All You Need to Know About Garage Door Insulation
For all you homeowners who just use the garage as a place to park a vehicle or store old things that you never look through, the thermal efficiency of your garage door insulation is probably something you don’t pay so much attention to.
But for others who like to spend time in the garage—woodworking, tinkering, operating on car engines, or just hanging out—the temperature differential caused by an energy inefficient garage door can become a noticeable deterrent to enjoying some of your favorite activities.
In the wintertime, you’ve probably realized that the garage is not typically as warm as other areas of your home…and there’s a good reason for that, considering that the garage door can be a huge source of heat loss, which of course affects the overall energy efficiency of your home.
In the summer, you may find that the garage is undesirably warmer than the rest of your home, which is especially frustrating if you were specifically hoping to escape from the heat by entering the confines of your man cave.
Noise pollution might be another factor impelling you to insulate the garage. Perhaps you want to cut down on noise pollution from the street, or maybe you’ve gotten some phone calls about your rock band’s jam sessions in the garage, and you need to keep the sound within from escaping out into the unappreciative crowd of the neighborhood.
Whatever the case may be, good insulation will also reduce the transfer of sound through the garage door.
Taking action and insulating the garage door can cut down on this heat loss while building up the overall R-value of your home, the number that represents its thermal efficiency. There are three primary materials that are the most popular forms of garage door insulation: foam, batt, and reflective materials.
If your garage doors are not already insulated, you can use these materials to do some ad-hoc insulating by paneling the interior of the door.
When it comes to insulating garage doors with foam, there are usually two options: polystyrene and polyurethane. The latter is very pliable, which makes it useful for a variety of products (as diverse as car seating, furniture, and construction), it sticks to the garage door better, and it carries a higher factor of thermal resistance.
By contrast, polystyrene is that material usually made to make styrofoam coffee cups and packaging materials…you know, those white peanuts from outer space. Either way, whatever many-lettered poly-form foam comprises the makeup of your foam insulating boards, make sure you do not use non-faced foam board, which is dangerously flammable…instead, make sure that your boards are faced with vinyl or aluminum.
Batt insulation is a flexible material usually stuffed into exterior walls and made from fiberglass and usually backed by paper or foil to impede the flow of vapor or air. While it’s a great insulating material for the walls, it’s not so great for garage doors, because it’s often thick (usually three and a half inches, to be exact), much thicker than the recessed area of the panels, and compressing it greatly reduces its insulating factor.
If you really want to use it, use a thinner type that’s lined in foil like the kind that’s wrapped around HVAC ducts.
There’s also reflective insulation, which comes in single or double foils sandwiching a layer of polyethylene bubbles. These reflective panels are excellent combatants against radiant heat, making them a great choice for garages that get toasty in hot climates.
Overall, reflective insulation is usually a better quality insulator than the synthetic polyurethane panels, but you’ll need to cut the panels slightly larger than the garage door panels, so they bend and create an air bubble between themselves and the garage door.
Matching the Insulating Material to Your Garage Door
One of the key factors in determining what type of insulation to use will be the material of your garage door since different types of insulation are best paired with specific types of garage doors.
Steel doors can accommodate any type of insulating material, but make sure that if you’re using batt insulation, the fiberglass side touches the door. For wood paneled doors, you’ll want to cut and fit rigid insulating boards into the panels, like a double layer of foam, for instance. For flat garage doors, reflective or foam board insulation is best.
Helpful hint: if your garage door is paneled, measure each panel first. Don’t assume that all the panels have the same dimensions just because they look similar. This will save you some unnecessary headache when you’re trying to pop the insulating material into the recess of the panel.
You’ll also want to mount some additional weatherstripping around the door, and possibly a new vinyl seal on the bottom of the door, to create a truly effective barrier against the elements without any cracks or gaps, especially since the sun can harden the vinyl seal over time, causing it to crack and break off in sections, in turn allowing the unwanted entrance and egress of air and heat.
Do it Yourself?
You can probably find a do-it-yourself installation kit at the hardware store, which will often come with rolls or boards of insulating material that have a closer fit to the panels of your garage door than you would otherwise get by buying the raw material itself. They also come with tape or fasteners to hold it in place, and better quality kids will often include gloves and a utility knife.
For a nine-foot door, a good insulating kit may be between $50 and $70, which is not a bad price considering the energy-efficiency increase of your home. The main benefit of the kit is the retainer pins it comes with, which hold the insulating material in place and prevent it from falling off the door when it’s opened.
However, adding insulation to your garage door can drastically increase its weight, resulting in additional strain for the mechanism that opens and closes the door. While this might not pose a problem for a smaller, nine-foot door, for larger doors it can create noticeable problems with the opening mechanism, which might necessitate some adjustment from an expert.
Pre-insulated Models and Re-Insulating
Of course, if you’re not interested in doing all of this yourself, or you don’t like the aesthetic factor of insulating boards covering up the panels of your garage door, you can always go the route of replacing your energy-inefficient garage door with a pre-insulated model, which of course requires the assistance of a professional to install.
Another option might be to have a qualified professional swap out the already extant insulating material of your garage door (if it has any) or adding insulation, such as polyurethane.
Insulating your garage door is a project that you can do yourself with an insulating kit purchased at the hardware store, but like anything else, if you want to make sure the job is done right, it’s best to solicit the services of a professional who has experience working with these different types of insulating materials, who can actually put new insulating material into the door itself, or work with you to install an energy-efficient door, which might be an especially appealing option if your garage door is old and needs to be replaced anyway.
Whether you’re looking to cut down on noise pollution or regulate the temperature of your garage, you’ll find that insulating the garage door is worthy endeavor that will make your garage a quieter, more temperate zone for enjoying the activities you usually like to enjoy there…whether that’s working on cars, playing drums, or cracking open a few cold ones while watching a game—while also strengthening the overall thermal efficiency of your home.
Trust Feldco For Your Next Insulated Garage Door
Whether you find your garage to be too cold or too hot, an insulated garage door from Feldco always gets the job done. Call us or fill out our form today to get a free quote on your garage door.