Fenestration: Anodized Aluminum

A Better Option for Garage Door Panels

by Steven Soderberg, corporate marketing manager, Lorin Industries, Inc.

The once-in-a-century pandemic has caused great disruptions in our lives and in the economy, causing many problems, but also opening up new perspectives and possibilities.  One surprising example is the garage door, the ubiquitous and increasingly prominent feature of single-family home design and construction.

         The bad news is that supply-chain complications have led to a shortage of garage doors, which turns out to be a major contributing factor in slowing the pace of homebuilding despite the unusually high demand for housing.  Prices of garage doors have doubled or tripled, and very long lead times regularly delay closings and payment to builders. 

         The good news is that the supply chain disruptions have also led to the exploration of alternative materials, most notably accelerating the adoption of anodized aluminum panels as an alternative to wood, painted steel, and fiberglass. 

         Engineers, designers, and manufacturers have preferred anodized aluminum for many commercial and residential building applications, due to its beauty, formability, and durability, and now garage door manufacturers are increasingly recognizing its benefits compared to outdated panel materials.  Anodized aluminum panels are not only a readily available option to garage door manufacturers for this scarce component, but they also provide a long-lasting luxury look. 

         The residential garage door, which averages over 100 sq.ft. of a forward-facing surface, is a prominent architectural feature of most homes today.  The pandemic and rising home prices pushed families to the exurbs.  Longer commutes and more plentiful space have increased the size and importance of the garage. 

         More than 90% of new houses are built with garages, and more often than not, the garage is placed in front.  With soaring home prices, buyers desire a premium look, and the garage door will often be the first part of the house they notice upon arrival.  Therefore, the curb appeal of the garage door is critical, not only for new construction but also to preserve home value for the long term.

         Anodized aluminum provides a beautiful, lasting look with deep, rich, and consistent color that makes a statement by reflecting and absorbing light in a way that paint simply cannot match.  Unlike painted metal, anodized aluminum is not flat, static, or one-dimensional.  Depending on the angle from which it is viewed, it can achieve ever-changing looks due to variables such as the amount of light, time of day, or even the time of year.

         Not all anodized aluminum is alike.  Lorin employs a coil anodizing process that provides an exceptionally high-quality and long-lasting anodized finish using a special process where coiled raw aluminum is unwound and pulled through a series of tanks that clean, anodize, color, and seal, and then it is finally rewound back into the coil, all in one continuous movement.  Because every square inch of the material in coil form spends the same amount of time in each part of the process, consistency of color, anodic layer, and texture is ensured.

         Since coil anodized aluminum can be roll formed and stamped, it is suitable for a variety of garage door styles.  Moreover, it can be embossed with a variety of patterns such as wood grain and stucco.  A key difference is that, unlike paint, anodized aluminum is not a coating.  Anodized aluminum is created through an electrochemical process in which a very hard oxide layer is grown from the aluminum itself, rather than being painted on or applied.  The raw aluminum is bonded at the molecular level to create a surface that is thick, translucent, and very hard, much harder than the base aluminum itself. 

         In fact, the surface hardness is second only to diamond and is unmatched in abrasion resistance and durability.  Therefore, anodized aluminum is much more durable than coated materials and will never chip, flake, or peel and will never rust, patina, or weather.  As the most plentiful metal in the earth’s crust, aluminum is readily available even with worldwide supply chain problems.  Plus, anodized aluminum is an environmentally friendly building material that is entirely recyclable. 

         Beautiful homes shouldn’t have to compromise due to the restrictions and challenges of outdated materials.  For a truly unique, signature look, anodized aluminum offers a durable, customizable, and consistent appearance, perfect for making a new and bold statement. 

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