There's a lot of talk about curb appeal being the driving force drawing buyers into your home. It makes sense. If the house looks a mess from the outside, what buyer would want to set foot inside?
Well, maybe your house isn't quite a mess. You have taken the time to fix-up the landscape, power-washed the house, and even painted the mailbox. But did you overlook what can be the biggest eyesore -- the garage?
"It's the largest architectural element on the house. So it really, in this day and age, is impossible to dismiss the garage door as an important architectural element," says Braden Wasserman, owner of Access Custom Garage Door.
But the garage door is more than an architectural element. It can be a trigger point for buyers. They're driving down the street in a tract-home neighborhood and suddenly they spot a custom wooden garage door. It's striking and different and often gives them reason to stop and take a closer look, maybe even come inside.
"If you have a house that has a nice garage door, it sets the stage for the fact that everything else in the house is going to have attention to detail and it really does differentiate homes that are on the same street," says Wasserman. He says with some exterior paint and a unique garage door, "The house really becomes a semi-custom house."
According to Wasserman, swapping out an old steel-style, raised-panel garage door that once was so very traditional is a huge improvement to a home.
"It was interesting that you would go past these $5 or $6 million houses where the architects and designers paid such critical attention to detail to the stucco color, the stonework, and the rooftop. Then for the biggest element, they would just put this wide raised-panel steel door because the consumer wasn't educated on how important the garage door can be in really just buttoning up and completing the design of a house," says Wasserman.
However, these days, custom wooden doors aren't just for multi-million dollar homes. People in tract homes are making the switch either for their own benefit, a faster sale, or a potential gain in the value of the property.
"There is definitely an increase in the property value commensurate with the investment that you make in the [garage] door. And then there is the perceived value. For every $5,000 of door that you put in, you get four times that dollar in perceived value," says Wasserman.
What makes wooden garage doors so special is not only the escape from conformity but also the fact that they function like traditional automated steel doors.
"They work exactly like a standard upward-acting sectional garage door. They segment on a track and they use a conventional residential garage door opener. Only from the front elevation do we try to design the doors to look like they're the old fashion carriage garage doors that swing open," explains Wasserman.
The added decorative hardware, including handles and hinges, helps create the effect of an old-fashioned-garage door.
But not every garage door works with every style of home. Wasserman says you should really take a close look at your architectural style before you decide on the right garage door. He says homeowners should match their home architecture to a garage door that is architecturally congruent.
"That way you're making the whole house just look that much more custom and fitted," says Wasserman.
Then next vital thing to look for in custom doors is to choose the appropriate material. "It's very, very critical that the lumber you select is designed and can last and can be durable for an exterior application," says Wasserman. He says typically that lumber would be mahogany, cedar, or redwood. Teak also works well outside but is very expensive.
You should also note that with wooden garage doors there may be a little more maintenance depending on how much sun exposure the door gets. Wasserman recommends using a resin-based product to finish the garage door rather than a varnish. "A varnish is a really difficult product to maintain because when it fails, you have to strip the wood back down to the bare wood and you have to re-start the process from scratch and that becomes cost-prohibitive for these doors," explains Wasserman. Resin-based products are easier to clean. New product can also be applied directly over the old.
Whether or not you decide to replace your garage door, it's important to make sure it at least is working properly.
"Besides the garage door looking good, it's really an appliance on the house that has to operate efficiently, reliably, and without [failure] every single day," says Wasserman.
The key concept to remember is that a garage door shouldn't just house your car and all your stuff that won't fit in your home. Instead it should help to entice buyers to want to see more of the house.