It is not uncommon for just one or two garage door panels to become damaged. Though this damage is usually minor, it disrupts the door's aesthetic value and it can compromise the door's structural integrity. The problem will be corrected by replacing the whole door, but this is often an expensive and wasteful repair. Instead, minor damage can be repaired by replacing individual garage door panels.
Check Your Warranty
If any damage occurs, you should first check the paperwork you received with your garage door. The door may still be under warranty, in which case you can get the doors repaired at little to no cost to you. Many manufacturers and installers offer lifetime warranties, but even doors with shorter warranties are usually protected for many years after installation.
You should also investigate the cost of replacing individual panels versus the cost of entirely replacing the door. Depending on the type of door, it may be cheaper to replace the entire door.
Check Your Manufacturer
If the company that manufactured your garage door is still in business, purchasing replacement garage door panels may be as simple as a trip to your local hardware store. If the manufacturer is no longer in business, you may still be able to find replacement panels online at auction sites such as Ebay.com or through a do it yourself (DIY) website such as doityourself.com. However, if your door is more than 15 years old, or if the manufacturer is out of business, you should consider replacing the entire door.
Check Your Material
Many modern door panels are made with a thin, inexpensive fiberboard. This can last a very long time, but if water manages to seep into the doors, they will swell and become weak and sponge-like. You can replace the panels with similar fiberboard panels, or you can replace them with a different material, such as smooth-surfaced quarter-inch plywood.
Out and In
Removing the old panels is usually the easy part. Depending on how badly damaged the panels are, you may be able to simply break them out with your bare hands. You can also cut a few holes with a large-bore drill and cut the panels out with a hand saw or a power saw.
Some panels are simply stapled into the door frame, which lends itself to easy replacements. However, most garage doors are set into a fixed, prefabricated molding, with complicated rails, stiles, and grooves. Replacing these panels is a time-consuming and tedious process, and many impatient home repairmen have ruined a door beyond repair because of this.
It's more cost-effective to replace a few panels than an entire garage door. That is if you're willing to put in the time and energy.