Steel Vs Vinyl Garage Doors: 5 Reasons Why Steel Is Better!

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When it comes to Steel vs Vinyl Garage Doors, there are those who believe that Vinyl Garage Doors are better. But then there are many others who believe that Steel Garage Doors are better. 

Steel Garage Doors are certainly the most popular garage doors in the US. In my opinion there are 5 Reasons Why Steel Garage Doors Are Better Than Vinyl. They are:

  1. Strength: Are Stronger, more Durable & more Secure
  2. Color Choice: Offer a very wide Color choice & can be easily Repainted
  3. Style: Come in Styles to suit every Home Design
  4. Insulation: Are available in a Range of Insulation Options
  5. Cheaper: Are Cheaper on comparable Features

What are the Most Common Materials for Garage Doors?

Steel is the most popular material for making garage doors followed by Aluminum. Vinyl, Wood, Fiberglass and Engineered Wood make up the balance.

If you are planning to buy and install a new garage door then you do need to make a decision on the material of the garage door. Each material has it’s pros & cons. Moreover, the architectural style of your house, the neighborhood, the climate can play an important role in your decision.

A quick look at the common garage door materials:

Steel Garage Doors

Steel Garage Doors are the most popular in the US. Steel is strong & durable. It can be formed & coated to a range of profiles & colors. As a result steel garage doors can meet the requirements of homeowners across all states of the US. Steel garage doors can complement homes of every architectural style, from traditional to modern.

However steel does have a few drawbacks. Steel garage doors can corrode easily, especially in the presence of salt.

Aluminum Garage Doors

Aluminum Garage Doors can be made from aluminum panels just like steel garage doors. However, when we think of aluminum garage doors, we usually think of aluminum & glass garage doors. In such doors, aluminum is used to make the frame in which glass panels are fitted.

Aluminum & Glass doors are an excellent aesthetic match for homes designed and built in the modern or contemporary architectural style. Both have clean lines with an emphasis on light, airy minimalism.

Wood Garage Doors

Real solid wood garage doors are a classic and a perfect match to traditional homes. Wood garage doors would have been a lot more popular if it was not for the high initial cost.

Wood garage doors require constant care and maintenance as they are easily attacked by the elements and pests.

Vinyl Garage Doors

Vinyl garage doors may not be great on aesthetics or class but they certainly are functional and great value for money.

Vinyl is resistant to corrosion, water, pests, chemicals, etc. making it quite attractive as a material for making garage doors. Vinyl garage doors can be a preferred choice in tropical & coastal climates, especially where functional requirements are more important than looks.

Fiberglass and Engineered Wood garage doors form a very small percentage of the garage doors sold in the US market.

In this post I am going to compare steel vs vinyl garage doors. I will explain the pros & cons of both door materials, so that you can make an informed decision and choose the material that best meets your needs.

Which Garage Doors are the Strongest?

Steel is one of the strongest building materials. Steel excels in the properties of toughness, durability, and ductility.

Vinyl, on the other hand, is flexible and has good impact resistance. When hit, vinyl garage doors will not dent like steel garage doors will.

Steel vs Vinyl Garage Doors (What is Stronger?)

In engineering terms, strength is the ability of a material to withstand different types of loads.

One way strength of a building material is measured, is by its “yield strength”. Yield strength is the stress that a material will take before it “fails” or “yields” or simply put, breaks into two pieces.

This strength is also called toughness. 

Steel is used so much in the construction industry, because it has a high “yield strength”. Steel frames are incredibly strong and resilient. They hold up skyscrapers and bridges. Steel excels in the properties of toughness, durability, and ductility.

Let us say that you were to compare two equally thick sheets of steel and vinyl. Place them on a frame and hit them with a sledge hammer. 

Hit them hard, but not too hard. The steel sheet will likely dent but the vinyl sheet will bounce back and not show any signs of damage. This is what is often used to claim that vinyl is stronger or more durable.

Now go and hit them real hard. The steel sheet may dent some more, but the vinyl sheet will crack and shatter.

Steel has a much higher tensile strength or yield strength. Steel has a much higher resistance to failure.

Spoiler Alert: Vinyl Garage Doors are not all Vinyl. They are Vinyl reinforced with Steel. Why? Because Steel is stronger than Vinyl.

What are Standard Garage Door Colors?

The choice of color, whether it is a dress or a garage door is a personal one. Having said that, some colors are immensely more popular than others. As a result garage door companies always have a standard range of colors. Garage doors in standard colors are generally available off the shelf.

White garage doors are easily the most popular as white is a classic, neutral color. Whatever the color of your house a white garage door will always complement it.

Other standard garage door colors are from the “brown” family. Colors such as almond, sandstone, tan, chocolate are hugely popular.

Do Steel Garage Doors offer more Color Choice than Vinyl?

Steel Garage Doors are always painted. Reputed Garage Door manufacturers go through an elaborate painting process to ensure that the steel is both well protected and looks great. 

Because steel garage doors are painted, many manufacturers can offer you almost any color you desire. Of course, if it is not from their standard color range then you will need to wait.

Vinyl garage doors are not painted. The color is an intrinsic part of the garage door. This limits the color range to mostly white and a few of the other standard colors.

Steel Garage Doors offer you a limitless choice of colors, including wood tones. The color choice with Vinyl Garage Doors is extremely limited.

Garage Door manufacturers will typically offer their steel garage doors in 8 to 10 standard colors and 6 to 8 wood tones. For example:

C.H.I. OVERHEAD DOORS

CHI, a well known Steel Garage Door manufacturer offers 9 color options and 7 wood tone options on its “Planks” range of Steel Garage Doors

AMARR

One of the leading Garage Door Manufacturers, Amarr, uses a four step painting process to extend the durability and life of their steel garage doors. To begin with they use only high quality, American made steel. 

  • The steel is cleaned and galvanized with zinc that ensures the steel will not rust. 
  • This is followed by paint pre-treatment.
  • After this a primer coat is applied. 
  • Finally it gets a coat of highly durable and weather resistant exterior paint.

So the steel used to manufacture their steel garage doors has 4 layers of protection.

Amarr Color Zone will, in a multi-step process, apply your chosen color as a top coat to Amarr pre-painted, galvanized steel sections, giving your door one more layer of protection from the elements. 

You have a choice of more than 700 approved Sherwin-Williams SnapDry™ paint colors.

OVERHEAD DOOR

Overhead Door has one collection of Vinyl garage doors called Durafirm Collection. The Durafirm Collection® garage doors are available in just four standard colors.

white color swatchalmond color swatchdesert tan color swatchsandstone color swatch
Glacier WhiteCape Cod GreyMonterey SandAdobe Cream

So if you are color savvy, Vinyl Garage Doors will not be able to satisfy you.

Can you Repaint a Vinyl Garage Door?

Steel garage doors can be repainted quite easily. So if you are repainting your home, just go ahead and repaint your steel garage door too! 

Vinyl Garage Doors can also be overcoated with a Latex Paint. However, this is not as easy as it sounds.

Unless the surface has been correctly prepared, you will find that the paint is not sticking strongly to the Vinyl surface. The paint may start peeling within a short time.

Which Garage Doors Look the Best?

To enhance curb appeal and present a harmonious look it is very important that the garage door style is well matched to the architectural style of your house.

Looks, Style, Design, whatever you call it, just like color is a personal choice. My personal recommendation is as under:

Home / Garage DoorCarriage HouseTraditional Raised PanelModern
ColonialGood OptionBest FitNot Recommended
Modern FarmhouseBest FitGood OptionCan Work
MediterraneanGood OptionBest FitNot Recommended
CraftsmanGood OptionBest FitCan Work
TudorBest FitCan WorkNot Recommended
RanchBest FitGood OptionCan Work
ContemporaryNot RecommendedNot RecommendedBest Fit

Steel Garage Doors come in All Styles

Steel is such a versatile material that it can be used to make garage doors in all the traditional styles. Steel garage doors, therefore, can complement most popular home styles in the USA.

Carriage House Style Garage Doors are very popular. They are a perfect fit in Craftsman, Farmhouse, Colonial and Victorian style homes. 

They attempt to recreate the bygone era when the wealthy used horse drawn carriages. 

Traditionally Carriage House Doors were made from wood planks and had solid and large iron hinges and handles. They also had a row of intricately designed windows or openings along the top.

In modern times good wood is scarce and expensive. Wood also requires a very high degree of care. Steel, however, can replicate the looks at a lower cost. 

Carriage House Style Garage Doors

Each stamp starts with an embossed frame followed by a recessed beveled edge that adds slight definition to a soon to be classic garage door design.

Windows can be incorporated in the top panel.The door can be painted or powder coated in classic solid colors or wood tones and accents. Decorative hardware such as handles, hinges etc are either permanently added or provided as magnetic add-ons.

Traditional Raised Panel Garage Doors

The traditional style sectional garage door can use steel as the base material in the same way. The difference is primarily in the looks.

Steel is versatile so the garage door can have stampings of raised or recessed panels. 

Modern Garage Doors

Steel works equally well with stark, sleek looking garage doors for contemporary style homes with minimalist design philosophy.

Vinyl Garage Doors have a somewhat cheap and industrial look. They are functional but will not add curb appeal.

Insulated Steel vs Vinyl Garage Doors

Steel garage doors come in

  • One Layer – No Insulation (just one layer of steel)
  • Two Layer – With Insulation (Steel on exterior + Polystyrene Insulation + Vinyl on interior)
  • Three Layer – With Insulation (Steel on exterior + Polystyrene or Polyurethane Insulation + Steel on interior)

You have a range of R-value to choose from. Insulated Three Layer Steel garage door with an R-value of say 16.55 would be a definite asset in the desert heat of Arizona or the frosty chill of Minnesota.

The advantage of buying a steel garage door is that it is readily available in “insulated” versions. But even if it was not, you can easily insulate it.

Vinyl garage doors also come in “insulated” versions, but choice is limited.

Several manufacturers do not even make insulated Vinyl Garage Doors. The ones that do make just one or two models.

Amarr does not make Vinyl garage doors. CHI does not make Vinyl garage doors. They do have an insulated Fiberglass garage door with a Fiberglass on the exterior + Polyurethane Insulation + Steel on the interior.

Overhead Door has only one collection of Vinyl garage doors called Durafirm Collection. In contrast they have 11 other collections; 6 in steel, 2 in aluminum, 2 in wood and 1 in fiberglass. They have another 3 collections in the Wind Load class, all in steel.

How much does it Cost to Install a 2-car Garage Door?

Contrary to common sense thinking, steel garage doors can actually be cheaper than vinyl garage doors. They are certainly cheaper than aluminum and wood garage doors.

According to the blog post by nerdwallet, the cost of a two car garage door is:

Garage Door MaterialPrice Range
Steel$750 – $3,500
Vinyl$900 – $1,500
Aluminum$1,500 – $2,000
Wood$1,200 – $4,000

Bottom Line 

When it comes to Steel vs Vinyl Garage Doors, I am not saying that Vinyl Garage Doors are no good. They may be considered as an option.

Vinyl does have a few features that are superior to steel and other garage door materials. So Vinyl may actually work for you in some situations.

Do you have kids who love to play ball in front of the garage door and it is constantly under attack?

Vinyl Garage Doors will not dent and scratches do not show up that easily. So in this case a Vinyl Garage Door would be a good choice for you.

Have you decided that you want your door color to be white, now and forever. A Vinyl Garage Door is just fine for you. 

Do you live in a temperate climatic zone and a pretty safe neighborhood. Insulation of a garage door may not be required and the need for security is not that high. A Vinyl Garage Door is a good fit for you.

Do you live near the sea and the air is always a bit salty and corrosive. Maybe you are better off with a Vinyl Garage Door that will not rust at all.

However, all factors considered,  I recommend choosing Steel over Vinyl for your Garage Door material.

The top 5 Reasons Why Steel Garage Doors Are Better Than Vinyl are:

  • Strength & Security
  • Wider Color Choice
  • Suits every Home Style
  • More Insulation Options
  • Lower in Price

Thank you very much for reading the post. I do hope you found it informative and useful.

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