When it comes to elevating the look and feel of a home, the garage door is the place to start. Its flat, wide surface is like a canvas in the front of a home that showcases a homeowner’s individual flair and style.

Or at least it can be. Many homeowners overlook the garage door’s effect on their home’s curb appeal and instead opt for something that makes less of a statement.

But you can be different! A garage door’s style coupled with its ability to increase a home’s value makes it the perfect exterior project in which to invest.

Yet with all the options, it may feel overwhelming. Where should you start your journey to upgrade your home?

There are many different directions that you could go, but deciding the material of your door is often the first step. Whatever you choose should be durable, easy to maintain, and be able to function in the climate where you live.

Garage doors are really only made out of seven different types of material: steel, aluminum, fiberglass, glass, wood, wood composite, and vinyl, or a combination of several types of materials.

Steel and aluminum are both rust-proof and sturdy but are susceptible to dents. They can also be painted, which is a plus, and are considered to have the most longevity. In addition, steel is the most wind-resistant so it is preferable in hurricane-prone areas, yet it can easily become corroded by salt in the air in seaside communities. Aluminum, however, resists corrosion.

Fiberglass works well in both hot and cold climates and is often used on the front of doors to mimic the look of something else. This is called a wood composite.

For example, if someone wants the look of wood doors, they can opt for fiberglass as it will not split or crack as wood might. It is also more lightweight, low-maintenance, moisture-resistant and well-insulated. It also has a longer life span than others and will help save on heating/cooling bills as it keeps an even temperature inside your garage.

Glass, on the other hand, lacks insulation and can be extremely heavy, not to mention breakable. Because of that, some doors substitute polycarbonate panels for glass, which reduces the weight.

Wood is beautiful but is so heavy that it is generally reserved for creating carriage doors that swing outward. It is a natural insulator, though, and acts as a barrier for wind and burglars. It is highly customizable but is the most costly option.

Vinyl doors are easy to maintain and are dent-proof. They often have high-efficiency insulation, so they are good for cold climates. They are not able to be painted, however, as the vinyl is tinted during the manufacturing process.

The next factor to consider is how you want to use the door and how you want it to open. The six most common forms are sectional, roll-up, slide to the side, side-hinged, tilt-up canopy, and tilt-up retractable.

In the U.S., the sectional garage door is the most popular. It contains paneled sections with hinges that roll up parallel to the ceiling. A roll-up is generally used for commercial venues and is similar to what you would see at a storage unit.

Slide-to-the-side garage doors, on the other hand, move horizontally along the wall as opposed to tucking themselves into your ceiling. They are not as common but work well for certain homes.

Side-hinged garage doors are the same as carriage doors in that they swing out, but a tilt-up canopy does not bend at all and instead swings in the front before being placed flat parallel to the ceiling in a garage. The tilt-up retractable is similar in that it lifts up and into the garage without protruding in front of the house, but it bends in a different way.

Each of these materials and door styles has its own appeal, but only you can choose the one that is right for you.

A residential garage door installation doesn’t have to be a hassle. Use your home’s canvas to create something beautiful. The satisfaction you receive from designing your own piece of art will be well worth the time invested.