Alicia Chilton is a home writer with more than 15 years of experience in communications and media. Her areas of expertise include SEO, social media, nonprofit work, analytics, and more. She worked at Better Homes & Gardens for almost six years.
Alicia started her communications career as an apprentice at Better Homes & Gardens. Over the course of six years, she worked her way up to lead digital home editor. During that time, she oversaw content strategy and project development, wrote stories, and shot videos. Alicia later served as the operations manager at Think Digital Inc. and as a marketing manager and director at Seed Savers Exchange. She has also served as the assistant director of marketing at Drake University. Alicia is currently the marketing director of the Greater Des Moines Partnership. She holds a bachelor of science degree in journalism from Iowa State University.
Give your home exterior a fresh look with a new garage door. While a damaged door is certainly a reason for replacement, a new garage door can also invigorate your home’s appearance, add curb appeal, and even increase security. Plus, it’s a project with a good return on investment: According to data from Zonda Media’s 2021 Cost vs. Value report, homeowners can expect to recoup 94% of the cost of replacing a garage door when selling their home.
“Since 2010, garage door replacements have consistently ranked among the top five household renovation investments in the annual Cost vs. Value Report, keeping with the trend that exterior home remodeling projects provide better ROI over most interior renovations,” says Christian Morrow, senior brand marketing manager for Overhead Door Brand.
Many garage door retailers and showrooms offer installation services, but with a little bit of know-how, the right tools, and attention to safety, homeowners can also complete this home improvement job themselves.
Installing new garage door panels is intensive work and requires a great deal of caution and a partner or two to help assemble all the parts and bear the load.
"Even the lighter-weight garage doors can weigh hundreds of pounds, with an older garage door weighing as high as 450 pounds," says Morrow. "In addition, garage door spring systems are under extreme tension and can be dangerous to remove without the proper training and equipment. For these safety reasons, we recommend consulting with a reputable, experienced garage door installer."
Justin Evans, Clopay residential products director, says a professional installer can remove and install a door in a few hours, while DIYers should plan on dedicating 8 to 10 hours to completing the project.
When it comes to choosing a door, know that some types will be easier for DIYers to install than others. Michael Brickner, president of Precision Door Service, a Neighborly company, recommends looking for an easy wind system garage door.
For homeowners tackling this project themselves, start by taking good measurements, which include measuring more than just the opening itself. Evans says to pay attention to these four spots.
Measure the width and height of the door opening in feet and inches to determine the garage door size you need.
Measure the side room on the left and right of the door. Different types of doors require a minimum space on each side of the door for installing the vertical track. Consult the specs that come with your door to determine how much space you will need.
Measure the headroom, which is the distance between the top of the door opening and the garage ceiling. Ten to 12 inches is required for the spring installation. If you have limited headroom, special hardware is available, says Evans, but it is sold separately and must be ordered with the door.
Measure the backroom, which is the distance from the garage door opening to the back wall of the garage. Door height plus 18 inches is required.
Each situation will be different, depending on how your current garage door is installed and the mechanical design of your new door. But Morrow says professional installers tend to follow these steps for replacing a garage door.
The tools needed to install a garage door will vary, depending on the type of door you are installing. Additional tools may be required for spring installation. Consult the information provided by your garage door's manufacturer for any additional items needed.
Throughout the process, take your time and follow the instructions carefully, says Brickner. He also recommends saving yourself transportation woes and having the garage door delivered to your home rather than trying to transport it in a pickup.
Evans says DIYers should watch videos from professionals and manufacturers. These videos will provide a better understanding of the project and any nuances specific to your door's system.
Above all, keep safety in mind. "There are lots of moving parts, heavy equipment, and dangerous circumstances that make a garage door an extremely difficult project for an inexperienced DIYer," says Morrow. "One of the most common challenges for garage door installation is maintaining proper safety precautions, which is why only experienced professionals should attempt this project."