It’s a purchase that most people will make only once or twice in a lifetime, but a garage door is one of the hardestworking components of a home and a big contributor to its curb appeal.

The right door can increase the value of your home while also making it more energy efficient. But with so many options on the market, how do you select the one that is right for your home?

According to Travis Reynolds, National Marketing Manager at Steel-Craft Door Products Ltd., it’s important to start by doing your homework.

“An overhead door isn’t a purchase that comes around very often,” he said. “It’s something to sit back and think about. You may pay a bit more for a higher quality, well insulated door that will match the style of your house. Be careful what you buy. Check out the insulation, is it well-built, where is it being built, what’s the warranty, and does it match your house with a nice look?”

Founded in 1963, Steel-Craft’s production facility is located in Edmonton, Alta., with a network of distribution centres from coast to coast. The company’s 350 employees manufacture and sell two types of overhead sectional garage doors for both residential and commercial markets.

Everything that goes into a Steel-Craft door — including hinges, rollers, tracks, springs and windows — is made in the Edmonton facility.

“We think we’re the made in Canada solution,” said Reynolds. “We not only manufacture our own garage door panels, but we make every single component that goes into that door. Everything is made for and engineered for our climate, and we’re the only ones doing that. We’re the homemade, home-grown product.”

Photos courtesy of Steel-Craft Door Products Ltd.

Photo courtesy of Steel-Craft Door Products Ltd.

Steel-Craft makes two types of overhead sectional garage doors: polyurethane-injected steel and aluminum. While steel doors account for about 85 per cent of company sales, Reynolds said aluminum is on the rise.

“We’re seeing an increase in the aluminum doors, especially in the residential market,” he noted. “We’re seeing trending in that direction because they can be customized. That is key. Whether it’s size, colour, design, finish or glass windows, aluminum is very customizable. The homeowner can choose colour and glass options to match the style of the building.”

Current trends in the marketplace see homeowners leaning towards wood-look steel and aluminum garage doors, some with frosted glass inserts.

In response to escalating energy costs, people are also looking for doors that are more energy efficient. In response, Steel-Craft will soon be introducing a new two-inch thick steel garage door with an R value of 18.5. Reynolds said that on average, the R value of an overhead sectional garage door is around R10.

The installation of a Steel-Craft door, particularly for the residential market, is well within the abilities of a professional contactor. The doors are backed by a limited lifetime warranty that Reynolds said people rarely need.

“Our product stands up to the test of time.”

Smart Style

Another Canadian garage door manufacturer, Garaga, is noticing similar market trends.

Founded in 1983 with locations in Saint-Georges, Que., and Barrie, Ont., Garaga designs and builds residential, commercial and industrial garage doors. Its products are sold in Canada and the U.S.

According to J-Fran.ois Morin in the Garaga marketing department, a home’s style is the first indicator of what type of garage door to choose.

“If your home is over 20 years old, it’s very possible that you’ll have to choose a more classic style,” he said. “If you are thinking about building a new house, contemporary and modern styles with

Photos courtesy of Garaga

clean, straight lines and in darker colours like brown and black are gaining popularity.”

Rural homeowners are still choosing carriage house, Craftsman and ranchsince 2014 have led to the development of “smart” garage doors that can be linked to smartphones via Wi-Fi.

“Now you can open, close and monitor the status of your garage door from wherever you are in the world,” said Morin. “It’s even more practical when your kids get home from school. Instead of carrying a key around their neck or using the exterior keypad, kids can use their phone to get in the house in complete safety.”

Morin agreed that energy efficiency is important to homeowners shopping for a new garage door. “We often overlook the fact that even if we don’t heat our garage, the cold air from it enters our house each time we open the door to the garage,” he said.

Garaga offers garage doors with some of the best performing insulation values and most efficient weather sealing systems to help keep out the harsh Canadian climate.

Morin also agreed with Reynolds that research is a must before buying a garage door. However, he said customers often come in ultra-prepared, having done their homework and then some.

As for trends, he said people want something unique, something that sets them apart from their neighbours. Dark colours like black, moka brown and dark sand are popular at Garaga.

Photos courtesy of Garaga

Photos courtesy of Organized Living

Behind Closed Doors

While garage doors make up a large part of a home’s façade, what lies behind them is often a source of frustration for many homeowners who complain that they do not have enough storage space.

Cincinnati, Ohio-based Organized Living has the solution in its popular freedomRail Garage system. Sold by a network of installing dealers and distributors across Canada, the system conquers the clutter and sends it packing.

Founded 98 years ago as Schulte Corp., today’s Organized Living specializes in storage and organization systems.

“We manufacture products for the home,” said Theresa Finnigin, the company’s Director of Marketing. “We understand how people live and the products they need.”

One of those products is freedomRail Garage, introduced to the market in 2006. A rail-based adjustable system, it features basic shelving but also cabinets, work benches, and accessories like hooks, baskets and a mesh cage that stores all types of balls. There’s even an activity organizer, a steel grid mounted to the wall with hooks for hanging bags and sports equipment.

“What is so unique about our system is that there is a horizontal rail you mount onto the wall and there are vertical uprights that hang from that rail, and all the accessories hook onto those uprights,” explained Finnigin. “The only piece mounted to the wall is the horizontal rail. This allows the system to be completely adjustable.”

That easy adjustability sets freedom-Rail Garage apart from other organizational systems. Organized Living also uses 50 per cent more steel, making freedomRail Garage capable of supporting 150 pounds per linear foot.

Manufactured at the company’s facility in Bloomington, Ind., shelves and accessories can be moved around without tools. Not only is the configuration fully adjustable, but so is the investment involved.

“You can just do an eight-foot section and really maximize storage or you can go floor to ceiling and really deck it out,” said Finnigin. “You can go bare bones and then start to add in accessories. If you have a budget you’re trying to target, you can get there with freedomRail because there are so many design options.”

The system is also easy to install. “If you can draw a level line and mount the screws into it, you’re good to go. There’s a lot of engineering that has gone into it but it comes across as being very simple. It’s easy for contractors to install,” added Finnigin. “It’s also easy to live with. Things are up off the floor so it’s easy to clean out your garage. It makes for a simpler life.”

Photo courtesy of Orgill Inc.

A Functional Space

Founded in 1847 in Memphis, Tenn., Orgill Inc. is the world’s largest independent hardlines distributor. Orgill Canada, a wholly owned subsidiary, services retailers in every Canadian province and territory. The company distributes more than 75,000 products and services in total.

When it comes to the garage, Jeff Curler, the company’s Senior Vice-President of Purchasing, said the company excels at “everything that goes into your garage after it is constructed.”

That includes organizational products such as cabinets, work benches, racking, pegboard, hooks, insulating products, attic ladders and other items that streamline and improve the garage environment.

“The garage is now a very functional part of the home,” said Curler. “The products that we carry speak to efficiencies.”

Primarily targeted at the residential market, Orgill offers heating and cooling devices to keep the temperature and humidity in the garage at comfortable levels. Their product line also reflects recent advances in home automation, including sophisticated garage door openers that offer accessories such as supplemental lighting, additional electrical outlets, a cooling fan, or a carbon monoxide detector.

“The trend is leaning toward garages that don’t appear to be garages,” said Curler. “It should blend into the architecture of the home. There are garage doors that look like carriage doors; the addition of windows and shutters make them look like an extension of the home. Flooring is another big trend, whether it’s durable epoxy paint or decking or tile that snaps together.”

Orgill services Canada from two distribution centres: its London, Ont., location covers Eastern Canada, while a new centre in Post Falls, Idaho, covers the western market.

“We think we have a value proposition with regards to not only pricing, but also freight rates to dealers,” said Curler.

“We are the only independent wholesale provider that covers all provinces and territories. We have a sales force that represents the thousands of products that we make available.”

Curler said garages have huge potential for contractors.

“I think there’s a big opportunity for the contractor to gain business they’re not currently getting,” he said. “If you think of the average new home, it’s delivered to the consumer and everything inside is ready to go. Then you go out to the garage, and it’s just a bare bones space. If someone would have come to me when I bought my new home and offered to install garage cabinets, finish the floor, put in an upgraded door opener, I would have jumped at it.”

Gone are the days when the garage was just a place to park the car and store accumulated junk. Today, the trend is toward organized, neat spaces that are a functioning extension of the home. Automation is making its way into the garage as well — it’s now possible to use your smartphone to open and close your garage door, all while you’re vacationing in another country.

Maybe one day in the not-so-distant future, the garbage will even roll itself to the curb.

Photo courtesy of Orgill Inc.