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Good first impression starts at the door

Unless you’re planning a major renovation of an existing home or building a custom dream house, chances are the residence you own or just bought came with a cookie-cutter rolled pan garage door. These are steel doors stamped with raised panels to resemble faux wood planks.

Pan garage doors do the trick. They come in a variety of colors and, depending on whether or not you live in a community governed by HOA regulations, these types of doors may be your only choice. The drawback to pan garage doors is that they can make a lot of racket when raising and closing, and if your home is facing east or west, heat buildup from the sun can turn your garage into a toasty dry sauna.

An option is to retrofit your pan garage door with polystyrene thermal backing, but unlike a manufactured insulated door, this won’t get insulation into all the nooks and crannies and heat will still seep through.

If a homeowner wants to upgrade his or her garage door, then a manufactured insulated door can be installed for approximately $1,500 to $2,000, according to Brandon Martin, assistant manager at Martin Garage Doors of Nevada. For doors with windows across the top, the cost could easily increase to $3,000 or more.

“People who want to stay in their homes are getting insulated garage doors,” Martin said. “Going with a very reputable brand will also increase the value of your home.”

For the homeowner desiring unique looks to their garage door, recessed panels emulating wooden boards are popular, as is frosted tinted glass-paneled doors. Depending on what style is desired, the cost starts around $5,000.

“It’s a misconception that glass doors will be hotter than steel doors,” Martin said. “With low-e (low-emissivity glass) the temperature inside your garage will be about the same.”

This is because low-e glass minimizes the amount of infrared and ultraviolet light coming through the glass.

Another type of garage door that offers a distinctive look is one constructed from copper panels. Over time, the copper develops a natural patina that exudes a very eye-catching look. With manufactured thermal insulation, these doors could range in price from $12,000 to $15,000, Martin said.

Whatever style of garage door one chooses, Martin said it’s important to have it serviced at least once a year. This would include lubricating the spring or springs (some doors have two springs) and hinges with a lubricant that doesn’t collect dirt. A licensed technician should also be called to lubricate the garage-door motor yearly.

“Dirt will get into the hinges and rollers,” Martin said. “This will put stress on the motor, and the door will get noisy when opening and closing. Service will extend the useful lifetime of your garage door.”

Once you’ve upgraded the curb appeal of your garage door, the next logical step is to tackle the front door. After all, besides providing basic security, a front door functions as the first impression one gets upon ringing the doorbell.

If you have been longing for that rich-wooden look of doors found throughout Europe, Artfactory.com in Scottsdale, Arizona, has been making custom carved wooden doors since 1913. With 100 master carvers working three shifts daily, Artfactory.com constructs real timber doors for customers throughout the world.

Highly coveted cedar cypress wood, found in forests from California to Washington state and into Canada, is the only wood Artfactory.com uses. One master carver works on each door, which can take up to 4½ months or longer to make, depending on the amount of carving being done. A finished door can measure from 3 to 4 inches thick and is usually adorned with blacksmith-hammered wrought iron hinges and trim.

“Nothing eats it (termites) and moisture and heat don’t affect the wood,” said Jerry Martin, general manager. “Our doors aren’t painted; the color is in the wood, not on it.”

Artfactory.com uses an old-world technique to tint wood called fuming. This is a process where wood is exposed to ammonia in a heated chamber, resulting in the color being infused into the wood. The only maintenance required is occasionally rubbing a coat of oil on once a year for patina. Weather doesn’t affect the door.

“You end up with a door built like a wall,” Jerry Martin said. “Your door is a fine piece of art that increases the home’s value significantly.”

Cost for a simply carved door ranges from $5,000 to $6,000, Jerry Martin said. But the more intricate the carvings and whether glass features and wrought iron trims are added, the cost can easily surpass $200,000. There’s no limit. It all depends on what the customer wants.

“Today, door making is all about a fast processing and painting,” Jerry Martin said. “Our owner has stayed the course. We have an apprentice system here where we teach master carving. It’s really all about keeping this lost art alive. It’s about history and bringing beauty into the world.”

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