Replacing a Garage Door - Tips and Advice

Replacing your Garage Door - Tips and Advice Deciding on the garage door type suitable for you.

Firstly why are you changing your garage door? Appearance? Renovation project? New vehicle that won't go through the existing opening? Ole door simply given up? Whatever the reasons there are a number of boxes you need to tick before making your final decision.

Will my new garage door give me adequate drive through width and height and enough depth?

Just because your existing garage door does don't automatically assume a new garage door will. For a start, even if the new garage door is the same ordering size, if you are having a steel fixing frame that may be wider than the timber frame fitted. This will immediately decrease your drive-through width. If a new frame is being fitted remember to ask if it will affect the available height and width. Secondly, if the position of your new garage door differs from the present position you will very likely reduce either height, width or depth of the garage. For example if your current door fits inbetween your garage opening and your new door is to be fitted behind the opening you will potentially gain extra width and height but lose some of the depth in your garage. Likewise, if your present door sits behind your opening and the new position is at the front of the opening you will gain garage depth but at the detriment of the drive-through opening height and width. Do check where your new garage door will be fitted and what the implications are. If you don't use your garage to store your vehicle, do still check the above points. Circumstances may change whereby you will start to use the garage for your car. Also consider the future. If you are planning on a change of vehicle do please verify the measurements of your intended choice to ensure it will fit! If you find out that your chosen garage door will not give you adequate drive-through width and height there are quite a few options that can easily maximise what you can achieve. If you are looking at a retractable garage door and the drive-through width looks tight there are is a very simple solution - gear positioning. On certain models of garage doors the gear is fitted higher thus avoiding car wing mirrors -Hormann and Garador - (Plus Gear), Cardale (Maximiser Gear) and Novoferm (retractable doors) all have this gear arrangement.

Looking for insulation?

Claims galore will be made about what level of insulation you can expect. If you actually have a totally plumb garage which has totally level floors and straight walls it is possible to achieve a fully insulated garage with a perfectly fitted insulated sectional garage door. Different companies offer different levels of insulation properties with their garage doors. Remember - if your garage is out of square, if you do not have a level floor you cannot expect to achieve a total seal. Do ask the company installing your door to advise you on the level of insulation you can expect. Make sure that they undertake a thorough survey and - frankly - if you know that your garage is not plumb - don't expect miracles!

Should you replace your fixing frame? And should a replacement be timber or steel?

If there is any sign of rot on an existing timber frame - definitely YES. Otherwise your new door will outlast your frame. Steel or timber - depends. If your new door is steel then a matching steel frame would be advised. If you are having a timber door - you may prefer a timber frame. Hormann, Garador and Cardale timber doors all come with an optional powder coated steel frame. You might be offered GRP frames with GRP garage doors, Fine if the measurements are exact. A GRP or steel frame cannot be trimmed to suit. Make sure that you know what you are getting, that the installing company are taking liability to ensure a perfect fit and that you are happy with what you have ordered!

Are you intending to have remote controlled operation?

Any reputable company will be able to advise you which electric operator is appropriate to lift your chosen garage door. However different operators come with varying handsets and available accessories. For example Hormann remote controlled operators come with a very wide range of handsets - different styles, shapes, sizes, buttons etc. Also consider whether you want other means of access - perhaps digital keypads where you tap a code in to active the opening and closing. Keypads are very convenient if quite a few people access the garage(s) or handsets seem to get lost a little to often! The downside of digital code pads is that you do need to leave your vehicle to enter the security code but this is not usually an issue with a detached garage. Remember - if your garage door is electrically operated and there is power failure you will need to put the operator into manual mode - do you have other access to the garage than just the garage door? If you don't then you will need an emergency release fitted. If you are not having electric operation initially but feel you may want it added at a later date do make sure that the door you are buying is compatible for retro fitting of an electric garage door opener. Check what hand transmitters come as standard with your chosen operator. Decide which accessories you would like either now or in the future and make sure that they will be available. If you wish to operate other items (such as electric gates) check compatibility and that there are enough buttons on the handsets. Do a test run on the emergency release whilst the installers are present to ensure that it works efficiently. Finally - only qualified electricians (Part P certified) are allowed to alter or install circuits within garages.

Finishing the Garage

When a garage door is replaced what finishing should you expect? The consequences of removing a garage door can vary enormously. If the sub frame is staying in place it is unlikely that any damage will be incurred to the garage. However, if the sub frame is being removed, it is quite often virtually impossible to gauge just what damage may be incurred. For example, on some older garages the garage doorframe might be tied into the structure of the garage. A (brickwork) soldier course might be supported by the head frame. A soffit might be supported or attached to the garage doorframe. Taking out a frame will definitely leave an appearance of 'scabby' brickwork and could even 'blow bricks'. Occasionally the head of the frame is actually tied into the brickwork which could represent quite major work. Upvc flat-board is normally used to cover minor gaps and rough brickwork If you are having a company install your door(s) you should expect them to undertake a survey. Do establish what the installation does and does not include. Don't be unrealistic - what is not visible cannot be allowed for - especially if you are pressing for the lowest possible price.

Establish what is included in the sale

If you see a door with lots of extras fitted in a showroom - roller shutters with encasing boxes, four point locking etc - don't assume that the extras are automatically included. Likewise with brochures - all that is shown in pictures is not necessarily supplied as standard. Check and double check what you are getting - if you are not sure ask - and demand the answer in writing!

Patterns and Styles of Doors

Pictures of garage doors in brochures and web sites nearly always show standard size (7066/7070) garage doors. If you order a purpose made door or a smaller or larger door the pattern will probably differ - the styles at the top, bottom and sides may be wider or narrower or you may have larger gaps between the pressed panels on a steel door. Do ask what the garage door will look like before ordering.


Different types of doors - or more specifically different materials - have varying maintenance requirements. The natural reaction is to believe timber doors will need heavy maintenance - this is not necessarily accurate these days with some of the protective treatments available. Finishes do come with options - decide which finish you want and make sure it is available. If you really do want virtually maintenance free doors then you cannot do better than buying a good quality GRP garage door with a powder-coated steel subframe.


Warranties and guarantees are full of ambiguities. For example a garage door may have different lengths of guarantees for different elements; likewise operators - the motor may carry a longer warranty than the receiver. Remember most warranties are subject to the door/operator being properly maintained. If your door has a blemish when it is first supplied/fitted do be aware that it is not necessarily rejectable. The industry standard is that 'if a mark cannot be seen from 3 metres away in natural light with the naked eye then it is of an acceptable standard'. Clarify exactly what is covered for how long before you order. And remember to keep your receipt - you may be asked to produce proof of sale if you are making a claim some years after your garage door has been fitted.

Supply only or supply and installation?

Do your research. If you are a useful 'do-it-yourselfer' you may wish to undertake the installation yourself. All doors and operators come with fairly explicit instructions. Otherwise you would be advised to have it professionally fitted. If you do decide to fit it yourself you probably will not have a survey undertaken on your garage by a specialist. Make sure that your chosen door will fit your garage - and do make sure that you have adequate headroom especially if you are buying a roller shutter. When arranging an installation/delivery date do be aware that the distributor is in the hands of the manufacturers and this date could be subject to change.

Who do you buy from?

Obviously we would like everyone to buy from us! However people like to keep their option open so here is a list of points to take into account. If you are buying via the internet - exercise caution. Some companies selling garage doors via internet sites have started up without any real product knowledge or experience. There is a legal for internet companies to comply with certain regulations. Addresses, telephone numbers and company registration should all be shown on the site. Generally it is preferable to buy from a company that was an established garage door specialist before launching a web site. Check how long the company has been in existence. Find out whether they have a showroom. If you are having your door delivered to you (as opposed to fitted by the supplying company) find out whether they will be expecting assistance to offload. Garage doors can be quite weighty! If you are buying from a company (not from the internet) do visit their showroom. Make sure that any surveyor has proper access to your garage - the more he can see the less likely there will be of any shocks when the door is being installed. If you are impressed with a neighbour's door then do ask who they bought it from - recommendations count for a lot.

Just for the record - a few miscellaneous tips:  

If you are south facing avoid dark coloured garage doors - they absorb and lose heat making them susceptible to panel swelling and consequential ill fitting. > If you live in coastal areas avoid timber doors - salt attacks the wood. > If your garage door opens straight out to a public footpaths do not fit electrically operated up and over doors - you cannot see who is walking past when you open them from the inside. > If you are buying doors with tracks (retractable or sectional garage doors) do your homework to ensure that the tracks will not foul the opening of any pedestrian door going into the garage.

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