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Installing new Garage Doors

by Lorenz Prem
published on March 29 2009 9:58 pm

Replacing or installing our own garage doors can save you a lot of money. For the average DIYer the task should be a simple one. The instructions are the same for almost all residential garage doors.

Measure your opening carefully before ordering the new doors. You can get door kits from home centers or garage door companies. Your first door will probably take you 4-6 hours to complete. The second will be much faster.

Remove the old door

Begin by removing the old door and springs. Open the door and secure it with locking pliers on the guide rails. At this point there should be no tension on the extension springs. Remove them and all slack cabling.

Lower the door carefully. Since there are no springs to take the weight you will have to hold the entire door against gravity. You might want to ask someone for help.

Once the door is closed, start taking the hinges off the top section of the door. After you loosen the last bolt, the top section is free and can be removed. Repeat these steps for the other sections. You now have a door opening with guide rails on each side.

Remove the rails

If your new door comes with rails, you have to remove the old ones. Simply remove all bolts and remove the rails. Only leave the hangers at the back of the garage door. These are typically made out of angle iron. They hold the ends of the rails in position. You might get luck. They may already be in the correct position for the new door.

Prepare the door

Before you get started installing the door in the opening, prepare each section on the ground. The lowest section typically needs to be pre-drilled for a handle and the bottom seal needs to be installed. This is much easier to do on the ground.

The top section needs to be reinforced when used in tandem with a standard garage door opener. Your door either comes with the necessary hardware, or you can use angle iron for this. Your instruction manual should describe what you need to do.

Install the first section

The clean opening is now ready to accept the new door. Attach the hinges to the lowest section. The hinges are numbered. Make sure you use the right ones. Place the section in the door opening and center it. Use a level to check if the section is true. If not, shim it level.

To keep the section from falling inward, pin it to the doorframe by driving nails diagonally into the frame on each side. The head of the nail should just catch the door. If there is are high winds, you may need a better fastening system. In general it's better to not even start in bad weather.

Install the remaining sections

Prepare the next section. Attach the hinges and lift it into place on top of the first section. Secure it with nails. Link the two sections together by attaching the hinges of the lower section to the other section.

Repeat these steps for all other sections until the entire garage door is installed. All hinges should be installed and secured. You now have a monolithic door. Install the wheels.

Install the track

Next assemble the vertical sections of the track. This step will be slightly different for every model of door. Follow the instructions carefully. There is a right and left track. Make sure you connect the parts for the right side together.

The wheel of the door will help you correctly align the track. This is why the door is installed first.

Begin on the one side. Slip the track over the rollers and hold it into place. Check for clearance to the door. There should be about 1/2 inch. Notice that the rollers are not tight against the door. About a 1/4 inch of the stem is showing. Any closer and the door will bind.

Use a level to make the rail plum. Mark the holes for the bolts, drill pilot holes, and attach the rail. Repeat on the right side. At this point the door is secured in the opening except for the top section. It's rollers are not engaged yet.

Install the horizontal sections

The horizontal tracks are connected to the mounting plate above the door, and the wall hangers at the other end. During the install the hanger end may not be available. Instead hang that end from the ceiling using a rope and nail. The door side can be loosely connected to the mounting plate. Temporarily install both tracks.

Measure the diagonals from the ends of the rails to the mounting plates above the doors. When the two diagonals are the same, the rails are square to the door.

Build door hangers

At this time you will need to manufacture door hangers. These are typically not included in the door kick. Door hangers are simple triangles made of angle iron and bolts. You can find the parts at any home center. Each hanger should be connected to the framing of the house at two points. This will transfer the load accordingly.

The shape and location of each hanger depends on the framing of your house. The hangers should be able to support the entire weight of the door. You should not be afraid to put your whole body weight on each one.

Finish up

Once the hangers are installed, connect the rails to them and secure the bolts at the door end. Install the door lock, if your door comes with one. Your install is complete.

Don't forget to remove the nails we used to secure the door to the door frame.

Install the door springs

The door will not open easily. We did not install the springs yet. Springs store energy when the door is lowered and return this energy when the door is opened. There are two options: torsion and extension springs. Each have their advantages.


About the Author
"Lorenz is the founder of Hingmy. When he is not reviewing power tools or improving the site, he is building things in his workshop or playing hockey."