How to Care for Your Garage Doors

by Rachel Lyon, Editorial Director for Direct from the Designers™

When picking out products to complete your home, you should consider what maintenance entails for each part. Do you mind a material that requires upkeep, if it delivers on the aesthetics you want, or would you prefer to put your money into something that won’t ask much of you in the future? And have you thought about things that need to be kept in good working order?

One of the categories our customers ask about most is garage doors—and it’s understandable! As a major contributor to curb appeal and the largest movable feature on a house, the garage door plays important roles visually and functionally. Here’s how to take care of garage doors so they look and perform as you expect them to for years!

Clopay Canyon Ridge Collection Limited Edition Series

Canyon Ridge® Collection Limited Edition Series doors come factory-finished in your choice of four stain colors or painted white or black. The door can also be ordered primed for field finishing in a custom color to match your exterior.

Maintaining the Exterior

Exposure to the elements will test any material, so make sure to familiarize yourself with their needs before making your choice. Luckily, garage doors give you plenty of options, and multiple materials can deliver the same overall look, so shop with an open mind!

Steel – A very popular low-maintenance choice, steel garage doors come in a huge variety of styles and colors. To keep the exterior surface looking its best, wash it bi-yearly or quarterly with a dilute solution of dish soap and water and a soft cloth or sponge. This removes algae, salt buildup, and debris that can wear the door. Rinse, and once dry, apply a liquid wax to the steel surface. Be aware that any dents or chips should be promptly repaired (cleaned and painted) to prevent rust.

Aluminum – Aluminum doors come in configurations with metal and glass panels and are particularly suited to modern homes. Inherently rust-resistant, they also require little upkeep. You can follow the same procedures as with steel doors. Clean windows with the same dilute detergent solution, and if you have removable window inserts, feel free to pop them out and wash separately.

Wood-Look Composite – Unique from wood-look paint finishes on steel or aluminum doors, wood-look composite doors feature much thicker cladding and overlay pieces over the base. Homeowners love that they don’t demand the more labor-intensive upkeep of natural wood garage doors—again, just wash, rinse, and wax! If you have a fully clad door or a combination of steel and faux wood composite overlays, the composite pieces must be recoated at least every two years for maximum longevity with an exterior grade, UV resistant, clear protective topcoat—Minwax® Helmsman® Spar Urethane or Minwax® Clear Shield™ are recommended. If your door has a steel base, use painter’s tape to mask off the steel finish from the overlays first. In locations of severe weather exposure, more frequent maintenance may be required. In the event of a chip or gauge in the composite, repair it with wood putty as outlined in this video.

Natural Wood – If you’re looking for a custom door, wood offers the broadest possibilities because you can create your own unique design and choose from a range of species and finishes. You’ll need to put more into maintaining that one-of-a-kind beauty, though. Natural wood garage doors—even factory-stained ones with warranties—should have topcoat reapplied every one to two years depending on exposure. For instance, a door that faces west and gets a lot of hot sun may need to be done yearly, while a north-facing door won't have the same challenges that require upkeep as often. If there’s ever any damage or moisture intrusion, address it immediately to prevent expensive repairs later.

No matter the type of garage door you choose, it’ll be in it for the long haul with proper care. As with anything exposed to the elements, it’s just a matter of removing built-up grime, protecting the surface, and addressing any issues in a timely manner.

Clopay Synthetic Pro Lube for Garage Doors

Most mechanical maintenance of garage doors should be done by a professional, but there are some jobs you can do yourself! Applying Synthetic Pro Lube for Garage Doors to the springs and hinges will keep everything moving smoothly and quietly.

Maintaining the Mechanical Parts

The inner workings of a garage door include the tracks, hinges, springs, sensors, operator, weather stripping, etc. With regular use, some components will eventually wear and require replacing, and keeping on top of repairs will help protect your investment for decades. Luckily, it’s relatively simple to do some of the maintenance yourself, and you can always schedule a checkup with a garage door professional to ensure everything’s working as it should and to handle the bigger projects.

Consult the manual that comes with your garage door before attempting any DIY. Handy homeowners can usually replace the weather stripping and hardware like hinges, rollers, and lift handles. Windows and inserts can also be ordered and replaced in case of damage. Of course, even simpler tasks like lubricating the moving parts can help the door move smoothly, and you can also test the photo eye sensors (use a 2x4 placed flat on the floor beneath the door) to ensure the door will reverse as intended.

Call a professional to handle anything to do with springs and tracks, the operator, or replacing door sections too damaged to salvage. These bigger jobs require specialized expertise and tools, and can be dangerous if not performed correctly.

If you’re looking for the perfect garage doors to complete your home, check out the variety available from Clopay®! They offer gorgeous solutions for homes of every style and budget, and you’ll find everything from low-maintenance steel to authentic wood construction. If you’d like to learn more about their quality products, find a local dealer who can help you choose—and maintain—the best door for your needs!

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