September 9, 2016

What Should My Garage Door’s R-Value Be?


How nice would it be to cut down on your wintertime heating costs, as well as your household’s impact on the environment? It’s something that we all desire, but it can be hard to achieve. One way to help make a greener world while also staying more comfortable in your own home during the colder months of the year is to understand the R‑value of your garage door. Garage door manufacturers use R‑value as an indicator or reference to how well their products insulate, but what does it really mean? And how will that number affect your garage door purchase?

What’s It Really Mean?

The first step is to understand what the R‑value of a garage door actually means. Really, it’s nothing more than a measure of the door’s thermal resistance, or ability to prevent heat loss. Simply put, this is a number that reflects the door’s ability to withstand the transfer of heat through the door. The higher the number, the better the door will insulate your garage. In short, the higher the number, the more heat or cool the door will keep in (or out).

What Should I Know about Garage Door Insulation?

You’ll find that there are two types of insulation on the market. These are polyurethane and polystyrene. Of these two, polyurethane is the better option, and that’s due to a couple of different reasons. Not only does it offer a higher R-value, but you’ll find that it actually adheres to the inside walls of the door itself. Of course, you’ll also discover that polyurethane has a higher bend strength, and it is far more durable and long lasting than polystyrene.

Polyurethane insulation is so high‑performing that it is used in a number of different applications beyond garage doors. For instance, you’ll find it in your car bumpers, as well as in other entry doors to your home (for non‑solid core doors).

With that being said, polystyrene is also used in many different areas of our lives. When was the last time you used a disposable coffee cup? What about that package you ordered online? Chances are good it came with polystyrene insulation to protect the item you purchased from damage. In garage door design, you’ll find it either sandwiched between two layers of steel, or attached to the back of the door and protected by a single layer of steel.

Is Insulation the Only Important Thing to Consider?

No, insulation is not the only thing you’ll need to consider when making a garage door purchase. There are other factors that include a robust weatherproofing system. Thermal bridges are also important to consider. For instance, if the outside metal wall of the door contacts with the inside metal wall at any point, that will create heat (or cooling) loss. Weather stripping between sections is also important, as is the piece at the very bottom of the door. These should stay flexible even during the most severe cold weather.

What R‑Value Should I Look For?

When buying a garage door, it’s important to consider a few different aspects before worrying about R‑value. For instance, if your garage is not attached to the home, and is insulated, you’ll want to look for a door with a rating higher than R‑10. That’s particularly true if you have a heating system in the garage. If it’s not insulated, then an R‑6 value will do.

If your garage is not detached, then the garage is probably insulated, and you’ll want a garage door with an R‑12 value. However, you also need to analyze the door’s cold resistance before making a purchase decision.

Do I Need to Heat My Garage with an R‑16 Value?

This is really going to depend on how you use the garage, as well as where you live. If you regularly experience temperatures below freezing, you’ll want at least a little heating in the garage. If you use the garage as a playroom, or as a workroom, you’ll definitely want to invest in some sort of heating system to keep the temperature stable during the winter.

With that being said, your garage is actually heated by your car’s engine. It will keep the interior of your garage above freezing for quite some time after being driven and parked inside. You also add heat to the garage every time you open an interior access door from the main house to the garage.

As a final tip, understand that a garage door that has an R‑16 value will actually help keep your home protected from heat and humidity during the summer months. That helps you cut down on your cooling costs.

Whether you’re buying a new garage door or a door opener, or just need maintenance, you can set up a service call online or contact us at 515-276-3700.

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