The word “garage” first appeared in English language dictionaries in 1902. It denoted outbuildings erected to house the horseless carriages of the time. Early garages were simple structures that typically had swinging carriage doors made from wooden slats.

By the 1950s, many families owned automobiles, and some owned two. Attached garages that sometimes occupied as much as 45% of the floor space of the building became common. Garage doors evolved along with the upswing in car ownership.

Some were overhead doors (invented in 1921). All were made of wood until the 1970s, when manufacturers introduced metal and other materials.

Many of the vintage garage doors I remember from my neighborhood featured wood slats, but more stylish ones had flat and raised panels. All these styles exist today, evoking a bygone era. To improve the curb appeal of your home, nothing does it better than a new wooden garage door.

Wood Garage Door Types

Wooden doors are available in all formats, including:

Sectional;
Canopy;
Retractable;
Carriage (swinging);
Bi-fold;
Slide-to-the-side.

You can also find roll-up doors with wood slats, but steel or aluminum are more common.

Few modern wood garage doors are solid wood. Instead, manufacturers often use plywood or hardboard so they can offer different styles at reasonable prices. Common styles include:

Flat panel: Typically, a sheet of plywood with a wood veneer.
Raised panel: A series of smaller panels enclosed in a pattern of stiles and rails. The panels are usually veneered plywood or hardboard, while the stiles and rails are solid wood.
Slat: Usually reserved for carriage-style swinging doors, but high-end sectional or canopy doors may also be made from slats.

The type of wood is just as important to the appearance of the door as its style. Redwood and cedar are preferred for their weather resistance, but you can also find doors made from fir, red or white oak, mahogany and alder. The more expensive hardwoods are often veneered onto a plywood or hardboard core.

Composite wood, an amalgam of wood dust and plastic, is a common alternative that looks the same as wood until you get really close. It’s also more resistant to warping and rotting. The use of reclaimed wood for garage doors is also trending.

Wood Garage Door Pros and Cons

Wood is the gold standard for a traditional-looking garage door, but it isn’t necessarily the best choice in all circumstances. For one thing, wood is heavy. For another, it requires a lot of maintenance.

Here are some of the pros and cons to consider when deciding whether a wood door is right for you.

Pros

Durable: Unlike metal or vinyl, a wood door won’t dent. If it does suffer a gouge, it’s easy to repair. Wood doors also provide good security against break-ins.
Good insulation: The insulation value of wood is as good as or better than any other material, except perhaps fiberglass. In cold climates, manufacturers can add insulation between plywood panels to keep the garage warm, although this adds to the price.
Sustainable: Wood is a renewable resource that can be recycled after use. You get extra eco points by choosing a door made from reclaimed wood.
Customizable: Wood doors can be customized to fit non-standard door openings, and it’s easy to add windows. If a door gets damaged, you can usually repair it.

Cons

Price: Top-quality wood garage doors are among the most expensive on the market, particularly those with raised panels and lots of solid wood.
Vulnerable to weather: High humidity and sudden temperature changes can warp wood doors and cause operating problems.
Needs maintenance: Wood tends to show its age over time. You must stay on guard for signs of rotting, cracking and other defects.

Wood Garage Door Prices

Depending on size, style and format, a wood garage door can cost from $800 to $6,000, with the average ranging from $1,500 to $3,500. The less expensive doors tend to be plywood, while the most expensive ones feature almost all solid wood.

Wood doors are often constructed in layers of wood, insulation and overlay. The more layers, the better it’s insulated, and the higher the price.

Is Wood Garage Door Installation DIYable?

In some cases, yes. If you want to save money on installation by doing the job yourself, carriage-style swinging doors are your best bet. Although you might need a helper to lift the doors, installation is similar to that of an entry door.

But with canopy or sectional doors with tracks, you’re better off going with a pro who has the tools and expertise to do the job right the first time. Some components of a track system, particularly the springs, are dangerous, and you can get seriously injured if you make a mistake.

Wood Garage Door Maintenance

A wood garage door should be sealed with paint or stain and a clear finish to protect it from rot, warping and the elements. To keep the door looking new, you’ll probably need reseal or repaint every five years or so.

Clean your wood garage door with soap and water, especially if there’s chipping or splitting. If the door is in good shape, you can try a power washer; be sure to close the door to avoid wetting the tracks and rollers. A good cleaning every six months or so should do the trick.

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