What You Need to Know About Wood Garage Door Insulation

High-quality wood garage door insulation helps maintain your home’s overall energy efficiency. Since a garage door seals your home’s largest opening, there’s much to know. Without adequate insulation, your home will be warmer and more humid in summer and cold and drafty in winter. Your heating and cooling system will work harder and use more energy, increasing utility and operating costs.

Insulated garage doors avoid these issues. We’ll look at their importance and benefits while exploring whether you need to add insulation to a well-constructed wood garage door. Also, we’ll look at what to know about insulating a wood garage door that’s not well-insulated.

Do I Need to Add Insulation to My Wood Garage Door?

Wood has natural insulating properties. Air pockets within its porous cellular structure make it an effective insulator, making wood many times more insulating than steel or aluminum. It’s especially good at holding heat, which can create issues in warmer weather. However, a properly designed and insulated garage door helps improve temperature regulation. Therefore, whether you need more insulation depends on your garage door.

It’s often assumed steel garage doors are more effective insulators. However, wood garage door manufacturers often integrate a multi-layer design. They may also integrate a polystyrene layer that increases the door’s R-value. The higher the R-value, the more thermal insulation the door provides, so heat transfer doesn’t impact comfort and energy efficiency.

Types of Wood Garage Door Insulation

If your garage door is not insulated or its insulating properties can be improved, there are a few options. Home improvement stores often sell insulation in pre-cut sheets or panels. Adding insulation requires installing panels on the door’s interior. Your options for materials include:

  • Foam Insulation: Double-layer foam panels are effective for paneled wood garage doors; the insulating boards fit directly into the panels. However, foam board or reflective insulation is better for flat garage doors. Foam insulation is generally available as polystyrene (which makes up coffee cups and packaging materials) or polyurethane, a pliable, more thermally resistant material that adheres well to garage doors. If using foam board, choose only non-flammable vinyl- or aluminum-faced board to avoid safety issues.
  • Batt Insulation: A much thicker material, batt insulation isn’t usually ideal for garage doors. It can be difficult to fit into recessed panels. The material can be compressed, but this reduces its insulating ability. Batt insulation is more commonly used in exterior walls as a paper- or foil-backed fiberglass material that blocks vapor and air. Thinner types used to wrap HVAC ducts can work for garage doors if you want to go this route.
  • Reflective Insulation: Reflective insulation is available in single- or double-layer foils. In between is a layer of polyethylene bubbles; together these materials block radiant heat. This is an effective option for garages in hot climates. When installing reflective insulation, the panels should be cut larger than the door’s panels, creating a bend and air bubble between the material and wood surface to improve insulating properties.

Should I Consider Synthetic Materials?

Homeowners often choose synthetic materials to save. While using lower-cost materials can be a quick fix, they are lower in quality, not as insulating, and more prone to wear. For example, chipboard core and hollow core steel garage doors are poor insulators. Faux wood is far less insulating than a natural wood garage door. It is also harmful to the environment during manufacturing and when disposed of. 

Synthetic materials have much less insulating value than real wood. They are also less durable, so you end up paying more for repairs and early replacement. Even composite doors are more prone to weathering. Solid wood garage doors:

  • Are naturally dense and durable
  • Help maintain a constant temperature
  • Can contain oils that repel burrowing insects
  • Have a more attractive design than steel doors
  • Resist intrusion of outside air

Benefits of Insulated Wood Garage Doors

Insulated garage doors, especially custom wood garage doors, have many benefits, including:

  • Energy Efficiency: Heat transfer through a garage door affects temperature control in your garage, reducing comfort throughout your home. That’s because the entry door and walls between an attached garage and your home aren’t as insulated. Your HVAC system will be overworked, possibly leading to a costly repair or replacement.
  • Durability: Wood garage doors are highly durable, so they last longer than other types. They’re less prone to dents and other damage and are more resistant to extreme weather. While metal garage doors are prone to rust, wood garage doors aren’t, so you enjoy more years of efficiency and resistance to heat, cold, and wind. Wood is so durable it’s also often used for exterior doors and patio furniture.
  • Less Noise: An insulated wood garage door provides quieter operation. It naturally buffers noise generated by the door opening and closing. High-quality materials also block noise from outdoors, so your home is quieter in general. 
  • Design Flexibility: Wood garage doors come in many styles, sizes, and shapes. They can be customized to fit any opening size. Whether you prefer a natural wood color or a different color or shade, the door can be customized to match your home’s exterior. There are also many types of wood, including cedar, redwood, plywood, and composite wood.
  • More Insulation Can Be Added: Depending on the needs of your home, the manufacturer can incorporate higher R-value materials or add more insulating layers. Your home will be even more protected against heat or cold.

How Much Insulation Do I Need?

Depending on your garage door, you may not require any more insulation. Check the R-value when comparing products. If you have a detached garage, an R0 to R6 door is fine, but a door for an attached garage should be rated at least R7 to R9. Meanwhile, a heated garage requires R10 to R13 insulation. If there’s a living space above the garage, wood garage door insulation should be R14 or higher.

Can I Insulate a Wood Garage Door Myself?

You always need a professional to install a garage door, but adding insulation is a different story. Rolls, boards, or panels of insulating materials are often available at hardware stores. Installation kits may also be available. These include pre-cut panels that may closely fit the panels of your garage door, along with tape or fasteners.

To install wood garage door insulation, follow these steps:

  • Choose an insulating material (rigid foam board insulation is best for wood doors).
  • Mark each door panel, vertically centered and 12 inches from each side.
  • Place double-sided tape at the pre-marked locations; peel off the front layer.
  • Stick a retainer clip to each piece of tape you’ve applied.
  • Measure each door panel and note each one’s dimensions.
  • Cut each insulation panel to match its corresponding door panel (plus 1 or 2 inches).
  • Tuck the insulating material’s ends into the door panel.
  • Find the retention clips behind the insulation; cut ½ inch slits for the front of the clips to fit.
  • Secure the front pieces to the back parts of the retention clips.

Depending on the foam board, it can be cut to size with a utility knife. Another way to install it is to apply an adhesive in an “X” pattern and fit the board into each door panel. Hit the material softly with a rubber mallet to ensure it fits tightly. For a door without panels, cut the insulating board to the full size of the door or cut it into multiple pieces that form a solid insulated covering.

Should I Replace My Garage Door?

If you have an older garage door, consider replacing it with a pre-insulated model. Older models are less insulating. A professional can help consider the options. They can replace your garage door or help add an insulating material. We recommend hiring a pro since insulation can add weight to the door, especially a larger one, straining the garage door opener mechanism.

Is Insulation Enough?

Installing or adding insulation has many advantages. However, just because your garage door is well-insulated doesn’t guarantee improved efficiency. Any gaps or cracks around the door will let in air, heat, or cold. To avoid this, add a vinyl seal at the bottom and weatherstripping around the door. Check these often for signs of cracks or breaks and replace the material when necessary.

Contact Mesa Garage Doors to Learn More

We specialize in installing and servicing wood garage doors and providing insulation. Our experienced team can help no matter what you need them for. If you want to improve your wood garage door’s insulation, we’ll help weigh your options and install the material to ensure optimal results. For more information, schedule a free estimate or call (800) 893-1107 today.