August 29, 2014 at 1:00 am

The Handyman

Today's garage doors come in many styles

For years, the garage door has been looked upon more as a functional home item rather than a decorative one. However, with so many improvements in the design and functionality of today’s garage doors, it has often moved to the top of the home improvement “to do” list and can be a great way to improve your home’s curb appeal.

“Garage doors aren’t cookie cutter anymore,” said Bill Visnaw, office manager for Jan Overhead Door, (877) 581-7301, jandoor.com. “There are a lot of design options for garage doors today, including steel doors with a wood-grain look, and you can add things like different decorative hardware that will give you that country-house look that is popular these days.”

Visnaw said one type of door that is popular today is the Carriage House series from Safeway Door, safewaydoor.com. These doors come in steel and wood, and offer that classic old-style country look, along with various window styles and decorative hardware options to let homeowners create a look that matches their home. He said this door style is also a good option for homes located in historical communities where homeowners need to conform to a particular architectural style.

Other door manufacturers that offer these styles include Amarr, amarr.com; Clopay, clopaydoor.com; and Wayne Dalton, wayne-dalton.com.

If you decide on a wood door, it often will come with a paint or stain-ready finish, so you can finish it to match your home’s decor.

If your garage door often takes a beating from the wayward basketball, hockey puck or baseball when the kids are playing in your driveway, you might want to consider getting a heavy steel or even vinyl door that is dent resistant. Another advantage of a vinyl door is that it won’t rust, fade or crack, so it is low maintenance, similar to the durability of a vinyl deck. Another low-maintenance option these days is a fiberglass garage door with a wood-grain finish. That is a great option if you want to match the look of either a wood or wood-grain finish fiberglass front door.

When buying a garage door, you should also consider if you need it to be insulated. Visnaw said a traditional two-car garage door that is noninsulated will cost around $800, while an insulated version will be closer to $1,100. If you spend a lot of time working in your garage during the winter, you may want to spend the extra $300 to get the insulation and help keep the garage a little warmer.

Of course, the wood and wood-looking doors will cost 25 percent or more than traditional steel doors, but you may decide it is worth the extra money if you want to improve your home’s look.

Visnaw said one trend he is seeing a lot today is people using their garage for entertaining in the summer. That’s why there is a growth in popularity of retractable screens that provide a screened enclosure for the garage opening that keeps the bugs out. Visnaw said these types of pull-down retractable screens run from $1,000 to $1,500 on average. You can also get a motorized version that would be double the cost but would retract with the touch of a button.

Companies that manufacture these retractable screens include Durascreen, durascreens.com, and Lifestyle, lifestylescreens.com.

While garage door openers themselves haven’t changed all that much over the years, the options you have available to control them from your computer, tablet or smart phone have become more mainstream. Using the MyQ technology, garage door openers from Chamberlain (chamberlain.com) and Liftmaster (liftmaster.com) allow you to monitor and control your garage door with your Android or Apple device. It will send you alerts if the garage door opens when you aren’t home or if you forget to close it when you leave.

If your garage door was installed in the last century, or you just want to give your home a fresher look, take time to do some homework on all today’s door options. It could be the easiest way to give your home some added curb appeal.

If you would like to suggest a question for this column, e-mail askglenn@masterhandyman.com. If you want to talk to Glenn Haege, call his “Handyman Show” on WJR-AM (760) at (866) ASK GLENN, (866) 275-4536, between noon and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The “Handyman Show” can be heard on more than 130 radio stations.