Insulated garage doors - vinyl garage doors versus steel garage doors

There comes a point in time when you’re faced with the choice of choosing a garage door material. It may not seem like an important decision at the time of reading this article, but when it accounts for 30% of your front curb appeal and acts as the gatekeeper into your home, you soon realise there’s more to it than simply going for the cheapest option.

There’s a lot to take into consideration, like how well does it fare against extreme weather conditions, how easy it is to maintain, durability and of course appearance. It’s in your best interest to choose a material that will not only withstand the test of time but can also add overall value to your home. 

In this article we take a deep dive into the characteristics of vinyl garage doors and how it compares to traditional steel and aluminium garage doors.

Characteristics of Vinyl Garage Doors

Cost

The cost of a garage door can often drive the decision for most homeowners on which type of material to choose. If you’re thinking about going with vinyl, here’s what you need to know. 

Vinyl garage doors are substantially more expensive than the likes of steel or aluminium in terms of upfront costs. 

That said, most vinyl doors generally come with a lifetime warranty, compared to the 10 to 20 years offered with steel doors, and is often the more cost-effective choice of the 2. Or is it ?

Durability & Maintenance

One of the main benefits of vinyl garage doors is for the fact that they are highly resistant to dents. Unlike steel, which tends to be dented quite easily by a stray ball or another object. Even the smallest of dents or damage can not only detract from the overall appearance of the door, it can also create an entry point for rust or corrosion. 

Find out how to remove dents from your garage door.

Although vinyl is far superior when it comes to durability and withstanding dents, it does not do well in harsh environments, especially in Australia where we experience hot and unforgiving summers and blistering cold winters. 

Flaking can begin to occur and any sudden impact during colder temperatures may cause the vinyl to crack.

Colour and Damage

When it comes to choosing a garage door material that is ‘kid-proof’ vinyl takes home the gold. Highly resistant to dents, if a vinyl door is scratched or scuffed, the damage is a lot less noticeable as the colour will not change. Compared to steel, which is generally painted or powder coated, is a lot more susceptible to scrapes or scratches, with visible signs of paint being removed. 

However, steel doors can simply be repainted or refinished to fix its appearance. The same cannot be done for a vinyl door. Vinyl doors are also subjected to fading and peeling in more extreme weather conditions and may eventually need to be re-wrapped with new vinyl.

Appearance

In terms of aesthetics, vinyl and steel garage doors are quite similar. They both provide a clean, sleek and modern look and come with plenty of customisable options. This can include different panel designs, ventilation slats and window options. However, when it comes to colours, there tends to be fewer options available and typically consists of various shades of white or beige.

If you’re keen on that classic wood look, then vinyl may not be the best option. Although wood grain is available, the results are usually underwhelming, especially when compared to the realistic appearances of faux-wood on steel doors.

Insulation

Where vinyl may fall short is in the insulation department. Quite often vinyl doors do not come with insulation and since it’s not really an insulating type of material it can be hard to maintain comfortable temperatures in your garage. 

This can also lead to heat loss through your garage, resulting in higher energy bills. That said, insulating panels can be installed with a vinyl door, making it a consistent rival against steel or aluminium.

For a side-by-side comparison of each garage door material, head over to Understanding Garage Door Materials: A Brief Guide, where we discuss the pros and cons of steel, wood-look, fibreglass, vinyl, aluminium and wood garage doors.