Muschamp Rd

Refinishing a garage door

September 29th, 2006
The Home Depot Logo

During my never ending job search, after my less than enjoyable MBA program, my mom has given me a number of tasks. One of them that she suddenly came up with was refinishing a garage door. This turned out to be a lot more work than either of us had anticipated. After it was all over I measured the garage door it is 8 feet high and 12 feet wide.


Prior to beginning I did some online research, it seems in 2024 my blog outlasted their website. My mom originally wanted me to sand off the current finish and I tried that with extremely limited success. I then bought some stripper. I tested it out but quickly found out that it was too hot and the stripper dried out almost as fast as I applied it.


Our garage door

The next morning we got up at 7am and removed as much of the existing finish as we could before we ran out of stripper. We had to get up two more mornings and buy a lot more stripper and even then we didn’t get every bit removed. I used a scraper on the flat portions and my mom used a scraper and steel wool on the routed portions. You have to learn to give the stripper enough time to do its work but not so much that it dries out. I found the directions on the can overly optimistic, I got the best results using a lot of stripper and due to the heat working on only a small portion at a time and waiting a lot less than the recommended five minutes.


After stripping as much as we could, we began sanding. I sanded for several days and burned out the engine on our twenty year old 1/2 sheet sander. I also hurt my shoulders, back, and neck. When stripping I propped the door open so I could do most of the work at chest height. Of course some had to be done on a ladder and the extreme edges came out the worst.

Sanding was similar to stripping except the weight of the sander is considerably more than the stripper and my shoulders and back have given me problems for years. We went to my grandmother’s but my grandfather’s sander was even older and more worn so we bought a new 1/3 sheet sander. It only cost forty dollars for a Mastercraft 2 amp sander. After finishing all the flat portions we discovered my mother’s Mega Mouse which is almost as big and powerful as the 1/3 sheet sander. So I went over the entire door especially the edges and around the metal bolts with it. I was actually quite impressed with the Mega Mouse, it is shaped like an iron.

The garage door after stripping the old finish


After cleaning as much dust off as possible and letting a day pass, I put the first coat of semi-gloss finish on. I did it just like my sanding and scraping from the bottom up using various sized pieces of wood to prop open the door. I could have done a bit better job a few drips or pools developed in the finish, which I noticed the next day when I put on the second coat.

From a distance it looks good, but up close you can see the errors in the finish, the places where not all the old finish was removed, along with the damage and wear the door had gained over the 25 plus years since we build the house. My mom is actually down South visiting our American cousins so she hasn’t seen the final result.

Always more work to be done

My reward for days of labour is painting my bedroom and refinishing our side door. We also have to replace the weather stripping and handles on our garage door. We are also going to install an automatic door opener which will work with my mom’s new car. This also means we are selling our last antique car, a white 66 Chevelle convertible.

The garage door after many hours of sanding

The house and garage door survive

We didn’t end up selling our old Chevelle and my mom has gone through a couple other “new” cars since this blog post was originally written in 2006. So the twenty five year-old house would now be at least forty years old now. I don’t think we ever did anything to the side door but while I was living in China, my mom had to replace basically the end of the house after too many rain and wind storms over the years. She eventually replaced the door in question too.

She ended up getting a bunch more work done to her house, she replaced the decks and I think more work was done on this very garage door. It has a new bottom section and I don’t think it has a cat door anymore as Fred the cat is long gone. Luckily she hired professionals instead of getting me and my cousins to do things. Though some of my sister’s friends may have mounted a TV on the wall while they were visiting. This is why you always keep some tools in your truck.

Blog maintenance like home maintenance is real work

The garage door after even more sanding

In 2024, I once again updated my blog’s taxonomy. I doubt I’ll do many home improvement or DIY projects, it is generally quicker to hire someone if you have the money, especially if you don’t already have the tools you need. I only have a few tools in Calgary, a lot more tools are in my mom’s garage. Someday I’ll have to get my own garage then maybe I’ll take on more home improvement and DIY projects. If you have thoughts on garage door refinishing and the true cost including labor of some home improvement projects you can leave a comment below.

Reading the spam comment I got, I definitely think even my mom underestimated how much work this would be. I also remember it being really hot so we would get up early in the morning to do this. Also in 2024 a lot of links don’t work, so I have to manually check them. Blogging, also hard. Fighting spam and link rot are just some of the difficulties you will encounter if you maintain one for eighteen years.

At some point I got a new larger monitor, this causes some of my blog posts to render strangely, so either I remove pictures or I add more text. Because the pictures of the progression on the garage door really do tell the story I need to keep them all. So this means I must keep adding additional words. In 2024 anyone who still blogs probably knows you need to have a niche and you need to provide more and better content than mainstream media or a site like Facebook or Reddit provides. I never set out to become a social media influencer, I’d rather be working on a hobby project but I want to set up this blog for future success or at least not have it be an embracement if anyone ever reads some of these older blog posts.

After one coat of semi-gloss finish

Latest DIY Projects

I actually worked on a kitchen table older than this house, it belonged to my grandparents but I never succeeded in fixing it and never blogged about it. I will try again this summer. I need even more big, strong clamps. A lot of my DIY work is related to miniature painting or assembling furniture. In fact I’ve gotten so tired of assembling poorly designed shelves and cabinets. I have both gained newfound respect for Ikea and I started paying more for furniture that was already assembled. Now my condo in Calgary is fully furnished and I even got California Closets in once. I’m definitely pro built-in shelves and maybe someday I’ll do the work myself again, but I’d need to buy a saw at the very least along with a new bigger place.

Besides shelves I did buy and assemble a new desk. The company sent me two of one leg and zero of the other leg so I had to make it work. Eventually I got a replacement part but I wasn’t taking the whole desk apart and all the LEDs off of it. During the coronavirus I put LEDs on my old desk and home entertainment system cabinet. I never did put them on the back of the TV, but I kept buying more elaborate kits and installing them, so if that is more your thing than garage door refinishing, perhaps you should check out some of my more recent home improvement projects. I definitely think I got the hang of installing LED strip lighting, you still need to get power to them though.

The door after two coats of semi-gloss

The more old home improvement blog posts I link to, the more I realize they render terribly on my new bigger monitor. I don’t think I can blame everything on WordPress, I just never thought people would read my website on such gigantic monitors. Floating all my images to the right requires a lot of text, better to put the images in the centre or at the bottom. In other news the comment below from Almo Door Systems may be busted, but at least their website is still online. Or did I just mention one of their competitors. Live by the spam, die by the spam.

I’ve discovered editing old blog posts that domain squatters have taken over a bunch of websites I linked to as long as eighteen years ago. Now I mainly link to myself and super reliable websites, it is just safer. But I just risked linking to some random blog, hopefully I don’t regret it in eighteen years.


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