Ok, the answer to this question is complicated and depends on a bunch of different factors.Technically it is possible, but you might have to make a few compromises that you didn’t initially expect.
Can you make your garage door air tight? Yes, you absolutely can. But in order to, you’ll have to pretty much permanently close the garage door and effectively turn your garage door into a wall.
That’s the short answer, if you want to play strict attention to answering it in the most absolute matter of fact way. But if you’re reading this article then I’m guessing that’s not your intention.
What you’re probably wanting to achieve is to effectively seal your garage door as best you can to reduce gaps in your garage door and frame. That is what this article will answer!
We’ll explore a bunch of different solutions such as door sealing, garage door insulation kits and look at how these work with different styles of garage doors such as roller garage doors, sectional garage doors, side hinged doors and up & over garage doors.
We’ll ask which ways of sealing a garage work best for your particular setup and we’ll looking into the safety aspects you should be aware of when you attempt to really seal up and make your garage air tight.
First things first, let’s look at a few reasons you might want to make your garage air tight…
Reasons to Make Your Garage Air Tight
There’s a few legitimately good reasons to air seal your garage. The one that is most often sited is to help prevent pipework or valuables within the garage freezing over the winter months.
As you probably know, water expands when it freezes. If you’ve got that water in a container where it has nowhere to expand then it’s most likely going to pop. This is bad news if you’ve got a bunch of pipework for a boiler.
So reducing the chances of that happening by sealing your garage door is a good option.
Bugs Getting In
Bugs love gaps! The more you have in your garage, the more likely they are going to find their way in. My garage was covered in cob webs for years and I hated going in there and cleaning them out every few months. Not to mention all the dead insect husks you find on the floor where spiders have feasted the night before.
This admittedly is less important than keeping pipework from freezing, but it’s worth mentioning non the less. Your vacuum cleaner will thank you. Mine used to clog up all the time.
Not to mention that bugs can damage your property. Especially if you had books or precious old photographs stored in your garage. It would be a real shame to find all your cherished childhood photographs eaten away by pesky critters. So I guess there is a more serious aspect to this point to consider.
Insulating your garage will pay for itself in the long run, simply by reducing your energy bills. One of the first steps to effectively insulating your garage is by identifying air gaps and cracks in your garage and sealing them.
Your garage door is one big honking gap to seal! Even when the door is fully closed there’s still a bunch of visible gaps to let heat escape the garage. An easy way to establish if you have an air gaps in your garage door is to close it whilst you are inside and see if you can see any light coming in from the outside world.
If you can then there’s your first set of gaps to fill.
A good indicator that the garage door is airtight afterwards is that you can repeat this step again and see no visible daylight.
Chances are you’ll probably be considering making your garage door air tight because of a combination of all of these reasons. While one in particular may stand out.
I wrote an entire article about heating your garage cheaply. Check it out How To Insulate Your Garage Door
Now that we’ve covered the why let’s look at the how…
How To Make Different Types of Garage Doors Air Tight
There’s a variety of garage doors out there. They all have their merits, but when it comes to sealing them air tight. Some are easier than others. In this section I’ll breakdown each type of garage door and suggest a few strategies to sealing them up in the best possible way.
Air Tight Sectional Garage Doors
If I were to choose the best candidate for air tight garage doors then sectional garages would be it. Unlike their similar cousin the roller garage, they are made up of large solid panels that lower down to form the garage door.
When in the open position they are also opened up and effectively locked together at a solid garage door. The benefit of this system is there are less seems between the joints of the garage panels compared to a roller solution. This means there’s less chance for air to escape through the gaps.
It also opens up the possibility for adding insulation at a later date if it hasn’t already been installed.
I like this solution because the door panels themselves lower down through tracks on the inside of the garage. Typically you’ll have an outer cover panel that will protect any part where the garage door meets the frame of the garage.
Steps to make it air tight
It’s pretty straightforward for this one. Just make sure that the seams of the garage door track are covered by cladding. This hopefully should already be done when the garage door was installed.
Lastly a good weather shield skirting installed to the bottom of the garage door will help keep any draft from seeping into the garage. To make this more effective check your garage motors power setting. Turning it up slightly will help form a tighter seal when closed.
Air Tight Roller Garage Doors
Similar to sectional garage doors, roller garage doors lower down from the ceiling of the garage. Where they differ is that when they are fully retracted they are not in their flat layout. They are in a roll. This has the advantage of taking up less space when in the open position.
That could be an advantage if you’re storing stuff in the roof space of your garage. But in the case of keeping your garage door air tight, not so much. That’s because its more difficult to seal these types of garage doors since there are more joints between the panels. This is required to make the panels flexible enough to be rolled up when open.
Steps to make it air tight
This one’s tricky. I think you’ve got your work cut out for you. Taking steps like adding a weather shield skirting can definitely help. Also look at caulking any gaps around the perimeter of the garage door.
Air Tight Side Hinged Garage Doors
Side Hinged garage doors are mechanically way more simple that roller and sectional garage doors. Essentially they are 2 solid panels that are fixed to the garage frame on hinged. They have the advantage of requiring less maintenance and when that maintenance is required, it’s more easy to be carried out. Both in labor and parts.
However the downside is that it doesn’t open on its own footprint. This means that in situations like winter where snow can potentially build up on the outside and make it difficult to open the doors. It also means that you need more space around the garage door in order to maneuver around it.
So how does it fair when it comes to making the garage air tight?
Pretty well actually! Because the doors are effectively 2 large panels you can apply a bunch of thick high quality insulation to the door panels. Whilst caulking the gap between the door frame and the garage itself.
Lastly you can add weather guard strips to the bottom of the garage doors and one on the inside of the garage door to form a good air tight seal. You might recognize this from high quality waterproof clothing. Where the zip have a baffle on the inside to prevent winder getting in.
Air Tight Up & Over Garage Doors
This is the last type of garage door that I know of. Up & Over garage doors work by the operator pulling the garage door down to close it or up to open it. Where a spring assists in the operation. Making the door easier to maneuver and hold it in position. Without it the door would fall down when you let go of it.
As for sealing this type of garage door to make it air tight. You’ve got your work cut out for you. I’d say this one is potentially the most difficult to seal. However its the easiest to insulate. That’s because its basically one giant panel. As for sealing this type of doors air gaps you’re going to have to figure out how to allow the door to move freely but also allowing for some kind of membrane to seal the gaps once the door is fully closed.
A very flexible plastic trim could be a good option for this. Or better yet a rubber one.
As for the base of the garage door, the weather shield guards are still your best bet in my opinion.
Upgrading an Existing Garage Door
As a general guide to upgrading the weather sealing on pretty much any garage door I found this YouTube video that talks you through the steps to remove the existing weather sealing and fix fresh sealing to your garage door frame. It’s worth a watch, but I suggest reading the safety concerns section first as it’s important to consider the points raised.
Safety Concerns With Air Tight Garage Doors
This is something people overlook when attempting to improve the seal quality of their garage door in an effect to make it air tight. If you successfully make your garage door air tight then you have to consider what the downsides of this could be.
For me the most obvious one is that the if you’re parking your car in the garage:
Where do all the fumes go?!
It doesn’t take a genious to work out where the danger is here. Proper ventilation could literally save a persons life. Of course this isn’t a problem if you’re driving electric. But for the majority of us, that’s years away from being a reality.
The next thing to consider is chemicals you might have stored in your garage.
If your garage is perfectly sealed then the fumes that these containers emit won’t have anywhere to escape. Enamel paints are an example of a paint that gives off dangerous fumes.
What can you do?
You could store them in a container that is designed for materials that give off dangerous fumes. A simple plastic box could help lessen the effect. Incidentally, you should avoid letting paints, aerosols etc.. freeze as this can cause the containers to crack and the dangerous gases can be released all at once.
Situations Where I Might Sense to Permanently Seal you your Garage?
We’ve covered things you can do to seal a garage door that’s opened frequently. But what about when it makes sense permanently close your garage door?
If you’re turning your garage into a spare room or office then it might be the case that the door will no longer be opened. In this case I’d say your best bet is to bolt the door closed (garage door locks aren’t every secure) and then caulk all the gaps. Add Insulation and you’re done!
Air gap sealing your garage door is an interesting concept. It’s definitely got it’s advantages. Especially if you live in a cold climate. One thing I didn’t mention in the article is that if you’re thinking of doing this and have a decent budget you could just swap your current door out with a new one that’s got decent air gap sealing in built. But the obvious downside to that is that it’s expensive!
Hope you enjoyed reading this article. If you found it useful then please share it on your social media or website!
If you’re interested in reading more about garages and garage related projects such as garage insulation checkout a few of our other articles:
- Should I Insulate My Garage – My Story With Pictures
- Should I Insulate My Garage Ceiling – The Complete Answer
- Should I Insulate My Detached Garage – Things you Should Know