Over time, wooden garage doors may crack, warp and become misaligned. Doors made of other materials may dent, crack or otherwise lose their luster. As a result, the largest moving part of your house may become unsightly, drafty and/or difficult to lift. In most cases, it takes a two-person team a weekend to remove a weather-beaten garage door and replace it with a durable and attractive new one that lifts easily and seals out the wind and dust. Lowe's is happy to provide this information as a service to you.
Signs that You May Need a New Door
Light and dust coming in from under the door
Worn or rusted rollers and tracks
Should You Do It Yourself?
Most garage doors consist of four or five sections that are connected by hinges. The doors are guided upward and downward along a set of tracks by rollers at the two sides of the doors.
The real work of opening and closing garage doors is performed by heavy-duty springs, which are relaxed when the door is fully open and tense up progressively as the door is lowered. Thus, the springs provide upward force, preventing the door from crashing down from the fully open position and helping the home owner lift the door from its closed position.
Before attempting to replace your old garage door, determine the type of spring mechanism it uses. If the door uses a torsion spring that is mounted on the front wall of the garage just over the door, you will need a qualified professional to relieve the tension before removing the spring. Torsion springs are potentially dangerous and can cause serious injuries if improperly dismantled.
If you have two springs that are mounted over the tracks, they are extension springs, which can be removed safely by handy do-it-yourselfers.
Measure the length and width of your old door to determine the size of the door you need. Next, measure the area between the top of the door jamb and the ceiling to determine if you have sufficient headroom for the door you want. Standard 7'-high doors require 10"-12" of headroom. However, many door manufacturers sell low-headroom kits that allow their doors to operate with as little as 4 1/2" of headroom. Additional headroom is needed for attachment of an automatic opener.
Impact wrench or cordless drill with a socket attachment
A pair of 1' pieces of 2"x4" lumber
A pair of clamps with at least 6" jaws
1-pound box of 2" 6d galvanized finishing nails
3/32"-thick, 1 1/4"-wide punched angle iron to be used as track hangers if the existing hangers are inadequate (optional)
Six 1 1/2"-long, 5/16" lag screws for track hangers (optional)
Eight 1"-long 3/8" bolts and nuts for rear track hangers (optional)
Ten 3 1/2"-long 16d common nails
Plastic stop molding with built-in weather seal
Types Of Garage Doors
The most economical are steel doors that are not insulated. The next level up are steel frame doors with insulation, but the sturdiest and most attractive doors are steel sandwich models, with steel panels on both sides of the insulation.
Dismantling The Old Door
A two-person team may take an entire weekend to dismantle an old door and replace it with an operating new one. However, the old door can be removed and the rough opening closed up by new door panels within 6-8 hours.
Use C-clamps to keep the door in place while you are working.
The most difficult and potentially dangerous step when installing a new garage door is removing the old spring system. Start by raising the door to relieve the tension on the extension springs.
With the door fully open, attach C-clamps to the tracks just below the first set of wheels. This will prevent the door from rolling downward once the springs are removed.
Each extension spring is generally hung between an eyebolt, which is attached to the rear track hanger assembly, and a pulley on which the lift cable rides. The lift cable is attached to a small stud at the side of the bottom bracket on the bottom door section. Detach the lift cables from the two sides of the door and then dismantle the spring and pulley assemblies.
Lowering the heavy door is a two person job because, as the door is lowered, it feels heavier. First, place two 1'-long pieces of 2"x4" lumber across the opening, about 1' from each end of the opening. The boards will act as stops to prevent finger injuries if the door descends too quickly.
Once the door is in the down position, remove the hinges and rollers that hold the top section in place and lift the section out of the opening. Repeat this step with each section until the entire door is dismantled. Now remove all fasteners securing the old track and detach the track from the wall and the rear track hanger. Do not try to reuse the old track, because it probably will not match the new door hardware. The rear track hanger, however, can probably be reused.
Door Jamb Repairs
Inspect the wood door jamb for rot and other damage. First remove the stop molding, then replace any damaged or rotted wood. If the door jamb needs repainting, do so before installing the new door.
Installing The Door Sections
Measure the inside of the door jamb and cut new pieces of vinyl stop molding to fit the jamb. Use 2" 6d galvanized finishing nails, driven about 3/4 of the way in, to temporarily fasten the molding in place. The edge of the molding must be flush with the rear edge of the door jamb, and the weather seal must face the garage.
Place the door's bottom section across a pair of sawhorses that have been padded with foam rubber, carpet or other protective material. You can identify the bottom door section by the vinyl weather seal on the lower edge. Attach the hinges and hardware according to the manufacturer's instructions.
After installing the hardware, put the section in place in the door opening and use a level and shims to make sure that the section is plumb and level. Drive one 3 1/2"-long 16d common nail into each side of the door jamb, adjacent to each side of the section, and bend the nails so they temporarily hold the section in place. Repeat for all other door sections until the entire opening is closed.
Installing The Tracks
Slide the rollers into the appropriate holes in the door hinges and brackets, as specified by the manufacturer. Assemble the vertical track sections on a flat surface according to the manufacturer's instructions.
The tracks have one flat edge and one curved edge. Position the tracks over the rollers so the flat edges of the tracks face the garage door. Push the tracks as close as possible to the sides of the door and then back off about 3/8" to create a small amount of "play." Use two lag screws (usually provided with the door) to secure each track to the appropriate side of the door jamb, about 1/2" off the floor.
Use a level to check that the tracks are both plumb and level with each other. If they are not level with each other, you must either raise the lower track or cut the bottom of the higher track until they are level. Do not lift the lower track by more than 3/4", because that could cause the wheels to slip out. Secure the tracks to the door jamb according to the manufacturer's directions.
If your existing track hangers feel flimsy, see the illustration for a diagram showing the construction of new track hangers. Make them from 3/32"-thick, 1 1/2"-wide punched angle iron and 1"-long 3/8" bolts. Since the track hangers will be holding much of the weight of the door, they must be fastened securely to ceiling joists or trusses. Use three 1 1/2"-long 3/16" lag screws per joist.
For the smooth, safe operation of the door, it is critical for the horizontal track sections to be level and square with the front of the door. Position the rear track hangers to correspond with the distances from the garage side walls to the vertical track sections. The distance from the front wall of the garage to the track hangers will be determined by the length of the horizontal tracks. Check that the hangers are square with the vertical tracks by measuring the diagonal from the top of each vertical track to the opposite track hanger. If the two diagonals are equal, the hangers are square with the tracks. If not, you will have to adjust the hanger positions.
Mounting The Horizontal Track Sections
Assemble the horizontal sections of the two tracks on the floor. Use a 2' length of rope to assist installers in holding the back section of the track in place while securing the front section. Tie the ropes onto the rear track hangers, leaving a loop of rope under each hanger.
Lift each horizontal track assembly into position, threading the rear section through the rope loop. Secure the front of the horizontal track to the top of the vertical track. Level the horizontal track with a magnetic torpedo level positioned on the top edge of the track. Secure it to the track hanger with a 1"-long 3/8" bolt.
Install all remaining track and door hardware, except for the spring system, according to the manufacturer's specifications. Check that all nuts, bolts and lag screws are tight and secure.
Remove the 3 1/2"-long 16d common nails that were driven into the door jamb to temporarily hold the door panels in place. Carefully lift the door about one-third of the way and move the saw horses under the door. Inspect the track to ensure that it is square by checking that the wheels remain firmly in the track and do not bind. If the track is not square, lower the door and make the adjustments.
Installing the Springs
Raise the door and make sure that it is held securely in the upward position. Secure C-clamps to the tracks just below the bottom wheels. Follow the manufacturer's specifications for attaching the springs and lift cable to the door and hangers.
There are many different systems for setting spring tension. To avoid possible injury while adjusting the tension on the springs, follow the manufacturer's instructions closely. You may be asked to remove the clamps and close the door first, or you may be asked to make the adjustment with the locking clamps in place.
After adjusting the springs, check them for proper tension. (If you haven't removed the C-clamps, do so now.) Check this by moving the door to the half open position. If the door remains in place, the tension is properly adjusted. If it moves upward, the springs are too taut. If it rolls downward, they are too slack. To readjust the tension, close and lock the door or reclamp the tracks as above, (according to the manufacturer's instructions) and then readjust the spring.
Check that the stop molding fits snugly against the door without binding when the door is raised or lowered. If it does not, adjust the molding and then fasten it permanently into place with 2"-long 6d galvanized finishing nails. If you plan to use an automatic opener, be sure to use the operator bracket provided with the steel sandwich doors.
Build a new garage or replace your current garage with one of our garage plans. Each plan has step by step instructions for you to build your own garage in many different styles to match a number of home styles. Choose a plan based on size, car capacity, and functionality.