Why do we have to constantly fight this nickel and dime battle with the builder?" asks David Osso, garage door marketing manager for Mt. Hope, Ohio based Wayne-Dalton. After some consideration, Osso says price is the major factor that forces many builders to settle for low-end garage doors. Susan McCormack, marketing specialist for Cincinnati-based Clopay, agrees. "For builders, it's a price point. They just want to get the cheapest door possible."
Now garage door manufacturers are building their brands and producing wares with more marketable features. Innovations in safety, appearance, and insulation offer builders a chance to push a product they traditionally never upgrade. These innovations allow builders to offer higher quality, better-looking garage doors that improve the cosmetics of the home. Offering these products not only makes the builder stand out, it increases builder profits and satisfies buyers.
"Garage door safety has been a big issue," says Mike Martin, advertising director for Salt Lake Citybased Martin Door Manufacturing. The Door and Access Systems Manufacturing Association (DASMA) recently passed DASMA-116--a standard that requires all new garage doors to include lift handles on both the interior and exterior of the garage door. The handles offer a safe place to grip the door for opening and closing.
As part of DASMA-116, even doors with openers must have handles in case the power goes out and the openers won't work. "Hands can get smashed in door joints; [this] usually happens during a power outage," says Martin.
To further help protect hands and fingers, many manufacturers have designed joints that make it virtually impossible for children and adults to catch their fingers. "We've shielded all of the joints in all of our models," says Martin, describing the company's pinch-resistant Finger Shield garage door system. Wayne-Dalton and Winston-Salem, N.C.based Amarr also have pinch-resistant joints. Amarr introduced its pinch-resistant design about one and a half years ago. "It installs a bit different than the old style hinge; however, it's been well received," notes Greg Gilmere, executive vice president of Amarr.
Safety is important, but many buyers are concerned with aesthetics. "Considering the visual and wall space that garage doors command, looks are critical," says Osso.
Although steel doors are less expensive, they can look cheap. Wood may be an appropriate alternative. "Wood doors have been in decline for many years, but there has been a recent upsurge in high-end, carriage house specialty wood doors," notes Osso. Carriage house doors are particularly hot with custom builders. According to Gilmere, the carriage house design has gained popularity in recent years because it is more readily available. Several years ago, only a handful of companies produced carriage house doors; now dozens of manufacturers offer them.
If the carriage house design isn't right for that high-end project, try a copper garage door. Martin Doors' copper-coated door is equipped with its Finger Shield design, making it pretty and safe. Although copper garage doors don't rust, which makes them easy to maintain, they are priced three to four times more than regular steel models, says Martin.
For builders and buyers who don't want to spend big bucks for wood or copper, there is always an insulated steel garage door. In addition to its basic thermal and energy-efficiency benefits, the insulation helps keep the door quiet as it opens and closes. "You want to have a quiet door," says McCormack, who notes that the more insulation in the door, the quieter the door is. Because the noise factor is a tangible difference that many buyers will notice, insulated doors can be an easy upsale for builders who place rooms near or above their garages.
Options and upgrades
"Options are tough on builders," says Gilmere, who sympathizes with the difficulties of keeping track of who wants what, when, and where. Most often, buyers are more concerned with upgrading their kitchens and baths than they are their garage doors. "They just don't think about it," says Gilmere, who notes that garage door openers are often the only garage upgrade builders offer. Of all the possible options and upgrades in a new home, the garage door may be one of the easiest to sell because safety, aesthetics, and noise are common concerns among consumers.