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Do-It-Yourself Garage Door Insulation

If you are considering purchasing a new garage door, we recommend you give some thought to having a door with built in insulation installed on your garage.  There are various levels of insulation including radiant barriers offered by major garage door manufacturers and, depending on your climate, you can gain considerable energy savings by buying a well insulated garage door.  It will also make the time spent in your garage much more pleasant in the hot and cold seasons.

Remember a 16 x 8 foot garage door represents 128 square feet of area allowing thermal transmittance or heat loss (known as the U-factor).  This unit of measure is the inverse or reciprocal of the R value which most folks are familiar with.  U-factor represents heat loss, and the R-value represents resistance to heat loss.  Before we get too technical here, just be aware that a hundred square feet of single pane glass in your house during a zero degree outside temperature can produce around 7,000 BTU’s per hour of heat loss.  Using an average cost of energy, that’s around $50 a month you could be paying for those 100 square feet of windows.  One layer of steel in a garage door isn’t going to give you much more insulating properties than single pane glass.  Of course your garage isn’t normally a climate controlled space, so your cost savings would not be comparable.  It will, at the least, make your garage a much more comfortable space to work in and provide noise dampening when opening and closing your garage door.

What about a Garage Door Insulation Kit?

What if you already have an uninsulated garage door that looks and works fine?  There are ways you can insulate your existing garage door yourself.  A number of garage door insulation kits are available locally as well as online.  These kits usually consist of a radiant barrier material (very helpful in hot climates) coupled with an insulating material.  The cost will average between $125.00 to $85.00 for a double garage door.  Be sure to check out the reviews, if you can, to see what previous do-it-yourselfers have to say about these particular products.  You can purchase polyurethane foam board with radiant facing material in 4’ x 8’ sheets and cut and fit them yourself to your garage door panels.  This will save you some money, but it will take more of your time.  If you decide on this option, it is advisable to have an expert on insulating materials to help you with your selection and installation procedures.

Most of the kits advertise a time to install of around 1 to 3 hours.  Just remember that an insulation kit will never provide the same insulating values and performance of a factory insulated door.   Many of the kits are made up of materials that can add a lot of weight to your door as well, putting a load on your door opening components.  Some consist of loose materials, and the fastening systems don’t always work they way they were intended.  Always be sure to check out the kits before you buy them and read the customer reviews where available.

Garage Door Insulation

A garage door can be the largest uninsulated space in your home.  If you are in the market for a new garage door, you should become familiar with a few of the commonly used terms surrounding commercial and residential garage door construction before you make your selection.

Garage Door R and U Value Factors

Most of us are familiar with the term R Value.  This is the standard way of describing how effective an insulating material is.  R value is a measure of heat resistance.  The higher the R value, the better the insulation.

U value is the opposite of R value.  Scientists came up with this to measure the rate at which heat flows through 1 square foot of material.  U value is a measure of transmission of heat.  It is normally used in measuring the insulating qualities of windows.  The lower the U value the less heat is lost, therefore a smaller number is better.  The formula is: U=1/R.  An R value of 8 would translate to a U value of .125

A Word of Caution

Any garage door submitted to testing per ANSI / DASMA 105 standards.  Testing is done in a controlled environment and do not normally replicate real world situations.  There can be a case made for the test to favor fiber insulators over rigid materials.  Keeping that in mind, the R value of a material or system is still the best indicator of insulating properties, if only to show relationships from one to another.

All major garage door manufacturers offer insulated and non-insulated doors.  You can find overhead and carriage garage doors of solid wood that offer very little insulating properties (R2 or R3).   Ratings of 20+ can be obtained using 2”of rigid foam insulation surrounded by steel with half-inch thick polymer composite cladding molded from actual wood which replicates natural wood texture and intricate grain patterns.   Of course your existing climate will be a big factor in determining how much insulation you will want.

Can I Insulate My Garage Door Myself?

If you have an uninsulated steel garage door you may want to consider insulating it yourself.  Many manufacturers such as Johns Manville, Owens Corning, Lowes and others, provide DIY Kits.  These kits range in price from around $130 to $150 for a residential double car garage door.  You can expect to receive advertised R values from R6 to R 17 depending on the type of material used.

Garage Door Insulation Kits are relatively easy to install, normally taking about 2 hours, and do not require any disassembly of an installed garage door.  These kits will come with pre-cut panels of insulation material, either vinyl backed fiberglass or laminated solid foam.  Since all garage doors don’t have the same type of construction, you may be required to measure and cut each panel to provide a good fit.

Of course the best way to make sure you have a well insulated garage door is to have one installed when you replace your current door.  Keep in mind all the factors involved in rating insulating properties and don’t just rely on any one number, and it goes without saying, make sure you get your new door from a reliable supplier.  You can call or contact Steich Overhead Doors for any questions you might have concerning overhead doors.