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Steel vs Aluminum Garage Doors

Garage Doors usually come in five different materials. Steel is the most popular followed by Aluminum. Wood, Fiberglass and Vinyl make up the balance three. If you plan to buy a new garage door, chances are you have to grapple with the debate on Steel Vs Aluminum Garage Doors. 

Which is better and why?

Aluminum Garage Doors are very well suited, even preferable, for mild climates and modern homes. However, their performance comes up short  in more demanding climates. Aesthetically, they are a misfit in traditional homes.

Steel Garage Doors on the other hand are versatile. They can handle all types of climatic conditions and can be designed to be in harmony with any architectural style.

When it comes to Steel vs Aluminum Garage Doors, there are 7 reasons why Steel Garage Doors are Better.

In this post I am going to compare Steel vs Aluminum Garage Doors, discuss the pros & cons of each material and explain why Steel Garage Doors are Better.

Steel vs Aluminum Garage Doors

Steel vs Aluminum Garage Doors (Strength)

Both steel and aluminum are metals and both are widely used in construction as well as products such as automobiles and appliances. One of the reasons for such wide usage is that both are strong materials.

While aluminum is a metallic element, just like copper or gold, steel is not an element. Steel is an alloy like brass or bronze. An alloy is made by mixing two or more metallic elements.

Steel Composition

Steel is primarily iron, which is an element, but it is mixed with other elements like carbon, manganese, nickel, etc. 

Steel can be designed to have different physical properties depending on which and how much of each of the other elements are added to iron.

Generally speaking the steel used in making garage doors is stronger than aluminum. Steel is strong and less likely to warp, deform or bend underweight, force or heat.

Strength to Weight Ratio

Sometimes it is claimed that aluminum is stronger than steel. It is not true.

Actually aluminum is not stronger than steel. But because it is one third the weight, its strength to weight ratio is higher than that of steel.

This is the reason aircrafts are made from aluminum, not steel.

The specific strength (aka strength to weight or strength to mass ratio) is a material’s strength (force per unit area at failure) divided by its density. The unit of measurement is kilonewton meters per kilogram (kN m/kg).

The comparison:

MaterialSpecific Strength
(kN m/kg)
Low Carbon Steel (AISI 1010)46.4
Stainless Steel (304)63.1
Aluminum Alloy (6061-T6)115
Aluminum Alloy (7075-T6)204
Source: Wikipedia

When it comes to garage doors, weight is not the issue, so use of steel is better as it results in stronger garage doors.

Steel vs Aluminum Garage Doors (Durability)

Aluminum has one great advantage over steel. Aluminum does not rust but unprotected steel does. Well to be fair, aluminum does oxidize, even more so in coastal climates. But this is not as severe as rusting of steel.

But in both cases we are talking of bare unprotected metal. 

In real life, this is almost never the case. Aluminum is anodized and steel is either galvanized or coated.

Anodizing is an electrochemical process that converts the aluminum surface into a decorative, durable, corrosion-resistant, anodic oxide finish.

Galvanizing is a process by which steel is coated with a thin layer of zinc. The zinc coating protects the steel beneath it from rust and makes it corrosion resistant.

Coating steel with paint is another way of giving steel a decorative finish and making it corrosion resistant.

Ductility & Malleability

Aluminum is highly ductile & malleable making it highly suitable for extrusions. But it also means that aluminum sheets and structures are more prone to dents, scratches and deformations.

The hardness & toughness of steel depends on the percentage of carbon in it. Mild Steel is a low carbon steel and is also ductile & malleable, though to a lesser degree than aluminum.

Mild Steel can be made hard & tough to the required level by controlling the percentage of carbon in it. Such Steel is less likely to warp or bend from weight, force, or heat. 

These resistant properties make steel one of the most durable industrial materials.

Steel vs Aluminum Garage Doors (Climate Adaptability)

In mild temperate climates Aluminum Garage Doors perform pretty well. So do Steel Garage Doors. But the difference begins to show in climatic zones, where the weather is not always pleasant.

High Velocity Wind Zones

If you live in a high velocity wind or hurricane prone zone, then your garage door must comply with the regulations and standards concerning hurricane resistance. 

During high velocity winds & hurricanes the load on the garage door can be very high and the door could get blown away. The damage does not stop there. The wind then has access to the roof structure and can blow away the house roof as well.

High velocity winds also bring flying debris at high speeds. They can cause serious damage when they collide with the garage door. So the impact resistance of the garage door is critical.

Following states are prone to high winds and may require wind rated garage doors. 

  • Florida
  • California
  • Kansas
  • Missouri
  • Nevada
  • Utah

Please check the building code in your area before you buy a new garage door.

High-Velocity Hurricane Zone (HVHZ) (Miami – Dade and Broward Counties) have the most stringent Building Codes in this respect.

Tornado Alley

In addition to the high winds from hurricanes many states of the US are also at very high risk of property damage due to frequent tornadoes.

Tornado Alley is commonly used for the corridor-shaped region in the United States Midwest that sees the most tornado activity. While it is not an official designation, states most commonly included are Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa, and South Dakota. While not geographically part of tornado alley, Florida sees more tornadoes than any other state,

Source: World Population Review

You should be buying Wind Rated & Impact Resistant Garage Doors constructed out of steel, if you live in the Tornado Alley.


Hailstorms can damage garage doors. When hail hits the garage door it mostly leaves little or large dents in the garage door. 

The dents normally do not affect the function of the garage door as long as it’s on the panel itself. But the garage door may look pretty battered after a few hailstorms.

More often than not Aluminum Garage Doors are really Aluminum and Glass Garage Doors. Now unless the door used tempered glass, you may end up with a few shattered glass panels too!

Steel Garage Doors will be able to withstand the fury of a hailstorm a lot better.

Wind Rated Garage Door Design

Wind rated garage doors are designed and built with adequate support structures to resist both positive and negative pressures created by high velocity winds and hurricanes. These include:

  • Horizontal steel reinforcement struts for increased support to withstand increased wind pressures and building code requirements. 
  • Upgraded springs, track, rollers and other hardware components to ensure maximum, long-lasting performance.

Wind-resistant garage doors are usually constructed with at least one layer of steel.

Amarr Hurricane Rated Garage Doors

Consider for example the Hurricane Rated Garage Doors Brochure from Amarr. Of the 11 models listed 9 are made of steel. There is 1 model made from wood and another model made from aluminum.

Amarr-Select Your Wind Load Door Abridged

Steel Garage Doors complement every Architectural Style

Aluminum and Glass Garage Doors are just right for a modern or contemporary home. The clean lines, the light airy feel complements the minimalist look and the straight edges of such homes.

Vista from Amarr showcases this wonderfully in the pic below.

Aluminum and Glass Door for a Modern Home by Amarr

However, this look would be a total misfit when it comes to a traditional style home. This is where steel garage doors have a great advantage over aluminum garage doors.

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

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 Court from Amarr complements this beautiful traditional home in the pic below.

Carriage House Style Steel Door from Amarr

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. 

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.

Olympus from Amarr is a perfect example of a Traditional Raised Panel Garage Door

Contemporary Garage Doors

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

Steel vs Aluminum Garage Doors (Insulation)

Both Steel and Aluminum, being metals, are very good conductors of heat. If no insulation was added to Steel or Aluminum Garage Doors, then your garage would be uncomfortably cold in freezing winters. 

You would be spending a huge amount in energy bills to keep your garage warm. While both steel and aluminum garage doors can be insulated, it is a lot easier to insulate steel garage doors.

Insulation Layers

Typically 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)

Amarr makes its steel garage doors as one layer, two layer and three layer options. The triple layer option, for example, can offer a range of R-values to choose from

Insulated Three Layer Steel garage door with an R-value of say 19.40 would be a definite asset in the freezing winters of northern US.

However the Aluminum and Glass Garage Door from Amarr does not even have an insulated option.

So when it comes to Steel vs Aluminum Garage Doors, a steel garage door is certainly a lot better if you are looking at insulation options.

An additional benefit of insulation is that it makes your garage door sturdier and soundproof too! 

Steel vs Aluminum Garage Doors (Price)

When it comes to Steel vs Aluminum Garage Doors, steel garage doors are likely to be cheaper than aluminum 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

At the lower end you can get a no-frills steel garage door at a price much lower than an ordinary aluminum garage door.

Aluminum garage doors are rarely just plain aluminum. (And if they are the quality is pretty low!). Generally aluminum garage doors are an aluminum & glass combination. Aluminum forms the frame and the panels are made of glass.

Glass pushes up the price of the aluminum garage door, especially if it is speciality glass like tempered glass, laminated glass or insulated glass. A really high end aluminum amd glass door could easily cost you 5,000 – 7,000 $.

On the other hand even a fairly high end steel garage door is more likely to be in the 3,000 – 4,000 $ range.

Bottom Line 

When it comes to Steel vs Aluminum Garage Doors, Aluminum Garage Doors are great for modern style homes in mild climates. But for most other situations a Steel Garage Door is certainly better.

Steel Garage Doors Are Better Than Aluminum as they are:

  • Stronger
  • More Durable
  • Can handle All Climatic Conditions
  • Complements every Architectural Style
  • Has Insulation Options
  • Is Lower in Price

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

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