Replacement panels are an attractive alternative when it just isn’t in your budget to buy a whole new garage door or when there are special circumstances that require a repair, retrofit or upgrade but not a complete replacement. Since one damaged panel can ruin the look of your entire door (and if extreme enough might even negatively impact the door’s operation and the energy efficiency of the entire garage) a replacement panel is often the ideal solution.
Consider the door insulation R value
Even if the garage door is in good repair, swapping out existing door panels with higher “R-Value” insulated replacements is typically well worth the investment. A good rule of thumb to follow is to match the panel replacement’s “R-Value” (at minimum a 12 on the standard scale is recommended) to the R-Value of the rest of your home.
Garage door insulation is an effective way to get the most use from your garage and improve the overall energy efficiency of the entire property. Bottom line—you will save significant amounts of money on heating and cooling bills! There are insulation kits available that enable the DIYer do to the job themselves—but it is also worthwhile to investigate having a professional installation done by the supplier of your replacement panels.
Whatever your reason—from functional to aesthetic considerations, replacement garage door panels are increasingly available in more colors, materials and styles than ever before, Depending on the material your garage door is made from, you can combine a repair job with a significant “eye appeal” upgrade AND improve your energy consumption all at the same time.
Finding the right panels
Before you call a dealer, make sure you hunt down the paperwork you got when the door was installed. If you don’t have that, you’ll have to take a look at the door. Try to come up with the following:
- Brand Name – your door’s manufacturer
- The model number
- Color and any significant design features
- Door width and height of each section (panel)
- Whether or not the panel is insulated
- Have a camera ready – take some pictures of the panel. Most sources will have a website, and you cna email them pictures instead of reciting model numbers, etc over the phone.
Normally on a sticker. Look on the inside of the door, and the end of the door panels. Record all of the information on the sticker, or just take a picture of it.
It is usually better to measure the garage door opening rather than the panel width, but do both – it only takes a second. Now measure the panel height, and make note of the color, and whether there are any features: windows, unusual trim, etc. Insulated doors will either have a steel back or a vinyl coating over the insulation – note this as well.
NOTE: If you have managed to damage two or more panels, you may find that it is cheaper to just replace the entire door. Be sure to ask about this.
Now you’re ready to call your dealer and ask for a quote. Be sure to get pricing for both dealer installation and delivery, and a DIY price.
Here’s a list of manufacturers with links to their websites, and phone numbers.
If you can’t get an exact replacement, you’ll have to go aftermarket. Any decision to swap out the existing garage door panels with replacements should begin with a careful evaluation of the scope of the project. Identify the features you intend to incorporate with your upgrade or repair and you will simplify your search for the best type of replacement for the job. You must be sure to shop for panels that will work with your existing rail and garage door opening systems—you may be limited by size, weight and lift capacities of the existing hardware and mechanisms.
In general, panels constructed from metal—ideally insulated dual layer steel– are the best and most cost effective replacement option. Steel is durable and secure, not subject to rust or rot and eliminates the maintenance headaches of wooden panels. A recent innovation is the fiberglass composite door—which is lightweight and resistant to rot and mildew—but may not provide the same level of security and energy efficiency as either steel or wood.
How to replace a garage door panel
Depending on the style of garage door, panels often slide into and out of the rails making the removal and replacement of one or two
Replacement begins by detaching the hinge from both sides of the panel being taken out. You may then slide the panel out of its rails. It should be noted that depending on the style of door it may be necessary to remove several garage door panels to get to those that require replacement. This fact may impact your decision of whether to do the work yourself or opt for professional installation.
Once the old panel has been removed, reverse the process by sliding the new panel into the track and tightening the bolts or screws holding it in place. Attach the hinges and you are done!
By understanding your options and clearly defining what you want, it is easy to find the perfect replacement panels. Further you can potentially reduce your cash outlay for the project by researching any available tax credits available on energy efficiency upgrades and never forget in the case of damaged panels, to check out any existing warranty on your original door, as well as your home insurance policy.