September 9, 2016

How to Determine What R-Value Your Garage Door Needs


Now more than ever before, home improvements and the decisions on related products are heavily influenced by energy efficiency, as well as environmental, concerns. Garage doors are a perfect example – there are efficient doors, and not so efficient. This aspect of garage doors is determined by a measurement called R-value. So what is it, and how can you decide which value you need?

What Is R‑Value?

R‑value is a standard measurement representing thermal resistance in materials used for construction purposes. What it tells you is the material’s thermal conductivity – in other words, how much cold or heat can pass through it. The higher the R‑value rating, the more insulating the material is, and the less impact extreme temperatures will have on the area it encompasses.

What are the different types of insulation materials?

There are two main types of insulating material used in construction – polystyrene and polyurethane. Polyurethane offers a higher R-value, providing more thermal resistance, and thus better insulating properties. In addition, polyurethane offers better sturdiness, and adheres to the garage door, which enhances its thermal resistance. You’ll also find polyurethane in products like car bumpers and outside doors on homes.

In terms of garage door applications, polystyrene is typically sandwiched between two layers of steel. It may also be found as the inside layer of a two-layer door. Other common products are made of polystyrene as well, such as disposable beverage cups and packaging materials.

What else should I consider besides insulation?

Insulation is just one factor to take into consideration in your garage door choice. Regardless of insulating qualities, you still need effective weatherproofing. You should watch for high quality weather stripping, not only at the bottom and between the door’s sections, but particularly around the outside perimeter of the frame. This stripping should remain flexible even in cold weather. You should also make sure that there is good thermal bridging – in other words, the contact between the exterior and internal walls of the door.

What R-value does my garage door need?

This decision will depend upon certain factors.

  • For a detached, insulated garage – you’ll want a door with a minimum rating of R‑10, particularly if the space is heated.
  • For a detached, uninsulated garage – in this case, an uninsulated door or an R‑6 rating should work.
  • For an attached garage – since these spaces are typically well insulated you’ll want to make sure you’ve got at least an R‑value of R‑12, as well as ensure that the door itself has good resistance to cold temperatures.

Do I need heating if my garage door has a value of R‑16?

Various factors contribute to the answer to this question. If you live in a particularly cold area, you’ll want to maintain some level of heat inside the space. For uses such as a hobby room or kids’ playroom, you’ll need to keep the area warm enough for everyday comfort.

Keep in mind that the simple act of driving into your garage allows the temperature inside to remain above freezing (32 degrees F, 0 degrees C). Heat also travels into the garage whenever the home’s access door is opened.

R-value doesn’t just protect you from the cold – it also keeps your garage insulated if you live in a location with high temperatures and/or humidity, or during the summertime in temperate climates.

Whether you’re in the market for a new garage door, a door opener, or you just need routine garage door maintenance taken care of, set up a service call online or contact us at 1-866-573-3667. Our friendly staff will help you figure out what’s best for your situation, as well as answer any questions you may have.

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