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Garage Door Panels (Ultimate Design Guide)

In this garage door panels guide you’ll find the different types of garage door panel designs, panel materials, repair & replacement tips and cost.
Types of garage door panelsA sturdy garage is an essential addition to your home as it provides a safe and sheltered area to park your vehicles. It also often serves as additional storage space and can be a great extra living space; you can set it up as a hobby room or a workshop. 

One critical feature of a functioning garage is a good garage door. Your garage door needs to keep out the elements and wildlife and provide you with a modicum of privacy.

One important feature of any garage door is its panels. Garage door panels come in various shapes and sizes and different durable and attractive materials. Your garage door panels are the “face” that your garage presents to the world, so they need to be beautiful as well as sturdy.

In this post, we will take a closer look at garage door panels. We’re going to help you choose between the different types of panels and offer some tips on extending the lifespan of your garage door by installing and maintaining the correct type of panels.

What Are Garage Door Panels?

As we mentioned, garage door panels are the “face” of your garage, and they are one of the first things that are seen upon approaching your home. They are the portions of your garage doors seen from the outside when the doors are closed. 

Garage door panels are usually square or rectangular panels of materials mounted on a frame that are connected together to form your garage door.

Garage door panel typesThe two most common types of garage doors are single panel and sectional garage doors. A single panel garage door consists of one big board or solid slab of layered material mounted on a frame. Meanwhile, a sectional garage door is made up of multiple panels.

Sectional garage doors have steadily been overtaking single panel garage doors in popularity as they are considered more durable and are easier to maintain. One primary reason is that sectional garage doors are easy to maintain is that they can be easier to repair. 

Even well built and well maintained garage door designs are subject to wear and tear. After all, there’s no denying that it sees a lot of use. On average a residential garage door will open and close about 1,500 times annually, and that’s a lot of wear and tear.

Garage doors can get dented and cracked from use, and they can also get damaged from impact. Examples of common “accidents” that can damage a garage door are backing your car into the door or a branch slamming into the door due to a strong wind.

With a sectional garage door,  minor damage to the door can be fixed by just replacing the damaged garage door panels. If the damage is confined to one or two panels, then you just need to repair or replace those panels. This is a simpler and less costly project than replacing your entire garage door – which you might have had to do if you had a single-panel garage door.

With a sectional garage door, it’s possible to isolate the area of damage and repair it. This isn’t possible with a single-panel garage door, which means that damage to one area of the door can render the entire thing unusable or even just unsightly.

Garage Door Panel Replacement

No matter how well-made your garage door is, you will eventually have to think about garage door panel replacement.

Since your garage door is used often, being opened and closed frequently in all types of weather conditions, there will eventually be some wear and tear. One of the most common signs of wear and rear would be cracked or worn garage door panels.

There are two significant reasons to replace damaged garage door panels. First of all, it can affect the garage door’s ability to protect your garage interior. Broken or cracked garage door panels could allow drafts and even rain and snow to get into your garage’s interior. This can result in your garage interior getting damp, possibly causing a mold or mildew infestation.

The state of your garage door panels is also of an aesthetic concern. Broken or discolored panels with visible cracks, dents, or scratches, can ruin the overall look of your garage. Because most garages are visible to passersby, a damaged garage door will be immediately noticeable. If you are thinking of eventually selling your home, it can bring down the property’s overall value.

If a section of your garage door becomes jammed or damaged, it’s a lot easier and cheaper to replace the troublesome panel rather than the entire door. Depending on the damage and also how much time and effort you have to give to the project, you can either do it yourself or hire someone for garage door panel replacement services.

Garage Door Panel Replacement Cost

The cost to replace garage door panels will depend on the size and material of the panels. The cost of a garage door panel replacement project will also depend on the number of panels that need replacing.  

For example, a 9-foot panel could cost around $250; a 16-foot panel could cost $700. Multiply that by how many panels need to be replaced.

All in all, the average cost to replace garage door panels will range from about $150 to $1,000 if you do the job yourself. 

Meanwhile, if you decide to hire a professional to install your replacement panels, you will incur an additional labor cost depending on where you live and the extent of the job. On average, a garage door replacement project will have an additional $200 to $500 labor cost.

When To Replace Garage Door Panels?

Man fixing garageIf you see that your garage door have gaps, visible dents or scratches, you might want to think about replacing them.

When deciding between replacing garage door panels or getting a new garage door, consider the age of the door. An average garage door should last about ten years or more before needing to be replaced. So, if you’ve got a garage door with a few scratched or dented panels, you should just replace or repair those panels and not replace the entire door.

The extent of the damage is also essential to consider when deciding between replacing the panels or the door. If the damage is minor or only affects one area, just replace the panels in that particular area. If it’s extensive, or you observe that it seems to affect the workings of the door, it could indicate more significant problems, in which case you are better off replacing the entire door.

Your budget is also a consideration as it is cheaper to replace a panel or two than your entire garage door. Replacing a panel as needed is actually a budget-friendly way to maintain your whole garage door and ensure that you can extend its lifespan.

Single Panel Replacement

If just a section of your garage door is damaged, you can consider a single panel replacement. Just remove and replace the damaged panel, and you can improve the appearance of your door and its functionality. 

Single panel replacement is usually best for panels damaged in minor accidents, such as if you accidentally backed into the door at low speed and left a noticeable but shallow dent. In the case of minor or surface damage such as this, you can fix the problem by just replacing the single damaged panel.

Multi-Panel Replacement

If multiple areas of your garage doors show signs of wear, you can consider a multi-panel replacement. While this may be a more significant project than a single panel replacement, it is still cheaper and less time-consuming than replacing your whole garage door.

When deciding whether to perform a multi-panel replacement on your door – or replace it entirely, there are two important questions to ask:

  1. How many panels are damaged?

If it is just one or two panels which are damaged, it is probably cost-effective to just replace those panels. If the number of damaged panels is a little more or close to half the door, the cost to just replace the whole door might be cheaper.

Also, if the damage to a garage door is extensive, there might be more significant problems with the door. If there are other signs of damage, like the door getting stuck or making noise when opened or closed, it’s time to replace the entire door.

  1. What is the extent of the damage?

If the damage is normal wear and tear, or you’ve noticed a few panels looking scratched, weathered, or discolored, you should be able just to replace the damaged panels to freshen up the look of your gate.

However, suppose the damage is due to a big accident, like a branch hitting the door during a storm and cracking several panels, the damage might be more extensive. In that case, you might want to conduct a thorough examination of your door before just deciding to replace the panels. There could be internal damage to the door’s frame or the opening and closing mechanisms.

If multiple garage door panels are damaged, and the door has started to jam, or you are having difficulty opening or closing it, you might have to replace the entire door. 

Color-Matching Panels

Maroon garage door with accent lighting clapboard sidingWhether you are replacing single or multiple panels, you need to consider color-matching panels. Color-matching panels are essential to maintaining the overall look of your garage door. You want the whole door to have a consistent look, so you need all your panels to be the same color.

The color of the garage door will naturally fade over time due to exposure to the elements. This means that when you buy replacement panels from the store – even if they are supposed to be the same color – when placed side by side, the old panels might be a lighter shade than the new panels. 

To combat this, you might need to buy replacement panels in slightly lighter shades than the original panels. Take a photo of your existing panels and try to find the closest match in the store.

You can also consider re-painting the entire garage door. This is a quick fix to ensure that your garage door panels are all the same shade. While painting the door might add to the cost of the garage door panel replacement project, it should still be less costly than replacing the entire door.

Types Of Garage Door Panels

Depending on the garage door type, you could have different types of garage door panels. The most common type of garage door with panels is what is called a sectional garage door.

Sectional garage doors are made up of multiple panels connected by hinges. They are often made of steel, though you can also find them made of wood or fiberglass. They can be either manually operated or fitted with an automatic garage door opener

There are also side sliding sectional doors made of several horizontal panels connected by hinges. These doors open by moving horizontally to the side of your garage.

Most garage door manufacturers will also provide separate garage door panels that can be used to replace and repair the doors. All you need to do is find the make and model of your particular door.

Garage door panels will match the garage door materials so that they can come in wood, steel, aluminum, vinyl, fiberglass, and wood composites.

Garage Door Insulation Panels

Insulating your garage ensures that the interior stays cool in the summer and warm in the winter. This keeps your car (and other things stored in your garage) protected from the elements. 

Proper insulation of your garage efficiently controls the temperature and keeps energy costs down as you reduce the energy needed to both heat and cool the space. Insulation also reduces the noise from opening and closing the door and muffles outside noises when you are inside the garage. 

To keep your garage adequately insulated, you need to either invest in garage door insulation panels or DIY insulation kits. Garage door insulation panels have an extra layer of insulating material inside or in-between the exterior panels. Insulation kits contain insulating material that you can attach to your door, usually employing adhesive.

Garage door insulation panels can come in various materials. Panels with an extra layer for insulation might cost more than panels without built-in insulation. Still, the energy-saving properties of these panels usually make them a worthwhile investment. 

Insulation kits can work with almost any type of garage door panel material, but they are an additional “step” that you need to take when installing garage door. The insulating material in these kits is attached to the side of the door that faces your garage interior.

Remember, though, that this means the insulation is visible to those inside your garage – which could ruin the interior look.

Garage Door Window Panels

Wooden garage door with multiple panelsGarage door window panels or window inserts are basically glass garage door panels placed strategically to create “windows” on your door. 

There are several reasons people choose to use garage door window panels. First of all, having window inserts is a unique and fun way of creating a distinctive and attractive garage door, and this also adds some extra appeal to your home’s exterior.

Garage door window panels also allow more natural light in your garage, which can help with visibility. If you’re planning to make your garage a living space, a few window inserts can make your garage a more appealing space to spend your time in. 

You can find garage door window panels in various styles and shapes – such as square, rectangular, or arched. If the overall goal is to improve the look of your home’s exterior, be sure to choose window inserts that match your home’s style.

Different types of glass are used in window inserts; you can get garage door window panels that use tinted or colored glass or appear frosted, clear, or even have patterns or designs etched on them. You can even get window inserts that look like glass but are made of more durable material, such as polycarbonate. 

You can also get thermal window inserts, which are double-paned and can provide insulation. Thermal windows prevent heat from entering your garage and improve cool air circulation in the room. 

Wood Garage Door Panels

Wooden garage door with brick flooring entryway stone cladding wallWood garage door panels are a classic and charming addition to any property and go well with various home architecture styles. 

The price of wood garage door may vary according to the type of wood used. The most basic type of wood used in garage door panels is plywood, and it is also the least expensive option.

Other common types of wood used in garage door panels are red or white oak, alder, mahogany, and cedar. Cedar is especially attractive as a garage door material as it’s pest and moisture resistant.

Another advantage to wood is, it’s a naturally insulating material, so you might not have to worry about adding insulation to your garage door.

Pure wood garage door can be expensive and challenging to maintain as not all are naturally weatherproof. A good alternative can be wood composite panels. Wood composite door panels are fiberboard sheets covering a wood frame and have cores filled with polystyrene insulation. 

The fiberboards can be made to simulate the look and feel of natural wood, but they are less prone to warping and are not attractive to insects such as termites. This makes wood composite garage doors a little more durable than wood garage doors.

Glass Panel Garage Doors

Wooden house with glass garageGlass panel garage doors are a good choice if you’re going for a modern look for your home. They are usually made of glass and aluminum, with a glass panel mounted in an aluminum frame. 

The glass can be either transparent or frosted, or even tinted in various colors. Take note. However, glass panels are more prone to damage and easily crack on impact. 

Fiberglass Garage Door Panels

Flat roof houses with accent lightingFiberglass garage door are made by bonding two or more layers of fiberglass onto a steel or aluminum frame that is then insulated with polyurethane. It can then be painted in various colors and even be made to resemble other materials, such as wood.

Fiberglass is a sturdy and weatherproof material, so fiberglass garage door are known for being durable and rust-proof. You’re going to have to exert a lot of force to crack or dent fiberglass panels. 

Flush Panel Garage Door

Classic house with gray paint double hung windowsA flush panel garage door uses flat panels. So, a flush panel garage door is comprised of several flat panels that are either installed horizontally, one on top of each other, or vertically, side by side. 

A flush panel comprises two layers of material with particleboard or laminated timber in the middle. The frame of a flush panel is usually not visible, so you are left with a flat, smooth façade on your garage door.

Flat Panel Garage Door

Modern house with stone entryway grey paint skylightsA flat panel garage door is very similar to a flush panel garage door as it’s also composed of multiple panels that create a flat, smooth garage door surface.

In some cases, “flush” and “flat” are interchangeable. However, a flat panel has a bit of a visible frame. So, there might be a bit of raised material around the panel or even a marked indentation, giving it some texture. Otherwise, it is a mostly flat piece of material that creates a smooth, even surface for your garage door.

Short Panel Garage Door

Short panel garage doorA short panel garage door is comprised of several “short” panels installed side by side. You can find flat short panels or raised short panels.  

Short panel garage doors for single-car garages are typically composed of four panels across. They may have window inserts installed into the top row to make an even more interesting and unique-looking door for your garage.

The smaller panels of a short panel garage door make it look more attractive, adding depth and dimension to create a textured look.

Long Panel Garage Door

Dark gray garage doorA long panel garage door is similar to a short panel garage door, except the panels are longer. A single long panel might be as long as two short panels. 

Like short panel garage doors, long panel garage doors use multiple panels, but they need fewer panels than short panel doors. 

A long panel garage door for a single-car door is about two panels across. A two-car garage will usually have a garage door with four long panels across. 

Because you use less panels with a long panel garage door, some people feel that this type of door has a cleaner and more modern look. Visit our long panel vs short panel garage door here.

Raised Panel Garage Door

Raised panel garage doorRaised panel garage doors differ from flat or flush panel glass doors because the panels are slightly raised, so they don’t appear flat but rather create a textured surface. 

These panels have a raised rectangular pattern, adding depth to your garage door. When placed side by side, the resulting door surface kind of looks like a chocolate bar. 

With a raised panel garage door, you have several rectangles divided by grooves. This gives the door surface more depth and creates a slightly 3-D surface. 

You can find both short raised panels and long raised panels. These types of panels are popular because of the interesting pattern and texture that they can create.

Garage Door Panel Repair

While we’ve mostly talked about garage door panel replacement in this post, there are some garage door panel repair options that you should also consider.

There are actually some garage door panel problems that you can fix yourself – without necessarily replacing the panels or replacing the whole door.

Minor, visible damage to one or two panels, such as shallow scratches or cracks, can easily be repaired. Instead of replacing the whole panel, just sand or smooth the damaged area, then apply a new coat of paint. 

Faded or weathered panels, which show no evidence of structural damage, can also be easily repaired by applying a fresh coat of paint.  

When deciding between repairing or replacing a garage door panel, the rule of thumb is, superficial or surface damage can be repaired. If the damage isn’t minor and doesn’t affect the door’s functioning, you can perform garage door panel repair yourself.

Garage Door Refacing Panels

Another quick way to repair damaged garage door panels is to reface them. There are two ways to reface garage door panels, you can either sand and re-paint or install garage door overlays.

Garage door overlays or garage door refacing panels are basically thin panels of material that installed on top of the original ones. So, they are thin layers of steel, aluminum, wood composite, or fiberglass that can be attached to the surface of existing garage door panels.

If the damage to your garage door is minor, if it’s just scuffed or scratched or faded, you can install garage door refacing panels to hide the imperfections. You just have to make sure that you find overlays that match the look of your original panels.

Depending on the garage door size and material, it should cost you about $200 to $400 to install garage door refacing panels. Take note that, to achieve a consistent look for your door, you will probably need to reface all panels, not just the damaged ones. 

When To Replace A Garage Door?

Sectional garage door white paintWhile replacing a garage door panel is a relatively simple and easy project, sometimes replacing a garage door might be better.

If your garage door is old, around 20 years or more, it’s probably better to replace the entire thing rather than repair or replace just a few panels. At this stage, there is already considerable wear and tear on your door, and it might be a better investment just to replace it.  

If the dent or crack in the panel is extensive, it might also be better just to replace the door. Extensive damage to garage door might indicate more significant underlying problems with the door.

There might be damage to the frame, the hinges, or the mechanism that opens and closes the door, and this type of damage might not be immediately visible.

Here are a few signs that it’s time to replace a garage door:

  1. The door is sagging.

If you see gaps between the door and the frame when it’s closed, your garage door is sagging, which means it is structurally unsound. This can’t be repaired by just replacing a few panels, so your better off just replacing the entire door. 

  1. Peeling or cracking paint

You should periodically re-finish or re-paint your garage door to keep it looking its best. However, if you’ve noticed that there’s a lot of peeling or cracking paint, this can indicate a bigger problem than just weathering. 

If your garage door panels are wood, peeling or cracking paint on one or more of them means that the wood is beginning to rot or deteriorate. If the damage is extensive, you might consider replacing the entire garage door.

  1. No longer opens or closes easily

Even if the damage to your garage door panels look’s “minimal,” if your garage door is no longer opening or closing properly or is making unpleasant squeaking, squealing, or grinding noises, this indicates more significant damage to the door as a whole. In this case, it is just better to replace the garage door. 

If the damage to a garage door is extensive and affects the door’s function, then replacing a few panels will not fix the problem. It may make your door look “fixed,” but the more significant internal problems will eventually render your door unusable. This will be wasting the time and money you spent on garage door panel replacement.

See more related content in our article about the best garage door design software here.

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