Don’t forget the garage door


By Ben Johnson

I’m a car guy. I also love my garage. My wife may dictate how our bedrooms and kitchen are arranged, but I get the garage. It’s the one place that’s all mine. It’s also the one place in my home that I am guaranteed to enter twice a day. The doors in particular, I open and close every day, to and from work. We spend a lot of time looking at those doors, and they also take up a large portion of the exterior façade of our home. Why, then, do so many builders, remodelers and homeowners install plain garage doors?

Garage doors have earned a bad reputation in the past, so much that many neighborhoods don’t allow front-loading garages and enforce covenants that require heavy screening of garage doors. Why? Because oftentimes garage doors are ugly. It is true that garage doors can have a very plain and solid-void feeling, but, given the appropriate attention they can set off the exterior of a home and contribute to the home’s style rather than detract from it. The garage door is an incredible opportunity to add an architectural element at a relatively low cost, and just about every home has one, so why not celebrate it?

Why do most people skimp on the style of their garage doors? For one thing, their cars don’t care what the doors look like, but second, many times the kitchen and other more prominent spaces in a home take budget prominence. The garage door also is one of the last items to be installed on a new home, at which point many projects are fighting to stay within budget, so many homeowners opt for a very basic garage door to save costs. To correct this mistake, plan ahead – early in the design stage – to spend a few extra dollars on the door.

To get a garage door correct, choose something that is appropriate for the vernacular of your clients’ home. Don’t put a rustic stained wood door with wrought iron hardware on a modern craftsman. Also, choose something with raised panels as opposed to flush. This extra bit of detail will go a long way toward aesthetic appeal. If you scroll through the pictures at the top of this article, you’ll notice that none of the doors in the photos are too elaborate or fancy. They are, for the most part, simple with a little bit of detail and well-proportioned windows that tie in with the rest of the homes.

Quick tip: More glass in a garage door typically is better than less glass. A 3-panel garage door will allow for more, taller and bigger windows than a 4- or 6-panel door.

Most will look at a home with nice garage doors and not know why they are drawn to it more than a home with a plain garage door. By installing a garage door that not only coincides with the style of your clients’ home, but has an architectural element to it, the home will gain huge curb appeal and attract more buyers.

Ben Johnson, CPBD, MCGP, CAPS, works for Will Johnson Building Co., a Chapel Hill, N.C.-based residential and light commercial design-build firm. The firm specializes in high-end custom homes and renovations. Ben has managed and designed projects ranging in size from small bathroom renovations to 9,000 sq. ft. homes. He also is a district director for the American Institute of Building Design.

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