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Garage Door Window Inserts: Everything You Need to Know

Choosing a garage door is one of those tough selections you don’t want to get wrong. Material, budget, and quality are all important factors to consider, which will determine whether your selection meets your lifestyle and design. Windows are a big part of that decision, so keep reading to learn the ins-and-outs of garage door windows to help make your decision easier.

The Benefits of Garage Door Windows

  • Natural Light. Natural light is a valuable addition to any living space – even parking and storage space. Garage door windows let in just enough extra natural light to make them a worthwhile feature.

  • Curb Appeal. If your garage can be seen from the road, curb appeal on your garage door is an important factor. Garage door windows can add a touch of style to the exterior of your home, making them valuable beyond simple utility.

  • Easily replaceable. Garage door windows can be changed, or even added later on. Ideally you’ll love your garage door windows forever, but if styles (or even just your taste) change, you don’t have to marry yourself to the windows.

  • Customizable. When selecting a garage door, there are many, many windows to choose from. They’re an easy way to add some character to your home and make it a touch different from the neighbors.

Types and Features of Garage Door Windows

Shape Styles

A main feature in garage door windows is the style and shape of the window itself. It’s a primary consideration because you want the style to match the style of your home.

For instance, in a craftsman style home a cathedral window would be out of place. Here are some elements to keep an eye out for and how they can fit into your design aesthetic:

  • Arches: Arch styles vary broadly, from single arches on each window to an arch design that spans the entire garage door. These design elements can soften the look of your garage door and either compliment a home that utilizes arches throughout, or add some contrast and juxtaposition to an otherwise sleek aesthetic.
  • Panes: Some garage door windows utilize the look of window panes to break up the look of the glass, while others maximize the utility of windows by leaving them bare. Consider panes if your design could be enhanced by some added texture.

Materials

Just like garage doors come in an array of materials, garage door windows also require a choice of materials. The most common are:

  • Glass: Glass garage door windows are typical. Just like regular windows, they can be insulated and can be textured for privacy.
  • Acrylic: For a more affordable window, and for a more durable construction, consider acrylic windows. They can also be textured for privacy.
  • Polycarbonate: Similar to acrylic, polycarbonate is more impact resistant than glass. It’s more durable than acrylic and also more expensive.

Privacy

Many people would rather not have plain see-through glass windows. Due to the retracting nature of garage doors, shades and blinds aren’t really an option for privacy, so many people choose to texture or tint their garage door windows for added privacy. 

Here are some standard privacy options for garage door windows:

  • Tint: Tint can be added from the manufacturer, or if you decide you’d like your windows tinted later you can do it yourself after installation with tint adhesive. Tint is an easy way to add privacy without compromising the glass-look of the windows.
  • Frost: Just like tint, frost can be added before or after installation. It adds an aesthetic texture along with privacy. Window frost can come in a wide selection of textures, shades, and finishes.

Insulation

Garage door windows aren’t typically insulated, leaving your garage susceptible to seasonal humidity and temperature changes. This, however, can be rectified with thermal windows. They can be installed anytime, and are offered as an upgrade by many manufacturers at the purchase of your garage door.

Faux windows

You might be surprised to learn that if you decide you want windows after installation, magnetic faux windows are available and are surprisingly easy to install on a metal garage door.

Sanfurney 2 Car Magnetic Garage Door Windows Panes Arch Style Pre-Cut Faux Fake Decorative Window Decals, 8 Sections 14.6

Magnetic faux windows are all-season and easy to install yourself. Check prices on Amazon.

How to Install Garage Door Windows

If you already have a windowless garage door but want to try out windows, you have that option. There are two types to consider: faux windows and thermal windows. Let’s discuss how to install both.

Image Source: Haasdoor

Faux windows

Let’s start with the simpler install. Faux windows, which can be purchased at Amazon and countless other online marketplaces come in a range of styles. The mechanism is simple on all of them: remove them from packaging, measure them into the space you’d like them to be (evenly spaced), and apply the magnetic backing onto your garage door. 

Here are some things to keep in mind.

  • They have great curb appeal but do not pass as actual windows up close. It’s unlikely a guest will stare at them head-on, but it’s something to consider if complete aesthetic appeal is important to you.
  • They are extremely non-committal. You could move them several times a day if needed until you find your groove, and installation requires no handyperson skills. Installation is much quicker, though, if you’re good with a tape measure. 
  • This requires no actual changes to the garage door, so if you make a mistake you won’t have to sweat it.

Thermal windows

You can change your mind if your garage door doesn’t have windows. Real thermal windows can be installed in an existing garage door, and it’s easier than a lot of folks realize. If you have intermediate DIY skills and power tool experience, you can even do it yourself.

Here are some basic steps involved, but this website breaks it down in detail. If you aren’t comfortable doing it yourself, a professional can help.

  1. Set up shop with tools including screwdriver, drill, handsaw, and a few more basic tools.
  2. Measure your window space into the door with tape, and mark your corners with drill holes. Saw out window holes.
  3. Insert window surround and windows, and seal.

How Much Do Garage Door Windows Cost?

Depending on what type and brand of garage door windows you choose, cost can range widely. From twenty dollars for a pair of magnetic windows, to around two hundred dollars for a thermal insulated garage door window, there’s an option for every budget. 

How to Remove Garage Door Window Inserts

Garage door window inserts can be removed for cleaning and replacement. They’re simple to remove, requiring only basic skills with a drill. Here’s how:

  1. Remove screw caps and screws. Using a drill, remove screws from around the window trim.
  2. Use a flat tool to remove one side of the insert. Using a flathead screwdriver or another flat tool pry the window trim off the window.
  3. Remove screws from the other side. Once all the screws have been removed, pull the window out of the garage door carefully.

When you’re ready to replace the window, just repeat these steps in reverse.

How to Clean Garage Door Windows

Garage door windows are easiest to clean when removed from the garage door. Once they’re removed, follow these simple tips.

  1. Remove any decorative inserts from the glass. Once you’ve done this, you can clean the insert and glass separately.
  2. Mix lukewarm water and dish soap. Dish soap is gentle on both plastic inserts and the window itself and can be used to clean both.
  3. Use a soft sponge or cloth. Wipe surfaces with soapy water and rinse well.
  4. Dry and reassemble.

Keep in mind that if your windows are made of polycarbonate a special solution is recommended. You can find a polycarbonate window cleaning solution at any hardware store. You want to ensure nothing abrasive or acidic comes into contact with polycarbonate. Also, only use a soft cloth on these windows, as a razor blade or squeegee will damage the surface.

As you can see, there are many reasons to add windows to your garage doors. They have aesthetic appeal, they add character, and they allow natural light into the space. They require special care, but they’re versatile and easy to maintain.

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