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If you have a wooden garage door I’m sure you’re all too familiar with the fact that over time they do start to look a bit tired. The paint goes all dull and then it starts flaking and once the timber is exposed the rot sets in.

None of this bodes well and before you know it, the door is a complete eye-sore and a real let down for your property as a whole. If all of this sounds very familiar, don’t worry, we’re here to help you get that garage door sorted and looking like this:

Freshly painted wooden garage door

Job done – Freshly painted and finished wooden garage door

As I am sure you will have experienced at some point, the success of any decorating job really comes down to the preparation that goes into it and wooden garage doors are no exception so you have to ensure that all and any preparation work it taken care of correctly.

If you have a wooden garage door and no one else can help and if you can find the time, maybe……… you can follow the guide below:

White Lead and Health Risks

Before we go any further we have to talk about lead. White lead was used as a pigment in most domestic paints right up until the mid 1960‘s when it was banned. It remained in use, only by specialists until the early 90’s when it was officially banned by DEFRA.

Our reason for mentioning this is due to the fact that, if your home (and garage) pre-date the 1960’s there is a good chance that your garage door is going to contain a layer or two of potentially lead-based paint underneath all the layers that have been piled on over the years.

In an ideal world you would want to strip the door or doors right down to the wood and usually this will mean sanding and by sanding paint containing lead you would then release the lead particles into the air that you could then easily breathe in posing a significant health risk.

In light of this and before you do anything, get yourself a lead testing kit and confirm if lead is present. If you do find traces you will need to get yourself a suitable respirator mask and wear it at all times before you go any further.

Preparation is the Key

Firstly, you will need to get a nice sturdy brush such as a yard brush and then go over the whole area (including the frame) to remove as much lose paint, cobwebs, moss and any other surface debris.

Ensure you get the bristles into any joints, cracks or crannies and remove anything that may be hiding in there.

Now, find yourself a bucket and fill it about half way with a warm water and sugar soap mix. Wipe over the entire area, again paying attention to any joints and fissures. This will help to remove any grease and grime build up from the surface.

Sugar soap

Sugar soap used for cleaning and degreasing

With the initial prep work carried out you will now have to decide which way to go – sand it down or strip it off!

In some ways this decision may have already been made for you – if the paint contains lead, to avoid any health issues, always go down the stripping route. To do this safely you can use HomeStrip by Eco Solutions. This is an eco-friendly paint stripper that also contains any lead particles within it, preventing them from escaping into the air. This can also be used even if your doors don’t contain any lead.

If no traces of lead are found then you may decide that sanding is the way to go. Again, ideally you will want to sand off all of the old paint and take it back to the wood so that you can lay on fresh paint but you can sand or scrape off any lose areas and then sand around the raised edges to feather them in.

This is not the way we would suggest you go as these areas could easily flake off in the future but if you are pushed for time then go for it, just be aware that you may be revisiting this in the not too distant future.

Where old timber is involved, you can pretty much guarantee there will be some rot somewhere and if this is so it will need digging out using a scraper (if it’s too bad then the doors or frame may need totally replacing!). Once all removed use a suitable exterior caulk or wood filler to make any repairs, let it harden off and sand it down if needed.

Rot in garage door frame

Rot in wooden garage door frame

With the main bulk of the prep work done, give the area a brush over and wipe down with the same sugar soap solution you used earlier and then let it dry out totally and you can then progress onto the painting stage.

Priming and Painting Wooden Garage Doors

When it comes to the painting part, firstly you will need to prime. This will not only ensure a solid, protective layer for the timber but also a decent key for the top coat, helping it to stay solid and weather resistant for years to come.

When it comes to the type of primer and ultimately top coat you should use there is a huge range available.

Most external paints tend to be oil or latex based due to their water repelling properties but in the long run, this may not be the way to go. In most cases these paints are essentially non-breathable and any moisture that gets into the timber is trapped there, unable to escape.

For this reason, the best choice to go for is a microporous or moisture permeable paint as not only will this prevent moisture penetration but any moisture that finds its way in will be allowed to escape, helping to prevent rot and decay in the future.

When it comes to matching primer and top coat paint types, this should be done as follows:

  • Latex primer with latex top coat
  • Oil based primer with oil based top coat
  • Microporous primer with microporous top coat

Before laying the primer on, protect the surrounding area with dust sheets. Mix the primer well and begin painting it on ensuring that you get a nice, even covering over all areas, the tops and bottoms of each door, around the frame and also that you get the primer into any tight areas and joints then allow it to dry thoroughly. Additionally, don’t forget about the inside. Once dry apply a second coat.

Primed wooden garage doors

Primed and ready wooden garage doors

Before applying the top coat, give the entire area a light going over with some fine sandpaper to give the top coat a nice key, thoroughly wipe off any dust and then begin putting on the top coat using the same guidelines as above.

Once dry assess the finish and add a second coat if needed and once this is done you should have the best looking garage in the street!

Completed wooden garage doors

Complete and finished wooden garage doors and front door

If you would like to find out a bit more about painting wooden garage doors we have a full and detailed project covering the process from start to finish that can be found here.


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