Hot Topics: Is Installing a Garage Door a Dangerous DIY?

A garage door with windows on the top.

Here on we enjoy providing a place where home improvement novices and experts can come together to share ideas and advice. Inside our Forums, users can browse threads to see what exchanges are taking place on a topic of interest or start their own dialogue by posting something for the community to take part in. With over 250,000 members and counting, this resource is quite active so each week we highlight one of the conversations that may just help you with that next DIY project.

When it comes to DIY, there are certain projects around the house that are more dangerous than others. Is installing a garage door one of them? The forum has differing opinions on the matter, in addition to advice on the installation process itself.

Original Post: Garage door opener install dangerous?

megaboy1 Member

My friends freaked out when I said I was going to install a garage door. They said I can lose a finger, but looking at videos, it seems like I don't need to touch the spring at all. (My house is three years old.) Is it true that it's dangerous to DIY?..I started installing the garage door, and the manual asks to have horizontal and vertical reinforcement brackets. Do I need those? I get a sense that many people install without them.

aka pedro Member

Generally, an opener installation is pretty straightforward; it's just a matter of reading the directions as you go. The first thing, though, is to make sure that the springs are adjusted correctly; you should be able to raise and lower it by hand with relative ease and it should be balanced, meaning that you should be able to let go of it and have it stay in that position. If you find that the springs do need to be adjusted, you will probably want to call a door company, in which case the opener installation would most likely be reasonable enough to have them do it at the same time. The other thing that you want to look at is the door make and model to make sure that the door is intended for an opener, or if an additional stiffener may be required. Some of the lesser priced doors are not strong enough to accept an opener as-is, and can result in the failure of the door.

Gunguy45 Super Moderator

No, not at all dangerous. Now, if you drop the opener on your head while lifting it into position or fall off the ladder, well, then it is.

You are correct that if the door operates correctly without an opener installed, you don't need to mess with the spring. If the door is very hard to lift manually, or crashes down or rolls up with great force, then yes, there is a spring issue.

I think the danger of working with torsion spring doors is greatly exaggerated, anyway. What you really need is to take simple precautions like keeping your ladder offset from the winding bars and wearing gloves, safety goggles, and a hard hat. Don't wear loose clothes, and have a helper if possible.

I've taken down old and installed new doors probably 7-8 times. Only one had the springs that are put on loose and use a winding mechanism—not bars. I've still got my eyes and brain intact.

stickshift Group Moderator

Install/tighten/modify garage door torsion springs? Yep, that can be a dangerous job. Installing a new operator is no more dangerous than any other job around the house with moving parts and slightly heavy objects you have to lift on a ladder. In other words, take your time, be careful, and you should be just fine. But don't assume you'll be fine because it is still possible you could get hurt.

chandler Forum Topic Moderator

The instructions won't "ask," as it will be a requirement. Where does it say they want the brackets to go? Across the top panel of the door is a horizontal reinforcement bracket, but I am not sure if that is what they are referring to or not.

marksr Forum Topic Moderator

Some garage doors aren't stout enough without the added brackets. Yours is double-skinned and insulated so it might not apply, but I don't know for sure

megaboy1 Member

You can see the diagram and comments at the very top of this link:


It says I need both horizontal and vertical reinforcement—exactly the same as my manual. And there is also a sticker on my door, saying it needs brackets if operated by an opener.

Gunguy45 Super Moderator

You need a vertical reinforcement. Ideally, you would buy one from the manufacturer of the door. Look for stickers on the sides, top, and between the panels. One of the visible warning stickers may also have a name. With that and a few measurements, you can find the model number. The double-sided doors are reinforced under the inner skin for the attachment screws of the bracket, but are not normally strong enough to handle an opener without a bracket. The lower part of the bracket will go under the center hinge, and then you will need to loosen the upper strut (maybe remove it completely) and drill/screw the upper part of the bracket, and then reattach the brace.

Good instructions by Clopay here...

megaboy1 Member

I got the vertical reinforcement and got stuck when looking for a way to attach a stud above the door for a head bracket to go on. I punched a bunch of nails through, but it seems there is no stud nearby.

The support stud needs to be just above that center wood, and the white mud marks on either side are very far away each other (near the ends of the spring in the wide picture). I'm assuming that's where studs are...but they're useless for me.
Is there a way to do this? Should I remove the drywall and see inside?

Drywall near a garage door installation.

Garage door with drywall around it.

marksr Forum Topic Moderator

Studs are typically spaced at 16" or 24" centers. If I understand correctly, you could nail the new lumber to the top plate and a few studs. It's OK for the new lumber to be longer than you need.

megaboy1 Member

Yeah, I know they should be within 24", but I don't think they are above that door. I punched a bunch of holes within that range. I know I can have long lumber, but not eight feet apart if you look at the mud marks in the wide picture. And there is no stud in the center above that wood even though there is a mud mark. Any suggestions or is there something I'm missing?

marksr Forum Topic Moderator

If you get a 2x wide enough that it will go to the ceiling, you can then nail it to the top plate along with whatever studs you can find between the header and the ceiling.

megaboy1 Member

Yep, I can attach the top part of lumber to the top plate near the ceiling. But there is no stud below or in any proximity. Can I toenail the bottom part of lumber to that center wood's top edge?

To read the rest of the thread, look here: