Garage Door Hinges 101: What Homeowners Need to Know

I’ll admit, garage door hinges weren’t something I put a lot of thought into.

Until one broke, and I couldn’t get my car out of my garage.

If you suddenly find yourself in the same situation, or (unlike me) you’re planning ahead, here are seven things you need to know about garage door hinges.

Are All Garage Door Hinges the Same?

Garage door hinges are essentially universal. Every brand makes garage door hinges that work with any garage door. It doesn’t matter which you buy.

The only exceptions to this are as follows.

  • Side opening doors – Side opening garage doors, which swing out like a house door, require a different type of hinge since the weight hangs at a different angle.
  • Custom doors – If you have custom doors in your garage, they may also use specialty hinges. Double-check the hinge type before trying to buy replacements.
  • Industrial doors – Industrial doors are usually much larger and heavier than residential doors and, therefore, require heavier-duty hinges. They also need a lot more.

Why Are Garage Door Hinges Numbered?

Believe it or not, not all garage door hinges are the same. That’s why most of them have numbers printed on the bottom.

Start at the bottom of your garage door and count each panel going up. The lowest panel is #1, the next up is #2, and so on.

Each spot on the door bears a different load and experiences a different level of tension. That means each hinge needs to be different to accommodate that tension.

Starting at the bottom panel, the numbers on each hinge tell you how to install them on your garage door. 

So, the number one hinge goes at the fold between panels one and two. The number two hinge spans panels two and three. It is the hinge number corresponding to the panel it sits on top of.

However, the brackets at the top and bottom corners of the door don’t follow this numbering system. They have their own specific types of hinges, so ignore them for now.

The hinges in the middle of the door, without rollers, aren’t usually numbered. Since they don’t have rollers, they are easy to tell apart.

Numbers on garage doors explained

How Do You Clean and Lubricate Garage Door Hinges?

Your garage door requires regular maintenance and lubrication. That includes the hinges.

By keeping your garage door hinges clean and lubricated, you will find that they last much longer. 

For starters, here’s how to keep garage door hinges clean.

  • Debris ­– You must watch out for two main obstacles: debris and rust. To keep debris out of your hinges, avoid rubbing things like tools, yard waste, or garbage against them. Trapped debris can cause rollers to skip or get stuck and have a chance of locking up the hinges.
  • Rust – Rust is a bad sign. Most modern hinges don’t rust, but other parts of the door might. If the rails are rusty, it will cause the rollers to stick. Some of the inner components may get rust trapped in them, as well, and that can damage them over time.

First, remove any obvious debris by hand, including any leaves or fibers you can see. Next, vacuum the hinges with a small shop vac or blow them down with compressed air to remove hard-to-reach dirt. Then, you can clean and lubricate them with white lithium grease or another approved lubricant.

If you are having problems with squeaking and lubricating the hinges did not fix it, then it is most likely the coil. Refer to the video above for a tutorial on how to fix this.

Garage Door Tune Up & Service Kit
  • DURA-Lift 6200Z Bearing Nylon Rollers (10)
  • #1 Hinges (11)
  • #2 Hinges (2)
  • #3 Hinges (2)
  • Top Brackets (2)
  • 5oz Lubricant Spray (1)
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What Causes Garage Door Hinges to Break?

Broken garage door hinges are a matter of wear and tear, material quality, and the abuse they suffer.

If you run into your garage door, slam it with more force than necessary, throw stuff against it, or have a kid taking slap shots at it, chances are your garage door hinges will break pretty quickly.

Preventing damage from this kind of abuse is the easiest way to avoid damage. Treat your garage door with respect, and you’ll find that the hinges last a lot longer. Unfortunately, this isn’t the only thing that can break your hinges.

If the material of the hinges is subpar, to begin with, they won’t last long. Where commercial hinges are large, robust, and made with high-grade steel, builders’ hinges are smaller and made with a thinner, cheaper metal. They are more liable to break.

Additionally, regular wear and tear can be enough to snap a hinge clean in half. There is immense pressure and weight on garage door hinges, and sometimes, they reach their limit.

Typical garage door hinges only last about 10-15 years before they start showing signs of wear.

When Should You Replace Garage Door Hinges?

Generally speaking, you don’t need to replace your garage door hinges unless they are damaged or you’re replacing the entire garage door. Garage door hinges have a life expectancy of around 10-15 years, depending on quality and use.

Here are some signs of damage that signal it’s time to replace your hinges.

  • Missing bolts or screws. If a hinge is missing a bolt and screw, it’s usually one of two issues. Either the plate has deteriorated enough that it can no longer hold the screw or bolt in place, the hole in the garage door has become too loose, or both.
  • Loose or jiggling hinge. If the entire hinge is loose or jiggling, but it’s not missing any screws, that could mean the metal is wearing down, or the screws are coming loose. Replacing the hinge should fix the problem.
  • Cracks or breaks in the metal. A hinge forming cracks or has already snapped needs to be replaced immediately.
  • Warped, bent, or frayed edges. Warped, bent, and frayed edges of the metal hinge are precursors to loose screws and breaks. If you notice this damage, replace the hinge before it worsens.
  • Damage to the door around the hinge. Sometimes, a hinge may start to damage the garage door itself. A wood or fiberglass door may chip, crack, or splinter. Steel or aluminum garage doors may bend or rust. You’ll usually need to replace the door panel and possibly the hinge.

If any of these issues occur, you should replace the affected hinges and any damage to the door immediately. If it can’t be fixed, you may need a replacement panel for your garage door.

Remember, you can’t drill new holes farther and move the hinge. Putting the wrong hinge in the wrong spot could further damage the whole door.

New garage door hinges

What Are “Old-Style Garage Door Hinges”?

Old-style garage door hinges went out of fashion in the 90s. If your garage doors are older than that, you may have old-style hinges.

There are several issues with old-style hinges, the most prominent being that they tend to break.

Even though they were heavier than modern hinges, older hinges were not balanced or consistent. The hinge point could differ enough that three similar hinges may put enough torque on the fourth to break it.

This was a common issue with the Taylor brand garage door hinges that used nylon hinges. As you might have guessed, nylon hinges are a terrible idea and very prone to breaking.

Old-style hinges also have a slightly different design. The placement of the hinge and roller was closer together. The roller pin was much bigger and stuck out farther, and there were usually only two attachment points that used huge bolts.

All these factors combine to make a weak, imbalanced hinge prone to breaking. They also tend to squeak, rust, and get stuck.

How Much Do Garage Door Hinges Cost?

The price to replace a single garage door hinge is very low, usually $5-$20, with most retailing for around $10-$15. If all you need to do is replace a single hinge, you’ll have no problem finding one for cheap.

If you want to replace your garage door hinges, on the other hand, you may need to fork out $100-$200 for a set, which, realistically, isn’t that bad for 12 or more hinges. Some kits also come with all the hardware, brackets, and extra hinges.

Having someone replace all your hinges will run between $150 and $300 on average.

Photo of author

Tim Wells

Tim Wells, the founder of Garage Transformed, has been featured in dozens of home renovation publications, including, Home Stratosphere, House Digest, Livingetc, and SFGate. Since 2018, he has helped over two million people transform their everyday garages into something they can be proud of. He lives in Central Florida with his wife and bulldog.