A single or double garage is standard for many South African homes. As a measure of security, a garage allows us to have a place to keep our motor vehicles safe and protect them from the sometimes harsh weather we experience. But since most garages are sited at the entrance to a property for convenience, a garage door also adds or detracts to curb appeal.
Sectional timber garage doors are by far the most popular types of doors installed for use on garages, and because they are manufactured from timber, whatever the wood species, these doors require regular maintenance to ensure that they not only look good, but that the wood is protected from the elements and doesn't rot, warp or crack.
Why wood expands and contracts
In nature, microscopic cells within a tree expand to absorb moisture from its environment, or as water flows through the wood to nourish and sustain the life of a tree. These cells also contract, or shrink, when water evaporates. Even after being cut down and processed, engineered timber continues to expand and contract during its lifetime as it absorbs humidity from the air during wet seasons, and loses moisture during hot weather.
For this reason it is important to apply the proper treatment to timber sectional garage doors; a treatment that allows this expansion and contraction to occur without damaging the exterior appearance.
Identify and treat problems
Wood rot is probably the most common problem on sectional timber garage doors that haven’t been regularly maintained. The wood starts to turn black and eventually disintegrates where moisture has gained ingress and been left for too long.
Treatment: It is necessary to identify wood rot as soon as it starts to appear. Any black areas are a sure indication that a suitable treatment hasn’t been applied, or where a treatment has degraded or failed.
Sand down the affected area, although it is recommended that you sand door the entire door, in order to remove as much dead wood as possible. There are products available that are specifically designed to restore damaged wood, and you can try one of these to treat the area before resorting to sanding.
Where wood rot has already caused extensive damage and the wood cannot be restored, it may be necessary to remove the damage with a wood chisel and try to build up the removed area with epoxy putty. Larger areas may need to be removed completely and replaced with new sections of wood.
Cracking and fading of wood doors is generally due to constant exposure to dry climate and UV rays without adequate protection being applied.
Treatment: In most instances, cracking and fading can be rectified by applying a suitable exterior sealer product. However, extensive damage that has resulted in severe cracking will require that the door be sanded down before application of any sealer.
Where the wood has bleached and lost all colour you can look at applying a tinted sealer that will add colour back to the wood.
Tips on maintaining a sectional timber door
All the above problems can be prevented with regular maintenance and an annual inspection. Pop into your local hardware store and purchase an exterior sealer recommended for your region. Coastal regions will require a product that not only protects from UV rays, but also offer salt spray resistance.
Prepare the timber garage door according to the manufacturer’s recommended guidelines for the product you are using, which will either be by giving a light sanding, or by rubbing down with fine steel wool and mineral turpentine.
Previously painted or varnished doors will need to be sanded down to remove all traces of the previous coating before applying exterior sealer.