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Replacing a 30-year-old garage door
Old 06-11-2009, 02:32 PM   #1
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Replacing a 30-year-old garage door

After two years of steady progress, we've rehabbed nearly everything in our rental property except for its garage door and the bathroom cabinets (more on that later). Our tenants think we're just the world's best landlords for upgrading the garage door, but we know that it's living on borrowed time-- and when we sell the place a new door would be a valuable "curb appeal" asset.

The current door is about 16'x7', four plywood sheets on a single wooden frame that pivots up & down on side hinges & springs by the hoist of an electric opener. When it's moving, the bottom of the door swings a foot or two out into the driveway as it pivots. The original motor barely handles the load with its fraying automobile fan belt. None of this is worth saving, let alone recycling.

We want to totally replace the old gear with a modern door that rides on side rails (no pivoting out into the driveway), uses an overhead torsion bar with hoist cables, and has either a chain or a rotating screw driven from a new electric motor. From a brief survey of home-improvement stores, it looks like we can easily find steel or aluminum panels with varying degrees of insulation. We'd go with heavy gauge corrosion-resistant metal, and high-R insulation would be a big help when the setting sun beats on the door. Navajo white or beige finish. Silent operation preferred. Remote controls from vehicles. No windows or fluorishes. We don't want to paint anything, let alone deal with wood. We don't care about rain or cold. No issues with basketballs or wayward vehicles-- that'd be a problem for the new owner. A lock would be nice but not necessary. We're willing to pay for quality but we put more value on engineering and reliability than on décor or fashion.

Has anyone converted from old to new garage doors? Any surprises or things you wish you'd done differently? Any recommendations on finishes, insulation, brands, or models?
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Old 06-11-2009, 03:05 PM   #2
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We did what you are considering. It worked out great for us. Only thing I wish I'd done is had windows in the top panel so there'd be more natural light in the garage with the door closed.
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Old 06-11-2009, 03:35 PM   #3
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I did what you're planning. Got a Sears chain drive opener. In retrospect, I wish I'd spent a bit more and got one with the motor directly connected to the jackshaft, beside the door and not 6 feet in front of it.

These are more a commercial model but much neater and less space consuming.
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Old 06-11-2009, 03:36 PM   #4
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Since it's an attached garage you would want an insulated door. Screw drive over chain as it eliminates that jerkyness when the door is opening. I'm pretty sure they all come with the electric eyes nowadays but that is a nice feature to avoid smashing pets and small children. They are a bear to install yourself unless everything is perfectly square.
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Old 06-11-2009, 03:40 PM   #5
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We put steel doors on our garage, replacing the old plywood panels that had rotted on the bottom. We got the kind that have a foam core, to help prevent dents. I have been told that the single layer steel does dent easily. We painted the doors so that they would fit better with the look of the garage. They were cheap as compared to wood, but I can't remember how much. We did this about 8 years ago and they still look like new.

The new garage door openers have that irritating electric eye that you have to step over so it can continue to close as you step out. Snow and ice can interfer with the operation of the eye. But yes, probably less kids and pets are squished.
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Old 06-11-2009, 03:48 PM   #6
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Quote:
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We got the kind that have a foam core, to help prevent dents. I have been told that the single layer steel does dent easily.
We opted for the steel/foam sandwich doors when we built our house. Eleven years later they are holding up well - at least from the external view. If you look at the inside of the door you will see the result of DW failing to open the door prior to backing out.

I was able to bend the door back into shape. The inside of the door shows definite scarring but the outside popped back into shape with no visible damage. The single layer steel would have required replacement of at least two panels.

The brand is Clopay.
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Think about a Wayne Dalton iDrive garage door opener
Old 06-11-2009, 04:05 PM   #7
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Think about a Wayne Dalton iDrive garage door opener

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords View Post
Has anyone converted from old to new garage doors? Any surprises or things you wish you'd done differently? Any recommendations on finishes, insulation, brands, or models?
I replaced my door, which was much like your style, about 10 years ago with an insulated panel door. It cuts down on noise as well as the heat/cold.

About 5 years ago, I installed a Wayne Dalton iDrive TorqueMaster garage door opener
idrive™ Wall Mount Garage Door Openers
and am very pleased with it. Ir is simple and looks rather elegant. It is direct drive which does away with the track (and belt or chain or screw drive) that typically runs to the middle of the ceiling. It's a rather ingenious design and does not have the outboard spring system that the typical garage door has. I also think it is quieter in operation.

They also have excellent customer service, as I needed to call them several times about my specific installation.

omni
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Old 06-11-2009, 05:01 PM   #8
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We too are in the process of replacing our 16x7, 22 year old plywood garage door. We saw one we like at Lowes and they gave us a price of $1465 installed. It is steel both inside and out with foam in the middle, and a row of nice prairie style windows close to the top. It is only $350 more than the middle of the road one so we will spring for the better one. We want this to be the last garage door we buy.
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Old 06-11-2009, 05:20 PM   #9
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Door openers: The chain drives are the noisiest, screw drives next, then the belt drives as most quiet. We have a friend with the Wayne Dalton iDrive and she likes it a lot--I wonder about the issues with replacing it when it crumps out, since the springs and everything else are part of the system. I'd prefer to just get a door opener when the time comes.

Sorry, I've no particular expertise in door types. The ones with the (polyurethane) foam injected between the two metal skins are going to be quieter, stiffer, more energy efficient and more expensive than the doors with the two skins and a sheet of (EPS white foam) slid in between. The single piece door like you have is what I grew up with in CA, nobody had roll-up doors on our block. I guess these doors are unique to no-snow areas since they do swing out a bit.

I'd bet your door has to meet some high wind load requirements. These are specially braced and more expensive than regular doors.

I would be tempted to do a DIY replacement on a single-slab door or a roll-up door with the tracks in place (though either the torsion springs on roll-up doors or the inline springs common on single-slab doors are dangerous). Installing the tracks (getting them square, getting the wire lengths set, etc, etc) is probably not something I'd try. The two guys that installed a new roll-up door on my shop installed the tracks and door in about 3 hours.

If you want a handle on the outside of the door, you should tell the guys who are doing the installation. It was free, but apparently nobody wants the outside handle anymore since door openners are so common.
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Old 06-11-2009, 06:02 PM   #10
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Do they tell you how fast they are? Our door is very slow compared with the one from the last house. It may sound like a minor thing, but I don't like waiting for it before driving in.
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Old 06-11-2009, 06:23 PM   #11
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I see a lot of ideas about replacing the garage door "opener" and others recommending different kinds of "doors". I think Nords is talking the whole shebang, door and opener with remote, etc. My sister lived in Escondido, Ca and when I was out for a visit I was shocked at the kinds of garage doors out there. In this $750K
house was the biggest piece of junk wooden garage doors (double) I have ever seen. They were one piece doors on 2x4 frames and just a one point pivot. Looked cobbled up by some amateur. All the neighbors had the same kind of thing. They had just purchased the house and my BIL was conplaining about the garage doors. Originally from Ohio he knew what was needed. Two years later I'm out there and he has these new double walled aluminum, roll-up doors, insulated, and powered by screw type openers. Had windows too. That's the way to go. Quiet as a mouse.
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Old 06-11-2009, 09:31 PM   #12
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In 2005 we got a Genie "Excelerator" opener at Lowes, $228. It's a screw drive one and it's pretty quiet. It opens twice as fast as it closes. It also has a "soft stop" so there's no clunking when it completes the operation.

We should replace the garage door too. It's from 1955, big heavy, double size wood. The new ones look so much nicer, are a lot lighter and better insulated.
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Old 06-12-2009, 07:14 PM   #13
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I replaced my old wooden uninsulated doors with Clopay from Home Depot. They are steel on both sides, foam in the middle. They are MUCH better insulated than the old wooden doors.

One thing that got me was that there wasn't enough room to open the garage doors since my floor joists (garage under) were closer than should be. I had to buy a "low overhead" kit for each door. If your garage has a higher ceiling you are probably OK. Each garage door model requires a certain clearance to open it.

Took me 1 day to install the first door, then a couple of hours to do the second. Steep learning curve!
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Old 06-12-2009, 07:46 PM   #14
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Being in the flood zone at the beach, and just plain hating the annoying "electric eye", I raised the beam from the floor to shoulder level. Been there for a couple years now, I like it. Prolly not a good idea though in a rental.
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Old 06-12-2009, 10:48 PM   #15
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I thought they did away with the torsion bars which are lethal when they fail. Our door uses extension springs instead of a torsion bar and we chose a Craftsmen belt drive which we like. It is very quiet and reasonably fast. Current unit is 10 yrs old, but I am a bit nervous about the cost to replace that belt if it breaks. Noise is a more of an issue depending on proximity to living space. We have no insulation (which also dampens the noise) on the steel door panels which is on my to-do list.
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Old 06-15-2009, 05:42 AM   #16
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Thanks for everyone's suggestions. Lots of ideas we never considered, especially the time it takes for the door to open. We'll see how complicated this can all get.

I've actually been standing near a torsion bar when a spring breaks. Impressive, so hopefully a lighter door won't have that issue. We're also looking at motors that are mounted by the torsion bar instead of out in the middle of the ceiling. Too many tenant's big trucks and SUVs too close to the ceiling.

Of course Clopay makes them, and Lowes/Home Depot sells them. Glad to see that-- around here it's all too easy to have to wait weeks for an expensive component or even more expensive contractors. Those stores have brought a lot more competition to the islands.

We're going to rip out everything and start over so we have a chance to cherry-pick each component (as long as the installer is willing to work with us). We'll be going shopping in a couple weeks.
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Old 06-17-2009, 10:59 AM   #17
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Nords,
have you considered extension spring setup vs. torsion spring?
Probably little less pleasing aesthetically, but safer and easier to install (speaking from the experience on both counts).
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Old 06-17-2009, 07:36 PM   #18
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Nords,
have you considered extension spring setup vs. torsion spring?
Probably little less pleasing aesthetically, but safer and easier to install (speaking from the experience on both counts).
I saw my first extension-spring setup yesterday. Looks fine.

While I have an engineering vote on all decisions, decor (curb appeal) is usually the overriding priority. Upgrading to my standards often becomes prohibitively expensive, especially if there's no outright danger.
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Old 07-02-2009, 11:46 PM   #19
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Thanks for everyone's advice! Knowing the vocabulary and features has saved us a lot of time & frustration.

We've talked to Lowes and Home Depot. We have a garage-door shop and a one-man local installer left to check. There are a couple higher-end retailers (Western Overhead, Raynor) that are up in the >$3000 range. I don't think we'll be visiting them unless they can beat the big-box prices over the phone.

We're planning to sell the rental home in a few years so we want curb appeal. All the doors we've looked at are steel-clad (simulated wood grain) on both sides around blown-in polyurethane foam (no styrofoam). A 1½" door has an R value around 10, which will provide enough thermal insulation from the late-afternoon sun. So far everyone here does torsion bars but not extension springs. (Not sure why yet.) The door only needs a ½HP motor but we like the higher-end Chamberlain with a quieter belt drive. (The garage door is right next to the master bedroom.) We're going for unobtrusive insets across the panels. No windows. Almond color to match the property's PVC fence, and so that we never have to paint again. We're paying for installation-- the upgrade needs to happen within one day so that we don't impose on the tenants, and we'd rather not tutor ourselves with a tenant standing around asking for a status report.

After all the extra installation charges and buying the opener and holiday sales and manufacturer's discounts, Home Depot is ~$2300 for a Clopay "premium series" model that claims to use 27-gauge steel (Insulated Steel Garage Doors - Premium Collection). Looks fine. Not in stock, or, as we say in Hawaii, "Six week from da Mainlan', brah."

Lowes offers a Wayne-Dalton 9600 model for $1900 (Welcome To Wayne-Dalton - Model 9600), including a ½HP Chamberlain belt-drive opener and all the other fees/discounts. It's a lot like the Clopay door but we're not sure about the steel thickness (yet). In stock.

Of course, as has been mentioned, the Wayne-Dalton comes with an iDrive option (Welcome To Wayne-Dalton - <i>i</i>drive® for TorqueMaster®). Most cool. I'm sold. I forgot to ask about that so we'll have to re-do the quote, and it'll probably wipe out any savings over the Clopay. Might not be in stock either.

Although the Wayne-Dalton doesn't come with extension springs, they do hide the torsion spring inside an outer pipe. But with an iDrive and no other ceiling obstacles, I wonder if it's worth trying to raise the garage door frame higher than seven feet... how tall is an SUV with a roof rack?
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Old 07-03-2009, 06:32 AM   #20
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We had our heavy pressboard double garage door replaced by Overhead Door a few years ago (do they have them in HI). New one is metal with foam insulation, torsion spring, total cost to replace/dispose of old door and install new one was less than $1000, but you can spend more for fancier models. We went windowless for security reasons, but it would have been nice to have a row of windows to let some light in.

And our 22 yr old Genie door opener started struggling this winter, so I replaced it with a top of the line Chamberlain 3/4HP belt drive this week. Did it myself (about 4 hrs), got the opener on sale for $180. From my internet research Chamberlain is supposed to be the best. They recommended a 1/2HP, but I want it to last a long time. It is not silent, but it's the most quiet opener I've owned.

Good luck...
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