Garage door rust: your guide to dealing with rust-related problems

If your garage door is only a few years old, there are few things more upsetting than discovering rust spots marring its surface. Shouldn’t the paint protect it from corrosion? Why is it rusting so soon? These are just a couple of the questions you’ll be asking yourself.

There are many different reasons that a garage door may start to rust, but before you take any type of action, it’s important to dig into the situation a bit more.

What is causing rust on my garage door?

Begin by considering the environment in which the garage door is installed, and then move on from that point. Even something as simple as regularly washing your garage door can help prevent it from becoming an eyesore.

Where are you located?

The first thing you’ll want to consider is your environment. Do you live in an urban area where chemicals and pollutants are common? Those can eat through protective coatings and compromise your garage door. Do you live in a coastal area? If so, the salt in the air can do the same thing. If you live in an area where winter snows are common, salt used to de-ice the roadways can have the same effects.

Think these are extreme cases? They’re not. They are actually situations that garage door specialists must deal with on a regular basis.

However, the real culprit could be something even less obvious – dirt or pollen. For instance, if you live in an area where white and yellow birch trees grow, their pollen can show up as an orange, rust-like stain on your garage door. The good news is that pollen washes away easily.

Garage door paint

In most cases, garage doors manufactured for the North American market have more than one layer of paint protecting the metal surface from the environment. The door is first coated with a priming layer of paint. Then, another layer of paint is baked on to provide robust protection and durability.

Of course, the protection for your garage door is more than just skin deep. The very metal used in the construction process is specially designed to resist rust. This is done by layering zinc onto the steel mixture during manufacturing. The DASMA has precise guidelines that garage door manufacturers in North America must follow when it comes to zinc coating and galvanization.

What is causing rust on my garage door?

If you have an older door and it is showing signs of rust, you might need to consider whether the door was repainted previously. If so, it might not have been done correctly. Garage door companies know the types of paint that can successfully be used and that will give you a long lasting layer of protection.

Finally, understand that if your door is punctured, all bets are off. No type of paint, and no amount of galvanization, will help a door withstand rust if a puncture has compromised it. Once the raw metal is exposed, rust will begin to set in no matter what you do. The only thing that can be done at this point is to clean away the rust and repair the door.

Washing your garage door

One of the most common reasons for a garage door to begin rusting is a failure to provide adequate care. You might not think it, but regularly washing your garage door is important. To do this, you just need to use the same soap that you use to wash your car, along with a sponge or a clean cloth. We even recommend that you schedule your garage door cleaning on the same day you wash the car just for convenience.

If you encounter oil and grease, chances are good that it is from lubricating the chain drive. Do not use motor oil here – white grease should be used, and only in limited quantities, only when necessary.

You also need to avoid using a pressure washer. The pressure can quickly eat through damaged paint, leaving your door’s metal skin exposed to the elements. Instead of a pressure washer, a regular garden hose with a medium-strength stream of water is all you’ll need.

How to clean rust spots

If you do have any small rust spots, chances are good that they are superficial and can be removed pretty easily. There’s a simple way to go about this:

  • Combine equal parts water and vinegar in a spray bottle.
  • Spray the areas that need to be cleaned.
  • Using a clean cloth, wipe away the rust stains.

If that doesn’t work, you can try something else:

  • Combine baking soda and a small amount of water to make a paste.
  • Apply the paste to stubborn rust spots.
  • Let it sit for about 30 minutes.
  • Wipe it off with a clean cloth.
  • Rinse the garage door clean.

You can also try bathroom tile cleaner to remove stubborn spots if you prefer. Just spray it on, let it sit for a few minutes, then clean it off.

No matter where you live, you should wash your garage door twice a year. If you live in an area with lots of air pollution, you may need to wash it more frequently. Our recommendation is to wash it during the spring and the fall, and to apply a coat of liquid wax when you’re done to provide all-over protection. You can also follow the maintenance and care recommendations in Garaga’s maintenance guide, which are even more detailed.

Thinking about changing your door?

If the rust problem is serious, you might need to replace your garage door. If you live in or around St. Catharines, just get in touch with us. Call us at 1-800-263-4972 or come by the showroom in person to see what we can do for your home.

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