Have you noticed that there is an inordinate number of dings and dents in your garage door panels? Quite often those go unnoticed but it only takes the slightest wind to see a paper floating around inside the garage. At this point it dawns on you that those might not be just superficial dings. The damage may extend well beneath the surface and may even go through to the other side and you may never have noticed. If you are wondering if garage door panels can even be replaced, the answer may not be an easy one. The short answer is yes, garage door panel repair is possible but the long answer is more involved. What you will need to know, as stated above, is the extent of the damage as well as the cause of it. You will always need to know if that panel should even be repaired or if you should replace it altogether.
Why Repair a Damaged Garage Door Panel Anyway?
Some homeowners aren’t as concerned with cosmetic damage and so they wonder why they would need to repair or replace a garage door panel in the first place. Actually, even cosmetic damage on a garage door panel isn’t merely cosmetic. With steel being the leading material from which garage doors are made, you can probably expect rust and corrosion in the near future unless it is already visible to the naked eye. In this case, there is no time to waste. Patch, repair or replace that panel as soon as possible before the damage spreads.
What Is the Cause of the Damage?
This is important because replacing a garage door panel that is probably going to get damaged as well doesn’t make any sense. Perhaps the door is off balance and the fact that it rubs against the frames caused that damage. Or, maybe you slid into it the last time the driveway was coated with black ice. It only takes a small bump at times to scratch just enough paint off to let moisture into the metal.
Top Priority: Catch It Before It Spreads
Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy to tell if the damage is located on a single panel or if it is extensive enough to affect two separate panels on the door. If it is just a single panel that is damaged and in need of repair or replacement then it probably would be best to get at that right away before the damage spreads, which it will almost always if it isn’t attended to the moment the damage is noticed.
What If the Damage Is Only Cosmetic?
This can be a tough question to answer. If it can be substantiated that the damage won’t spread, then a simple patch job might do the trick. However, trying to patch a steel door is often an exercise in futility. Since steel is the most common material from which garage door panels are made, it might be best just to replace the panel. Bear in mind that steel is corrosive and if exposed to moisture, it will probably rust. Therefore, even a garage door panel with cosmetic damage should probably be replaced.
The Basic Tools You’ll Need
Actually, if you don’t have a well-rounded tool set, nothing would be what you could consider basic. These are just a sampling of what you’d have to use if you decide on a DIY garage door repair or replacement:
- Locking pliers
- Leather gloves
- Winding bars
- Safety gear
And, that is just some of what you’ll need.
The Process of Replacing a Garage Door Panel
At this point, it is important to know if the frame itself is damaged or if it is just the garage door panel. If the steel frame is bent or in need of repair, it would be best to stop right now. Why replace a panel if it’s actually the door itself that needs replacing? However, if it’s only the panel that needs to be replaced, this is a step-by-step list:
- Take accurate measurements to ensure buying the right size panel
- Remove the tension springs
- The panels come off next
- Take off the existing tracks
- Make sure the door is level
- Install weather stripping
- Reattach brackets or attach new ones in the corner
- Attach the hinges
- Install the tracks and rollers
- Install the panels
- Install the bearings in the end
- Hinges can be tightened now
- Next attach the springs and cables
- Put in the operator
- Paint or stain and you are done!
As you can see, the multi-step process is a bit labor and parts intensive. At the point just prior to gathering the parts and tools you’ll need, it might be a good idea to weigh the cost of a professional replacement job against the cost of parts and tools. It can be done, but the question is whether or not it is worth it in the end. Maybe a pro job would better suit your needs.