Garage Door Project

July 19, 2010

Before we bought the house back in August 2009, our home inspector pointed out to me was that the garage door needed some safety cables installed on the springs and that the door leading from the garage to the kitchen was not a fire-rated door.  While both of these things should probably be corrected at some point, but we didn’t consider either of them to be an immediate problem.  What we DID consider to be an immediate problem was something that we discovered shortly after using the garage door for the first time: The garage-door-opener track had been nailed directly into drywall–and nothing else.  So, shortly after we used the garage door a few times, I noticed that the drive-chain support system had effectively punched a hole through the drywall.  Not only was the damage cosmetic, it had the potential to be a real problem if and when the garage-door track worked itself loose and fell on someone or something.

Two things had to be done: Fix the hole in the drywall and create a permanent solution for the garage-door opener.  This weekend I decided to fix the problem because we’ve been using the garage door more and more this summer, and  I would hate for the hole door-opener system to come crashing down.

The first step involved cutting out the drywall surrounding the hole, and exposing enough area to see what was I had to work with.  Using a drywall saw, I cut out a small area surrounding the metal bracket to which the garage-door track was attached.  Once the crumbling and broken drywall was removed, it became clear that whoever installed the bracket had driven spikes through the drywall into the sheathing of the exterior wall, hardly enough support a garage door over time.

After removing the spikes, bracket, and garage-door track, I saw exactly why the garage-door installer did what they did–there was no stud or stable structural element to which the bracket could be attached.  The nearest studs were roughly 7 inches in either direction.

So, to fix this shoddy build job, I decided to bridge a 2×4 across the opening.  The garage-door opener would be attached to, and supported by the 2×4.  I would also need to install some sort of backing to which the drywall patch would be mounted.  These would be 1x4s daughtered onto the nearby studs using “L” brackets.

After expanding the hole in the drywall to extend fully to the neighboring studs, I drilled pilot holes (to avoid splitting the studs when I screwed into them).  I also drilled holes into the 2×4 to accommodate 4″ long carriage bolts.  These would replace the long spikes originally used to secure the door track.

Once the 2×4 and the 1x4s were securely mounted to the neighboring studs, I cut a patch of drywall to fit the opening, and holes were drilled to fit the 4 carriage bolts.  The patch was inserted and secured using drywall screws.  Adhesive fiberglass tape was applied to the four corners of the patch, and fast-setting joint compound was spread liberally over the edges.

I’ll let the joint compound dry for 24 hours, and then sand and apply a finer coat.  Once that second coat has dried, the wall will be re-painted (if we can manage to find the right paint amongst all those buckets that were left behind!).

In hindsight, I realized that installing the 2×4 and 1x4s vertically might have given me some additional space to work with, and it probably would have made things a bit easier.  Getting screws behind the braces was definitely a challenge.  While I don’t think that the setup I chose (with carriage bolts extending from the interior) is a perfect solution, it certainly met my needs.  Now, if I ever need to replace the garage door opener and that bracket, I might be in a little trouble.  But, thankfully the opener was fairly new when we moved in, and the tracks and door appear to be in good shape.

Next weekend, I’ll be fixing up the other problem in the garage that our home inspector missed: A broken water pipe that has been spraying water into the interior wall for probably the last ten years or so.

Total time: 6 hours

Total expenses: ca. 30 dollars

Supplies:

  • Sheet 2×2 of 1/2″ drywall (1)*
  • Package of 4 “L” brackets (2)
  • Package of 3/4″ wood screws (1)*
  • Bucket of joint compound (1)*
  • Fiberglass mesh tape (1)*
  • 2×4 (1)*
  • 1×4 (1)*
  • Screw gun/drill
  • Drywall saw
  • Putty knife
  • Utility knife

*Indicates that some supplies were left over and will be used for future projects.