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How to Repair a Wooden Garage Door

Skill Level: Intermediate

Introduction

Wooden garage doors are traditional, attractive, and compliment any house; but they do need periodic maintenance. The effects of both summer and winter will take a toll on the paintwork and the wood itself if left exposed. Garage doors generally sag if the hinges become loose or damaged, or when the wood underneath has begun to rot.
 
Garage door hinges will start to rust unless they are lubricated on a fairly regular basis. Bolt heads and screws will also rust unless they are painted, or they are made from a rust proof material such as stainless steel, or have some form of galvanic coating.

 

Visually check the overall condition of the door

Wooden garage doors should be visually checked on a regular basis for any damage that exposes bare wood. Where this is the case, rot will quickly set in, requiring repair and attention. The longer you leave it, the worse it will get. An area particularly vulnerable is the bottom of the door.
 
Check the timber now and again by probing the wood with a sharp knife or bradawl. If the tool goes easily in, more than 2-3mm, then you will need to prevent further rotting as soon as possible. It’s not yet a big job, don’t put it off, joiners don’t come cheap.
 

Repair at this early stage is simply a matter of drying out the affected area and applying a coat or two of suitable wood preservative

Repairing small areas rotten wood using a filler system

Painted garage doors with small, irregular shaped areas for repair are easiest fixed using a wood-repair system that includes wood filler, a hardener, and specially formulated wood preserving pellets.
 
The first step is to dry out the affected area. For speed, this is best achieved using a hot air gun. Once dry, dig and scrape out the loose, rotten wood, but only until you reach “sound” wood. Next, making sure it is completely dry, brush onto the surface a good measure of wood hardener, and allow to dry overnight.
 
When thoroughly dry, mix the filler ingredients together according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Working quickly, fill the area to be built up in successive layers, shaping and achieving the required contours before the filler hardens. Leave the filler as flush as possible with the surrounding surface and sand off till smooth when dry.

Repairing large areas rotten wood

Generally, wooden garage doors will be constructed of either, tongue and grooved boards fixed to a wooden braced frame, or of solid board panels, attached to a support frame. Always use pre-treated timber for repair and replacement. 
In some cases it is possible to simply remove and replace damaged and rotten sections of boards by unscrewing or unbolting the affected panels, on other occasions you may wish to cut out an area and fit a form of wooden “patch”.
 
As a start, use a pencil to mark on the front of the door where any support members or braces are fitted on the inside of the door. You may need to cut out a bigger section than really needed in order to get a good fixing; this will allow you to determine the extent of your cut lines.

Outline and remove the damaged section

Use a pencil and draw an outline of the piece to be cut out, but extend it out by about 75 mm. Extend or reduce this figure if required, to obtain a fix on a section of the frame or a support.
 

Next, drill a series of 6-7mm diameter holes around the marked outline, and cut out the section using a jig saw or pad saw. After you have “popped out” the damaged section, rub the edges smooth with sand paper

Fit replacement section

Measure and cut the new timber to the size of the opening. Use either tongue and groove or plain board. If there are no supporting braces on the inside of the door, then attach battens by nail.
 
Nail the patch to the wooden supports and use a punch to sink the nail heads below the surface. Use a wood filler to cover the nail marks and any gaps around the outside of the replacement piece.
 
Leave to dry, rub flush and smooth.

Tools you will need:

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