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Is it better to have a steel back garage door or insulated one?

When it comes to garage doors constructed of steel, basic types available in the market are non insulated garage door, which is hollow on the inside and it is usually called one layer door or in the industry is sometimes referred to as a pan door and usually comes in 24, 25 26 gauge sheet metal. The 24 gauge being a bit more rigid and thicker gauge of steel than the standard 25 gauge. A 26 gauge garage door is a builder grade which is light and weak. This type of garage door is commonly known as a one-layer construction.

Photo 1 – One layer Garage door from the inside (no insulation)

The next type is a two-layer constructed door, which is commonly called a vinyl back, or a semi insulated garage door. It’s pretty much exactly like the single layer garage door. The only difference is the Styrofoam inserts with a vinyl backing that is clipped into place on the inside of the garage door.

Photo 2 – Insulated garage door

The third type of steel garage door is commonly called steel-back or three layer construction that means it is steel on the outside and steel on the inside and they are always insulated. Steel-back garage door are usually the top of line when it comes to steal garage doors.

Photo 3– Steel-back door

Some manufacturers have steel back doors in one and three eighths inch thick and up to two inch thick sections – the thicker the door the better R-value you will get. This is related to insulation value some two inch thick garage door having an R13++ value that is similar to a four inch thick wall at your home insulated with fiberglass insulation.

The only difference is the insulation in a two inch steel back garage door is that the insulation they use is different since it’s a poured foam insulation similar to the cans of insulation you buy at a hardware store and when you spray out of the can you see the foam expansion. The density of the foam gives the garage door a better R value at half the thickness.

Most garage door manufacturer will use a thinner gauge of sheet metal when constructing a steel back door because it is triple layered and will already have more rigidity. Many years ago, Wayne Dalton made a steel back door that was made of very very thin sheet metal and was almost like denting a tin can or aluminum can and therefore these doors did not last a very long time. The best quality steel garage door you can buy is a triple layer steel back garage door with two inch thick garage. The main differences between two inch steel back door and one and three eighths inch steel back door are:

  1. Outside / Inside Climate insulation
  2. Outside noise prevention
  3. Material thickness, dourness and weight

For craftsman or hobbyist that spends a lot of time in their garage we recommend installing a steel back garage door. We encountered customers who wanted to replace their garage door with a new steel back door without track system because the homeowners did not even want to open the garage door but wanted the opening insulated. So we just attach the door to the wall and it became the perfect filler wall.

Photo 4– Man cave garage door

Another reason why steel back garage doors are a better choice when you are installing a new door in your garage is because on average a one layer or non insulated garage door usually last for around a 10-20 year and a two-layer constructed garage door or semi insulated will last usually around 15-25 years.  A steel back garage door is very durable and we have seen them with a perfect condition at many homes for more than 25 years! Many Steel back manufacturer offer a much better warranty on those doors.

Photo 5– Warranty stamp.

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