How To Fix or Seal Garage Door Gaps on Sides?

A garage door gap of any size invites unwanted guests such as rodents and snakes and lets in drafts. Troubleshooting and fixing these garage door spaces with the right tools should be a breeze.

How To Fix Garage Door Gaps on Sides

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You can fix garage door gaps on the sides with a weatherstripping seal. This seal adheres to the door jamb, tightly closing any gaps or cracks. The seal prevents air, light, and unwanted pests from getting into your garage when the door is tightly closed. 

How To Fix Garage Door Gaps on Sides

In the rest of the post, I will take you through a step-by-step process of fixing garage door gaps on the sides. The approach I explain here is a cost-effective DIY solution to garage door gaps on the sides. 

Check out How to Make a Garage Door Quiet

1. Check Garage Door for Gaps on Sides

Sometimes, it’s easy to figure out when your garage door has air gaps. However, if you’re not sure, there are a few other ways to tell if you have a small gap:

  • Go into your garage during the day and switch off the lights. You will see the spaces that are letting in light. You can use your hand against the door to see where light is coming in. 
  • If there’s a draft from outside, this is a sure sign there’s a gap, especially if it’s cold outside.
  • Increased exterior noise is also a telltale sign that you have a gap or two. If more noise is coming in, the door may have warped over time. 

To determine if a gap on the side of your door is something to worry about, I recommend the pencil test. This entails trying to fit a pencil into a garage door gap. You have a reason to worry if the pencil fits into the gap. A gap large enough to fit a pencil will let in dust, cold air, insects, and noise.

2. Identify the Problem

If the gap is large enough to warrant attention, the next step is figuring out what the problem is. Stops and tracks are the major culprits for garage door spaces.

Stops are the internal rubber door linings that ensure the door closes properly. They run along the top, bottom, and sides of your door. They may have warped over time, so you might need to alter their position. The best way to do this is to use caulk, which can seal any loose gaps in the door. 

In severe cases, if they’ve completely warped, you might have to replace them entirely.

If the stops are functioning fine, check your door tracks to see if you have a sliding door. Misaligned and bent tracks will sag your door, leaving gaps along the edges. Again, you may need to replace the tracks.

Do not forget to assess the status of the weatherstripping seal if you have installed one.

3. Get the Right Tools

Fortifying your garage door is easy with the right tools in hand. Below is a list of the supplies that will come in handy as you embark on fixing the gaps in your garage door:

  • Weatherstripping Seal. These are adhesive rolls that can be used to effectively seal off the door. The seal size you need to purchase will be determined by the gap size you want to fix. 
  • A driller, hammer or pneumatic stapler.
  • Nails or screws. Usually, these will come as part of the weatherstripping seal kit package. 
  • Caulk. Whether you use nails or a sealant, caulk will deliver a fantastic finish.
  • A utility knife or saw.

If you’re using a weatherstripping seal to fix both sides, measure one door length and then multiply by two. This total is the seal length that you will buy. 

If the entire door needs fixing, then to get the length of the seal, simply do a sum of the door’s length (multiplied by 2) by its width (multiplied by 2). This will give you the total length around your door. 

4. Prepare the Door for Fixing

Now that you have all the right tools, it is time to finish the job. 

The easiest fix to garage door spaces is weather stripping. You can consider using a door gasket to seal smaller spaces, but if you have a weatherstripping seal in place and it is worn out, then replacement is the best option. Most weatherstripping seals are made of vinyl which deteriorates over time. 

  1. The first step is tearing it off from the door. A sturdy kitchen knife will get this job done. Cut the old caulk and lift the seal all around the door to remove it. 
  2. Check your jamb because you might have damaged some sections. This is especially true if a strong adhesive glue was used to fix the seal. However, this is a simple fix and just requires a little elbow grease and sandpaper. 
  3. Make sure the edges are completely smooth. You may consider wood putty if you have prominent scuffs or nail holes. A smooth surface will ensure the seal will adhere properly.

5. Place the Seal

After the door has been prepared, it’s time to lay the new seal.

  1. Start by measuring the length of your door or the side that requires a new seal. It does not hurt to double-check. A retractable measuring tape is recommended if you are working alone.  
  2. You’ll need to trim the seal to the correct measurements. Most seals will come in 7 feet (2.13 meters) in length. 

However, if you’re looking for a longer variety, consider the M-D Building Products 3822 Vinyl from Amazon.com. This vinyl seal is super sturdy and can withstand the elements well. It’s also flexible enough to easily fit around your garage door.

Since you are only fixing the sides, you simply lay your seals along the side door jambs. However, if you are fixing an entire door, I recommend starting with the top first. Starting from the top gives you the opportunity to adjust the side seals to fit perfectly on the top seal. 

6. Attach the Seal

To fix the seal properly, you’ll need to apply nails through the adhesive seal. Consider a spacing of 16 inches (0.41 meters) for the nails

  1. Check the alignment of the nails first by making small marks where you intend to insert them. Look carefully for any gaps between the door jamb and the seal.
  2. When you’re sure everything is aligned, drill the nails partway into the door seal. 
  3. Check once again that the seal is in the correct position before driving the nails all the way in. 

7. Caulk the Gaps

If you’ve drilled the nails in and you then notice small gaps, this can be rectified using a caulking gun. Follow the steps below to caulk the gaps:

  1. Start by running the gun all along the door edge between the seal and the jamb.
  2. After application, run a finger along the sealant bead to smoothen it. This also pushes the caulk into cracks the gun might have left out.

8. Adhesive Instead of Nails and Screws

You may consider adhesive in place of screws and nails for a smoother finish. However, I do not recommend this method because it makes the sealant more difficult to remove when it comes. 

If you settle for this method, follow these steps

  1. Use a sealant gun to apply a narrow, uniform layer of adhesive on the door jamb.
  2. Carefully lay your seal and apply pressure until it completely dries up.
  3. Rub alcohol on the jamb edges to remove any excess glue.
  4. Let the alcohol completely penetrate the seal, then wipe it off with a cloth. However, be careful not to dislodge the bond between the seal and the jamb.

Final Thoughts

Weatherstripping sealing is a cost-effective way of sealing spaces on the side of your garage door. The replacement of these seals is an easy fix. With the right home workshop tools and a new seal, it takes less than an hour to fix a new seal set along the sides of your door. 

However, if you do not feel confident enough to follow our steps above, you can contact a door technician. 

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