Insulate Your Garage Door or Lose Money This Winter!

Is your garage the extra refrigerator or cooler in the winter and an oven in the summer? 

Do you realize that you are losing heat from your home especially if you have an attached garage?  Do you like to frolic around your yard throwing money in the air watching the wind just take it away?  That is what you are doing if your garage doors are not properly insulated.  There is an initial investment that does actually pay for itself in a short amount of time. When you improve your property you increase the value of your property. Insulating your garage doors is an easy Saturday morning project that has immediate and long lasting results.

The two most popular types of garage door insulation are reflective foil insulation and insulation panels. Both types are available in insulation kits that come with all the materials you will need, detailed instructions and sometimes a video which is great for those of us who learn best by watching rather than reading.  Decide which type of insulation best suits your garage door, your budget and your capabilities and then start shopping.  Many major home improvement stores carry insulation kits or you can call your local garage door specialist who can also easily install a kit.

The R-value of the insulation is another thing to consider when purchasing garage door insulation. The R-value is the measure of the resistance to heat flow and its effectiveness as an insulator.  The R-values are measured at 75 degrees Fahrenheit and are calculated from k, the thermal conductivity and d, the thickness of the materials: R=d/k.

The quality of the insulation is in direct proportion to the R-value – the higher the R-value, the better the insulation. There is an ongoing debate as to the validity of this measurement.  Take it into consideration but don’t base your purchase on it solely.  Once you know your budget for the project and how many doors you need to insulate, determine the type of insulation you want to buy.  Let’s take a look at both types – reflective foil and panel.

Reflective foil garage insulation with a R6.0 rating comes in kits that fit standard residential doors. It looks like big rolls of aluminum foil but a lot more durable. There are two types – double foil and single foil insulation. The double foil consists of two layers of heavy duty polyethylene air-bubble sandwiched between two layers of 99.9% pure aluminum foil. Polyethylene is a plastic polymer of ethylene used in the making containers and for packaging and insulation.  A polymer is a common chemical compound like the ones found in nylon or starch. The single foil is two layers of heavy-duty polyethylene air-bubble film sandwiched between one layer of 99.9% pure aluminum foil and one layer of white vinyl. The second type has a better visual appeal but only a R4.6 rating. Reflective foil insulation reflects the heat in both ways maintaining the warmth and coolness in the garage.  The cost depends on the number of doors to be insulated and ranges from $120 to $200 with a one year warranty.  With a couple of hours, a utility knife, an adjustable wrench and cleaning supplies, you can install the insulation yourself and feel the difference immediately in the comfort of the garage.

The downside of this type of insulation is that it will not qualify you for a federal tax credit for energy efficiency.  But it will reduce heat loss, air leakage, and outside noise.

Panel garage door insulation also is available in two basic types.  You can buy fiberglass or panel foam insulation.  A main manufacturer of fiberglass panels having an R8.0 factor is Owens Corning.  These will qualify for a federal energy tax credit.  They range in price from $100 to $200 depending again on the number of garage doors to be insulated and also have a one year warranty.  The panel foam insulation is made of polystyrene with an R4.6 and qualifies for the federal energy tax credit.  The price and installation are very similar to the fiberglass panels. These panels simply fit inside the channels of the garage door frame rails without the need for tape, glue or screws.

A final thought about insulating the garage door is to remember the area around the door.  There is a lot of unsealed area around the basic garage door along the sides and the bottom.  For the garage door to be completely insulated, you can use a weather stripping kit made specifically for garage doors.  The kit will have a threshold that is attached to the ground and a seal that attaches to the door.  The materials needed and the sealant is included in the kit.  This will keep cold out along with dirt and water.

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