How Garage Door Installation Works

By: Sarah Siddons

If you’re a decent DIY-er, installing attractive and functional garage doors could be an exciting weekend project.
If you’re a decent DIY-er, installing attractive and functional garage doors could be an exciting weekend project. Miric

­If you've installed a replacement door or two around your home, it seems pretty simple -- all it takes is tightening a couple of screws and you're done. Installing t­he largest door in your house, however, is not quite so simple. Garage door in­stallation, whether manual or automatic, can be difficult and dangerous. Manual garage door installation is much easier than automatic garage door installation, but the one you choose generally depends on what kind of door you have.

Manual garage doors are those that you can just pull u­p with a handle. They are much lighter than automatic doors, so they are easier to install. However, the lightness of a manual door limits the type of door you can have. Eying that nice solid wood door for your garage? A heavy door like that is definitely going to have to be an automatic one.


Automatic doors require not only the installation of a heavy door, but the motor and cables as well. Automatic doors are much more common now because of their convenience, but in a case such as the heavy wood door, they are a necessity. A strong motor is required to pull up a heavy door. However, automatic doors are not without their faults -- they quickly become a manual door when the power goes out.

­No matter what kind of door you are installing, be very careful. The instructions that follow are merely guidelines. You should read your garage door manufacturer's instructions and owner's manual very carefully before attempting either type of installation. And if you're a do-it-yourself greenhorn, skip this project and hire an experienced professional. It may be more expensive, but garage door installation is on the higher scale of DIY difficulty.

If you have a few DIY projects under your belt, however, read on to discover how to install a manual garage door.

Manual Garage Door Installation

Forget that­ fancy automatic door -- you want to install a manual garage door. While you might be the only person on your block to have a manual door, there are a few reasons why having one isn't so bad and why this less-convenient option has refused to die out. The main reason for their popularit­y is that they are often more secure. In addition, they are much easier to install -- and to fix, as there aren't too many parts involved -- than automatic garage doors.

­If you have a basic, un-insulated steel garage door, then you are a perfect candidate for a manual garage door. To install, all you need to do is secure the door with a torsion spring system. This kind of installation generally requires only a drill, its bits, a hex wrench and an open-end wrench.


Your installation instructions will probably vary, but the basics generally go something like this:

  1. Attach the flag bracket and horizontal angle, and connect them to the jamb.
  2. Connect the torsion tubs and the springs, and place them in each bracket.
  3. After measuring the length of release of the spring, tighten the screws to the torsion tube.
  4. Secure the left side drum, and then the right side drum.
  5. Attach the tube retainer and wind the spring [source: Clopaydoor].

These are the most basic instructions, but they give you an idea of the steps required to install a manual garage door. If you're looking for the convenience of a motor, read on to find out how to install an automatic garage door.

Automatic Garage Door Installation

Whether you want to install an automatic garage door for convenience or­ necessity (heavier doors require an automatic opener), be sure you have some do-it-yourself experience and at least one partner to help you.

To install an automatic garage door, follow these basic steps:


  1. Attach the track to the drive unit. The drive unit contains the motor that does all the hard work of opening a garage door for you.
  2. Connect the rest of the sections of the track together.
  3. Attach a mounting bracket to the track's end, and then attach that to the beam above the garage door opening.
  4. Attach the motor according to the manufacturer's instructions. This must be attached to a beam in the ceiling because of its weight.
  5. Feed the wires from the ceiling motor to the wall switch.
  6. Install the infrared sensors that detect if something is in the way of a closing garage door.
  7. Connect the garage door to the door opener [source: Hazelton].

Though these basic instructions seem pretty simple, there are lots of little mountings required. In addition, you will be dealing with electricity, which can be very dangerous.

If you are comfortable with the above steps, head on out to your garage. If not, don't be afraid to call a professional for help.

For more home improvement information, visit the links on the next page.

Lots More Information

Relate­d HowStuffWorks Articles

More Great Links

  • Burch, Monte. "Open Sesame! Install a Garage Door." Extreme How-To. (Accessed 12/12/08)
  • Clopaydoor. "EZ-Set Torsion Spring System Assembly Installation Instructions." (Accessed 12/12/08)
  • Doors 4 Garages. "Manual Garage Doors: Yes, They Still Exist." (Accessed 12/12/08)
  • Handy Canadian. "Garage Door Installation." (Accessed 12/12/08)
  • Hazelton, Ron. "How to Install a Garage Door." Ron Hazelton's HouseCalls. (Accessed 12/12/08)
  • Vandervort, Don. "How to Install a Garage Door." Home Tips. (Accessed 12/12/08)