Garage Door Replacement Panels vs a New Door: Pros & Cons

If you have a damaged garage door panel, you may be wondering if you can replace a single panel, or if you need to replace the entire door.

Have you been putting off dealing with a damaged garage door panel? Maybe you don’t know what to do or are just afraid of the hassle. But like most problems, ignoring it will make it worse.

Eventually, you’ll have to replace your garage door panels. You may even find you should replace your entire garage door. 

Where to Buy Garage Door Replacement Panels

To start, find out the company that manufactured your garage door.

You will need to contact them to find the right replacement panels. If you don’t get garage door panels from the same manufacturer and they don’t have the right characteristics, they won’t work as replacements. 

Ask the manufacturer where you can buy replacement panels for your garage door. Write down your door’s serial number and call the manufacturer to find out several different characteristics of your door: model, dimensions, and color.

Also make note of the part of your garage door where the panel is located (the top, the middle, or the bottom). 

Homeowners with garage doors manufactured several years ago may not have access to matching replacement panels. After all, the company may have taken them out of production. 

When to Repair Damaged Garage Door Panels

Certain kinds of damage can be repaired on your garage door. If this is possible in your case, you may save some money from not having to replace panels.

Examples of issues you may be able to repair include small holes and dents, as well as rust. 

Wood garage door panels tend to be the most expensive to repair. Aluminum and fiberglass come next, while the cheapest is steel.

If you have a wood garage door and need repairs, the average cost is $190. When it comes to steel garage doors, $130 is the average repair cost. 

Can You Buy Garage Door Panels Separately?

You may be able to buy garage door replacement panels separately, but not always.

According to Creative Door, it depends on the age and design of the door. Many older doors are out of production, so replacement panels don’t exist.

Be prepared to pay between $150 and  $200 for one replacement panel. The larger the panel, the more it will cost.

If the panel is 9-inches, it may cost $240 to get it installed. For a 16-inch panel, installation may cost as much as $690. 

Wood panels are generally the most expensive type of garage door panels. Fiberglass panels also tend to be on the relatively expensive side.

If your garage door is made of one of these materials, you will pay more for your replacement panels than you would for other materials, such as steel. 

Individual Panels vs. Replacing the Whole Door

When you realize that your garage door is damaged, you will have to decide whether just one panel or several panels need to be replaced.

Many experts advise that if you have to replace more than one panel, it may be more cost-effective to simply replace the whole door. 

Call a professional to get a quote for replacing the individual panel (or panels) and replacing the entire door. Make sure to include all the costs of materials and labor.

A situation where complete garage door replacement is probably the right choice is when aging has led to the damage.

In other words, there is no point in sinking more money into an old garage door. Just replace it. 

Garage doors usually only last about a decade. When did you install your garage door?

If it was close to ten years ago, you should go ahead and replace it rather than trying to install garage door replacement panels. 

If you decide to get replacement panels installed, you will have to pay for the panels and a minimum of one hour of labor in most cases. 

Garage door panels ready to replace old ones.

How to Replace Garage Door Panels

You should hire a professional to install garage door panel replacements in most cases. However, if you want to do it yourself, be prepared with the right equipment and knowledge.

When it comes to equipment, you will need: 

  • Power drill 
  • Bits for the power drill
  • Ratcheting nut driver
  • Vise clamps
  • Ladder
  • 2X4 inch scrap boards
  • Hammer
  • Knee pads
  • Replacement panel 

Here are the most critical steps to replace garage door panels. 

1. Disconnect the Automatic Garage Door Opener

If you have an automatic opener on your garage door, unplug it. Do this before any other step in the process.   

2. Open Your Garage Door and Carefully Take Out the Springs

Manually open your garage door. When taking out the springs, be extremely cautious to ensure your safety.

It’s essential to remove the springs, as if they’re left in place, your door may end up springing up and injuring you. 

3. Start Removing Panels

If you’re replacing the top panel, you’re in luck. You will be able to access it right away. If you need to take out a different panel, however, you will need to temporarily take out others so you can reach it.

To remove a panel, unfasten the bolts or screws that keep it attached. After loosening the panel this way, gently lift it off the track. 

4. Install the New Panel

When you’ve taken out the unwanted panel, you’re ready to install the new one. Line up the rollers with the track. Be gentle with how you put the new panel in place.

Attach it to the garage door panel that is underneath it.

The kind of fastening you already have on the door will dictate what type of fastening you use for this new panel. This might be a bolt or screws. 

5. Re-Install Other Panels

If you had to take out other panels to reach this one, put them back in. Check to make sure that you tighten all the fastenings.

Take your time doing this. If the fastenings aren’t fully tightened, you may end up damaging your garage door. 

6. Re-Install the Springs 

Position the springs and correctly re-install them. Verify more than once that the springs are safely installed. Contact a professional before you do anything else if you’re not sure. 

7. Reconnect the Garage Door Opener

Once you’ve reconnected the garage door opener, test it to ensure everything is working as it should. Pay close attention to the panels and how they are moving. Once you are happy with the way it works, you’re project is finished.

Wrapping It Up: Don’t Bother With Garage Door Replacement Panels

You shouldn’t try to replace garage door panels yourself in most cases. It may be dangerous in some situations. This is especially true if you need to replace a bottom panel, as the spring pressure could lead to injury. Even if you don’t end up hurting yourself on the DIY route, you may make mistakes with the installation and ruin your door. 

If you’re adding replacement panels, you must adequately match their color to your garage door. Even a slight difference in shade or finish will be immediately noticeable and will detract from your home’s appearance.

Sometimes it’s almost impossible to match old doors with new garage door panels accurately, so keep that in mind. 

If you decide to replace the whole garage door, you will also need professional expertise and labor. This is a complicated process, and it can be dangerous if you make a mistake.

If you also need to replace the springs, make sure you bring in an experienced professional. Don’t take chances with your safety.

In many cases, it’s more cost effective to replace your entire garage door. Your local Home Depot or Lowe’s will install your new garage door for you. Plus, a new garage door will increase the value of your home significantly.

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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.