how to insulate a garage door

Person standing in front of their home with a double garage door
Tools Needed
1 Tape Measure
2 Utility Knife
3 Straight Edge
4 Ladder
Materials Needed
1 Safety Spotter
2 Safety Glasses
3 Phillips Head Screw Driver
4 Flat Head Screw Driver
Total Cost
$100-$150
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Estimated Time
3-4 Hours
Skill Level: Expert
The total cost and duration may vary when hiring a handyman!

Project Overview

Person taking measurements of their garage door

If your garage is too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer, you may think your only option for relief is to purchase a new energy-efficient insulated garage door. While this is certainly a workable solution, it can easily run you more than $1,000 if you have a two-car garage, making it an expense many households can’t shoulder.

Luckily, there is a more cost-effective method for insulating your garage door. Often, by doing the job yourself, you can end up spending only about $200 in materials. Plus, it should only take you an afternoon to get the job done. Here’s what you need to do to insulate a garage door yourself. To completely insulate your garage door against the elements, you’ll ultimately end up completing three smaller projects. This means you can divide up the work into chunks based on your available time or complete the entire project in just an afternoon. The first mini project in the series involves insulating the surface of your garage door.

Step-By-Step Instructions

1

Insulate the Garage Door Surfaces

rolls of garage door insulation material

Adding insulation to the interior surface of the garage door helps ensure that outside temperatures have less of an effect on the temperature inside your garage. Just as the exterior walls of your home feature insulation, garage door insulation provides the same sort of protection from heat and cold. Before you can begin, you need to determine what kind of insulation you need. Which material is ideal is often based on the type of door you have as well as personal preference. You can streamline the insulation selection process by purchasing a garage door insulation kit. Not only do these come with the insulation itself, but they also have additional required items like insulation clips, tape, gloves, and even a utility knife. Generally, one garage door kit is sufficient for a standard 8-foot garage door. Most two-car garages will need at least two kits to complete.

If you prefer to buy your supplies individually, you first need to consider your available options for insulation. In most cases, metal doors can use batt, foam board, or reflective insulation. Wooden doors need either foam board or reflective insulation. Once you determine the type, you’ll need to choose an R value. This number denotes how effective the insulation is, with higher numbers representing better protection against harsh external temperatures. After you select the insulation, it’s time for some additional items you’ll need to adhere the material to the doors. Batt insulation often requires insulation clips as well as glue or tape. Foam board or reflective insulation just need glue or tape to complete the installation.

Now that you know what you’re buying, you need to determine how much insulation you need. As mentioned before, kits are often designed to cover a standard single-car garage door, so you need to purchase one kit for every single-car garage door width being covered. Just make sure to measure your garage door in advance to make sure it is a standard size. When you are purchasing the materials separately, you’ll need to measure your garage door panels. Measure each panel individuals, as the sections can vary slightly in size. Record the measurements (height and width of every panel) and total them together to see how much insulation you need.

If you’re insulating a metal door and choose either batt or foil-lined insulation, then add an inch to the height measurement for every panel. This ensures you have enough material to tuck into the panel area for a secure fit. Otherwise, use the precise measurements. Remember, mistakes do happen, so consider purchasing a little more insulation than is required if you are buying materials separately. If you measured your panels to purchase the insulation based on the instruction in the step above, then proceed to step four. Otherwise, begin by measuring each panel individually, recording the height and width of every one. As mentioned before, if you have a metal door and chose batt or foil-backed insulation, add one inch to the total height.

Once you have the measurements, you can begin preparing to cut the insulation to size. If you’re handling batt insulation, put gloves on first to avoid any skin irritation that can be caused by the material and then place the insulation backing-side down. Other types of material can be placed either side down, and gloves aren’t generally a requirement for safe handling. Now, you’ll need to use your measurements to mark off the first panel’s size. You can use a tape measure or yard stick to find the proper spots, and use a solid straight edge to draw the lines. If you’re using batt insulation, you may want to use a marker to draw the lines. Otherwise, a pen or pencil may do the job. Next, while using the straight edge as a guide, use the utility knife to make the cut through the insulation carefully. Often, it will take more than one pass to get the job done, so don’t be afraid to move slowly and use firm, but not overly forceful, pressure. By being patient, you can help limit the risk of injury or making an error should the utility knife get away from you a bit. Repeat the measuring and cutting process for every panel and then proceed to the next step.

Once all of the insulation pieces are cut, the installation process can begin. The steps that are required vary somewhat depending on your door type and the insulation that was selected. For batt insulation on a metal door, you’ll want to add the insulation clips first. You’ll be adding one clip per recessed area in the door, generally leading to two clips being attached to each panel. Adhere the clips to the door’s surface using double-sided tape or glue. Continue adding all of the needed clips before adding any insulation.

Next, take the coordinating piece of insulation to the proper panel and tuck it into the door panel. The backing of the insulation should be facing you once it’s in place. Then, locate the insulation clip under the material and cut a small X in the insulation. Push the clip through the small incisions and, if your clips come with them, add the cap to hold the material in place. Move on to the next panel and repeat the process until all of the insulation is installed.

For foil-backed insulation on a metal door, take the proper piece and tuck it into the channel for the door panel. Make sure that the foiled side is facing the door. The material will bow slightly, creating a channel between the door and the insulation through which air can flow. This helps create a radiant barrier and allows for a more effective installation. Repeat the process with each remaining piece of insulation until all of the pieces are installed.

For non-foil-lined insulation on metal doors or all types of insulation on wooden doors, begin by adding glue to the first door panel you’ll be covering. Use multiple beads of glue around the edges and throughout the center area. You don’t need to cover the entire panel surface with glue, as it will just waste materials, but do be sure to be thorough in your application. Once the glue is on the door, position the insulation over the panel and press it against the door making sure the edges fit nicely into the recessed area. Hold the material in place for a few seconds and then release. Repeat the process for each of the remaining panels.

2

Install Weather Stripping

person rolling out weatherstripping on the door frame

The space around your garage door can easily let air through if the proper insulation isn’t in place. Most commonly, weather stripping is an easy solution to the problem. Here’s what you need to do to handle a weather stripping installation. For this project, the measurements are fairly simple. Grab a tape measure and measure along the side and top door jambs surrounding the exterior of your garage door. Often, you’ll need to get on a ladder to complete this process, so grab a sturdy ladder and enlist the help of a safety spotter while you jot down the numbers.

Once you have your measurements, you can purchase the weather stripping materials. At times, you can purchase the exact lengths you need. However, if you have to purchase a longer piece or a roll of material, it can easily be cut to size using a utility knife.

This process is completed on the exterior of your garage door with the door shut. Begin by taking one of the side lengths of material and bring it up to the top of the door ensuring the shorter side of the material is pressed against the door jamb and the longer side rests gently against the door. Place one nail about one inch from the top of the strip to hold it in place. Follow the strip down about four inches and add another nail. Continue down the strip until you reach the bottom. Trim the lower end if necessary before placing the final nail about an inch from the bottom, then repeat the process with the other side strip.

Once both sides are complete, bring the top piece of weather stripping up to a corner and secure with a nail about one inch from the end. Then, trim the weather stripping (if necessary), so it closely lines up with the side strip, ensuring both pieces lay flat against the door once in place. Next, continue nailing across the length of the door, spacing the nails about four inches apart. When you reach the end, place the final nail one inch from the end and trim the edge to lay flat as you did with the first end.

3

Replace the Door Seal

bottom of a garage door where the seal should be located

The next task to help insulate your garage door is replacing the garage door seal. As time passes, a garage door seals can become cracked, chipped or warped due to standard wear and tear, exposure to the elements, or even damage caused by an animal. Some of the easiest methods for determining if you should replace your garage door seal are to complete a visual inspection of the seal or to close your garage door and see if daylight comes in underneath. If you see damage or daylight, then it’s time for a replacement.

Before you purchase a new garage door seal, you need to measure your garage door. Take a tape measure and record the width, height, and thickness measurements and bring these along when you go to the store. This helps ensure you buy the seal you need based on your door’s specifications. Garage door seals feature unique T-shapes on the edges that are designed to fit into their designated tracks. Make sure you can see or feel these edges before buying the seal. Don’t be surprised that the seal is otherwise flat as the material can be easily bent to achieve the U-shape needed for a proper seal.

Select a seal that is at least as long as your door. In some cases, you can find one that is already cut to the proper length. However, if that isn’t available, choose a seal that is longer than you need it to be. It can easily be cut to the proper size using a utility knife. Once you have the new seal, your next step is to remove the old one. Start by raising the garage door and securing it about five to six feet off of the ground. You can choose a height that is comfortable for you as long as the door track won’t impede access to the seal track. Next, examine the track for the seal to see if any screws are used to keep the garage door seal in place. If so, use a screwdriver to take the screws out. This will need to be done at both ends of the door.

Sometimes, the door seal is held in place by bending portions of the track. If your door seal is secured in this fashion, use a flathead screwdriver to gently straighten the track to enable removing of the seal. Make sure you check both ends of the door and follow the same procedure to free the seal if necessary. Finally, grab the seal material firmly at the end and begin sliding the material out of the track. When doing so, use firm, continuous pressure as jerking the seal can cause it to tear, especially if it is damaged. Keep pulling the seal until it is fully removed.

After the old seal is removed, it’s wise to clean the seal track and the edge of the garage door. This process removes any dirt, debris, or other rough materials that may damage the new seal. Typically, a water and dish soap mixture is sufficient, as well as some light scrubbing action with a brush. Now that the track and door edge are clean, you can start installing the new seal. Take the seal out of the package, cutting it to the proper length using the utility knife (if needed), and align the T-shaped edges with the track. Begin pulling the seal into place. If it doesn't pull any further, try pushing the seal into the track from the end of the door. You may need to alternate between pulling and pushing to get the seal fully installed. This process can be somewhat time-consuming, but working with a helper can speed the process.

As you pull and push the seal along, fight the urge to use tools to help. Items like pliers can have rough edges and may damage the seal if you use them. Instead, try to be patient and work the seal through slowly. If you need to reduce the friction, you can spray some of the water and dish soap mixture in the track. This may lower the amount of resistance and help the seal slide into place more easily. Once you’re down pulling and pushing the seal into place, you can secure it to the door. If you removed screws before taking out the old seal, simply replace them to hold the edge of the replacement in place. If the track was bent, use the flathead screwdriver to bend the track again.

After the seal is in place, you’ll need to test it. Start by closing your garage door. If the door doesn’t close, the limit may need to be adjusted. Often, this is because the new seal is thicker than the old one, so an adjustment gives the seal more room. If the door closed successfully, but you can see daylight coming in underneath, then you need to adjust the limit as well. This will allow the door to lower further, creating a better seal. This typically occurs when the new seal is thinner than the one that was previously installed.

Conclusion

Once you complete all three subprojects, your garage door should be completely insulated. Now, the interior space will remain more comfortable all year, allowing you to make the most out of your time in the garage. With weather stripping in place, you’ve added an additional layer of protection against the elements. You can take a break here or move on to the final small project to complete your garage door insulation installation.

Now, your garage door surface is successfully insulated. While this isn’t the entirety of the project, it can make a good stopping point if you need a break. Once you’re ready to add more protection from harsh temperatures, proceed to the next subproject. By having a new seal installed, outside air is less likely to make its way into your garage. This helps keep the space cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

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