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Restoring Vintage Sliding Garage-Doors

Keeping your vintage sliding doors can be a simple project. Learn how to restore vintage sliding garage-doors with these easy steps.

More in Remodeling

1930s sliding garage doors after restoration

Step 1: Deconstruct the Doors

Remove the garage doors from the brackets that ride along the track. It will help to place shim blocks under the door to relieve some of the pressure from the brackets (Image 1).
Using vise grips, remove the bolts from the brackets (Image 2) and slide the doors out (Image 3).
Lay the doors on plywood supported by saw horses.
Remove the brackets from the track, along with any hardware from the doors.
Using vise grips, unscrew the brackets from the track and set aside (Image 4).
Using a hammer and a pry bar, remove the existing wooden side jambs (Image 5).
Remove rollers from the track and set aside.

Step 2: Restore Rollers

Degrease and lubricate rollers. Spray on degreaser. Once the rollers are well coated, simply wipe off the greasy residue with a cloth.
Spray on white lithium grease to rollers. White lithium grease is an all-purpose lubricant frequently used on moving parts. This will help the rollers operate smoothly again.

degrease and lubricate rollers

Step 3: Strip and Paint Brackets And Hardware

With a cut brush, apply a thick coating of metal stripper to each bracket. If applying to multiple coats of paint, more than one application of stripper may be needed.
Once the stripper has bubbled up, use steel wool to wipe the paint away (Image 1).
After most of the paint has been removed, brush the bracket clean with lacquer thinner.
Prime and paint the hardware. Again, working in a well ventilated area, spray red oxide primer on to the rollers and brackets (Image 2).
Allow the paint to dry. Drying could take anywhere from 10 minutes to one hour depending on humidity. (Read and follow the manufacturer's instructions.)
When the primer has dried completely, spray on a top coat of hammer finished paint and allow to dry. Again, this could take up to one hour to dry, depending on humidity levels.

Step 4: Remove and Rebuild Window Frames

Loosen the old window frames using a cat's paw and a hammer to remove the nails.
Use a hammer and pry bar to tap and pry the frame pieces loose (Image 1) and carefully lift out the frames.
If the wood surrounding the frames is weak, a temporary support may be needed. Just screw a 2x 2 in the width of the door to the door before you remove the frames (Image 2). This temporary support will need to be removed after you reinstall the new frames.
Carefully remove the glass and set it aside in a secure location.
Flip the doors over to work on the other side.
Note: Garage doors are heavy, so you'll need plenty of help completing this step.
If there's a "lip" around the existing hole for the frame, cut it back flush using a jigsaw (Image 3).
Repeat process for each window frame.
Measure the opening and rip wood to the widths you'll need using a table saw.
Also, using the table saw, cut a rabbet in the wood. This is an "L" shaped channel that the glass will rest on.
Using a miter saw, cut the frames to your measured lengths.
The style of window frame the homeowners want requires a muntin bar.
Restoration Lexicon: A muntin is a horizontal or vertical bar that divides the sash frame into smaller window lites.
To ensure the muntin bar fits flush with the top and bottom frame, recess the ends of the rabbet cut (Image 4). This is not a through cut with the miter saw. Using a chisel and a mallet, remove the indention. Repeat this process for the side jambs of the window frame as well.
To attach the window frames, use a polyurethane glue to hold the joints together. First, lightly dampen the end of each frame and add a small amount of polyurethane glue to each end. Next, connect the frames.
Secure the frames together using finish nails (Image 5).
Lightly sand each frame. An orbital palm sander with 80 to 120 grit sandpaper disks works best.

Step 5: Prep and Paint the Garage Doors

Using carbide scrapers and palm sanders, remove any loose paint (Image 1).
Next, prime the door and newly built frames, allowing sufficient time to dry.
Install the window frames. Any temporary supports that were added earlier need to be removed before the new frames are installed.
Screw the window frames back into the door (Image 2).
Once the frames are installed, paint the door.
Allow the paint to dry fully.

Step 6: Re-Create the Vintage Hood and Metal Jambs

Using a pry bar, remove the board that connected the outside jamb to the opening.
You can reuse the brackets from the existing track by cutting off the bolts using an angle grinder with a cutting blade (Image 1). Once the top of the bolts has been removed drive the rest on through with a hammer.
Then, measure the opening for treated lumber that will be the base for the metal jambs.
Cut the lumber to the widths and lengths needed with a circular saw.
You'll need to mark the angle you want the hood to come down. (In this case, it was a 30-degree angle.) Cut that angle in the treated lumber also using a circular saw (Image 2).
Make a cut in the wood with the circular saw that will allow the top of the lumber to fit up to where the hood will rest.
You're going to need another piece of treated lumber cut to the same height as the first board and with the same angle cut at the top. This piece will be about half the width of the first board and will fit outside the opening. Screw the boards together.
Mark the anchor bolt locations that exist in the opening and transfer the placement to the wooden jamb.
Using a 1-1/8" drill bit, create holes in the wooden jamb where the anchor bolts will fit. Drill down the depth of the bolt or about 3/8". Using a smaller bit, drill completely through the boards for each of the anchor bolts. This will allow the bolts to fit flush with the board when they're added.
Place the wooden jamb over the anchor bolts in the opening. If necessary, use a sledge hammer or rubber mallet to help fit the jamb into the opening (Image 3).
Attach the jamb with bolts (Image 4).

Step 7: Prep the House Exterior

To prep the house exterior for the hood, using an existing caulk line as a reference, snap a blue line that will be used to cut a reglet or groove into the façade — which in this case was stucco. The metal from our hood will slip into the reglet providing a sealed joint.
Restoration Lexicon: A reglet is a flat, narrow architectural molding.
With a concrete saw, cut the reglet in the stucco (Image 1).
We also created a wooden top cap for the hood. On a table saw, set the blade to match the degree the angle the hood will come down and then cut that angle into a piece of treated lumber equivalent to the width of the garage door opening. They've set the table saw to cut a 30 degree bevel off the top cap (Image 2). This top cap will reinforce the metal above and keep it from bending.
Attach the top cap to the existing brackets using metal screws (Image 3).
Next, return the rollers and brackets to the track and create the wooden jambs for the other side of the opening.
To bend the metal for the jambs and hood, we used a metal brake, a device that uses equally dispersed pressure to help cut and shape the metal to the needed dimensions and shapes. Because this metal was fairly thick, it's helpful to first score the joints using a utility knife. Use the metal brake to cut the metal to the widths you need and shape it to surround the wooden jambs and form it into the hood (Image 4).
Remember, joints are much easier to bend or break when scored with a utility knife first.
Using the angle grinder with cutting blade, cut the same top angle used on the wooden jambs in the metal for the side jambs.
Place the metal over the wooden side jambs first, then attach the metal for the hood, sliding a small bent section of the metal into the reglet for a flashing. Secure all metal to the wooden top cap and side jambs with fasteners that have a neoprene backing (Image 5).
Finally, caulk around the reglet.

Step 8: Hang the Restored Garage Doors

Reinstall the doors by sliding them back into the brackets and screwing on the bolts. Reattach any additional hardware.
Install glass panes by nailing on a glass stop to the backside of the doors. You can use glazing compound as back bedding to prevent the glass from rattling. It's also a good idea to use tempered or wire glass for additional security

reattach any additional hardware to doors

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