What Is the Difference Between Vinyl Back and Steel Back Garage Doors?

What’s the most suitable material for your garage door? Vinyl black and steel black garage doors are common options and are easily compared.

At first, this doesn’t seem a huge thing to worry about. But comments vary according to different people. Steel garage doors are the crowd favorite in the US.

But, depending on specific parameters like weather condition, durability, and warranty, you might want to purchase a specific type of garage door.

Read more: Amarr vs Chi Garage Doors: 8 Major Differences.

Today I deep dive into the differences and characteristics of vinyl and steel garage doors. Which one adds overall value to your home? Let’s find out.

Difference Between Vinyl Back and Steel Back Garage Door

What is Vinyl Backing on a Garage Door?

Often called a double-layer garage door, a vinyl door is a basic level for insulated garage doors.

Usually, vinyl garage doors have 24, 25, or 26 galvanized steel gauge skin on the outside. And there are polystyrene insulation bonds on the inside section.

So, you can guess vinyl back garage doors are pretty hard. But why it’s a big deal? First of all, they have a strong construction. The vinyl back door also comes at a reasonable price point.

Moreover, the price point is not the only thing that makes it an affordable option. The garage door insulation helps you save energy and money. And the R-rating for a vinyl backing is between 6 and 7. That’s quite impressive. (R values range from 1 to higher values, where 1 is least insulated).

Sure, vinyl backing construction often makes the door heavy. However, that’s not a flaw. As a matter of fact, vinyl backing ensures soundproofing and a beautiful interior look.

Not to mention, heavy doors can run smoothly without making any loud noises.

Reminder: Vinyl door doesn’t indicate it’s completely made of vinyl. As it turns out, vinyl doors are reinforced using steel skin or layers.

Vinyl Back Vs Steel Back Garage Door

Most modern-day homeowners prefer vinyl or steel doors over wooden doors. In most cases, people are confused about whether to repurchase vinyl back doors or steel garage doors.

So, here is a steel vs vinyl garage doors comparison to give you an overall view of the two types of doors.

Difference 1. Cost-effectiveness

When we try to discuss the vinyl back and steel back garage door differences, the very first thing we talk about is the price.

No doubt, vinyl back commercial doors are expensive compared to steel doors. But that’s the upfront cost we are talking about.

At first, it looks like steel garage doors are the best deal. But which is more cost-effective? Vinyl garage doors have the edge in longevity.

Most vinyl garage doors feature a lifetime warranty. Not to mention, vinyl door maintenance is not that expensive or problematic. On the other hand, a steel door warranty covers 10 or 15 years at max.

Difference 2. Appearance and Design

After the price, you better ask which one offers the best design option? Now, steel doors are painted using any color.

So, most steel garage door manufacturers offer a lot of color varieties for your door. Also, you can go DIY and color your garage door anytime.

But that’s not the case for vinyl back doors as they are not painted. As a result, you get limited color options.

Difference 3. Damage and Durability

When it comes to durability, steel is the more resilient one available. But steel door damage is easily noticeable. Because of this, many people think vinyl doors are much more durable than steel ones.

That’s not true at all. Vinyl doors are not better than steel doors in terms of durability. It’s just that any damage on vinyl doors is less noticeable.

For example, if you hit a steel door with a hammer, the steel skin will dent. On the other hand, vinyl doors will bounce back from the impact.

Basically, this is why many claim vinyl is the stronger one. Of course, that’s not the case. Steel has a high yield strength. So, breaking it in half is not that easy.

Yet, vinyl doors are not susceptible to scratches or dents like steel doors. Another great thing about vinyl doors is that they don’t rust. That’s a significant advantage over steel doors.

Difference 4. Repairs

Yes, steel doors are susceptible to dents or scratches. However, you can repaint the door to gain the old look. So, what about vinyl doors?

Well, refinishing a vinyl door is tough. You can use latex paint* to refinish the door, but that’s a complicated task. 

Difference 5. Thermal Efficiency or Insulation

Most vinyl doors are left uninsulated, especially cheap models. So, thermal efficiency is not the best element in vinyl doors. Vinyl doors can have an R-value of 6-7 depending on the model.

On the other hand, a steel garage door is a double steel skin sandwich. There’s an insulation layer between the two steel skins. This can vary in effectiveness with R-value from 6 to much higher. So, you, if you’re willing to pay for the better insulation, you can expect better thermal efficiency with steel doors.

Most Common Materials for Garage Doors

When you are looking for the best garage door, you need to know garage door differences. In order to do that, you better understand the construction first.

Typically, there are six types of material widely used to make garage doors. Let’s have a look at them:


Steel doors are made using two galvanized sheets sandwiched together. You can get them insulated or non-insulated.

Usually, steel doors are painted or coated with composite materials. So, there are plenty of color options available for steel doors.


Wooden garage door

It’s pretty rare to find wooden garage doors these days. However, if you like the look, you might be able to clad your door in wood. There are also cheaper options, like paint that makes your door look like wood*.

Manufacturers use cedarwood, fir, or redwood to make wood doors. Usually, these doors are painted or finished on the site.


Steel doors tend to dent or rust quickly. And aluminum frame garage doors can solve such problems. But, they are expensive.

These doors are available in different colors. You can get a brushed finish or just buy a translucent glass door with an aluminum frame.


Vinyl doors are challenging to dent or break. That’s why many people prefer to call them ‘kid proof.’ Usually, vinyl doors sit in a steel frame and there’s often polyurethane insulation in between the steel layer.

Fiber Glass

Fiber Glass garage door

Fiberglass is another expensive material to manufacture garage doors. These doors are immune to cracks or dents. However, they tend to break upon heavy impact.

Wood Composite

These doors are more associated with looks over durability. There’s a wooden frame covered with a fiberboard. So, you can get an actual wood door finish. Also, these garage doors have polystyrene insulation.

Are Insulated Garage Doors Stronger?

Of course, insulated doors have an extra insulation layer. This extra layer adds extra protection and durability. Not to mention, they are pretty good-looking, which is an essential element for a modern house.

Whether it’s vinyl or steel garage doors, they have two layers of steel. And steel has high-yield strength. So, when there’s an extra insulation layer, the door is sure to be sturdy.

What’s more, the extra layer can help you keep your garage at a consistent temperature. It means you get durability and energy efficiency both at the same time.

Not sure if you have an insulated garage door? Here’s how to tell if your garage door is insulated.

Vinyl Back vs Steel Back: Which Type of Garage Door is Better?

There’s no denying steel is resilient to any catastrophic damage. Yes, it does dent and scratch. However, you can quickly repair steel doors at a low cost.

Vinyl doors are pretty cost-effective. Even though they offer a limited color option, vinyl doors are attractive. The only problem is that vinyl doors are not very good in harsh weather conditions.

If you live in an area where the summer is unforgiving and the cold is blistering, you better avoid vinyl doors. Under extensive heat, flaking can occur. And under extreme cold, vinyl can crack.

On the other hand, if you are worried about the dents and the harsh weather condition is not an issue, vinyl is a good option.

But in my eyes, steel is the best choice anywhere. It’s just that you need to put a bit of attention into fixing the dents or repairing the damage on steel doors.

*Paid Link: As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Should you decide to purchase a product through this link, I will get a small commission. The price of the product won’t be any different to you.

Arthur Kyser Morn

Hey Guys! It's me Arthur Kyser Morn, aka AKM, the proud founder and author of Tools Auditor. I'm a content marketer, a dad of 2 lovely sons, and a handyman. I love trying out new tools, and together with my team, I've been creating helpful guides since 2017 with tools and DIY tips.

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