  As previously mentioned, wood garage doors offer great insulation, but the elegant look comes at a price.  While steel garage doors on their own may not offer as many insulating properties, there are varying levels of insulation that can be added to your door.  Many steel doors offer an option between single, double and triple layer steel as well as thermal insulation.  The added insulation in the steel garage door keeps both your home and your garage contents at a more regulated temperature.

Even if your garage is not attached to your home, having a well-insulated garage door will keep your car and belongings safe at extreme temperatures.  No one likes getting into a freezing cold car in the dead of the winter.  If your garage door is insulated, the car will be warmer and more enjoyable.

ratNo car?  If you just use your garage for storage, it’s still important to maintain a well-regulated temperature in the space to protect your belongings.  Additionally, it is important the door is solid with a great bottom weather seal to avoid rats and small critters from entering your garage.  This is especially important with Chicago’s growing rodent problems.

Garage Door Installation

A new garage door is only as good as its installation.  You may consider yourself pretty handy or good at DIY projects, but because of the size and weight of garage doors, it is best to leave the installation to the pros.  This way, you’ll know your door will be properly installed from the get go and be rest assured the door will operate as it should.  Chicago garage door installation, done by professionals, will complete your project so all you have to do is sit back and enjoy your new door!

No matter what is most important to you about your garage door, hopefully now you will find it much easier to get started.   With the right information, choosing the right door will be a breeze.  And after reading all of the above information, you may decide we are the Chicago garage door company for you!

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