how to weatherproof a garage door

person standing in front of a garage door
Tools Needed
1 Tape Measure
2 Utility Knife
3 Straight Edge
4 Ladder
5 Safety Spotter
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Materials Needed
1 Garage Door Insulating Kit
2 Marker or Pencil
3 Garage Door Seal
4 Flathead Screwdriver
5 Caulk
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Total Cost
$50-$100
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Estimated Time
3-4 Hours
Skill Level: Advanced
The total cost and duration may vary when hiring a handyman!

Project Overview

person applying insulation to a garage door

If you spend a lot of time in your garage during the winter or summer, the extreme temperatures can make the space colder or warmer than is comfortable. Additionally, if your garage is attached to your home, you may be losing money as heated or cooled air escapes through the garage door. Not only does no one like letting money slip right out of their hands, but working in frigid or sweltering conditions makes any job harder to complete. Luckily, there are ways to weatherproof your garage door, allowing the outside cold or hot air to stay where it belongs. In many cases, homeowners can handle these projects on their own.

Most only require basic supplies and tools, and maybe some help from a trusted friend or family member. Here’s what you need to know. To completely weatherproof your garage door, you’ll actually complete three smaller projects along the way. Each can be done separately or, in many cases, the entirety of the work can be managed in an afternoon. The first part of the larger project involves insulating the garage door itself. Insulating the garage door helps ensure they are more airtight than before. This prevents cold or hot air from coming in by creating a more substantial barrier between the interior of your garage and the outside.

Step-By-Step Instructions

1

Determine What Materials are Needed

Person looking at garage door insulation while preparing to cut it

Your first step for insulating your door is to consider what kind of insulation you need. The material used to make your garage door is a factor in this decision, as well as personal preference. If you have a metal door, you can select either batt, foam board, or reflective insulation. For wooden doors, you’ll need to stick with foam board or reflective insulation. When evaluating your options, pay attention to the R value assigned to each insulation type you are considering. The higher the R value, the more protection the insulation provides. Once you choose the insulation, you need to select a mechanism for securing it to the door. Batt insulation benefits from insulation clips and glue or tape will be required as well. If you select foam board or reflective insulation, then glue or tape may be sufficient. Garage door insulation kits come with all of the need supplies, so you can get all of the insulation, glue or tape, and clips in one box.

To determine how much insulation you need to buy, you’ll need to determine how many panels need to be covered or measure the size of your garage doors. Garage door insulation kits typically list the number of panels the kit covers on the box. If you plan to use a kit, simply count the number of panels in your door and choose an appropriate product. Typically, a standard single-car garage door consists of eight panels. If you plan to purchase the materials as separate pieces, then you need to measure each panel of your garage door to determine your needs. Measure each section as panel sizes can vary somewhat even if they are part of the same door. As you measure, add one inch to the height for metal doors if you are using batt insulation or a reflective insulation that features foil on at least one side, as this allows the extra material to be placed in the channels. Inflexible materials without foil will be fit-to-size as well as all installations on wood garage doors, so the extra inch isn’t necessary. However, give yourself some additional insulation if you are concerned about making a mistake along the way. It can also be put to use in one of the projects that follow.

2

Install Insulation

finger pointing to the area where there is door insulation on a garage door panel

If you previously measured your panels to purchase the insulation, then proceed to step four. Otherwise, take the time to measure each panel individually, recording the height and width as you proceed. As mentioned before, if you are fitting insulation in a metal door, add one inch to the total height for batt insulation or other products featuring foil on at least one side.

Now that you have your measurements, you can outline the necessary cuts to the insulation. If you are using batt insulation, put on gloves before handling the insulation and then place the material backing-side down. Other materials can be placed either way for cutting and don’t necessarily require gloves for handling. Mark off the designated size for the panel, using a straight edge to keep the line straight. If you are marking batt insulation, a marker may be required so that the line can be seen. With other materials, a pen or pencil may also work. Then, using the line and straight edge as a guide, use the utility knife to make a clean, controlled cut through the material. Don’t be surprised if it takes more than one pass. It’s better to go slow and have to repeat the cut than apply too much force and risk injury. Repeat the process until you have a piece for every panel.

Once the insulation is cut, you can begin the installation process. How you proceed will depend on the type of door you have and the insulation type you choose. For batt insulation on a metal door, start by adding the insulation clips. You’ll need to secure one clip to the center of each recess in the garage door panel using either double-sided tape or glue. Often, this means two clips per panel. Then, take the proper piece of insulation and tuck it into the door panel with the backing facing you. Finally, cut a small X in the insulation directly on the insulation clip to allow the clips to push through. If the clips include a cap to hold the insulation in place, add it now and then move onto the next panel, repeating the process until all of the insulation is in place.

For foil-backed insulation on a metal door, take each piece of insulation and put it into the channel for the door panel with the foil side facing the door. It will bow towards you slightly, creating a channel for air to pass through. This slight bowing is critical for creating a radiant barrier, allowing for more effective temperature control. Repeat the process on each remaining panel until all of the pieces of insulation are in place. For non-foil-backed insulation on metal doors or any insulation installed on wooden doors, you’ll begin by adding glue to the first panel that will be covered with insulation. Add multiple beads of glue around the edges and through the center, but don’t cover the entire surface in glue, as it is unnecessary and simply wastes materials. Once the glue is added, press the correct portion of insulation onto the glue, lining it up with the recess. Hold for a few seconds and then release. Then, repeat with the remaining panels.

3

Install The Seal

person installing a weather stripping seal to the bottom area of a garage door opening

To make sure you purchase the right garage door seal, you need to measure the width, height, and thickness of the door. These will help ensure you buy the proper seal when you head to the hardware store. When you shop for the garage door seal, you’ll notice the unique T-shaped edges but that the product is otherwise flat. Don’t let this alarm you, as the material is pliable and will bend to create the needed U-shape. Choose a seal that is at least as long as the length of your garage door edge. If the exact size is not available, don’t worry. Just buy a longer one as it can be cut down to size using a utility knife.

Your next step is to remove the old garage door seal. Begin by lifting the garage door and securing it at a height of about five to six feet. Choose a height that is comfortable for you while making sure the door track is out of the way of the opening used to access the seal. Once the door is up and secure, look at the edge of the seal track to see if screws are used to hold the seal in place. If so, remove the screws with a screwdriver.  You will need to check both ends of the door in case screws are used on both ends of the seal. If the seal is held in place by bending portions of the track, use a flathead screwdriver to straight out the track. Go to the other side of the garage door and repeat the process, if necessary.

Finally, grab the seal and begin sliding it out of the track. Try to use firm, continuous pressure and pull the seal out to the side until fully removed. Before you install the new seal, it’s best to clean the edge of the garage door and the track. This ensures rough materials that may be stuck to the surfaces are removed, helping to avoid damage to the new seal. Often, a basic mixture of dish soap and water is sufficient, along with a little elbow grease. Once the track is clean, you can start installing the new garage door seal. Begin by removing the seal from the package and (if necessary) cutting it to the proper length using the utility knife and a straight edge. Now, place the T-shaped edges into the tracks in the door and begin pulling it into place. This process can be lengthy and will involve alternating between pulling from the end inserted into the door and pushing the portion that has yet to be fed into the track. Often, this process can go more quickly with assistance from a helper. However, it’s best to avoid using tools to grip the seal as rough edges from items like pliers can damage or rip the seal. Try to be patient, and work the seal through slowly, if necessary.

If you find the seal is sticking, consider using the dish soap and water mixture to help lubricate the track. This makes the surface slippery and may decrease the resistance, allowing the seal to slide through with greater ease. Once the seal is in place, you can secure it to the garage door. If your previous seal was secured with screws, simply replace them to hold the edge of the seal down. If the seal was pinned using the bent track method, use the flathead screwdriver to bend the track again, securing the seal. After the installation process is complete, you want to make sure the seal is providing the weatherproofing benefits you need. Close your garage door as the first step. If the door doesn't close, then the seal could be thicker than the one that was previously installed. Adjust the limit to accommodate for the difference, and you’ll be set. If the door closes, but you can see daylight coming through, you should also adjust the limit to allow the door to lower further. This occurs when the new seal is thinner than the old one.

Conclusion

Now that the seal is replaced, you should experience less cold or hot air exchange through the garage door. You can proceed to the final weatherproofing project. Once the insulation is installed and the new garage door seal is in place, you can seal any remaining gaps around the garage door. This ensures there aren’t any leak points that could prevent your garage from being a relatively comfortable space during hot and cold months.

With the garage door in the closed position, start with a visual inspection of the perimeter of the door. If you spot daylight coming through, note the location. Continue looking for gaps or holes that aren’t necessary for the doors operation until you have fully inspected the door area. Once you’ve identified potential leaks, gaps, or holes, it’s time to fill them in. Small holes might be fillable with caulk. Simply add a small bead and work it into the hole.

Larger gaps may require insulation. You can often use remnants from your garage door insulation project to handle the task. Just measure the size of the gap and cut an appropriately sized piece of insulation. Then, secure the material with either glue or tape. Now that the gaps are filled, you can rest assured that outside air isn’t coming into your garage if any avoidable way. After completing all three subprojects, your garage door should be completely weatherproofed. Now, you can enjoy the space year-round as the temperature in your garage will be more consistent. You may even see reductions in your heating and cooling utility bills, which can make these small investments completely worth it.