Whether you spend a lot of time in your garage or not, you should try to keep it secure. For one, it’s probably connected to your house, and even if it isn’t, you could be using it as storage. So the tiny gaps around the garage door are a liability in more ways than one. They could end up costing you thousands of dollars annually unless you learn how to seal a garage door properly.
Most garages double as workshops, band rehearsal spaces, or entertainment dens. Suffice it to say, they can be the best places to go if you want to make some noise. But they can also be quiet hideaways when the house itself is a bit loud. Still, no matter how you choose to use your garage, you’ll want to soundproof it as well as you can.
As is often the case, sealing the door is all it takes to drastically improve the acoustics of a space. But before I tell you about the easiest and most methodical way to seal a garage door, let’s see why you might want to do it in the first place.
Why You Need to Seal Your Garage Door
As I have mentioned, many garages double as workshops. Between the whirring of the dust collectors and the various air compressor-powered tools, they can project some pretty horrific sounds. Weatherstripping seals may muffle some of that noise and make your neighbors less likely to take action against you.
On the other hand, you may want to prevent sounds from coming into the garage instead. You might have a TV or projector set up there, which would make silence of the utmost importance. Either way, the goal would be to seal any cracks and thicken up the walls to prevent noise from coming in or going out.
But as far as I’m concerned, noise reduction should be at the bottom of the list of your priorities. After all, despite the many uses a garage might have, its primary purpose is still to store your vehicle. During the cold winter months, having a fully sealed garage is crucial. It can mean the difference between starting your vehicle on the first try or having to wake up half an hour early to warm up the engine.
Furthermore, sealing the garage door can also prevent heat from drifting away, which would save money in the long term. If your garage is located underneath living quarters, you may be losing the heat from your house. Not to mention that the loss could negatively impact the items you’ve stored in the garage.
Lastly, gaps in and around the garage door let in moisture, dust, insects, and other small pests. That would certainly increase the cost of garage maintenance, especially if a mouse chews through an expensive machine part.
How to Completely Seal a Garage Door
By now, you understand why you need to periodically replace the seals that surround your garage door. Now, I’ll walk you through doing just that. But before I break things down into actionable steps, let’s talk about the tools and supplies you’ll need to purchase.
1. Gather the Supplies
Before you tackle any big project, you’ll want to put all the supplies you’ll use in one place. Just by placing a few orders in advance, you can complete all the tasks on this list within an hour. To begin with, you should consider which garage weatherstripping products you’ll want to use:
- Bottom door seals are attached to the bottom of the door like a door sweep would be
- Threshold seals are glued to the floor directly underneath the garage door and can be used with or without a bottom door seal
- Side and top weatherstripping seals are usually made of flexible vinyl, allowing the door to move while still maintaining an airtight seal when it’s closed
In addition to all of these products, you may also need regular self-adhesive foam strips. That only leaves a few items, which you may even have lying around in your garage:
- A pair of scissors or utility knife to cut away parts of the old rubber seal and cut the new one down to size
- A screwdriver or drill to get old screws out and new ones in through the layers of weatherstripping materials and wood
- Caulking equipment including a gun and sealant to adhere the threshold seal to the ground and plug some cracks in the side seals
Making sure you have all of these things on hand can make sealing your garage door a real paint-by-numbers task. Still, I’ll have a few more things to say about each of these items as I explain the steps ahead.
2. Strip the Old Bottom Seal
First things first, you’ll have to get rid of the old bottom seal on your garage door. If you’ve just noticed a draft, it’s probably because the old seal was doing its job until recently. But as it deteriorates, rubber tends to shrink, crack, and become rigid, making the seal lose its efficacy. So what can you do when that happens?
Well, to begin with, you should lift the door to a workable height and then disconnect it from the power supply. If you notice any cracks on your bottom seal, your only option will be to strip it. That process may differ depending on the kind of bottom seal you’re working with. For example, if the rubber seal is nailed directly into the bottom of the door, you’ll need to rip out the nails to remove the rubber.
On the other hand, there are people who don’t really want to repeatedly use nails directly on their doors. To avoid that, you can slide a T-style seal into a metal channel that’s permanently screwed into the bottom of your garage door. Having that metal part would allow you to cut or slide most of the seal off before putting the new one in.
After you get rid of the old seal, check the length of the channels for rust. The shape of the metal doesn’t make it very receptive to the usual rust removal techniques you might use. So if you can’t get the rust off with a spray, I recommend getting a bottom seal with the metal rails included.
3. Install a New Bottom Seal
Once you strip away the old seal, you can replace it with a new one. In fact, if you already have metal channels and a new T-style seal, you won’t even need tools. You’ll just need your hands — and, perhaps, an extra pair to hold the other end of the seal while you drag yours into place.
On the other hand, if you end up having to install a new metal part, you’ll need to break out your drill. But even then, there’s no need to be intimidated. Still, if you need to watch someone else do it before you give it a shot, I recommend checking out this video.
You’ll also need a drill if you’re planning on installing the simpler bottom seal I’ve mentioned. The ones that are attached directly onto the bottom of a wooden door usually come with a set of nails, but I prefer using screws. In my opinion, it’s faster and safer than trying to hammer nails into the bottom of the door.
If you end up opting for that kind of a seal, remember to keep the flap pointed outward. You should also cut the length of the seal to the dimensions of your door before you start working.
Of course, if you’re installing a T-style seal, you won’t need to cut it down. Just tuck the ends into the fold, as demonstrated in the video above.
4. Install a Threshold Seal
A threshold seal is a genius way to seal the garage if you don’t want to drill into the door. Alternatively, you can use it with a regular bottom seal, if it doesn’t quite reach the floor. Best of all, threshold seal kits come with everything you’ll need to install the seal.
Before you slap it on, though, you’ll have to mark where the door will be when you close it. Start by sliding the thin side of the strip under the door from the inside of the garage. If it doesn’t fit properly, trim the sides, taking into account any angles, as shown in this video.
Once you have trimmed and positioned the strip, draw a line on the floor along the inside edge. Then, open the garage door, reposition the seal if it shifted away from that line, and mark the other edge. Finally, move the strip of vinyl away and place the adhesive inside the lines you’ve drawn.
If your threshold seal didn’t come with a tube of adhesive, you can use any caulking sealant you have on hand. After you do that, simply place the vinyl strip back between the lines you drew.
5. Weatherstrip the Top and Sides
After you’ve taken care of the bottom of the garage door, you’ll need to seal the top and the sides. Most people don’t think about the amount of air that moves freely through those gaps. Fortunately, there are weatherstripping products that can lessen or completely stop that airflow.
Namely, the vinyl strips you’ll use on the sides and top of the garage door have a flat side and a flexible flap. You’ll nail or screw the flat side to the door jamb, flush against the door itself. If any gaps remain between the door frame and the seal you’ve installed, you can caulk them. The flap should effectively seal the door while also being malleable enough to allow it to open.
If you’d like to hear more about this whole process, I have a comprehensive guide you can read. But if you’d like to see a visual guide first, you can watch this video.
6. Check Between the Horizontal Panels
Before you pat yourself on the back for a job well done, you should check for gaps between the horizontal panels of the rolling door. Most newer door models will have these parts fit perfectly against each other. That not only prevents drafts and noise leaks but also strengthens the weak points burglars like to exploit.
Fortunately, establishing whether your door has those flaws is incredibly easy. You’ll just need to check if the gaps are letting sunlight pass into the garage. Of course, you won’t be able to see anything unless you’ve already installed all the other seals I’ve mentioned. You’ll also have to cover the garage windows and turn off all the lights first.
If you spot the telltale slivers of light, you can use thin strips of weatherstripping foam to plug the gaps. Just peel off the protective foil back and stick it between the horizontal panels. If you can’t do it while the door is closed, you might have more luck placing the foam as you open the door and those cracks become prominent around the bend of the rail.
Enjoy Your New Energy-Efficient Garage!
Most people find the thought of sealing their garage door too overwhelming to contemplate. But would you really rather pay someone to do what you could achieve in an hour? I should think not.
Still, I can understand their apprehension. After all, any project can seem scary if we don’t plan for it properly. So with that in mind, I hope this guide has eased at least some of the worries you might have had about installing your garage door seals. Ultimately, anyone would be pleased with these results — a slight improvement that makes your whole house more energy- and cost-efficient!