By Christine Cooney, The House Designers Staff Writer
Today's garages are designed to do much more than house and protect your car from the elements. Think of your garage as a valuable extension of your home's living space. By outfitting your garage with extra electrical outlets, lighting, flooring and insulated garage doors, you can create a functional workspace. Your garage can also provide you with additional storage space by adding simple accessories like cabinets, tables, benches, shelving and racks.
Consumers are also installing upscale, eye-catching and energy-efficient doors to give their home added curb appeal. With the garage accounting for about 30% of your home, it only makes sense to take special care in choosing a garage door that will complement your home's architectural style.
Thanks to insulated garage doors your garage can actually be as warm as your house. Garages make the perfect place for a workshop, a hobby area, fitness room, home office or laundry room. It also provides an added storage area for bikes, sports equipment, tools, toys and other household items that take up too much space inside your home.
When it comes to selecting your garage size, you should try to go as large as possible. Keep in mind if you are modifying an existing house plan or adding a garage to your current home, that you want it to be proportionate and complementary to your home. You will appreciate having extra storage space down the road, since it is hard to predict what your needs will be five or ten years from now.
For example, when you build your new home you may be driving a sports car, but in 5 years when you have two children, you may be trying to fit a mini-van or SUV in your garage.
Look for a new generation of green garage doors that are stronger, more secure, better insulated and require minimal maintenance. And let's not forget aesthetics, since today's garage door designs now come in a wide variety of materials, styles, colors, window treatments and accessories like high tech openers and controls.
With the rising cost of heating, homeowners are spending more time researching how they can provide total home efficiency. By incorporating insulated garage doors into your home design, you are greatly cutting back on energy costs, especially if your garage is attached to your home or has a finished living space.
You'll find most manufacturers offer insulated doors for some of their select models. When comparing R-values make sure that you find out whether the manufacturer is basing it on the entire door or the center of a panel. Look for steel doors with polyurethane foam insulation injected inside, because they have the highest insulation value.