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Building Insulated Garage Doors

I figured I could save about $1500 if I built my own panels for an 8-ft x 8-ft garage door. I think I was right. Here's what I did.

The spruce/fir frames are joined at the corners with bridle joints and mortise and tenons at the centers. Because the frames maximize the thickness of the foam (parts are 2" x 1-1/2"), the tenons are all offset to the door's exterior side. The center stiles are slightly narrower than the outer frame, so I added 1/2" foam strips make both surfaces flush.

I need insulated panels, so I used the thickest rigid foam available. 2" XPS foam rectangles are set into simple spruce frames and sandwiched between thin marine-grade plywood skins with galvanized finish nails and foam-friendly adhesive. On the exterior side, I applied 5"-wide rails and stiles cut from 3/8" thick Smartside panels using the same glue and nails. The bottom kicker is 7" wide.

The 4 panels laid out ready for caulk and primer.

When I picked up the door hardware kit from the garage door shop, I noticed a discarded panel with 4 windows in it. The guys at the loading ramp let me have it. So I removed them from the panel and stripped off the old silicone in order to inspect the sealed glass inserts. All are in great shape. My door panels are thicker than a standard panel, so I'll have to add spacers and longer screws.

Hardware kit I purchased from a local dealer. Rails assemblies not shown.

Slippery in the neighborhood this week.

So that happened.

Walmart parking lots in Alaska have nice views


News from Alaska never changes:

SAVOONGA -- A rogue Russian whaling crew was observed patrolling the sea ice margin near Bering Strait hazing young polar bears until they peed their fur. The action was caught by an AP watercolor journalist.

Blah, blah, blah.

Here's another chestnut from the local press:

FAIRBANKS -- A winter traveler near Fairbanks attacked by a pack of Canadian gray wolves that were introduced to Alaska from Idaho by the Federal Government. The encounter was captured by an AP woodcut engraver journalist.

SEWARD -- A recent increase in public seal petting by cruise ship tourists in Seward has prompted the city to erect dozens of these signs. The town's Mayor, Jean Bardarson, offered this advice, "Stop petting the seals, already. Just buy the snow globes, the hoodies, the halibut sandwiches, get on your ship and sail back to wherever it is you came from. We have a seal town to run here and we don't want them petted to death."


Okume plywood skins

3/8" plywood webs

Thicker ply on exterior than interior

Metal cap on top of doors

Bolt through hinges (not lagged)

Size window openings for off the shelf inserts

Consider doubling the thickness of the doors for strength and insulation

EPS (white) will probably work just fine

Full wood frame without metal fasteners on 3 sides to allow trimming to fit


"I have used eastern white pine for cores and 6mm marine plywood for skins with epoxy adhesive for doors like these. There is no real need for interior framing aside from around the lights if the skins are well adhered to the foam, but that does require accurately sized materials. I have used extruded Dow blue board but only after running it through a wide belt sander to ensure consistent thickness. ( Coarse grit and high feed speed to avoid melting and belt damage). "Structural" foams used in boatbuilding like Divynicell are more consistent but far more expensive. If you plan on gluing only to a timber web I would suggest using a thicker skin. I am guessing you looked at the slab doors on my site, which are covered in 1/16"cedar veneer over 6mm occoume ply.

Good luck with your project. Send me a photo when you are done."

-Kevin Jenness


Helpful Videos

1.) A Look at Torsion Boxes,

2.) The Elements of a Superior Custom Garage Door,

3.) How To Install a Garage Door,

4.) A Wood One Piece Garage Door, *2-2x4x16's top and bottom rails cut to 15'11" *11-2x3x8 stringers cut to 6'9" *Frame nailed with 20p Galv nails *4 sheets of 4x8 3/8 rs ply with another two sheets ripped for design. *1 tube of white painters caulking, used to seal all seams from water soaking in behind the design and rotting out the ply...which is what happened to the old door. *Grey bottom seal, we were gonna seal the sides as well but changed our minds. *Staple gun and 1 1/4 inch staples *6-16p nails three on each end *E-900 Hardware *2-Holmes 528 springs 1 on each side *2 Holmes 728 springs 1 on each side *2 truss rods borrowed from customers old door seeing as they are tough to come by these days...1 top and 1 bottom

5.) Garage Door Installation by Fimbrell,

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