How To Paint a Metal Garage Door

We are going to discuss a few critical mistakes you should avoid to prevent hundreds of dollars in damage to your garage door. This article is a must read for all contractors who paint garage doors.

In this article, we are not going to demonstrate step by step how to paint a metal garage door. Instead, we are going to discuss a few critical mistakes you should avoid to prevent hundreds of dollars in damage to your garage door or automatic opener. If we can prevent one individual from making these mistakes when painting they’re garage door, then this article has done its job.

We have seen many reputable paint companies make the common mistakes we are going to discuss in this article. After the damage is done, the finger pointing starts. The paint contractor will blame the garage door contractor and vice versa. How do I know? Because we have been there.

In this article, we are going to break down how to properly paint a metal garage door, a few things you should 100% absolutely avoid, and include a downloadable PDF you can print out so you have something you can use for yourself or discuss with your paint contractor. This will bring all communication to the forefront and will get you ahead of any issues that may arise.

Do Not Paint in Between the Sections

This image illustrates the paint in between the sections tearing apart as the garage door was opened.
This image illustrates the paint in between the sections tearing apart as the garage door was opened.

As much as you would like the overlap of the garage door sections to match your outside color, it’s not worth the trouble it will cause. A standard garage door opener takes anywhere from 10-13 seconds to open or close. This is how long the area in between your garage door sections will be exposed when you open or close your garage door. It’s not that big of a deal to see a different color for a few seconds when opening and closing your garage door.

Many steel back insulated garage doors will have a gray rubber thermal break in between the sections that creates an additional seal. This also helps prevent water from freezing in between the sections and joining them together. You will be able to see this gray piece of rubber when you open and close your garage door, but no one is paying attention… including you. It’s perfectly normal to have a different color in between your garage door sections.

The paint on this garage door was sticking so bad the painter came back and sprayed primer in between the sections. It did not fix the issue and only made the problem worse.
The paint on this garage door was sticking so bad the painter came back and sprayed primer in between the sections. It did not fix the issue and only made the problem worse.

If you do plan on painting in between the sections, it will most likely not dry correctly and cause issues when you run the door. We see this a lot in hot climates. The paint heats up during the day and never dries. When the garage door is closed the latex paint cools down overnight and hardens up therefore welding the two sections together as if you had caulked them together. When you wake up in the morning you will hear a loud bang as the garage door opener is struggling to break the welded sections apart as it is opening. This happens all the time and is very common.

Paint applied in between the sections on a Wayne Dalton garage door.
Paint applied in between the sections on a Wayne Dalton garage door.

Upon first lift, the opener is pulling the top section up and around the radius of the track. If the top and third sections are welded together, some openers will pull hard enough to bend the top section and the reinforcement strut. This can be very costly depending on the type of garage door you have.

Garage Door Makes Popping Noise When Opening

Black paint applied in between the garage door sections is causing the door to make popping noises when opening.
Black paint applied in between the garage door sections is causing the door to make popping noises when opening.

If your garage door is making popping noises after it was recently painted, then it was most likely not painted correctly. Like we discussed in the previous section, many homeowners and paint contractors will paint the area in between the garage door sections where they overlap. This paint will dry overnight when the door is closed and cause problems when you first open the garage door the next day.

The homeowner applied spray lube in between the sections which ended up dripping down the face of the garage door.
The homeowner applied spray lube in between the sections which ended up dripping down the face of the garage door.

Why? Because latex paint will dry and bond the two sections together. When the garage door is opened, this paint is pulled apart causing the garage door to make popping noises. This also happens when paint is behind the vinyl trim.

Do Not Paint Behind the Vinyl Trim

Painting the part of the garage door that sits behind the vinyl trim can cause it to stick to the trim therefore causing damage to your garage door when opened.
Painting the part of the garage door that sits behind the vinyl trim can cause it to stick to the trim therefore causing damage to your garage door when opened.

If you apply paint to the face of the garage door behind the vinyl trim, the garage door sections will stick to the vinyl trim attached to the jamb of the garage door opening. Once the door is opened after the paint has dried, there will be a loud bang and possible damage to your garage door as the automatic opener pulls the door up.

We have seen on many occasions where the top section and/or top strut on the garage door have been damaged due to the garage door being opened after it was painted incorrectly. The reason for this is paint was applied behind the vinyl trim and that paint dried overnight causing it to bond the garage door to the vinyl trim.

This bond can be very strong therefore causing lots of damage to your garage door or opener. We not only have seen top sections and struts bent, but we have also seen belts and drive sprockets on garage door openers break due to the opener attempting to lift the garage door while it was “paint welded” to the opening. We have also seen the vinyl trim torn off the jamb as the door tries to open.

Most homeowners are very surprised to find out that incorrectly painting a garage door can cause so much damage. Many don’t believe us when we first explain why their brand new garage door is damaged due to being painted incorrectly. Once we take the time to explain why, they start to see the “cause and effect” that took place from paint being applied to the wrong areas.

Paint Your Garage Door In The Down Position

Painting your garage door in the down position will prevent getting paint in between the sections and behind the vinyl trim
Painting your garage door in the down position will prevent getting paint in between the sections and behind the vinyl trim

When putting a fresh coat of paint on your garage door, make sure it is down in the closed position. You want to paint what you can see from the outside and nothing else. Most new garage doors that are painted by home builders are sprayed by a paint contractor while the garage door is closed. They do not open the garage door until the paint has dried to make sure the finish is not damaged.

After the paint has dried on your garage door and you’re ready to open it, lightly tap the door from the outside around the opening near the vinyl trim to make sure the metal face of the door is not bonded to the vinyl trim. This will break free any bond that might have been created between the garage door and the vinyl trim attached to the jamb during the paint process. This will also prevent that loud bang when a garage door is first opened because it has bonded itself to the jamb.

What Paint Should I Use For My Garage Door?

Most garage door manufacturers recommend exterior grade latex paint when painting a standard metal garage door. When painting you’re garage door, it is best to contact the manufacturer of your garage door and provide them with your model. This way they can guide you in the right direction based on the exact garage door you own. Garage doors today are built with all different types of materials so contacting the manufacturer will help ensure your garage door is painted correctly.

Test Paint on a Small Area for Adhesion

When painting your garage door, it’s best to test the new paint on a small area of the door. Let the paint fully dry and check for adhesion. If the paint adheres good to the face of the door, then you should be ok to move forward with your project.

Make sure to prepare the garage door surface according to the manufacturers instructions. Every manufacturer will have instructions on their website you can download. They will guide you through how to prepare the face of the garage door for new paint. Do it right the first time and you won’t have to repaint for years.

Painting Decorative Metal Garage Door Hardware

Rusted and faded decorative metal garage door handles
Rusted and faded decorative metal garage door handles

If your existing metal garage door hardware is starting to fade in the sun, you can remove it and apply a fresh coat of paint. Metal garage door hardware usually starts to fade and then rust due to the sun heating up the metal and baking the finish off. You can remove the hardware with a screwdriver and repaint giving it a like new finish.

When repainting your hardware, try using a high heat paint that is designed for metal that can withstand the constant heating up and cooling down commonly seen with metal garage door hardware. This will retain a longer finish in areas where the sun beats down on the garage door and reduce rust and paint fading.

If you want to eliminate your existing hardware altogether, you can try using high quality decorative magnetic garage door hardware. This hardware uses strong magnets to adhere and is made from fade resistant vinyl which will help reduce fading and eliminates rust. This is a great alternative to traditional metal hardware that needs to be attached with screws.

Conclusion

If you are looking for step-by-step instructions on how to paint a garage door, you can find that by doing a quick google search. This article was written to prevent you or your painter from making a few critical mistakes that can cause damage to your garage door.

Trying to remove paint from in between garage door sections can be very hard and time-consuming. Avoid these critical mistakes and you will be able to enjoy a freshly painted garage door that is free of popping noises and prevent damage caused by improper paint application.

Free PDF Download: How To Paint a Metal Garage Door

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