Restoring a Garage Door to It’s Former Glory

“Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved!” -Psalm 80:3 original garage door

I love restoration- the idea of taking something someone else would have thrown away and bringing it back to the beauty it’s creator intended it to be. Through all of my gunk, the Bible says that when God sees me, He sees His Son. My sins and future sins are paid for and I am clean. Everything in this world was made to and will bring glory to God, even this old garage door!


I promised my husband I would not run forward with any renovations for 2 weeks. After the big push to finish our uncompleted projects at the last house before selling, we were both due for a needed break. We have situated all of our things in the new house, although my kitchen drawers and cabinets are still a mess and I can’t for-the-life-of-me find the bolts to either of the bedframes.

So that being the case, it looks a little like someone is storing antiques in a frat house. The mattresses on the floor, lavender plaster walls, and millions of nail holes would make any college student feel right at home.

We picked up the last of our plants yesterday from our “plant sitter” (thank you, friend). I have been spreading them around to the windows with the best light hoping they will come back to life after the shock of the move.

So last Friday brought me to my 2 week mark. I am ready to run! Not only was I allowed to start a new project but Friday was the first warm day of a nice streak we will have going this whole week. I chose the garage door for my first project. How did I choose? Well, this is the side of the house we come into every day. And this is the first thing that greets me. From a distance it doesn’t look too bad, but up close it is peeling something fierce.

A few weeks ago I came across a few websites where people were using a gel stain on their steel garage doors and man-doors to create a faux-wood look. I thought this was brilliant; the transformations are stunning. I was ready to jump on this. But upon closer look at my garage door, this was quickly becoming a non-option.

I started by taking a painter’s tool and scraping all of the giant flakes off. Some did come off- a lot didn’t. Then after a trip to the hardware store, I used our new oscillating sander with 60-grit sandpaper to work on smoothing the divots the paint chips were creating. I figured if I could at least get a smooth surface, I could still use the gel stain over the door. Upon further scraping and sanding, this also became a non-option.

There are 5 coats of paint on this garage door in the following order: brown, white, white #2, yellow, and blue. And underneath all of that paint- wood. Glorious wood! I was not going to be able to get these bumps smooth without taking all of the paint off. The layers are just too thick. Not to mention, I fear that if I try to stain over random spots of paint and wood, the stain will be absorbed differently leaving a hideous splotchy look. So I have decided, if I am going to do this, I’m going to do it right.


So the next day, back to the hardware store; this time to pick up paint stripper and supplies. After a couple hours of applying paint stripper, waiting 15 minutes then scraping it off, it is apparent that I will need to apply a coat of stripper for every coat of paint. My first and only experience with paint stripper was refinishing a dresser in high school. I swore I would never use it again. But here I am, working on this door.

My hope was dwindling until I took my sander back over the last stubborn coat of paint I couldn’t scrape off with stripper. Hope restored! I can see just a glimmer of the finished product.  And after several hours, I estimate I am about 3/19 done with stripping this door. I left a pretty big mess in the driveway, but I figure I am scraping off gallons of paint and bound to get messy.

 What do you think? Can you see it? I hope to have a photo of the finished product soon. I chose Minwax gel stain in the shade of cherry wood to match the cedar window boxes I am building. What was going to be a weekend project has now turned into a month project. Well, until then I am getting my triceps in shape and making the neighbors curious.


So on the following Wednesday, I pick up where I left off. 3/19s done with scraping. I apply more stripper, scrape it off, and repeat. A friend called me to vent in the midst of scraping. I tried for awhile doing it with one hand; that didn’t work at all. I’m also making quite a bit of noise so one of the neighbors noticed I was out and came over to introduce herself. Jennifer was very nice, I look forward to more interactions with her family. She did update me that almost the entire street has scraped their houses and updated their exterior in the last two years. She pointed to each one and told me what they had done. So I guess this house is definitely overdue for a facelift.

So being outside for two hours, I didn’t accomplish quite as much as I’d hoped. I had a goal of getting two of the large rectangles done, but that paint is so stubborn. I eventually took the sander to the worst places which worked great. It is also unfortunate that the first coat of paint has bonded very deeply into the wood grain. I considered doing a little trial section with my gel stain to see if I could get it to look nice without getting all the paint off perfectly. But we’ll see. This is a photo of what I got done last night (top) compared to where I left off (bottom). It doesn’t look like much, but I promise you could tell in person.

This is going to take me forever, isn’t it?



 I scraped until I couldn’t scrape anymore. It’s getting there, though! Nate taught me how to sharpen my blade; so that has sped up the pace some. I think I will feel better when I can’t see anymore blue.  I learned that when I am done with the stripper, I have to coat the entire thing with mineral oil before I use the gel stain. I’m a ways out, yet. I am such a girl, when I look at this I think, “Hey, the blue and yellow match my dinner plates!”


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