Building a Garage Door from Scratch – Part 2

It’s been a long time since last post, I blame SARS COVID-19! I hope you have not completely abandoned the site. So let’s start over if you have been just as disappointed as me. Other good news is that I have made big changes in my life since last time which means I can make more content more often for the site.

And if you are afraid that this car site has become a builders site, dont’ despair. New and exciting stuff are coming up very soon, such as DIY for the W140 S600, w123 280CE repairs and topping it off with a new more modern car. So stay tuned!

Last time we looked at the garage door it was without proper covering and it has in fact been like that all winter through. The door frame was also too close to the ground due to a measurement error. This made the door freeze during winter due to all the snow and ice collected under the door. Not very practical! And it was not really lockable without the help of the ice. Now over the summer time I have with the help of my dad and also my brothers, managed to completely finish the garage door. So what was the remaining process?

Fixing the height

First the temporary tarp had to be removed from the door. Sorry I forgot to take a picture of it before we removed it, but I promise it was not a beautiful sight. Then the door had to be taken down so we adjust the height. The height was simply shaved with 15cm to allow proper clearance to the ground this time around.

Adjusting the garage door height
Adjusting the garage door height

The diagonal slots also had to be expanded on the vertical beams to allow this new shorter height. After the bottom beam had been attached again to the frame it could be slid onto the wall again. The frame is just light enough so two people can wrestle it, so it’s important to add the panel after it’s mounted on the wall. Otherwise it will simply be too heavy to move. The door is still amazingly large by 5 m x 2.5 m.

Adding Panel

Adding panel is quite simple, but cutting the slightly different length boards in a manner that will produce the least amount of cutoff needed some measurement and planning. Also the cuts should be made with a repeating pattern on the walls o it does not look bad. The measurement of the garage door is 2.5 m height x 5 m width which required slightly over 100 meters of length of the type of wide boards we went for. Each of the boards from the hardware store are around 5 m in length. It turned out that we had enough long boards to alternate between full height and the rest to be divided between 2/3 height and 1/3 height. Making 3 different cuts to complicate stuff. It also complicated matter that each of the bottom edge of the door need cuts at an angle to allow water to effectively drip off if water rains in from the side.

Adding tar cardboard to door
Adding tar cardboard to door. Will not allow air gaps shine between the boards.

Since the boards will lie edge to edge, there will be an air gap between them, easily seen from the inside. So a roll of tar cardboard is applied and fastened before and under the outer panels. See for example the opposite wall of the barn, where light shines easily through. Gaps will also allow a lot of dust and insects pass through. Since this have been a hay-barn this makes sense, but now it’s mainly used as a car workshop and garage. The aim is to add this dust and light block surrounding the garage in the future. Many of the old boards needs to be replaced or painted anyway and it will be during this renovation process.

Applying boards to door
Applying boards to the door. The tar roll easily flies off with the draft and needs to be temporarily secured before the panels are fastened.

After the dust roll is applied. The panels can be nailed on. The most tedious process was to cut the boards to size and do all the measuring. This took maybe a couple of hours for the entire door. To secure the boards it is possible to use screws or nails. Both can be done with the aid of electric/air tools to save your hands, but here we used the old fashioned hammer and nails. When adding the panel to the door a minimum number of nails were used to just make them stick in position until all boards are attached.

When all were in place, the large nailing job could commence. This creates a lot of noise over a long time and I prefer using hearing protection to avoid ringing ears. The process was very tiring for both the arm and hand. After missing the head of the nail many times I got really bored. Next time I will use a nail gun like in the 21st century.

Painting

Painting were done in the classic barn red without the need of priming due to this kind of heavy paint. The painting was mostly done by the help of my brothers and was done in just a couple of hours while we created the door handle and roller system on the backside which aids in sliding the large door back and forth.

Painting the garage door
Painting the garage door with the help of my brothers.

The rollers were taken from a broken garage jack and fitted inside the frame og the door. The rollers then slide on the outside of the barn wall when opening and closing the door. The door handle was reused from the legs of a broken trampoline. It’s nice to reuse stuff like this for something usable. Also it’s in with the environmentally friendly times.

Garage door rollers
Garage door rollers, scrap from a broken garage jack.

It’s Finished!

Finally the garage door is finished and we don’t need to wait another year for part 3! I’m quite pleased with the result and am less daunted to make further improvements to the garage and the barn. Next on the agenda is fixing some rot in one of the barn corners. Also improving the floor with perhaps some concrete will be done next year, but first fixing the rot is more important now. Also large parts of the exterior need to be repainted as well as some changing of rotted boards. At some point the barn needs a new roof, since it’s quite rusty already.

Finished garage door
Finished garage door. The largest sliding door in the region?

Robs out!

Building a garage door from scratch – Part 1

Welcome the first real post from The Garage section. Here we will build a garage door from scratch on the old barn. The project turned out to be quite ambitious in both scale and time constraints, but was tons of fun! Many of us dream of the perfect garage space, but they are elusive and usually they need to be built. In this journey we try to at least improve the garage.

I appreciate the idea of having a door instead of a large gaping hole on the side of the barn. Just because it’s nice to be able to close the workshop during night and to shield against all the large beasts and animals, odd crooks or simply blowing leaves and other annoying natural phenomenon. It also provides an extra layer of “security”. However it is not intended to be a bank vault by any means!

Since it’s an old barn and not a standard garage with any standard measurements, a standard garage door kit will need tons of fitting and fiddling and will end up more expensive. Over here we like to keep to the DIY spirit and save some hard earned money meanwhile. The bonus is that we can keep the old barn look and get style points where a modern garage door would look completely out of place.

Initial opening in barn
The original look and no door whatsoever. The new board over the opening was put in place to make a reference line.

Preparation

A custom made solution will need some planning in order to succeed. In terms of making a building from scratch it usually means land surveying and a lot of leveling. However since the building is already here, it makes things a bit easier for us and we only need to measure on the building itself. Lets not mention the crookedness of this building! The dimensions of the door had to be decided. The plan ended up to make it as make it as big as possible! What about 5 meters wide and 2,7 meters tall? Even bigger than the existing opening, which means making a bigger hole. That way it will be possible to drive in two cars straight without issues. It can also fit quite tall cars, like a G-Wagon…

The most complicated function of the garage is some kind of opening mechanism. Due to the scale of the doors a swinging mechanism should be avoided to preserve space and sagging. The barn is around 12 meters wide and there is enough room for a sliding rail system, where the whole door can be pushed along the entire length of the barn. After some looking around for solutions , there was an offer for a set of rails and rollers for this purpose in a nearby warehouse. Perfect timing!

Blueprint of Garage door
Blueprint of Garage door and slide rail system.

The assembly was then drafted out on a blueprint so it’s easier to do the construction later on. This also gives an overview on the amount of material needed. From the blueprint we can see that 10 meters of rails and at least two rollers are needed. Roughly 110 meter of frame timber for the door as well as 40 meters of wide boards for supporting the rail system. The facing panels was not bought though, since we had some panels lying around the storage already. Unfortunately this turned out to not be enough and the reason why the job could not be completely finished this side of winter. Part 2 coming in the spring!

Cutting to make a bigger hole for the door
Cutting the edge to make the opening for the garage door bigger.
Materials ready for fabrication
Lots of material needed to be fabricated. The long beams are quite unwieldy at their full length!

Fabrication and construction

Fabrication here is preparing all the pieces so they can be fit together. Since we are using wood as primary building material, it usually consists of careful measurements and cutting boards with a saw. Often 45° cuts are needed, but since this is a square construction mostly 90° cuts were made which are faster to do. We used both a supported circular saw and a hand saw for smaller cuts. The fabrication is all about preparing the pieces for the skeleton frame of the door and preparing the rail system.

To start the outer frame was cut and put together, then the long horizontal beams. We used nails to secure the beams, but they drift out quite fast unless the frame is very rigid. So it needs to lie still on the ground until it’s more rigid. Some hammering on the sides was done at the end to drive in those moving nails.

Fabricating the garage door frame
Fabricating the garage door frame

Making a square frame without diagonal support will make the whole construction quite wiggly and flexible, so some diagonal support is needed. Normally they could go on the inside, but here there is very little room between the door and the wall with the sliding mechanism,. They are close to make snug fit. Then the diagonal beams have to be recessed into the the frame. This added at least another hour of work, but in the end it was totally worth it. It made the construction not able to flex and gave a flush finish needed for the wall clearance.

Then the horizontal beams had to be mounted. This required careful measurement between the horizontal beams and some tricky nailing. The nails can go straight in except the third beam, which needs nails driven in diagonally. Making the frame took around a full day including getting the timber early in the day.

Garage door frame finished
Garage door frame finished

With the frame finished, the sliding rail mechanism had to be built. The 10 meter sliding rail needed to be secured with angled brackets fastened with large bolts. The bolts are long and needed to go through 3 layers of wooden boards. So the full 10 meter length of the rail needed reinforcement boards, as well as making enough space for the garage door out from the wall itself.

Mounting and aligning the sliding rail mechanism was a long process which involved climbing up and down ladders while doing careful measurements to get the whole thing level. Rechecking and using the measuring tape often. It is very important to mark the center of a drilling hole clearly since few millimeter difference will not make the brackets aligned. It is important that the rail ends up exactly level so it won’s start sliding by itself or will be harder to push in one direction than the other.

The whole day consisted of making reinforcement boards in the front as well as on the backside. And everything had to be done from up on ladders, sometimes quite high. The sliding rail which is of galvanized steel, needed drilled holes for the mounting brackets. It was very laborious and you could not see as clearly a result as the previous frame fabrication, since the sliding mechanism consists of just some boards and bolts. The most funny thing was the amount of leg pain the day after from all the ladder climbing!

With the the sliding rail secured and the rollers mounted on the garage door frame, the frame could be now hanged up on the wall. The sliding rollers have a neat adjustment feature so the door can be either lowered or raised for fine tuning. It was very easy to get the door on the wall, but it’s definitely a two person job.

Door mounted on wall
Door hanged on the sliding rail finally

Panels and Painting

Well unfortunately we didn’t have enough panels for covering all the area of the door. So had to wrap up the job for this season. Winter was right around the corner when this was made. A temporary tarp was put over instead of panels just to keep out the weather. It’s already 100 times better than the large hole. In Part 2 we will wrap up with the finishing touches like the covering panels and painting. Maybe putting some hinges on and other small details.

Garage door frame and sliding mechanism finished
Garage door frame and sliding mechanism finished. Needs some facing of the door. As you might have noticed the door goes a bit too close to the ground. This is an issue in winter since ice will completely seal the door making it impossible to open. So the door needs to be raised a few centimeters off the ground.

All these building activities was done together with my Dad, so a proper applause should go to him for his expertise on building craftsmanship! A proper father and son activity for sure. The whole thing took around 3 days to complete.

Cheers, Robs out!