Choosing Garage Doors: Types, Materials, Configurations & Costs

Jane Crittenden reviews the options to help you narrow down your choices and settle on the best garage doors for your project
by Jane Crittenden
22nd June 2022

The first step to selecting the right garage door is deciding how this potentially multi-functional zone is going to be used.

If it’s to house a gym, workshop or classic car, for instance, you’ll need an insulated door. Perhaps storage is important?

Then you you’ll want a solution that allows you to maximise every inch of space. Another consideration is whether you need to park in front of the garage door, which could affect how it opens.

Read more: Garage Design Ideas

Or you might simply be looking for a design that matches your home’s front entrance. Garage doors come in a good range of standard hues, with many manufacturers able to match RAL colours for an additional charge.

Likewise, there’s a choice of standard sizes but many products are available in custom dimensions.

Leader doors garage doors

Liberty side-hinged solid core doors come fully finished in white or can be painted on site, offering an affordable solution for a large garage opening. Priced from £600 for a pair (H 2,134mm x W 2,134mm x D 44mm), Leader Doors

Garage door opening options

Choosing the best configuration is vital if you want to make best use of your garage. “Sometimes we notice the practicalities of the door operation gets overlooked in favour of appearance,” says Ian Chubb, managing director of Deuren.

“A four-metre side sectional garage door looks great, for instance, but fitting a pair of two-metre doors is more functional and looks just as good.” Here are the pros and cons of the main systems.

Up-and-over doors

An up-and-over door is a rigid panel, typically made from timber, steel or glass reinforced plastic (GRP), that swings outwards and tilts back inside the garage. When a canopy version is open, part of the door extends out for added shelter; while a retractable style slides back along ceiling tracks. A basic design starts around £300.

Pros: Cheapest option. A wide opening. Lots of style choice. An easy-fit solution delivered on a factory-fitted steel frame.

Cons: A canopy isn’t suitable for automation. Needs room to swing forwards. Takes up roof space.

Roller doors

A roller door is a curtain of steel or aluminium slats that roll smoothly up and around a cylinder or into a box mounted to the wall behind the brickwork. A basic version starts around £400; insulated designs will cost more.

Pros: All the garage space can be used. Suitable for curved and arched openings. Possible to park a car in front. Can be automated.

Cons: One door style. Looks functional; although wood-effect designs are now available. Avoid entry-level products if security is a key concern.

Garage door ideas

This double-skinned sectional garage door features 42mm sections with good insulating properties. Shown in the L-ribbed style in Ruby red RAL 3003, from £3,079, Hormann

Section doors

A sectional door is made of individual large panels, usually in steel with a wide range of contemporary external finishes. These doors rise up and curve back section-by-section until the door is flat against the garage ceiling (or the wall, in the case of side-opening designs). Prices start at £600.

Pros: Good for extra-wide garage openings due to strength and stability. Won’t intrude on the driveway. Can be automated. Most designs are insulated.

Cons: Takes-up roof or wall space. Not generally available in traditional styles.

Side-hinged doors

Side-hinged doors come in a pair, typically with a 50/50 or 70/30 split. Doors open outwards and timber is a popular choice. Prices start at £300 for a basic wood door.

Read more: Building a Garage: Planning, Costs and Design

“Newer versions have features like gas pistons, door stays, hinges hidden inside the frame, a two-point locking system with latches, better rubber seals and an aluminium threshold at the base,” says Neil Discombe, managing director of Garador.

Pros: Maximises internal garage space. Optional glazing. Partial opening is convenient for accessing a bike or garden equipment. Less to go wrong as no mechanical fixings (though can be automated).
Cons: Requires driveway space to fully swing open. Not suitable for drives that slope upwards from the door.

Garage door materials

There are four key options here, each with their own pros and cons. Whichever material you go for, look for guarantees both on the door itself as well as on the operating mechanisms and frames.

Direct Doors

Made from aluminium with a steel lath along the bottom for added strength, Gliderol’s electric roller garage door in Chartwell Green also has an insulated core. Bespoke made in sizes 2,147mm to 2,451mm wide, from £1,244, Direct Doors

Some manufacturers specialise in matching garage and front door combinations. Deuren, for instance, sells a range of architectural timber designs. Garador has its FrontGuard range, along with an online tool to visualise how the products will look on your own home. And Hormann offers a wide selection of steel and aluminium garage and entrance doors.


Steel is the most hardwearing, powder-coated in numerous colours or wood-effect finishes and a range of panel designs. Hormann has recently introduced Duragrain Individual Print to further expand your options. “Homeowners can print pictures onto the surface of the steel Hörmann LPU 42 sectional door,” says David O’Mara, marketing manager at Hormann UK. “It’s a great opportunity to create a totally unique garage door.”


Aluminium is low maintenance, like steel, but it’s more lightweight and will dent if it’s knocked too hard. A plus point is it’s naturally resistant to corrosion, making it suitable for coastal locations.


Timber brings an elegant look. The most reliable and long-lasting options for solid wood garage doors are the likes of oak, cedar, idigbo and engineered products such as Accoya – though standard softwood remains popular.

Deuren garage doors

Matching oak doors with carved details from Deuren’s Tavole range give this house a stylish contemporary look to the entrance and sectional garage door

Doors can be bought factory-finished in microporous paints or stains, typically with a guarantee on the coating, or ready for finishing on site. Thick wood doors can offer decent insulation without any additional treatment (enquire about whole-unit U-values if this is important to you).


GRP, or glass reinforced plastic, is a factory-finished material appealing for its lightweight, durable and maintenance-free properties. It’s often specified in a wood-effect finish to achieve a characterful look with minimal upkeep. You’ll want a thick door leaf and, as with any garage door, a good-quality frame.

Insulation & acoustics

Most of the leading manufacturers offer upgraded versions of their doors that incorporate insulation to enhance energy efficiency performance. This is typically achieved with a double-skinned arrangement.

For instance, a double-skin steel side-hinged or sectional door would likely have 20-45mm thick panels and a core of foam insulation.

QUICK GUIDE Smart garage doors

Intelligent controls are becoming more commonplace, enabling you to open or close the garage with a mobile phone or tablet. Hormann’s Homee app links to the entrance gate and garage door, and is also compatible with other smart home systems to operate door locks, cameras and heating.

Garador’s BlueSecur is similar, working with Google Home and Amazon Alexa to control garage doors fitted with a GaraMatic Series 4 operator. “An integrated Bluetooth receiver means all aspects of the garage can be remotely controlled, from opening, closing and partial opening, operating the lighting systems and a third door position for ventilation,” says Neil from Garador.

Roller doors can also be enhanced in this way, but don’t perform quite as well due to the number of slats (high-quality rubber seals are a must). Hormann offers a Thermoframe kit to enhance insulation around the sides, available through the likes of The Garage Door Centre.

Safety & security

However you use your garage, it’s likely the contents will be valuable to you – if not financially in terms of cars, tools etc, at least emotionally for those using the space to stow away family memorabilia.

Secured by Design accreditation is a great option for garage doors. This means they’ve undergone stringent security and safety tests: examples include SeceuroGlide Excel roller door from The Garage Door Centre, Hörmann’s LPU 42 and LPU 67 sectional garage doors and Garador’s Guardian range. Note that products must also be installed to the Secured by Design fitting criteria.

Read more: Beginner’s Guide to Garage Conversions

In terms of modern tech, check any remote control has technology embedded to change the signal code every time it’s used to prevent cloning. Garador’s GaraMatic operators can recognise when there’s an obstruction in front of the door and automatically reverse closing if an obstacle is detected, adding an extra layer of safety.

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