Pan Garage Doors vs Sandwich Garage Doors - Aaron Overhead
CHI Paneled Garage Door

Pan Garage Doors vs Sandwich Garage Doors

We get a lot of calls from people wanting the cheapest price for a new garage door. However, affordability can’t always be the primary concern when shopping for a garage door. After all, a garage door protects your home and makes your life more convenient. More than just those concerns, you also need to consider how the more flimsy construction of some garage doors can impact the longevity of your entire garage door system.

Pan Garage Door

Commonly, pan garage doors are considered the cheapest option for a new garage door. Pan garage doors are a thin layer of steel, and they aren’t sturdy enough to be put on a wide door. This is because they do not have a sturdy enough construction to support their own weight, especially in the upright position. Over time, this causes the door to bow in the middle, damaging panels and causing your opener to work harder. If these problems continue, it can cause multiple parts of your garage door system to wear out prematurely. So, although you may have saved money upfront with the pan door, you will end up paying more in the long term for repairs and maintenance. For example, if you have a 16 or 18-foot wide garage door (typical with a two-car garage), then I strongly suggest doing your research before choosing based on price. We commonly turn down jobs where people want to install pan garage doors.

Sandwich Garage Door

Instead of going with the pan door for affordability and convenience, do your research. Explore sandwich, or three-layer insulated, garage doors. A sandwich garage door is a triple-layer garage door with three layers. The outside is a layer of steel, the middle is polystyrene insulation, and the back is another layer of steel. If you plan to stay in your home for more than 3 to 5 years, we strongly suggest investing in a sandwich garage door. More than just a more sturdy and reliable construction, sandwich doors also have more long-term benefits. In particular, insulated garage doors have higher energy efficiency, temperature control, and noise regulation.

See illustrations of pan and sandwich door constructions below:

Pan Garage Door

One Layer Non-Insulated Garage Door

Sandwich Garage Door

Three Layer Polyurethane Insulated Garage Door

Problems with Pan Garage Doors

As you can imagine, the difference between these two garage door constructions is pretty significant. You can’t even compare the durability and thus longevity benefits between these two options. For example, I’ve never seen a sandwich door snap in half. In fact, a sandwich garage door will feel a lot like a wall. On the other hand, we do see pretty often the pan doors snapping in half. See below photos for examples of folded pan doors.

If you have one of these doors, you can see early signs of your door collapsing by watching the top panel starting to pull away from the frame when it’s closed. You can also see a small crack in the top panel when the garage door is open. Either of these signs means you need immediate repair or maintenance to prevent your garage door panels from completely collapsing.

Another reason why it’s a good idea not to buy the pan door is they dent easily. If your kid runs a bike into it, a ball gets thrown up against it, or your car bumps into it, a pan door will not survive too long. However, a sandwich door will not dent easily and will last much longer.

garage door repair services

Another Option

We didn’t discuss the third option when shopping for a garage door. That’s an exposed insulated, or two-layer insulated, garage door. It’s a pan door with exposed insulation added to the back. This means you can poke holes into the insulation while inside the garage door. These are built with polystyrene insulation on steel sections. Although they do provide some of the benefits of an insulated garage door, not to nearly the same extent as a sandwich door. This is why we also aren’t a fan of this door.


So next time you are researching garage doors, please look into the differences between pan and sandwich garage doors. In the long run, the difference in price is about what it would cost to replace one panel if it got dented. Also, if you’re ready to upgrade your home with a sandwich garage door, contact Aaron Overhead Doors! We can give all the best brands and styles, helping you find the best new garage door.

Pan Garage Door
Damaged Pan Garage Door

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