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What are Garage Door Panels?

Ken Black
Ken Black

Garage door panels are flat panels fitting between the stiles and rails on each individual section of the garage door. Usually, these panels are wood or metal, but could also be made of a high-quality plastic, such as vinyl. Garage door panels are usually very easy to replace and, in the case of wood panels, some can even be made by the homeowner.

For those who want to paint their garage door panels different colors, they may find that it is much easier to remove them and paint, rather than try to paint them in place. Some may want a specific texture change for their garage door panels. This represents another reason why someone may want to remove the panels.

Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

The sections in which the garage door panels are located generally are positioned horizontally across the entire width of the opening. While they are connected to other sections, there is also room to allow spaces to develop between the sections. This is so the sections can break apart slightly as they curve up the railing. This is needed because garage door panels are generally not flexible and therefore need to stay rigid. This is called a sectional garage door.

Wood panels used to the most common material used in garage doors. This is because of the abundance of the material and its ease of use. In order to make panels, all one simply had to do was cut to the length of the slat. Replacing any number of panels would only take a few hours.

It should be noted that if wood garage door panels start to bow, there could be serious other problems with the door as well. These structural problems may first come to the attention of the homeowner through the panels, though it may not be the panel that is the problem. In such cases, it may be best to have a home improvement expert, such as a contractor, come and take a look at the situation and provide some recommended solutions.

One material that has quietly replaced wood in garage doors is steel. These garage door panels have a much better ability to resist the weather than does wood. Further, these garage door panels are more durable than other types of panels, thus providing a longer life. The doors are also lighter than wood, in most cases, which may also be a consideration depending on the power of the garage door opener and the size of the door.

Discussion Comments


@NathanG - While I know that steel is the quiet standard, I still like the look of wood, especially with houses that have a vintage look and feel. Wood just looks more authentic and I think it adds value overall. I don’t know if it’s as solid as steel but it’s still a versatile material for garage doors in my opinion.


I tend to be clumsy and my garage door panels were no exception. I had my car parked inside my garage and tried to back out without looking. I had forgotten to open the garage door.

Yes, I told you I was clumsy. So I ended up backing up into the garage door and denting one of the panels. The bang was deafening.

Fortunately I slammed on the brakes before it got worse, but it was a palpable dent in one of the lower panels. You could definitely see it from the outside, even though it was a steel panel.

I originally planned to get garage door replacement panels to fix the problem, but after some research, I realized that the best thing to do would be to change out the garage door. So I had a brand new garage door put in and tried to be more careful from that point on.


We have a bedroom that is located above our garage. Because there is a bathroom attached to this bedroom, we have to keep the garage heated in the winter even if there is nobody staying in the bedroom.

All the pipes for the bathroom are located in the garage, so we can't let them freeze. After the first year of living in your house, we realized how much we were paying to heat the garage, and needed to do something different.

We now have garage door insulation panels installed and this helps keep the garage a lot warmer. It still costs a lot to heat this area, but the insulation does help quite a bit.


I never gave much thought to how much garage door panels weigh until I had to manually open them up.

The automatic garage door opener on our overhead garage door was not working, so if I wanted to park in the garage, I had to get out to open and shut the door myself.

After trying to do this a couple of times, I decided it was just easier to park my car outside in the driveway until the garage door opener was fixed.

If I am ever looking for a garage door panel replacement, I think I will price something like a steel door which would not be nearly as heavy as the wood doors are.

I also think that steel doors would stand up better to the extreme temperatures we have in the summer and winter.


My husband has a workshop inside of our large garage. It can get really cold out there in the winter time, so we decided to replace our old door with insulated garage door panels.

We got vinyl panels that are designed to keep the heat in and the cold out. My husband uses a space heater out there, but since we installed the insulated panels, he hasn't needed to turn it up as high, and it shuts off automatically when a certain temperature is reached, so we don't use as much electricity as we once did.

It also doesn't get as overwhelmingly hot in there during the summer. Though he generally keeps the door open in warm weather while he's working, at least it doesn't trap so much heat when it is shut.


@lighth0se33 – I don't know a lot about it, but I do think that hinges are involved. Anytime you have hinges in something, it lets the material bend and swerve around at any angle necessary.

For example, the hinges on my cabinet door let me open it up to nearly a 180 degree angle. Imagine if I had another set of hinges in the middle of it. I could fold it into different positions in sections, this way.

I think that sectional garage doors have hinges at intervals that allow the panels to curl up around the railing and go inside the garage. Otherwise, I don't see how wood or steel could accomplish this feat, either.


I'm not mechanical-minded at all, so when it comes to how things work, I often have trouble visualizing the process. For instance, I can't understand how a door made of wood can roll up over a railing.

It blows my mind to see a solid panel fold up around a corner. I don't see how it keeps from shattering into pieces!

Can anyone tell me how this works? I know that the article says the panels can be in sections, but I still don't see how they can maneuver around like that.


It's a good thing that my sister's garage door panels are made of steel, because her little dog is hard on them. He doesn't try to chew them, but he gives them quite a workout at times.

Her garage door is configured to avoid closing on top of any object. So, if it starts to close and it detects that something is in its path, it will automatically retract.

Her dog has figured this out, and he makes a game of it. Whenever she gets home and tries to shut the garage door, he runs back and forth beneath it, making it go up and down halfway over and over.

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