How to Easily Install Garage Door Weather Stripping to Keep the Elements Out

By Jack | Resources

Mar 08

Maybe you use your garage just for your cars.

Perhaps it doubles as a workshop.

Or a storage room.

Whatever you use your garage for, you want to make sure it stays dry. Otherwise, what’s the point?

However, the last few times you’ve been out there, you’ve noticed that it’s colder than usual. Or hotter. It also seems really dirty, even though you sweep it regularly.

And, suddenly, it seems brighter in there than usual.

What’s going on? Do you need a new garage door?

Well…

The odds are pretty good that you need to replace the weather stripping on your garage door. Don’t worry. This happens to every garage door eventually.

Here’s what you can do:

You could hire a pro to do it for you.

Or, you could tackle this one yourself!

Understanding Garage Door Weather Stripping

Garage door weather stripping sometimes called garage door seals, is the “stuff” around all four sides of your garage door.

Easy enough to remember:

Just like the name implies, garage door weather stripping keeps the elements out.

This means stuff like snow, rain, and even wind. And, while you may think the garage door can handle this by itself, it’s just not enough.

You need to have solid garage door seals.

Why?

Here’s what you need to know:

Sealing the Garage Does More Than You Think

For starters, garage door weather stripping keeps your garage dry. It stops water (either as rain or melted snow) from getting in the garage and creating puddles.

You might think that a puddle of water in a garage isn’t a big deal.

After all:

You leave your wet car in there all the time.

What’s the big deal?

Well, the problem is that the water that gets into the garage tends to gather by the garage door. Over time, the recurring puddles can damage the track the door is on.

That’s not the worst of it:

Since most garages have wood frames, the water can cause rotting to the frame that you may not ever see.

Until it’s too late.

Garage door weather stripping also keeps out cold air and locks the heat in your garage. That’s great for when you’re working in there, or want a slightly warmer car in the morning.

But, a properly sealed garage does more than keep rain and snow out. It also keeps out dirt, random debris (like leaves) and, everybody’s favorite, pests!

Here’s another thing proper weather stripping can do:

It helps your bottom line.

If your garage is attached, it’s likely under or next to a room (or rooms) in your house. A garage that’s too hot in the summer or too cold in the winter can affect the rooms near the garage. This means they might be too hot or too cold, meaning you’re constantly fiddling with the temperature.

Or, worse, your thermostat gets confused and is always running, resulting in higher bills for you.

Know Your Seals

Replacing your garage door weather stripping isn’t as simple as popping down to the hardware store, picking up some seals, and installing the new one.

That’s not to say it’s impossible.

However, you need to know what type of weather stripping you should get before you hop in the car.

Up Top!

Let’s start at the top, and work our way down. You can find weather stripping along the top (the header) of your garage door.

The most common kind of header seal is a reverse angle jamb seal.

That’s a mouthful!

The flap on the seal points toward the garage door. When the door is closed, the flap gets pushed against the garage door, creating a weatherproof seal.

So, what do you need to know about that?

There are two versions of this garage door weather stripping.

One attaches inside the garage. The other attaches to the outside.

While this kind of seal is not as common in residential garages, it is possible you have one. If you have one, it is easy to replace.

Moreover, if you want to add one, that’s easy to do, too.

Side to Side

Don’t forget the stripping on the side:

The sides of your garage door may or may not have weather stripping. If you aren’t sure, you can check.

Open your garage door and look at the sides, near the track.

If you see a rubber flap, you’ve got a side seal! It might look like this:

close-up photo showing a garage door seal

Garage door seal. Image by Author, all rights reserved

If you don’t see a rubber flap, well, then you don’t have it.

However, as easy as it is to replace the side garage door weather stripping, it’s just as easy to install a new piece.

These vinyl doorstops create a watertight seal on the sides when the door is closed. That flap fits snugly against your garage door to help weatherproof your garage (just like the top seal).

What’s fun about them is that they come in a variety of colors. You can match your garage door color or pick a contrasting one.

Down Below

That’s not all:

If you Google “replace garage door weather stripping,” most of the search results will direct you to information and tutorials about replacing the seal on the bottom of your garage door.

This is because it’s the seal that tends to need replacing more often than the other seals.

Check out the bottom of your garage door. You should see a rubber flap or tube running along the bottom of the door. That’s your bottom seal.

In fact:

That’s the seal that takes the most abuse. It gets squashed and pinched all the time. On the off chance that you’ve got rodents or other pests, they’re likely to gnaw on it.

That seal is usually made of vinyl, rubber, or PVC. While those materials are pretty-darn waterproof, they aren’t invincible.

Over time, all of the squishing and pinching, combined with exposure to the elements (heat, cold, sunshine) causes the seal to wear out.

And that’s when you need a new one.

Types of Bottom Seals

Unlike the top and sides of the garage, there are several different types of bottom seals. While they all serve the same purpose (protecting your garage), there are a few, subtle differences between them.

You’ll have to check out your garage door to see what kind you have. But, the main difference is how the seal attaches to the garage door.

When you look at the bottom of the garage door, look at the side of the door.

There, you will be able to see how the seal attaches to the door.

A single channel retainer attaches the seal to the garage at one point.

A double channel retainer attaches the seal at two points.

When we say “channel,” we’re talking about the groove in the metal bar that attaches the weather stripping to the garage.

Most garage doors have a double channel retainer. You don’t often find a single channel retainer in a residential garage. But, it is possible.

Once you know if you’ve got a single or double channel, you then need to figure out what kind of seal you want.

 The list below describes the different types of bottom seals out there. And, the “shape” refers to what the seal looks like when the door is closed.

  • J-type: a single channel retainer that creates two “j’s” when the door is closed.
  • T-type: a single channel retainer that’s similar to the J-type, a t-type looks like an inverted “T.”
  • Bulb: bulbs are long, round tubes that, when pressed by the garage door, spread out and fill in any uneven spots in the floor to create a seal.
  • Beaded: used in double channel retainers, beaded seals are bent up to fit in circular grooves.
  • Less Common Bottom Seals

    There are two other kinds of bottom garage door seals out there.

    They are:

    • Threshold seal
    • Brush seal

    Generally, you will only find these kinds of seals in commercial garages. That said, you may find a threshold seal in a residential garage.

    A threshold seal is a hard piece of raised rubber that is attached to the floor of the garage. That said, there are some smaller, less raised threshold seals that you can use in your garage. You’ve probably seen them near doors.

    Know When It’s Time to Say Goodbye

    Experts recommend you inspect your garage door weather stripping once or twice a year.

    While the door is closed, look all around the edges of your garage door. If you notice any of the following, it’s time to replace your garage door weather stripping:

    • There’s light coming through the sides or bottom of the door.
    • You can feel a breeze.
    • The seals feel dry, brittle or you see noticeable cracking.

    While you can replace one part of your seals, experts recommend that if you’re going to replace one seal, you should probably replace them all at the same time.

    Let’s DIY This!

    So, you’ve decided to accept this DIY challenge. Good for you!

    Before you put on your safety goggles, you need to review a few important safety items.

    Safety First

    While this is a doable project for most DIY’ers, be advised that you need to play it safe.

    You’ll need to disconnect the garage door from the automatic opener (if you have one). While it’s designed to do that (in case of a power outage), remember that until it is reconnected, the door can slide on its own.

    Watch the video below to learn more:

    Do not replace the garage door weather stripping alone. Not only will you need a helper for some of these steps, it’s a good idea to have someone around just in case.

    It may be helpful to prop the door on sturdy chairs or stool to hold the door in place while you work. Or, you can use clamps for if you prefer.

    Gather Your Supplies

    To replace your garage door weather stripping, you’re going to need:

  • A pencil
  • A measuring tape
  • Pry bar
  • Hammer
  • Nails or screws
  • Scissors, Exacto knife, or utility knife
  • Drill (or screwdriver)
  • Silicone lubricant
  • Caulk and caulk gun
  • Dish soap (and a bucket of water)
  • Saw
  • While this is a pretty extensive list, keep in mind that you may not need all of these items. For example, if you are only replacing the bottom seal, you shouldn’t need the caulk and caulk gun.

    Start at the Bottom

    While you can go in any order, let’s start with how to replace the garage door weather stripping on the bottom of your garage door.

    1. Out with the Old

    First things first:

    You need to get the old stuff off.

    Follow these steps:

    1. Disconnect the garage door from the opener.
    2. Place the door at a comfortable height.
    3. Secure the door with clamps, or rest it on sturdy chairs.
    4. Now, check out the track. Locate the screws on both ends of the track. There’s usually one on each end (but there might be two).
    5. Unscrew those screws then slide the weather stripping out.

    You may find that the screws have rusted a little or that the weather stripping is kind of stuck. If that’s the case, use the lubricant to loosen the screws and weather stripping.

    Pro Tip


    The garage door track will likely block the weather stripping from sliding off. If that happens, raise the garage door to the bend, and you should get enough space to get it off.

    While the garage door weather stripping is off, you’ll see more screws holding the track in place. Take some time and tighten those up. Then clean off the track.

    Measure Then Measure Again

    Take out the tape measure and figure out exactly how much you’ll need. Then measure again.

    And one more time.

    Mark on the strip with the pencil where you’re going to cut.

    Use the knife, or even a pair of heavy-duty scissors, to cut the garage door weather stripping.

    Pro Tip


    Once you’ve got your piece of weather stripping, coil it up and stick it in a bucket of water with some dish soap in there. This is not because it’s dirty! It’s to help it slide smoothly along the track when you’re putting it in the track, making it less likely to rip.

    2. In with the New

    Time to feed your new garage door weather stripping into the track.

    Follow the steps below:

    1. Slide the end (or ends) into the track and feed it along until you get to the other side
    2. Then, put the end screws back in.

    Before putting the screws in, remember:

    Make sure you’ve got the ridges on the outside. Otherwise, you’ve done it wrong and will have to start over.

    Pro Tip


    This will be easier if you’ve got a helper on one side either holding the striping and feeding it into the track or on the other end, pulling it through.

    3. Reconnect and Test

    Reconnect your garage door to the opener and give it a test run. If the door sticks or catches, you probably cut the weather stripping too long.

    Trim off the ends. You can do this without removing the whole pieces and starting over.

    Here’s the whole thing from start to finish:

    What About a Threshold Seal?

    Maybe this looks like too much work. Or, you check the bottom of your garage door and discover there never was a seal on the bottom.

    No worries, just install a threshold seal instead.

    1. Prep the Floor

    When you take on this project, make sure the floor is dry.

    The seal won’t attach to a wet floor.

    Also, make sure it’s clean. That doesn’t mean wash it off, just give it a good sweep first.

    2. Make It Fit

    With this type of garage door weather stripping, you have to do more than get the length right. You want to make sure the seal covers the entire door width, which means you’ll have to fit some of the seal under the garage door track — without jamming the door.

    Next:

    Measure the length then cut it to size.

    Slide the piece up against the door, making sure you’ve got the wide, flat part of the seal facing out of the garage (toward the outside). Then, figure out what part you need to cut out to make the seal fit under the track.

    Repeat on the other side.

    3. Mark Your Territory

    With the garage door closed, slide the seal against the door until you’ve got a snug fit. Then, take a marker (or, something you can easily see), and draw an outline of the seal.

    measuring tools and markers

    Open the door and mark the outside as well.

    4. Seal the Seal

    Remove the seal, and lay down your sealant. You can use caulk, or there are special sealants designed to stick to concrete.

    Lay one bead down close to (but not next to!) the line you marked. Make sure you get it on the inside of the line. Repeat on the other side. Then, lay a zigzag bead between the two lines.

    Pro Tip


    If you find some holes in the concrete, add a little extra sealant to make sure the weather stripping sticks!

    5. Putting It together

    Grab your garage door weather stripping and position it on top of the sealant.

    Once you’ve got the seal in place, press down. You want to make sure you get the garage door weather stripping to stick to the sealant!

    And that’s that! But, you should wait at least 24 hours for the sealant to dry before you do any heavy duty driving over the threshold.

    Confused?

    Check this out:

    Replacing the Sides

    Ready for the advanced project? Awesome.

    Let’s replace those sides:

    1. Remove the Side Seals

    Unlike the bottom of the garage door, the garage door weather stripping on the sides is attached to the wall of the garage. And, it’s usually attached with caulk.

    To get the seals off, take a utility knife and score the caulk first. This will make it easier to remove the side pieces and lessens the chance you’ll damage the trim.

    Then, take your pry bar, slide it under the garage door weather stripping and gently tap the bar with the hammer. Go top to bottom or bottom to top. Don’t start in the middle.

    As you tap, gently pull the weather stripping off the trim until it’s completely detached.

    2. Clean It Up

    There’s probably leftover caulk on the jamb. Clean that off by scraping with a putty knife. If you skip this step, the new trim won’t lay properly, and all your work will be for nothing.

    3. Measure Carefully

    Again, you’ll need to measure.

    Pro Tip


    Since the side seal is probably in one piece, use the old one as a template for the new piece you’re going to create.

    4. Cut Away!

    It is possible to cut the garage door weather stripping with a utility knife. However, you’ll likely end up with a ragged edge. While this won’t affect the performance of the weather stripping, but it won’t look nice.

    And we all want a nice looking garage.

    So, in this case, you might want to consider cutting the weather stripping with a saw.

    5. Nail Them in Place

    This next step might be a two person job.

    One to hold. One to nail.

    Line up the garage door weather stripping against the trim and nail it in place. Make sure the flap is toward the door and touching it. That’s what helps create the seal.

    Pro Tip


    Most weather stripping for garage door sides has pre-drilled holes.

    Once the weather stripping is in place, caulk the sides to seal everything in place.

    Bonus Pro Tip


    Then trim any excess (like a funky edge) to create a clean, professional look. Cut it at an angle instead of straight across for a super-pro look.

    Once that’s done you can paint it to match your door or trim.

    Or not.

    Here is the full tutorial:

    Replace the Top Seal

    Time to level up your garage door game! Lets replace (or add) a top seal.

    1. Figure out Which Kind You Want

    Here’s what you need to know:

    Some header seals mount on an aluminum strip. Others are on a vinyl strip.

    Choosing one over the other is mostly a matter of personal preference.

    The main difference is that an aluminum header mounts inside the garage door.

    A vinyl one mounts outside the garage.

    2. Get Started

    Raise the garage door completely then secure the door.

    3. Size It

    If you’ve selected a vinyl header, you’ll need to measure the whole piece and cut it to fit.

    Aluminum headers tend to come in pre-selected sizes.

    However, that doesn’t mean it will fit, and you may need to size it. The flap on an aluminum header is generally vinyl and will also need to be sized.

    Measure where (inside or out) you’re going to put the header. Make sure you leave enough room on the ends for the garage door to move properly.

    4. Put It Together

    Vinyl headers that attach to the outside are usually one piece, so you can skip this step.

    Aluminum headers usually require you to attach the vinyl flap to the metal. Size the vinyl flap first, then attach it to the metal. Make sure you attach it so that when you put the metal piece on the inside of the door, the flap points inside the garage (toward the track).

    5. Attach the Header

    Screw or nail the header in place.

    close-up photo of cordless power drill used to put the nail in place

    Remember!

    Metal on the inside, vinyl on the outside.

    The flap needs to point inside the garage door, so when the door is closed, you get a nice, tight seal.

    Pro Tip


    If your header piece doesn’t have pre-drilled holes, space the nail holes about eight inches apart.

    Still confused?

    Don’t worry:

    Here’s the video that shows you how to install a header on the inside of your garage:

    And here’s how to install one on the outside of your garage:

    Seal It Up!

    Now you know the secrets of replacing garage door weather stripping. While you do need to be careful, you don’t need a lot of special tools or knowledge to take this one on.

    So, the next time it’s getting drafty in there, pull out your tool belt. Because it’s you, Mr. or Ms. Fixit, to the rescue!

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