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Sajeev
Community Manager

Community Question: Garage DOOR restoration?

A funny (well not so funny, actually) thing happened when I was trying to park my '72 Continental Mark IV in front of my garage to align the new H4/H1 Euro conversion headlights, it turns out the shift indicator isn't exactly accurate, and sometimes when you put it in neutral it's actually still in drive. The end result is below: 

IMG_4912.JPG

The Mark IV survived without a scratch (proof here) but my 1961-vintage Mid Century Modern garage door kinda didn't. I knew straight away that I couldn't get a garage door company to fix this damage, as they'd just sell me a cheap metal replacement ... or maybe a very expensive wood one, which was also out of the question. 

IMG_4950.JPG

I told myself that this door had to stay with the house, as they are a perfect match. My woodworking handyman dude did a fantastic job for only $250.  It was so good, and I was so happy that I felt the need to clean the glass. The 60 year old glass that looked like it never got a cleaning in its life. 

IMG_4949.JPG

After a coupla hours with a razor blade, carb cleaner, paper towels and (finally!) glass cleaner to remove layers of paint, dirt and who knows what else, the windows came out super clean. They literally glow from a few feet away. 

 

I am pretty happy with the result. So I ask you: have you ever restored a Garage Door? 

34 REPLIES 34
Rob1
Instructor

Gotta say Sajeev i give you alot of credit for saving that old time door its unique.R

Sajeev
Community Manager

It had to be done. I wasn't gonna "upgrade" to a new one. 

DUB6
Instructor

   I agree with Rob1, Sajeev - that was a noble cause to be sure, and from the photos, it looks like the end result is excellent.  To answer the question, no, I haven't done one, but my old double-wide wood door sure needs it.  It's never been dinged, but the elements have sure taken a toll.  Wood doors facing the windy side of a garage in a sunny clime are possibly not the very best idea.  Although I've caulked and stained fairly often, it still is showing its age quite badly.  Now, if it was as cool and period-correct as yours, I wouldn't hesitate.  But I'm almost at the point where I'm thinking a lighter-weight metal replacement with simulated woodgrain (like one of my neighbors put in a few years back) might be the ultimate solution.

   Before I pull that trigger, however, I'm going to go back and re-read your post a couple of times, and drool over the photos.  I may yet just call a Glazier and do some renovating on the old girl before writing her off...

Sajeev
Community Manager

@DUB6 In my experience, wood doors are fantastic insulators, I would probably recommend getting yours refinished to be honest. The weight isn't a big deal provided it is waterproofed (i.e. it doesn't get heavier in the rain) and you have lift springs/door motor sized accordingly. 

 

Just takes a lot of sandpaper, filler, elbow grease, etc. to get a wood door back to fighting form 🙂  

DUB6
Instructor

Sandpaper and filler (and stain) I have.  Now, where did I put that elbow grease?  Seems like I was running low on that last time I needed some.

Sajeev
Community Manager

I know the feeling...I am just lucky I got a good person to do all the hard stuff for me, for a reasonable price. 

JimR
Instructor

I’ve got one that needs “restoring”. But it’s a newer modern metal-clad door on my shop and still functions fine, so I’ve been procrastinating.
Some years ago my then teenage son volunteered to move the old car from in front of the door. Turned the key and pushed the starter button but forgot to put it in neutral. 

JSievers
Detailer

Restored, no. Repaired, yes. We bought a house where the previous owner had apparently tried to back out of the garage without first opening the metal-clad door. The result was a row of panels that bulged outward from those adjacent to them. An hour with a drill, some carriage bolts, washers, and Nyloc nuts and I was able to pull the panels back into alignment. A little touch up paint on the bolt heads and the door looks good as new for less than $20. 

Kern
New Driver

I had a similar style door on a mid-century house in St. Charles, IL.  The hinges between panels had loosened and could not be made tight enough again.  I took the entire door down in sections, stripped and repainted every section, filled and redrilled the screw holes so the joints between sections were tight again, and put it all back together.  It was like new and was that way when we sold the house several years later.

 

I would not have even thought about replacing that period correct door.

eighthtry
Intermediate Driver

And I complain about washing my car.

Sajeev
Community Manager

Oh don't worry I complain about washing my car too. 

DUB6
Instructor

   I don't.  I'm just thankful that I'm in a position in my life that I've got a car (or five) to wash!  There were a few times in "growing up" (I say that instead of "maturing", because there is some argument on that 🤔), that I was looking for pots to P in, let alone windows to throw it out of, but when I look back now, I just smile and thank my lucky stars.

   So, I am happy with my 'needs-some-lovin' garage door, my vehicles, my toys, my home, and my life in general.  I never had it so good.  So if something needs a little washing, I'm okay with grabbing the bucket and gettin' to it!

RJMatt
Intermediate Driver

The most I've had to do is replace some of the carriage bolts with stainless and put in all new nylock nuts. Single car roll-up wood door about 1 mile from the Monterey Bay. All the zink plated bolts were rusted or loose. I spent about two hours on it and it was working great when we sold the house and moved out of state.

Kuzinator
New Driver

In 1988 I purchased a Dutch Colonial home with a matching detached two story garage.  The house was built in 1913 and needed restoration.  After working on the house for a couple of years, I started on the garage.  The previous owner family had also owned a lumber yard.  In my research, I discovered that the garage doors were the first doors manufactured by the Overhead Door Company to be installed in the City of Washington, PA.  I had initially planned on replacing the doors, but since they had "historical" significance I decided to restore them.  The inside hardware was in good working condition, and the interior just needed repainted.  The outside paint was weathered badly, and needed stripped.  Using a heat gun I removed many layers of old lead paint.  I then sanded, primed and painted the doors.  Several of the plywood panels had warped over time and I replaced them.  The doors also had the original Overhead Door brass badges that had been painted over.  I stripped the paint from them, but left the patina.

 

It  was a garage that had previously been a carriage house.  You could tell by the segmented concrete floor that part of the garage housed the carriage and the other part was a stable.  I removed the old failing concrete floor and pour a new concrete floor.  It had plenty of room and was great to work on cars.  The second floor of the garage was excellent for storage.

Sajeev
Community Manager

This is exactly the type of garage door story I was hoping to hear!  Because I never heard of the Overhead Door Company, and now I have learned about a company I can do more research on! 

 

https://www.overheaddoor.com/home

warrene
Intermediate Driver

We're on a farm, our garage was built in 1915 when Gramps' bought his first Model T, it's 12 x 20, the swinging doors has since rotted some, I built new ones the same but increased the opening size to eight feet.  I added ten feet onto the width in '98, today it has a new cement floor and is my shop, insulated and a stove.

Warrene

MoparMan
Advanced Driver

I replaced my original 16' foot cheapo 'lo spec' wooden door that came with my garage package when I built it. The windows were situated too low for me to look out of without stooping and it was sagging and worn, so I replaced it with a newer wooden one complete w/ sunburst panels for the top panel windows. The installer "twisted' my arm to make me accept a motorized opener (for which I traded him the old door). After about a decade it needed attention, so I replaced rollers, hardware, tightened nuts, etc, and had it coated w/ ceramic paint (along with the garage.) I also installed a new DIY Chamberlain door opener, that had issues new from the box, but that's a story for another day! 🙂

CBL
Pit Crew

This topic brought back an old memory. My old garage door (from the late 50) had the large springs on each side of the door. The springs were huge and under tension when the door was down. I nursed this poor door along for years. Then..... one night I went to the garage to get my favorite daddy beverage. Coming back I heard an awful sound and the next thing I knew I was slammed into the side of the wall, which made me spill my daddy drink (you can see where my priorities lie). Of all things, the spring mount just happened to snap right at the moment when I should not have been where I was. The spring alone weighed probably 15 pounds and a formidable flying projectile as I will attest. Fortunately, the event gave me no more brain damage than I already have but as you might imagine the general of the house said "the damn door is gone". And like Forest Gump: That was all she had to say about that..

 

My message is, restore the door. Sajeev has a really cool door and he did a great job bringing it back to its original beauty. However, don't neglect the hardware that makes doors function!!! If you have one of those old doors with the large springs on either side, be sure your mechanisms are inspected routinely. These springs flying around will damage your prize ____fill in the blank____ residing in the garage, or your noggin as it was in my case...   If you have the modern style with the spring wrapped around a bar above the door, don't mess with it... Get the pros out if it needs to be adjusted. 

 

Be safe out there ladies and gents... Motor on!!!!

Waterboy1KHY80
Intermediate Driver

Slick that you were able to repair. Yep, as for me, wife backed out with the door down. Had to replace two sections and spend some time "bending things" back into shape. Cool part was (kinda) i went ahead and replaced one panel (just cheap aluminum type) with multiple windows built in, helps with natural light, so an upgrade as it were.

Jnick
Intermediate Driver

I also have locked horns with the dreaded door tension spring. Those things are under a LOT of tension and keeping them evenly loaded is quite a trick. Track alignment is also hugely important in order to keep everything from becoming a tangled mess. 
 Suddenly the question leads to priorities, and if the choice comes down to a magnificent garage door or a sweet running Sprite on a warm spring day well I am willing to help force the door closed by hand for a bit longer!

Tinkerah
Technician

I'm quite familiar with all manner of roll up doors and yes, any spring or pair of springs that can balance hundreds of pounds is/are not to be trifled with. A simple tip for balancing them: eye either vertical edge of the door and if it leans either left or right (not parallel with its adjacent track) that'll tell you which side to add to or remove tension from. I happened to be in my garage when one failed out of the blue. That's a cardiac stress test for ya.

Rick52
Pit Crew

My garage doors are 33 years old, so they have been "restored" a few times. The most extensive involved replacing all the cheap composite panels with exterior grade plywood. Over time the composite panels had absorbed water and were bowed out about 3-4" in the center. It was a big job because the panels were not removable, so I had to cut the frames to get them out, then put in new molding to hold the plywood panels in place. Looking back I must have been crazy, since I could have replaced the doors in half the time. Every few years they need a good sanding and paint, and they look pretty good for their age. Oh yes, then the was the time my wife tried backing out without opening the door...

b garage doors.jpggarage doors.jpg

Sajeev
Community Manager

@Rick52 you have done fantastic work!  I love the doors and I am glad you saved them instead of scrapping them! 

DUB6
Instructor

I know that the camera sometimes makes things look better (not me, but some things 😁), but if your doors look even 50% as good in real life as in pictures, you have won, BIG-time.  Nice work, man!

Sajeev
Community Manager

I am pretty happy with the end result, as the door was indeed already in great shape.  I think the roof overhang has helped it out all this time. It was worth saving, and I am glad you like it too! 

glenn15n
Pit Crew

They look pretty awesome for now. You should understand, that sometimes it's much easier to repair an existing doors, than buy a new one. Few weeks ago, when I was trying to repair my sliding doors, this article helped ( link here: https://24hr-door-repair.com/sliding-door-repair-fort-myers/ ). You can read it, to get the basic and essential information of how you can make it as well, if you have any sliding doors in your house.

TG
Advanced Driver

Restored... no, but when I moved in to my current abode, my two garage doors were just doors. No springs, no cables, no locks. If I had my wheaties, I could heft one up, shove a 2x4 under it, and get things in and out of the garage. After a crash course in Garage Door 101, I got the doors sprung up and locked down and got my two cars inside... then I bought 2 more and had to put up a carport... 

NITRO450EXP
Instructor

Sajeev

 

Glad you were able to save it.

I have rebuilt the tracks and wheels and seals on several of my doors over the years.

My shop has 5 doors now, all in good working order.

Nitro

jonZ
Instructor

Never restored/rebuilt garage doors, but have replaced roll up shop doors. You did a fantastic job and the results show. Your MK IV is a sight to behold and I'm sure your proud of it as well. Not to sound condescending, but if I may suggest....Your next project might be to repair the shift indicator! I have done that task before along with parking brakes etc... especially if I'm gettin outa the car with the engine running. (been there, done that. Hang in there Sajeev.

Sajeev
Community Manager

Thanks Jon, I inspected the shifter assembly when I pulled out the gauge cluster (to install low wattage LED lights) and everything looked normal. I honestly don't know why the shifter is so hard to actuate and somewhat inaccurate, and the repair manual was no help. 

jonZ
Instructor

I hear ya man. The repair/shop manuals aint all they are cracked up to be but they are a necessity. Thank the Lord you weren't on the upper deck of the parking GARAGE! Again your MK IV is a jewel. Hang in there.  

Sajeev
Community Manager

Thanks man, it's been a labor of love with that car. Well, with all of them honestly.  

Guitar74
Gearhead

Congrats on getting the door fixed. I would have saved it too. I am also glad the your Lincoln came through unscathed. 

Sajeev
Community Manager

I got extremely lucky, to be honest. But it was a happy ending and that's all that really matters!