By Katy Tomasulo. Just because it's a garage door doesn't mean it can't have as much curb appeal as an entry door. From custom wood to insulated steel, the latest garage doors offer increased style and function that can enhance the aesthetics of any home. And they are safer to use than ever before.

A selection of glass inserts, new styles of hardware, and semi-custom buying options are helping homeowners differentiate their doors and set off their homes.

Homeowners and builders alike are expressing more interest in carriage-style garage doors. Designed to mimic old-style sliding or swing-up doors, carriage-house doors now are offered by a number of manufacturers, including Wayne-Dalton, Amarr, and Gadco.

They're also more readily available in a broader price range, thanks to more options in door thickness and wood species. According to Shaun Webb, Gadco's director of marketing, the trend is largely being driven by builders because many homeowners are willing to spend more on products that look good.

Old-school style doesn't necessarily equate to out-of-date operation, though. In fact, most new carriage-style models are controlled the same as traditional sectional doors and come with the same added safety features. "People want that look," says Webb, "but they don't want it to operate like that; they want it to operate like an overhead door."

Safety First

Besides enhanced aesthetics and increased decorative glass choices and options, garage doors are safer, too. For many children, garage doors are playthings, and for many adults, they're afterthoughts. For these reasons, manufacturers and associations are constantly working to build new safety features into garage doors to protect kids and adults.

The Door and Access Systems Manufacturers Association (DASMA) recently introduced standard 116, a voluntary standard that requires that door pinch points be eliminated or guarded. In the absence of guarded pinch points, manufacturers are given provisions for locating handles in a position that would promote their use.

With the standard, it's vital that contractors install the garage door exactly to manufacturer specifications. In addition, installers should discourage homeowner requests to eliminate the handle for aesthetic reasons.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) already requires that garage doors have "entrapment protection" in the form of an electric eye or a door edge sensor to protect children from being trapped underneath. In addition, several manufacturers make doors with "pinch-free" joints to protect fingers, as well as a number of other safety features.

Furthermore, the CPSC recommends installing switches out of reach of children and testing doors once a month for automatic reversal.

Photo: Courtesy Amarr

Amarr. By Design custom carriage house doors come in 10 basic models with an array of options. The designs also can be modified by architects, homeowners, and builders. The doors are crafted with a select wood overlay and base wood attached to a 24-gauge ribbed steel insulated door. The doors can be glazed or designed with closed sections. 877-512-6277. Summit Door. The 10 wood garage doors in the Mediterranean collection were inspired by Old World designs. The doors come with a smooth, re-sawn, or weathered finish. Tuscan-style hardware and a range of options are available. 888-768-3667.

Photo: Courtesy Jeld-Wen

Jeld-Wen. Elite composite garage doors, which offer the look of wood and the weather resistance of steel, will not crack, split, dent, or rust, the maker says. The doors can be painted or stained and feature an embossed wood-grain texture. 858-485-1573. www.doors-windows.comf. Overhead Door. Banner collection garage doors feature refined embossing, improved dent resistance, and pinch-resistant sections, says the firm. The doors are available in a variety of insulation levels with numerous window options. Doors, which come with the OverDrive garage door opener, are available in white, almond, sandstone, or brown. 800-929-3667.

Photo: Courtesy Wayne Dalton

Wayne-Dalton. The idrive residential garage door opener hangs directly over the door and operates by turning a spring tube, eliminating the need for a rail system on the ceiling. Because many of the traditional mechanical parts are absent, the maker says the opener is quieter and operates more smoothly. Other features include resistance safety detection, a 12-second closing delay, and a side-location release handle. 800-827-3667. Martin Door. This line of garage door openers now includes a chain-driven unit, the Martin DC 2500. According to the firm, the opener is one of the quietest on the market, with a quiet rail assembly and a stainless steel chain. It comes with a 15-year warranty. 800-388-9310.

Photo: Courtesy Taylor

Taylor. Constructed of hot-dipped galvanized steel, Timberline garage doors are paintable and stainable. The doors have a 1-3/4-inch polystyrene foam core, five-coat rust protection, a deep wood-grain look, and full-length bottom weather seal. 800-248-3600. Windsor Door. The Model 795 garage door features an injected polyurethane solid foam core bonded between steel panels and provides an R-value of 11.5. The door comes in four standard colors with a raised-panel, ranch-panel, or flush-panel design and a deeply embossed wood-grain-look finish. Interior panels sit flush for a neat, finished appearance. Ten glass insert styles are available. 501-562-1872.

Photo: Courtesy Raynor

Raynor. Innovations steel garage doors feature foam-in-place high-density insulation and offer the highest R-values in the industry for their thickness, the maker says. The Affina and Centura models have an R-value of 18; Relante carries an R-value of 12. 800-472-9667. Designer Doors. The Hurricane Frame garage door system combines construction techniques and mounting hardware that meet building code requirements in coastal areas, including Miami-Dade County, Fla. With full-length borate-treated Douglas fir captured by Superply plywood, the frame offsets tension and compression and boasts natural rigidity, the maker says. In addition, clear Western red cedar surface material is highly stable and resists decay, and stainless steel screws prevent rust and stains. 800-241-0525.

Photo: Courtesy Gadco

Gadco. Part of the Early American collection of carriage-style garage doors, the Presidential series includes eight wood designs inspired by American presidents. The Madison, for example, features bold horizontal lines reminiscent of the president's Georgian-style Montpelier estate, while the "X" beams on the Washington and Jackson designs represent these two leaders' military backgrounds. The doors, which measure 211/16 inches thick, include 1/2-inch cedar or hemlock paneling. 800-879-4232. Published in BUILDING PRODUCTS Magazine, January/February 2003

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