How To Winterize Your Garage Door Without Breaking The Bank

As fall months pass by with increasingly colder temperatures approaching, we are reminded that winter is just around the corner. Most people take the necessary precautions of sealing windows, doors and obvious gaps around the house – but most homeowners neglect their garage doors.

Most garage doors break down during the winter months because of freezing temperatures, increased moisture and wind. To prevent costly repairs and heating bills you will need to winterize your garage door. Being proactive with your overhead door system will save you time and trouble when winter’s fury strikes. For garages located in colder climates these preventative measures become even more important.

The installation and repair tips I’m going to share with you are both inexpensive and easy to do – especially considering the time, money and comfort you will save in the future. Here are some ideas for winterizing your garage door this year.

Insulate Your Garage Door

If your home is located in a cold weather climate where winter temperatures dip below freezing you should have an insulated garage door. The biggest impact in energy efficiency will increasing the R-value of your garage door. If your garage is attached to your house the garage door should have an R-value that closely matches the adjacent walls if possible. Homeowners are presented with three main options for garage door insulation.

  • Polystyrene Vinyl Coated Insulation – R-Value 5 – Good
  • Polystyrene Steel Backed Insulation – R Value 7-10 – Better
  • Polyurethane Steel Backed Insulation – R Value 12-18 – Best

Garage doors with steel on both sides are called sandwich or steel backed doors. Any door with a steel skins on both the outside and inside is already insulated. However, doors with steel only on the exterior with an open cavity interior are non insulated. They are known as non-insulated pan doors and are a huge liability when it comes to being energy efficient.

If your garage door is non-insulated you have a few options.First, you can upgrade your door to an insulated door that matches the surrounding walls. This would involve removing your existing door, purchasing a new door and then installing it – or hiring a garage door professional to do so for you. You can use our search feature to find your local garage door pro.

The better option might be to install a garage door insulation kit in your existing door.  This is both the cheapest and fastest way to help bring your door to an energy efficient state. I would personally recommend the expanded polystyrene foam insulation kit made by cellofoam. It contains 8 pieces of foam insulation that can be cut to fit in the back cavity of your existing garage door. The insulation is white in color with a protective vinyl exterior coating.

Installation requires a measuring tape, pen and razor blade as the kit includes foams pieces that can be cut to size. One kit fits a single car 9×7 garage door, while two kits are required to insulate double doors such as 16×7 sizes. The foam inserts are resistant to foam and moister.  This kit has an R-Value of 5 and costs around $75 per 8-piece kit. A slight increase in torsion spring tension may be needed to account for the added weight of the insulation.

Install Garage Door Threshold Seal

Have you ever wondered what you can do to reduce the amount of snow and ice that gets pushed into the garage? Chances are people living in the northern states have wondered what they can do about this. Some garages have a raised concrete edge that naturally stops debris, but most don’t. In any case a specific type of seal called threshold seal can be installed to tackle this issue.

Threshold seal is a durable rubber seal that adheres directly to your concrete surface. It has a raised lip on one side and slope on the other to help moisture drain away from your garage door opening. Threshold reduces the mount of snow and ice that gets pushed into the garage and also helps the garage door maintain a better seal when closed. Instead of your doors bottom seal contacting the concrete it will meet up against the rubber threshold surface below. I would recommend garage door threshold seal be installed on all doors regardless of climate.

Kits can be purchased online relatively inexpensively. Threshold seal kits come in rolls of 9ft and 18ft lengths standard and usually include an adhesive like liquid nails. A bead of clear silicone can also be ran on the inside and outside edges for additional water resistance. A tape measure, durable scissors and chalk line are recommended for installation.

Install Garage Door Bottom Seal

Garage door bottom weatherseals are the first line of defense against cold drafts entering your garage. If your garage door is more than 10 years old it could use a fresh piece of bottom seal installed. Bottom astragal seal is prone to dry rot, shrinkage and flattening out over time. This reduces its ability to keep debris and cold air from entering.

Bottom seal is very cheap and can be installed


Always make sure your perimeter weather-stripping is in good shape. Vinyl door stop can be installed to a garage door frame with trim nails. It helps prevent cold air drafts and debris from entering the garage. Garage door bottom seal astragal should also be checked and replaced as needed. Bottom seal tends to flatten out and shrink over time and should be checked annually. It prevents snow and leaves from entering the garage underneath the door.

Install Garage Door Bottom Seal

Install Garage Door Perimeter Seal

Lubricate the Door

Lubricate all metal moving parts before and after winter. Use a non silicone based garage door lubricant to spray all metal moving parts. Springs, rollers and hinges should be lubricated regularly during winter months. WD-40 can be used if you don’t have access to garage door lubricant. Never use a rail grease or anything thick that could clog and bind up.

Shovel Snow and Ice

Winter storms that leave behind snow and ice are a nightmare. The bottom seal on garage doors has a tendency to freeze to the cement. Running your automatic electric opener after this happens can strip the nylon gear inside the motor. It can also cause damage to the top section of your garage door. The center support style on the top panel can rip off the door or the section can buckle in half. Always shovel snow and ice away from the garage door. Use rock salt where the bottom of the door makes contact with the concrete.

Insulate Your Garage Door

If you have a heated garage or find that your garage tends to get extremely cold in the winter you may want to consider insulating your garage door. You can purchase insulation kits at most door dealers and box stores. Polystyrene inserts can be installed in the back cavity of your garage door. This can give your door an R value of near 8 in most applications and can save you money. If you have a workshop in your garage it may be a good idea to get a steel front and back sandwich style door with urethane insulation for an R value of 17.

Replace Batteries

Remote control batteries are susceptible to failure during cold temperatures. Always replace old remote control opener batteries. Check all the wiring to your photo eyes and wall station. Moisture and the freezing and thawing process can easily cause shorts in the wiring. Inspect all wiring and connection areas in the back of your operator.

Garage Door Guide Cal
Hello, I’m Cal – owner of Garage Door Guide LLC    

I write tutorials about garage door repair, installation and maintenance. With over a decade of experience in the overhead door industry I’ve learned a lot and I’d like to share my knowledge with you.

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