Last Updated on August 2, 2023 by Web Operator
Selecting the correct wood for a project is always important, but I know it takes on even greater importance when dealing with a project that has to sit outdoors. For a garage door, I see the best woods as being: Douglas fir, cherry, mahogany, cedar, redwood, plywood, and Idigbo.
Now, I know some of those woods may come as a surprise, but that’s why I always feel it’s best to gain some understanding of what a wood can offer when it comes to carrying out any project.
But even with that, some wood species will be better at coping with the conditions, and that’s the sort of information you need at your disposal. And yet, the type of wood that’s best will also be determined by the project, and I know that complicates matters even more.
So, that is why I’ve decided to focus on just one project: choosing the best wood for a garage door. By the end, you will hopefully feel more confident in selecting the wood that’s best for you and where it also gives you the type of finish you were hoping for.
Why Selecting the Correct Wood is So Important
Before I dive into going through the seven different species of wood that I feel are best for a garage door, let me explain why selecting the correct wood is so important.
I just said how some wood species can cope better with certain conditions, and this is how it generally works.
Certain wood species contain properties that allow them to be more resistant to moisture and water in general. That’s huge, and some wood species have it because of where the tree itself grows. It has sort of developed those properties simply because it’s exposed to so much rain or moisture in nature.
Thankfully for us, it takes those properties, and they still exist even when you have stripped the wood down and cut it up into sections.
But some wood species go an extra step.
Some species have some anti-rot properties thanks to making it difficult for fungus to grow. This is often due to tighter grain, so the wood does not have huge crevices in the wood that creates the perfect environment for fungus to grow and rot to set in place.
Finally, some wood species make it difficult for insects to inhabit the wood and weaken it. If insects get into the wood, it leads to them weakening the wood, and then moisture and rot find it easier to get to the core.
So, if you have different kinds of wood with all those properties, then it means you can use them with an outdoor project and not have to worry the same. However, no wood is 100% resistant to weather, so even the toughest of wood species will still require some upkeep and maintenance.
But enough of that. Let’s get on with identifying the seven best kinds of wood for garage doors to help you to make your decision and get started with your project.
I think one of the best options for this project has to be cedar wood, and I say that for several reasons.
First, it has some anti-moisture properties, making it tough for pests to get into it. That means it has a certain degree of resistance to two of the key things that can weaken the wood and reduce its effectiveness.
But this continued strength is also necessary for another area.
Cedar wood will never really warp, crack or twist when there are variations in either weather or temperature. This is a big deal, and here is the reason why.
If cedar wood absorbed moisture, it would expand. Also, frost, snow, and ice would be absorbed and further help the wood to expand. Once it dries out or is exposed to summer temperatures, the wood will crack or split.
This is because the moisture has forced apart the grain in a way that’s just not natural. It weakens the wood from the inside and effectively changes its structure. When you then expose the wood to something different, it cannot cope.
The result? You need to rip down the wood and start again.
But cedar doesn’t do that.
And yet, I’m not finished when it comes to the reasons why cedar works well for a garage door.
It’s also relatively light, so moving your garage door will not be problematic or too difficult. This is another important factor as you hardly want to struggle with this, or it renders your garage useless.
Also, cedar just looks good. You can leave it in a natural state for a period of time as well if that’s what you like from a looks perspective, or it also absorbs stains exceptionally well.
Overall, I feel cedar wood just works well with this project. It’s not the most expensive option out there and is easy to purchase, yet it tends to be one of the best looking woods for a garage door. It’s undoubtedly one I would seriously think about if I was getting to work with installing a new wood garage door.
The Pros of Using Cedar
- It’s light
- It doesn’t warp or twist
- It can cope well with the elements
- It’s not too expensive to purchase
- It’s easy to work with
Another common option is mahogany, and it will immediately create a feeling of luxury and even a sense of richness for your garage door. I know most people will automatically think it will be expensive, but that’s not always the case.
And yet, I feel mahogany is well worth the investment, and that’s for several reasons.
First, it looks incredible. I completely understand why people get that sense of luxury. That applies no matter the object that’s made from mahogany, and a garage door is no different.
And yet, mahogany goes far beyond just simply looking good. Instead, it’s a highly useful wood that will be capable of withstanding so much of what the weather conditions can throw at it. In addition, cutting mahogany does not require any special tools, so you should be able to complete the project with ease.
Mahogany is just naturally resistant to both moisture and insects, so those are two fundamental things you should be looking for in this type of situation. Also, it’s hardwood, and the grain is close together in mahogany. That makes it harder for anything, whether it’s fungus or insects, to really penetrate deep into the core of the wood.
In addition, mahogany is just not going to warp or split even when it has been exposed to varying weather conditions. This is fantastic because it will maintain its shape for years to come.
That simple fact of how mahogany naturally copes with the weather is huge, but I would still go ahead and give it some added protection by adding a stain. It will not only mean it will remain protected for years, but it will also enhance the color and grain.
Ultimately, it will add to that richness I mentioned at the outset. I feel mahogany is indeed a fantastic option when it comes to a garage door.
The Pros of Using Mahogany
- It gives a luxury look to your garage door
- It copes well with the weather
- You should still give it some protection
- It won’t crack or split with the weather
- It’s resistant to insects
Redwood is a widely used species of wood, and I think it’s a fantastic option when it comes to a garage door. Again, I have a number of reasons why I feel it can work exceptionally well with this type of project.
First, it’s durable. That’s great because you do need something that’s durable when it has to face up against potentially difficult weather conditions.
In addition, a garage door crafted from redwood will be put together in pieces. That approach does help it to stop warping or even splitting as the garage door is hit by wet weather and then heat.
Redwood is certainly viewed as more of a higher-end option, but don’t let that put you off. Instead, I find redwood to be perfectly reasonable when it comes to the cost, and when you consider it has the potential to last for decades, then it represents value for money.
But that will only apply if you care correctly for the wood. That means adding stain and a protective coating to the wood. A failure to do that will lead to the wood becoming damaged, but even that will take a few years of exposure before it becomes evident that something is up with the wood.
Also, staining the wood just brings out the character of the redwood. In addition, it makes your garage door look even better, so it’s a win-win situation.
The Pros of Using Redwood
- It can last for years with only a bit of protection
- Staining means the wood takes on so much character
- It doesn’t warp too much even in harsh conditions
- You can cut and shape with ease
I will throw in a bit of a curve ball here and mention plywood as an option. I know this will come as a real surprise, but just hold on a minute and allow me to explain why plywood is such a good idea.
First, it’s inexpensive, and that’s great if you find yourself on a bit of a tight budget. This is possible because what actually happens is you have a plywood core, and then a thin skin of wood is placed over the plywood.
That skin does give the finished garage door a much improved finished appearance than just good old plywood. Also, the wood skin gives it some added protection from the weather.
But I see plywood as having a number of other positives aside from the price.
Plywood is light. That should make it easier to open and close the garage door. You also don’t require such heavy mechanisms to operate the door either. In addition, you can zip through plywood with a regular circular saw or table saw, so no problem there either.
However, the fact it’s light does come with a slight disadvantage as plywood does not have any real insulation properties. Due to that, I would recommend installing some thin insulation on the inside of your garage door. It’s incredible how even a thin layer can make a substantial difference, and this is a job you need to do if you plan on spending any time in your garage during those colder months.
But overall, I would certainly not shy away from using plywood for my garage door if I was on a budget. It works better and lasts longer than most people realize.
The Pros of using Plywood
- It’s very light
- It’s inexpensive to purchase
- It’s very easy to cut to size
- It lasts longer than people expect
- You should then add insulation to the inside as it’s lacking in plywood
Idigbo may not be a wood species you are too familiar with, but it’s a fantastic garage door option. Originally from West Africa, it’s a hardwood with a number of positive attributes that makes it perfect for this type of project.
The wood is stable and durable. Also, it’s lighter than wood, such as oak, so being able to open and close the garage door should not prove problematic. But one additional feature I love about idigbo is the grain. It’s slightly wider than you would expect and has a bit of a flow to it, and I feel it gives the wood a lot of character.
That character does then transfer over to your garage door, and staining the wood simply adds to that character. But look at how you cut the wood to get the most out of the grain and allow it to flourish.
I’ve also found that this wood is popular when you wish to install an up-and-over style garage door. This is because of the weight of the wood and the fact you should not really struggle here.
But keep in mind that this wood is a tropical wood. That does mean it has a number of anti-moisture properties, so it should never struggle when it comes to coping with weather conditions.
That should mean this wood can cope with poor weather and will last years even if you leave the wood untreated. However, that’s not something I would suggest you do. After all, staining or adding a protective layer to the wood will help bring out that character I mentioned earlier.
The Pros of Using Idigbo
- It has so much character as a wood
- It copes well with moisture and weather conditions
- Adding some stain is important
- It’s light but sturdy
- It’s perfect for an up-and-over style door
Cherry is a fascinating wood, and it can certainly produce a garage door that is warm and just stunning to look at. Yet, it’s not all about looks.
Cherry wood is also going to resist any warping or twisting when it is exposed to different environments and weather conditions. This is fantastic, as it should mean it lasts for years, and this time is enhanced by the fact this wood is also quite resistant to rot.
But I would not leave cherry untreated if I was planning on using it for a garage door. Instead, I would add a protective layer, but I would tend to keep it clear rather than a color.
That’s because a clear protective layer will allow the natural grain and red color of the cherry to really come through. I would never want to really change that, so that’s why I would add a clear layer rather than anything else.
Overall, I think cherry is a gorgeous wood, and the thing I love about it most of all is the fact it’s just not going to change or crack even if it’s being exposed to extremes when it comes to the weather.
The Pros of Using Cherry
- It copes well with weather extremes
- It’s better to add some protection just to help it along
- It’s very easy to get your hands on some
- It’s stunning to look at
- It’s easy to cut and shape
7. Douglas Fir
The final option I want to mention is Douglas Fir, and there’s no doubt that this wood is highly durable. However, it’s certainly one option that you need to treat, as the untreated version will not prove to be anywhere near as effective as other wood species I’ve mentioned above.
I think people tend to look past this wood species as they tend to think about it more for framing rather than anything else. However, it’s undoubtedly durable and tough enough to withstand a whole lot of punishment if you don’t leave it bare.
You see, the strength of this wood is unmistakable. It has a natural durability, but it can become more brittle over time. That is why you cannot leave it alone and in an untouched state. Sure, it will take several years to get to the point where it will potentially be damaged, but it’s not worth allowing that to happen in the first place.
I also feel fir absorbs stains quite well. That gives you some leeway regarding the color of the garage door you can then have. In addition, you can quickly rip through boards to cut them to shape and you won’t encounter too much resistance.
But I’ll be honest, fir would not be my first choice. However, it is a type of wood that is easy to get hold of, and it shouldn’t cost too much for you to then put your garage door together.
The Pros of Using Douglas Fir
- It’s very easy to purchase, and is relatively inexpensive
- It stains well
- It’s easy to cut and you can rip through it
- You do need to protect it to ensure it lasts years
Things to Consider When Choosing Wood
The seven different types of wood I’ve mentioned above are all fantastic in their own right, but I need to also offer some advice on how you choose the wood and also things you need to avoid.
Why No Pine or Oak?
Some people may have expected to see two common kinds of wood in oak and pine to have appeared on the list. So, I’ll explain why I never included them.
First, oak is just too heavy and difficult to work with when covering an area the size of a garage door. In theory, you could use it for an up-and-over type of door, but you are then talking about using a sizeable mechanism capable of holding the weight.
Seriously, it’s just not worth the hassle or the added difficulty associated with it.
And then there’s pine. The reason why I’ve not included it is that pine requires regular upkeep to help stop the weather conditions from weakening the wood. I just don’t see it as a good option because of how brittle the wood can be when exposed to the elements daily.
Key Points to Consider
But back to those key points to think about, and there are several areas that go beyond how quickly you can plane it down.
First, always ensure the wood you plan on using has some form of natural resistance to moisture. I know you still need to add a protective layer, but perhaps not even straight away, depending on the wood, but it’s good to know the wood is working with you on this.
Another thing I would look out for is the tightness of the grain. It does help to prevent fungus from settling into the wood, and that can help increase the lifespan of the wood as it’s not effectively being eaten from the inside. However, the protective coating you will then apply does also help seal this in.
I would also turn my attention to the natural color and grain of the wood. I know you can enhance it or even change it, thanks to the use of stains and varnishes, but the natural color does play a role.
For me, the color comes down to how rich I want the door to look. However, if you look at the kinds of wood I’ve included here, it often comes across as quite red or orange. But if that’s not what you would want, then don’t stress. Paint and stain can completely change everything.
I think that’s the key part here if you stay within the confines of one of the seven kinds of wood I’ve included above. You want your garage door to look good and perhaps even make some sort of a statement. That is where the color and grain of the wood will make a huge difference.
Things to Avoid
Finally, the things you need to avoid, and there are several important points.
Never go ahead and purchase wood without checking how well it copes with the outdoors. I mentioned earlier that pine is a bad choice because of the upkeep it requires, and pine is not the only wood that falls into that category.
Ensure the wood you choose will not warp or split due to its exposure to different weather conditions. Some wood will react badly as added moisture makes it swell, and then as it dries out, the grain widens, and the wood cracks. That kind of thing will only ever lead to you needing to replace your garage door regularly.
Also, think about the weight. Certain kinds of wood will just prove to be too heavy for a garage door, and you don’t want to be in a position where you struggle to open and close the door. However, you also don’t want things to be too light that the door becomes flimsy. At that point, it feels like it doesn’t offer the same protection.
As long as you keep those few things in mind, then I don’t think you will have any real problem with your garage door.
Those are my seven options when it comes to choosing the best woods for garage doors, and I know that more than one of them will stand out for you.
The key here is to understand the coloring of the wood and how it relates to what you want. It can completely change the outlook just by this one thing. I say to focus on this area because each wood species I’ve included does a fantastic job of standing up to the weather, so that becomes slightly less of a concern.
But then, before you go ahead and dive into this project, I suggest checking out the following articles.