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How to Fix a Dented Aluminum or Steel Garage Door Panel

Garage Door Dent

Different garage door materials offer varying durability; certain materials dent more easily than others. Today, most homes have garage doors made of aluminum or steel because these materials hold up well to general wear and tear as well as weather factors like water and sun. And while aluminum and steel garage doors are durable, they are also the most likely to dent. Anything from a hail storm or an errant softball to simply pulling just a bit too far into your driveway can result in denting one or more of the door’s panels. These dents can be unsightly, making your home seem uncared for, and that definitely doesn’t enhance curb appeal.

Another more serious possibility is that the dent(s) may interfere with the functioning of your garage door, depending on their size and location. In these cases, failing to fix the dents may result in much larger (and more expensive) issues. You don’t want to have to completely replace your garage door because you ignored what was initially a small problem. Large dents or bends in metal doors may need professional intervention, but you can usually fix smaller dents yourself. However, we’re always on call if you need assistance- our garage techs are skilled in removing particularly tricky dents so that you likely won’t need a new garage door installation.

Repairing Dents in an Aluminum Garage Door

You’ll need a few items on hand and within your reach in order to pull a dent out of aluminum successfully. Having another person to help isn’t a bad idea here, because the last couple of steps in the process need to happen fairly quickly. So before you begin the process of fixing the dent, gather the following items:

  • Can of compressed air
  • Source of heat, like a lighter, heat gun or hair dryer
  • Bucket filled with a mix of soap and water
  • Sponge or washcloth
  • Hose
  • Aluminum foil

These items may seem like an obscure group of supplies, but it will make sense once we explain the procedure. You see, when your garage door suffers a dent, the aluminum stretches a little bit, which is how it becomes misshapen. So, the way you’re going to fix this dent includes heating and cooling the aluminum in a way that causes it to contract and (hopefully) pop back into its original form.

Let’s get started:

  1. With your bucket of soapy water and your sponge or washcloth, scrub the dent clean, being sure to remove all traces of dirt and grime. Rinse with your garden hose to remove the soap so you don’t leave a layer of film behind.
  2. Allow the dented area to dry thoroughly.
  3. Tear a piece of aluminum foil that is big enough to both cover the dent and give you room to hold it against the garage door while you heat it. You don’t want to burn yourself.
  4. Place the aluminum foil over the dent, laying it flat against the dent so that it also takes the shape of the dent. Once again, remember to hold the aluminum in place with your hand outside the borders of the dent.
  5. While foil is in place, apply your heat source evenly across the foil for at least one minute- until the entire dented area is warm.
  6. Quickly remove the foil, grab your can of compressed air, turn it upside down and spray the dent for at least 30 seconds. Compressed air cans are made of liquid carbon dioxide, which becomes cold in its transition out of the can. The reason you want to turn the can upside down is to speed up the cooling process that causes the carbon dioxide to become extremely cold.

The heat you used expanded the aluminum, and the reaction of the quick change to cold should cause it to have a contraction reaction strong enough to pop the dent out within a couple minutes of finishing step 6. And that’s it: curb appeal restored!

Repairing a Steel Door

Dents in steel doors are also a relatively easy fix if they’re somewhat minor, but you have to use a different method than for aluminum. With an aluminum door, you can pop the dent out and basically reverse the damage, but with a steel door you have to fill it in and patch the area with new paint in order to hide the damage. (After you fix the dented area, this might be a good time to improve the look of your entire door with a new paint job.)

This process is pretty straightforward and requires no chemical reactions. If you’ve ever had to fill a dent in your car, patch a damaged area of cement or fix a hole in drywall or plaster, this is essentially the same process.

You’ll need:

  • Steel door or auto body filling compound
  • Bucket filled with a mix of soap and water
  • Sponge or washcloth
  • Hose
  • Fine grit/finishing sandpaper (400-grit is ideal)
  • Rag, dry or very lightly dampened
  • Putty Knife
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • Sealant

See? Even the supply list tells you how straightforward this process is:

  1. With your bucket of soapy water and your sponge or washcloth, scrub the dent clean, being sure to remove all traces of dirt and grime. Rinse with your garden hose to remove the soap so you don’t leave a layer of film behind. Removing all debris and soap is much more important with steel doors since you’re applying a compound that needs to adhere to the surface of the dent.
  2. Allow the dented area to dry thoroughly.
  3. Sand the dent to roughen up the surface very slightly and then wipe away dust with your rag.
  4. Apply the filling compound to the dented area with a putty knife, enough so the entire dented area is filled. Try to make your initial application as smooth and flush with the undented surface of the door to make the next step easier on yourself.
  5. Wait for the compound to dry and then sand again until the filled area is smooth and level with the surrounding undamaged surfaces of the door.
  6. Apply primer. Since you’re dealing with a metal door that can rust, using a primer with zinc chromate in it is a good idea here.
  7. Paint to match the original color and then seal the repaired area with a weather and/or UV-resistant sealant.

And there you have it! You are now an expert at managing small façade repairs on your garage door. Now, if your garage door is wood, or your steel door has a faux wood grain texture, you’ll be much better served by calling a professional garage door repair company like SACS to help you repair your door. It might not be ideal, because it is a cost, but you know the door will be repaired properly, and having a professional repair your garage door is way less of an expense than outright replacing your door.

How Much Does It Cost to Replace Your Garage Door Springs?

Are you wondering about the costs of replacing the spring on a garage door? The answer to this question depends on the type of spring you need. Extension springs are the cheapest, but they do not last long and can cause added wear on your door. We recommend using torsion springs which are safer, more durable, and offer smoother operation. Expect to pay between $100 to $300 for new springs. If you want two high-quality torsion springs, the cost can be higher. Let us know how often you use your garage door and we can help you pick the best spring for your budget.