One consequence of the traditional neighborhood design movement is that the front-loaded garage has become a pariah. The garage, critics charge, is an overpowering element on the elevation and an eyesore to passers-by--hence, a preference for the alley-loaded garage.

No doubt the backlash against the front-loaded garage has something to do with the standard garage door's no-frills facade. Sensing this dearth in design, more manufacturers are eyeing a new crop of products that can take center stage on even the most elegant front elevation.

Different manufacturers are taking different approaches. Dixon, Ill.-based Raynor, for example, has introduced a new line of custom wood doors with Douglas fir frames and Western red cedar surface material. The line includes four brands with 18 standard sizes.

Dallas-based Overhead Door has taken another. Detecting a growing consumer preference for custom carriage-house wood garage doors, the company introduced a line of doors that combines the affordability and durability of steel with the style of a custom wood unit.

"People are looking for a more unique look, but they are also looking for value," says Beth Tillotson, Overhead Door's marketing communications manager. "Steel addresses the lower price point and offers more options." The Renaissance doors are available in 14 designs, and the steel sections have a wood grain finish.

Corona, Calif.-based Summit Door has taken a similar approach. This year the manufacturer introduced the Centurion Collection, a line created to fulfill the needs of builders and architects who want a low-maintenance custom garage door that can withstand all weather conditions. Made with a roll-formed, galvanized steel frame, each door is covered with an expanded polyvinyl chloride product that offers custom facing options. The result is a door with an Old World look and modern conveniences, the manufacturer says.

Whichever route you take, the bottom line is that the garage door category is looking good. The new designs could possibly make even the neo-traditionalists feel good about the front-loaded garage again.

Courtesy Summit Door

Weather beater: The Centurion line of custom doors can be used in all climates because the non-wood construction eliminates the routine upkeep. Every door has a 2-inch galvanized steel frame with stile/rail joints and is faced with an expanded polyvinyl chloride product. The custom frame allows for 1-inch incremental sizes in width or height, the manufacturer says. Summit Door. 909-272-6633.

Courtesy Raynor

River crossing: Inspired by custom carriage-house doors, the American Rivers Collection includes four brands with 18 standard sizes, eight decorative design options, and eight window designs. The Vermilion model simulates a one-piece, swing-up door, Columbia is a swing-out unit, Potomac has a three-segment look, and Savannah imitates a bi-fold unit. All doors feature Douglas fir frames and Western red cedar surface material. Raynor. 815-288-1431.

Courtesy Wayne-Dalton

New wood: In an effort "to break out of garage door boredom," the manufacturer has expanded its line of 7100 series Carriage House Doors. The expanded line features designs that are priced more affordably. All doors feature a kiln-dried Hemlock stile-and-rail frame with mortise and tenon construction. A variety of Hemlock trim patterns and raised panels is available as well as true divided window patterns in square or arched designs. Wayne-Dalton. 800-827-3667.

Courtesy Overhead Door

Renaissance festival: Offering the durability of steel and the classic carriage-house designs of wood, the Renaissance Collection provides homeowners with a broader choice at a lower price point, the manufacturer says. The doors are made from a Thermacore metal-foam-metal process that yields a durable door section and an R-value of 12.76. Available in 14 designs, the doors offer a wood grain finish on the steel and come with a heavy-duty commercial track system. Overhead Door. 800-929-3667.

For more product information, visit ebuild, Hanley-Wood's interactive product catalog.