Should You Insulate Your Garage Door?
Deciding to insulate your garage door seems like a great idea at first. Garage athletes experience temperature extremes daily. After all, your garage was designed to keep the rain off of your car and to store miscellaneous junk, not be comfortable enough to spend an hour to two hours a day there in shorts and a t-shirt. But we deal with it. In the summer, we roll up the door, in the winter; we get a portable heater of some kind. But what about those DIY insulate your garage door videos on YouTube ? Are they a good idea? Some of the experts I talked to say maybe not. Here are five reasons you shouldn’t do it.
Adding Insulation Shortens the Lifespan of the Door Hardware
“What wears out on a door are the torsion springs above the door and they just break from wear and tear and from usage. They’re what counterbalance the weight of the door and basically the opener just pulls it back and forth. Average life of an opener is ten to fifteen years with proper care but what will happen with the weight of that insulation is the door will be running heavy, the motor’s going to struggle to pull the door up and you’ll end up stripping the gears inside the opener,” says Roger Kleven who’s worked 15 years in the service department at Contra Costa Door in California’s Bay Area. “I know it doesn’t feel like the insulation weighs very much but it does make a difference, Kleven says.
Possibility of Injury
Just adding door stop weather stripping and a new bottom seal is a project entirely within the capabilities of the average homeowner. To insulate it properly, you’ll have to deal with the torsion springs. “If you insulate a door, they do sell insulation kits, you should have your door re-sprung,” Kleven says. Those springs are under a great deal of tension making it easy to hurt yourself during the replacement process if you’re not a trained professional. Without the springs as a counterweight, the doors themselves are heavy. That’s two potential sources of injury that you need to consider. “For the few hundred dollars it takes for us to install that door, you don’t have to worry about installing it or doing it correctly because there are things that can hurt you. The springs are powerful and you’d have the service tech replace those springs for you,” says Ryan Barth of Pioneer Door of Alaska.
Brand new garage doors aren’t cheap. “For a plain 16×8 door without any windows, best insulation value, you’re looking right around $3,457.00,” Barth says. In California’s dry heat, prices are also steep. “Replacement insulated doors start at about $1,400 for a complete replacement door with springs, track, hinges and everything included,” Kleven says. But insulating the door yourself isn’t necessarily inexpensive. “If the door’s in good shape and you want to keep the non-insulated door and add insulation to it, you’re probably looking at $350 to put new springs on the door and then balance the door, lube and adjust it,” says Kleven. Barth sees a new door as a better long term deal. “If you have to change the springs, usually a spring change for a double door will be $215. Well, you’re almost ten percent into the cost of a new door at that point,” says Barth. “Really by the time you’re done putting that stuff on there, the insulation value that you’re adding to it is not really doing much at all. You might get one or two R value out of it,” he says.
Premade Doors Insulate Better
The professionals I interviewed agree that premade insulated doors are a better long term option than insulating your current door. Kleven says,“If you want to add insulation to it, the process will definitely be cheaper. It’s not going to be as well insulated the doors that we sell are fully insulated, they’re steel backed on the front and the inside of the door, so they’re a totally insulated door.” Barth, whose employer services an area of Alaska that experiences both 80 degree summers and -20 degree winters, agrees. “We have doors all the way up to three inches thick in a R26. And depending on where you are in the country, a lot of times the R value of your walls, more than likely will be an R21. We’re exceeding that and that way you can get the most bang for your buck” Barth says.
Chance To Improve the Value of the Home
If you plan on selling your home in the next three to five years you might not care about the wear and tear on springs but you should care about increasing your home’s resale value. A professionally installed new door can add curb appeal whereas just insulating the garage side of your current door does not. “Say you were walking up to a house that you liked, what would be the first three things that would catch your eye? Walkway, front door and the garage door. Those are three things that you tend to walk on and use normally every day,” Barth says. A higher home value is a big deal if you want a prospective buyer to overlook those cracks from dropping heavy deadlifts on the garage floor. Door Tech of Alaska’s blog quotes Remodel Magazine as saying, “In Alaska you will recoup 98% to 104% for every dollar spent on a new garage door.”
None of these factors mean that you shouldn’t insulate your garage door. It just means you should carefully consider these five factors and any other specific to your situation before choosing the DIY route. You might end up saving money in the long run by just having a professional hang a new door for you that can increase your home’s value and save you hidden costs along the way. “You can do it yourself but it’s always easier to have a professional do it. Also the curb appeal will look nice and will keep that warm or cold outside of your house or your workout area,” Barth says.