Meta: Garage door insulation is a great project to take on if you’re trying to lower your energy bills or protect your car or storage items from extreme temperatures, but did you know it might make more sense to simply replace your door with an insulated door? We talk through the pros and cons, plus share a handy DIY guide.
Why install garage door insulation? Should you install garage door insulation? How do you install garage door insulation professionally without making a mess of things or spending an arm and a leg? If these are your questions, we’ve got you covered!
Consider this article your complete guide to all things garage door insulation. We chat about whether or not to purchase a garage door with insulation, who needs the extra padding (and who doesn’t), and how to match insulation to the type of garage door you already have. Plus, we’ve got clear step-by-step instructions for installing insulation.
We’ve got a lot of ground to cover, so let’s get started!
If you own your own home, we’re guessing you’ve already got a long list of repairs on your to-do list; should installing insulation be added to that list? The answer is: it depends.
It depends on your climate, how your garage connects to your house, what your existing energy costs are versus what it will cost you to add installation, and whether or not it might be better to simply replace your garage door.
If you live in a relatively temperate climate (California, for example), you may not need the extra insulation. It’s only when things get really, really cold or really, really hot that the temperature extremes can harm your vehicle or the things you’re storing in your garage and impact the temperature inside your house.
Since a garage isn’t considered livable space, it’s not required to meet the same code standards as the rest of the house. This means that there’s probably more air leaking out (and in) through your garage door and the ceiling.
If you’ve got a living space that connects directly to the garage or that sits directly above the garage, this could mean you’re paying much more than you should be to cool or heat your home (sometimes both).
Before you rush out to your local hardware store, however, get average energy costs from your energy provider. If you’re way above average, it might be worth the cost to insulate your garage and stop those energy leaks, but if you fall within the normal range (or below), that extra insulation might end up being just that–extra.
Finally, consider the exterior appeal of your garage door. If your house could use a facelift or if you’re interested in upping the resale value of your home, replacing your garage door is a great way to go.
Realtors say homeowners will recoup most of the cost of their garage door, and you can purchase one with insulation already installed. At prices of less than $1000, this might be a smart investment!
Still interested in installing insulation? Read on!
There are a variety of different garage doors that might be installed in your garage right now, and there are a variety of different insulations that can be used. Your best strategy is to make sure you’re matching the right type of insulation with the right type of door.
Here’s an overview of the different types of insulation you can purchase:
Foam board insulation is usually from out of polystyrene and comes in rigid, tough panels. Though it is thin, it offers a great deal of insulating value (as much as R-6.5 for 1 inch) and is fairly inexpensive (about $1 per square foot).
Reflective insulation is the cheapest option available and comes with reflective aluminum foil on one or both sides. It might be one of the least aesthetically pleasing options, but it won’t be visible from the outside, so that might not matter to you. It handles radiant heat well, so if you live in a very hot climate, this might be your best option.
Batt insulation, on the other hand, is something you might already be familiar with, as it is what you’ll find in your attic walls. Made out of fiberglass, it provides the least insulation per inch out of all three choices, though it is extremely cheap. It’s also a pain to work with, but it can keep out vapor. Lots of pros and cons with this option!
Again, it’s not so much about picking the perfect insulation as it is about making the right match.
Steel garage doors, for example, are the easiest to install insulation in and they do well with all three types. Wooden frame-and-panel doors, however, require the use of rigid insulation and might need additional insulation for extreme climates, which will cost more.
Flat garage doors, however, don’t have panels and so work best with reflective or foam insulation. This installation is usually the simplest and requires little more than gluing or taping the insulation to the door.
One of the simplest ways to install garage door insulation is to use a DIY kit. These are available online or at a hardware store and typically make the entire process a breeze. You’ll usually find the insulation, itself, tape, glue, or whatever kind of fastener you’ll need, gloves, and possibly even a utility knife.
Most of the time the panels are precut, though you’ll often have to trim them yourself. These kits aren’t as cheap as doing it yourself, and they don’t make the job quite as custom, but they do make it easy!
In addition to the insulation, you’ll need doorstop vinyl weather stripping. You’ll use this to create a tight seal around your garage door since insulation the door does little if the air can escape out the edges.
The other thing you’ll need to do before you start installation is clean your garage door. We know, this is boring, but if your door is anything like ours, it’s full of cobwebs, dirt, and grime. The insulation will install better and last longer on a clean surface, so use household cleaners and some old rags and get the job done.
We recommend cutting as you go since garage door panel sizes won’t be exact. Make sure you measure carefully and use gloves while you handle the insulation. Follow the manufacturer’s directions to adhere the insulation. Most will use glue or a peel-away sticky surface, but some will use retaining pins.
Don’t forget to also double check to make sure the insulation is facing the right direction (don’t ask us how we know). Go slow, take your time, and do it right, so you don’t have to redo it later!
Next, measure and cut your weatherstripping. You’ll want to start with the top of the door and then move on the sides, using the nails to tack (but not completely hammer in) the stripping.
Push and rattle the door from the outside to simulate strong winds; if the seal drops or if you see daylight, lift and retack the nails to adjust the stripping for a closer fit. You might find that you can’t completely block the light or the wind with weatherstripping; you might need to replace your garage door spring-loaded hinges.
Once you’re satisfied with the stripping, hammer the nails in completely, but don’t forget the bottom of the door! This seal, especially, is prone to damage, so make sure to open the door so that it’s a height you can reach it, open the crimps on the bottom, and replace the old vinyl with new vinyl. Close the crimps when you’re finished.
Special note: if your bottom seal keeps getting damage or if you see sunlight, you might need to adjust the force down or adjust how far down the door goes. You can usually do this from the operator (the motor); there’s normally a switch at the back of it.
Your final step is to test the door. Make sure none of the insulation you installed is obstructing the door’s path and make sure everything fully adheres. Since the insulation is adding extra weight to the door, you’ll also want to check the force.
The door should be able to stay in place if you lift it half-way but if it doesn’t, you’ll either want to adjust the spring tension or hire somebody to do it for you. An unbalanced door can cause your garage door opener to fail, so make sure you get that taken care of quickly!
Another happy by-product of insulating your garage door that you’ll probably notice quickly is quiet. An insulated garage door usually makes much less noise than a non-insulated door!
We’ve walked you through everything you need to know about garage door insulation so you should be all set. We can’t wait to see how your new project turns out–and how much money you’ll save on your next energy bill!