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Surprise: New garage door tops list of high-impact, affordable home improvements

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Updated: 8/16/2013 3:44 pm

(BPT) - You've finally scraped together some money to improve the looks of your house.

Problem: Every project costs too much or produces a minor improvement.

Solution: A stunning new garage door. A front-facing garage door packs a big punch and dramatically improves the curb appeal of the entire home.

That's one of the big revelations from the 2012-2013 Cost vs. Value Report by Remodeling Magazine. In the report, a garage door replacement again ranked in the top three in 'cost recouped' on a list of 35 common home remodeling projects.

Siding replacement and a deck addition also ranked at the top, but they can cost $10,000 to $15,000. An upscale garage door often costs less than $3,000.

The project that pays for itself

'No other exterior home project transforms such a large space at such minimal cost and time,' says Tom Wadsworth, long-time editor of a garage door trade magazine. Since a home's garage doors can take up more than a third of the front elevation of the home, a new garage door can make a big difference.

And a stylish new garage door can actually pay for itself, according to a Stratamark Research survey. When nationwide real estate agents were shown before and after photos of houses with new upscale garage doors, they increased the list price of the home anywhere from 1 to 4 percent. That means a $2,000 garage door investment could increase the sale value of your home by as much as $8,000 if you're selling a $200,000 home.

Making a difference

Brad and Jenny Considine recently moved from the Midwest to a nice home outside Baltimore. They had a budget for making improvements, but they had a tough time prioritizing which job should come first. They were glad they chose the garage doors because 'the change was dramatic,' says Brad.

After his new wood carriage-style garage doors were installed earlier this year replacing two standard-issue builder-grade garage doors, he was ecstatic. 'The doors went from being an embarrassing part of the home to having neighbors coming over and asking me about them. I was amazed at how much they improved the entire house.'

Maximizing design

The Considines' new carriage-style doors had windows that matched the style of windows on the house. That's a key design tip when buying a new garage door.

'The most stunning doors integrate with the design of the home,' says Wadsworth. 'Look for colors, lines and shapes that match other exterior components.'

The styles of today's garage doors have advanced far beyond the all-too-common rows of rectangles. New doors also feature appealing designs, striking colors, rich finishes and decorative window options that can flatter any home.

To get a taste of the latest innovations, Wadsworth urges homeowners to go to GarageWowNow.com , a non-commercial website developed by the garage door industry. The site includes before and after photos and displays many styles introduced in recent years.

Not a DIY project

One word of caution. Don't try to install a garage door yourself. 'Your garage door system is under high tension that can cause severe injury or even death if improperly installed,' says Wadsworth. Plus, an experienced installer knows how to install the door for correct balance, maximum energy efficiency, smooth operation, low noise and longest life.

GarageWowNow.com's ZIP code search function can also point you to qualified professionals in your area.

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