How To Build Garage Doors

Building garage doors begins with measuring the size of the opening where the doors will be installed, then ordering the materials and assembling the doors for shipping or installation. There are two common types of garage doors, and the type selected will depend on whether the door must withstand adverse conditions and also any design criteria.

The first type is a metal door that is fabricated using 24-gauge sheet aluminum mounted to a light steel frame. These doors are often used in commercial environments where the doors are subject to a great deal of use or where adverse weather conditions exist.

The second most common type of garage doors are fabricated using 5/8” textured finish plywood mounted to a wood frame. These doors are suitable for homeowner garages and storage buildings where doors receive a minimum amount of use. Aluminum doors can be painted or remain natural finish and wood doors can be stained or painted depending on design criteria or personal preferences.

To build a metal garage door begin by measuring the size of the opening where the door will reside. Cut (2) lengths of 1-1/4” x 1-1/4” x 3/16” steel angle iron to 2” less than the width of the opening. These will be the top and bottom horizontal frame pieces and the overall length of these should allow 1” of clearance at each side of the door for hinges and ease of door travel.

For the vertical frame pieces measure the height of the opening and deduct 1” from that dimension. This will allow ½ “ of travel clearance at the top and bottom of the door. The number of vertical pieces needed will depend on the actual width of the door itself. Vertical pieces should be installed 12” apart and this equates to 1 per every foot door width.

Begin by cutting the (2) vertical and (2) horizontal pieces. Lay the pieces on a flat surface in the correct square or rectangular configuration. Check the frame for square and weld the corners complete. Be sure that all pieces of the angle iron are installed with a flat surface to one face of the frame. This will allow for attaching the aluminum paneling. Next, lay out for the remaining vertical pieces and cut these to fit between the tops and bottom of the frame. Weld these pieces at the top and bottom connections and when cool, grind all welds smooth. Attach the 24-gauge aluminum to the frame using rivets or 1/8” diameter machine bolts. Smooth the edges with fine sandpaper.

To fabricate a wood door, follow the same procedure as with a metal door and use 1-1/2” x 2” Douglas fir lumber for the door frame. Cut the top and bottom pieces the width of the opening minus 2” and cut (2) vertical pieces to fit between these at each end. Be sure to deduct 1" overall from the height of the door for these pieces. These vertical pieces will be 24” apart and attached at the top and bottom using glue and screws as well. Assemble the frame by first checking for square then attach all pieces using glue and 3” wood screws. be sure to drill a 1/16” pilot hole for each screw to ensure the frame does not split.

Attach the ½” finish plywood to the frame using construction adhesive and 1-5/8” wood screws driven through the face of the plywood. Trim any excess at all edges and sand the edges and corners smooth. The door can be primed and painted or stained and sealed with a weather resistant sealer.


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