The modern premium fiberglass garage doors are more than just fiberglass. Actually they are composite doors, combining a steel core behind a fiberglass skin.
Many of them have also polyurethane insulated base sections, in order to achieve higher insulation levels.
As to modern wooden garage doors, their major selling point is in their look. Wooden garage doors can also be a reasonable choice from an environmental and energy-efficiency standpoint, but they can be expensive and a poor choice for strength or from a maintenance perspective.
Prices of fiberglass vs. Wooden garage doors
Fiberglass garage doors are more expensive than steel, but less expensive than wood garage doors.
You can find many 16-by-7-foot fiberglass doors at prices about $1,800 - $2,000 installed, while standard hardwood doors start at prices ranging from $2,500 to $3,000 or more.
Some low-grade wood garage doors are inexpensive but prone to warping and cracking problems. Premium wood garage doors are a lot more expensive than steel, vinyl, fiberglass and most other types of garage doors.
See: Garage door prices
Disadvantages of fiberglass garage doors
Fiberglass garage doors are more expensive than average or even premium steel insulated doors.
Fiberglass is also subject to cracks with age or to break in very cold climates, but these risks are are virtually eliminated in new fiberglass-steel-composite doors.
Fiberglass wood grain garage doors
Fiberglass garage doors can provide the look of wood at a lower price. Some new fiberglass doors mimic wood grains almost perfectly – at least more than steel garage doors.
On the other hand, they are very low-maintenance doors, unlike wood. They don’t have to be painted or stained every few years.
Fiberglass garage doors vs. wood
Besides being cheaper than wood garage doors, fiberglass units don’t rot or warp easily, and are lighter.
They are available in many colors (and several wood patterns and tones), though you can also paint fiberglass doors to harmonize them with the colors of your house (you will have to repaint them every few years).
Composite fiberglass insulated doors also offer higher insulation value (R-value) than standard wood doors.
Fiberglass vs. Wood garage Doors Maintenance
Fiberglass garage doors can be low-maintenance - or maintenance-free. Though old and cheap fiberglass doors were dent-prone, new units are extremely dent-resistant.
As to wooden garage door, even the best are too prone to warp and damage. They are high-maintenance doors, requiring regular servicing and maintenance. Besides regular lubrication and basic hardware maintenance, depending on the climate and wear, you may need to paint or stain the door yearly or so.
How good are fiberglass and Wood Garage doors? Which Are better?
Why considering new fiberglass garage doors, when we can buy stronger, no-maintenance and cheaper steel garage doors, in many colors and patterns, with similar energy efficiency?
Do new engineered fiberglass garage doors deserve the money?
It’s up to you to decide. Most people buying new fiberglass garage doors are attracted by their look. The fact that they imitate wood more perfectly than steel garage doors is a major selling point.
As to wooden garage doors provide the value and the look of… wood (including the look of exotics). They may have some advantages from an environmental standpoint, if the wood comes from sustainable managed forests: wood is a renewable resource, and there are natural treatments to increase the durability of wood. Besides, wood serves as a natural insulator against sound, heat and cold.
On the other hand, modern wood doors can be highly engineered products, able to overcome part of their traditional disadvantages – new premium doors offer extra-strength, durability and insulation.
But overall there are other types garage doors with obvious advantages over wooden garage doors: fiberglass doors have the advantages mentioned earlier. And steel doors provide extra-strength, low or no-maintenance and lower prices - and possibly a better insulation-value, energy savings and more thermal comfort.
Fiberglass Garage doors insulation kits
Insulation kits for metal and other poorly insulated garage doors can be made of fiberglass panels. See: Garage door insulation
Large manufacturers like Amarr, Gel Wen, Raynor or Clopay aren’t offering fiberglass garage doors. Nor are they being sold in very large retails stores.
Clopay, Amarr, Overhead doors and several other top manufacturers are selling modern wood sectional garage doors. Large home improvement retailiers - Lowe's, Home Depot... - are selling wood garage doors from top manufacturers.
See, for details: Top wood, steel, fiberglass... garage door manufacturers
Wood vs Fiberglass garage door Insulation
New fiberglass-composite garage doors can be high thermal insulated doors. They can be engineered to provide high R-values. But be aware. The values advertised for fiberglass and other types of garage doors fall short of their actual R-values. The actual R-values are often 1/2 or 1/3 of the advertised.
In this perspective they do not differ significantly from hardwood garage doors. The difference is often in the quality of the instalation or on features such as the seals of the doors.
Some details on Modern Wooden garage doors
Wood garage doors come in a variety of prices and types. There are premium and expensive solid wood garage doors, but more traditional doors can be low-grade and low-priced units. They come finished or unfinished, and in multiple styles, with or without windows.
New wood garage doors can be made of composite and engineered woods and may have a core of foam insulation (flush style doors) or come with laminated surfaces of different materials, for low-maintenance. Solid wood doors are being replaced by these new type of doors.
Premium wood garage doors
New wood garage doors, even premium units, are typically rail and stile, that is, their frames are made from popular wood species (cedar, redwood, hemlock...) but their panels are made from engineered woods (MDO plywood or MDF…) with a thick hardwood interior backer, glued to the frame.
Wood composite garage doors are made of engineered wood fibers: materials like MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) and MDO (Medium Density Overlay).
These materials have the look and texture of wood and are less prone to splitting and trimming. But they have some of the disadvantages of wood, namely high-maintenance requirements...
Factory finish or unfinished wood garage doors
Some decades ago, all wood garage doors were finished on site - but that’s not the case anymore. That option is still available but manufacturers are also offering a factory-finish paint option, that is, you can buy your door primed, painted and ready to be installed.
You just have to choose the right paint or stain color and the sealing and finish coats...
Some manufacturers are also offering many styles of flush style wood garage doors, with or without windows and decorative elements.
These doors use high quality kiln-dried woods with a polystyrene insulation core. They have the look of the wood, but much better insulation levels.
The downsides? The price, the maintenance requirementes and the fact that they aren't as strong as steel or composite fiberlglass doors, with a steel core.