A door can cost from around $900 to more than $10,000.
KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS
SANTA ANA, Calif. -- Nearly 100 years ago the garage was "invented" by turning carriage houses into places for cars instead of horses and buggies. Now technology and science have advanced the style of garage doors to their trendiest pinnacle to look like ... carriage houses.
Yes, garage-door design has come full circle.
Of course the carriage-house look is only one of several popular styles these days. Designs can be found ranging from the traditional to the contemporary, made from wood, aluminum, glass, steel, even vinyl.
Much of the evolution beyond a plain, solid-color door has occurred in the past five years. One reason is that garage doors take up a major share of a home's front.
"Nothing adds to the curb appeal of a nice home like a good-looking garage door out front," said Ed Bagwell, sales manager for George Doors in Anaheim, Calif.
George Doors are custom-made and aren't cheap, averaging about $10,000 each. What do you get at the pinnacle of the price range? Beautiful designs in all kinds of wood -- even the very best Honduran mahogany.
But style comes in less-expensive models as well and with a wide range of materials, including steel, vinyl, aluminum and even see-through glass.
Which type of material is best? All have advantages and disadvantages.
Wood is more easily designed in custom styles, though maintenance is the highest among the materials.
Steel offers strength but limited choice of design and customization. The colors are increasingly varied as are their designs, but they still lag far behind wood doors in both respects. Also, the owners of such doors would be better off not trying to repaint them. Not having to paint them again -- or, at the least, for a very long time -- is one of the advantages of such doors.
Vinyl doors may be the easiest to maintain, but they are relatively new to the market and come in few designs. Their limited number of colors so far is a disadvantage. Like steel, these doors usually have the advantage that they will never need to be repainted. These are the only doors that are fairly resistant to minor denting, although some types of steel doors boast the same advantage.
Glass doors offer clean, contemporary looks but can be more insecure and offer less privacy.
The many choices come as sectional, roll-up doors as well as the one-piece, lift-up style.
What will you pay?
You can find doors with attractive designs that range from $900 per door to more than $10,000. Steel doors and wood doors can be among the cheapest, but wood doors can also be the most expensive. Most mass-produced steel garage doors are fairly inexpensive, but some wood doors -- like those custom hand-made ones by George Doors -- can cost more than $10,000.
Vinyl doors are relatively new to the market, so there aren't many unique designs yet, but their prices hover around $800 to $1,600.
Glass doors can vary in price also, but some of the more unique designs with better materials can go for around $1,500 apiece or more.
Increasingly, mass-produced doors with special designs are available through a widening variety of garage-door specialty companies. You can also find them at the large warehouse chains such as Lowe's and Home Depot.
Just because you don't see the design you want in a showroom or on a warehouse floor doesn't mean you can't find it in a catalog available at the garage-door desk or through the special-order desk.
Also you can often find appealing designs on Web sites of many local and national companies. Additional companies can be found by browsing through the yellow pages.