06/02/13 8:30am
06/02/2013 8:30 AM

VILLAGE OVERHEAD DOORS COURTESY PHOTO | Multiple garages with custom doors made of western red cedar.

Garage doors are getting a high-end makeover on the North Fork.

No longer satisfied with having their garages look like everyone else’s, some local homeowners are shelling out thousands of dollars for custom-made wooden, glass or steel carriage garage doors.

Wally Voegel, owner of Doorworks Garage Door Service in Mattituck, said wealthy clients are veering away from the vinyl and steel look that’s been standard in new home construction for decades.

“Wood is where you find your more expensive products,” said Mr. Voegel, who has worked in the industry for 20 years. “Usually we end up with mahogany, cedar or teak. They’re higher quality woods that hold up well in weather conditions and don’t rot out as quickly as pine.”

Mr. Voegel said custom doors at his store cost upwards of $8,000 or $9,000 — a hefty price tag, but one wealthier clients are willing to pay.

“Nothing looks prettier than cedar or mahogany when it’s stained,” Mr. Voegel said.

Aesthetics aside, wooden doors still require upkeep to look their best. They need to be painted or stained every couple years, said Steve Hall, owner of Village Overhead Doors in Southold.

Rain and snow can also rot the doors.

VILLAGE OVERHEAD DOORS COURTESY PHOTO | A contemporary-style garage with a frosted glass door.

“Out here on Long Island, wooden doors have to be maintained to a high level because of the dampness,” Mr. Hall said. “You can’t let moisture get into the wood.”

Homeowners who want the look of a wooden door without the maintenance are in luck. Steel carriage doors, which look like wood but are made with vinyl overlays, have become very popular. Less costly than custom wooden doors, steel carriage doors lend rustic charm by appearing to swing open like barn doors.

“You get the look of a custom wood door without the maintenance,” Mr. Hall said. “That’s what I put on my garage.”

“They’re less expensive than wooden doors and you don’t have to paint them,” added Robert Elmore, owner of Titan Overhead Doors in Cutchogue.

Mr. Elmore said there are too many variables in the construction of steel carriage doors to estimate an average cost, but he said a custom stained mahogany garage door can cost as much as $15,000. At Mr. Hall’s shop, a steel carriage door costs roughly $3,000.

Of course, not everyone wants wooden or steel carriage doors. For a modern look that offers more natural light, some homeowners are going with glass. Mike Kontokosta, an attorney who owns Kontokosta Winery in Greenport, had Titan Overhead Doors install glass doors on a three-car garage at his Water Mill home two weeks ago.

“They complement the house, which is very modern,” Mr. Kontokosta said. “They’re cool doors. They give the house a more contemporary look and feel.”

Some garage doors fall outside the scope of the ordinary. Mr. Voegel said he once installed a door completely covered in stainless steel at a Shelter Island home.

“It looked like a giant silver refrigerator,” he said.

Most East End homeowners, however, take a more conventional and budget-friendly approach to their garages.

Bill, a sales specialist in the millwork department at the Riverhead Lowe’s who asked to be identified by his first name only, said one of the store’s bestselling garage doors is the 500 Series, a steel door with two inches of insulation that costs around $290.

Whether someone pays a little or a lot, one thing is certain: aesthetically, garage doors are as important to a home as paint, siding or windows.

“Changing your garage doors is one of the largest single things you can do to the appearance of your house,” Mr. Hall said. “It’s relatively inexpensive and can change the whole appearance of the house.”

ryoung@timesreview.com