Maintaining Garage Doors

One-piece up and over garage doors don’t usually need a lot of maintenance but, as with many other aspects of maintaining garden buildings and outbuildings, a little every now and then keeps them in good nick. If you don’t look after your garage doors they become noisy at first and then progressively harder to open or close.

We’ll tackle metal, plastic or fibreglass up and over doors in this article. Wooden hinged doors are still in use up and down the country. New ones continue to be installed, particularly in conjunction with wooden garages, which are often preferred in rural settings. As they are so completely different in their construction and opening methods they will be tackled in a separate article.

One-Piece Garage Doors

The big advantage of one-piece up-and-over doors, apart from being cheaper than wooden hinged doors, is that the doors themselves are largely maintenance free. As long as they don’t sustain any damage or get bent, painting once a decade is probably all you’ll need to do. Although they are usually metal they can now be bought in various plastics and fibreglass which are even longer-lasting. The finish can’t be rubbed down though, and they may not respond well to repainting, unless you know the composition of the door and can get exactly the right paint.

If a metal door gets bent it can be pressed back into shape but it’s never going to look as good as new. What will happen though is that the opening and closing action of the door will get more difficult. so it’s important to straighten the door as much as possible for this reason, just as much as for its looks.

Handle and Lock

The door handle and lock can cause problems, in particular with the arms that go out from the lock to the sides of the garage to hold it closed. These usually have adjusting bolts so that they can be turned to the right length. Don’t have them going too far in to the catches at the side though, as they will expand and contract with the weather and may not operate correctly.

Check this at the same time that you check the rest of the garage door mechanism. You should probably do a maintenance check annually at least. Go round and check that all nuts, bolts and screws are tight and that the action is smooth.

Springs and Tension

Springs should not need a great deal of maintenance but a light coating of penetrating oils will prevent some of the squeaking. To adjust them, if the door is getting difficult to open or close, hold the door open at waist height and see if it stays there. If it rises up then the springs need to be tightened, if it drops then they need loosening.

How you do this depends on the mechanism and the type of door but it should be covered in the instruction manual. Springs can be tricky, and dangerous, so if you’re not 100% sure about what you’re doing, look for a local company who can help you. If you can’t find any companies advertising garage door maintenance, try companies who install garage doors, they may do maintenance a well.


Once the springs are correctly adjusted, lubricating the wheels and runners will keep the door opening smoothly. If you still have the instructions that came with the door then they will tell you what lubricant to use. This is important because using the wrong lubricant could damage plastic rollers. If you are unsure, silicon or Teflon grease is probably the most inert. If the instructions simply say grease or oil, use motor oil rather than grease as it picks up less dirt and grit.

If the runners are sticky remove the rollers, clean them in engine degreaser and re-lubricate once they are back in place. Do this one by one as there is a lot of tension in the lifting assembly, supporting with blocks of wood the same height as the roller to maintain tension if necessary. Clean out the runners, moving the door back and forth to get at every section but ALWAYS propping it up or strapping it down securely. A sudden opening or closing of the door could result in serious injury.

Be Safe

Barring damage, a half-an-hour check every year will keep your garage doors in tip top condition. Do not (and this can’t be emphasised enough), touch a garage door unless you know what you’re doing. An inexpert hand could easily be severed.