Olly Writes

Woodwork, writing, walks, DIY and more!

Wrapping Up for Winter

Can you feel that cold draught???

Despite the fact that old man winter is already here, I’ve spent this past weekend trying to insulate my awkward up-and-over garage door. One day, I would like to replace this with a pair of solid wooden doors but, right now, my budget won’t allow it as I have other things to focus my limited spending on. This door is the only port of access to my workshop (now that I have tall shelving unit blocking the rear window!) and it’s a real pain having to open and close it when nature calls, for example. Or, when I can hear my dog barking at what is hopefully a courier with my latest tool purchase (and not another Jehova’s Witness or Irishman offering to power wash our drive!!).

Fitting the Grarage Door Draught Excluder.

Not only that but, because of the way in which they operate, there’s plenty of room for cold drafts to creep in and make your working conditions very uncomfortable for most of the year. There is only so much you can do to add draught-proofing without affecting to pivoting action or the locking mechanism. Also, these doors are restricted to a maximum weight limit. Where you would look to stud, insulated and clad your interior walls say, you cannot do that on an up-and-over door as this would simply add too much weight and something could go horribly wrong.

The draught excluder, internally fitted.

So, I’ve been proposing for some time now to do whatever I can to limit the amount of fresh air creeping in to my workshop. This started a few weeks ago when I bought Garin‘s garage door draught excluder from Toolstation. Internally-fitted, I can confidently say that this has made a definite improvement. My feet don’t feel quite as cold as they used to and I no longer have fallen leaves, stale rags or lengths of ribbon-like shavings circulating around my ‘shop floor! There is a groove that sits below the door which you should fill with a bead of sealant – this will prevent water from getting in under the door. Where this particular model has a rubber strip to keep the draughts out, others have a stiff brush – though, I’m not sure what the difference is or whether one is better than the other?

Fitting the insulation board with expanding foam.

This past weekend, I’ve spent a couple of hours insulating the door with sheets of 25mm Jablite polystyrene from B&Q. My main aim here is to hopefully reduce the noise being projected from within my workshop – I’m quite certain than a thin plastic door amplifies the scream of a router. I doubt this will add much to the thermal insulation values (which are already at rock bottom!).

To start off, I drew up a cutting sheet (as most people do before cutting ply or MDF) and start cutting these sheets down to size with a Stanley-type craft knife [mine’s actually a Bessey]. You can also use a bread knife, or so I’m told and there’s no reason a handsaw can’t be used. Few knives will cut 25mm deep so, I had to ‘snap’ each sheet away from another. As they wouldn’t fit in the car, I’m grateful that my dad was able to pick these sheets up for me. Each sheet was 2400mm long but only 600mm wide – this is much easier for one person to handle and, in my situation at least, the 600mm was ideal as it suited the dimensions given between the steel frame (meaning, I had much less cutting to do!). Kingspan, Celotex or another brand of foil-backed insulation board would have been even better, but for the added cost.

How do you secure something as lightweight and fragile as polystyrene?

A little foam can make a lot of mess!!

My solution was to use expanding foam around the edges although, it is still wise to cut each sheet to a reasonably tight fit, as there is no easy way to clamp or ‘cramp’ these sheets in place as the adhesive cures! One concern in using polystyrene is that it is not fire-proof and does give off a toxic gas as it burns. Polyurethane foam won’t stand up to a naked flame, either, which is why I went for a can of the slightly-more-expensive Fire-retardant foam (again, from Toolstation). Instructions require you to moisten the mating surfaces before applying the foam and, also, to lightly spray the foam again when it’s in place, which should help it to cure. You could probably use Gripfill or another construction adhesive although, they do lack the gap-filling properties of polyurethane foam.

Dry foam cleans off easily with a sharp chisel or saw.

I made a right mess of anything within close proximity to the door while doing this and it is advisable to wear the appropriate PPE [Personal Protective Equiptment – goggles, mask, etc.] while doing this as the foam is both flammable and harmful. A can of foam cleaner is also essential in this kind of situation. I really am impressed with this stuff – it did a great job of cleaning my shoes, coat and trousers though, it has no effect once the foam has cured. Dried foam can easily be sawn or chiselled off without effecting the edges on your tools. As Sod’s Law would have it though, I ran out of foam as I reached the final panel – I had to use the last of my Gorilla Glue to lock that one in place, although it still takes the best part of a day to go off at this time of year, even if you moisten the mating surfaces.

It's like a scene from Ghostbusters II!

Polystyrene is also commonly used for packaging, of course – you’ve probably bought the odd machine or power tool and found it protected by the white stuff. Still, it isn’t very durable and, as I have a habit of hitting one thing and knocking another over, I decided it would be best to ‘clad’ the inside face of the door with 4mm thick hardboard. These sheets (scraps I had left over from a temporary patch-up job last year) are fixed to steel frame with pan-head stainless steel self-tapping screws [100 x ½”x6s – I realise now that I should have bought two bags!]. This still required me to drill an endless number of 3mm pilot holes, breaking four HSS drill bits in the process! This alone has taken me the best part of a day and I still intend to paint it white with emulsion. If you’re looking to attempt something similar yourself then, I would strongly advise you to buy the white-faced sheets of hardboard in the first place (they’re not much dearer than the standard brown sheets). In hindsight, I think it would have been better to cut and pre-fix these sheets prior to fitting the insulation boards. That way, I could have used the hardboard to hold each sheet of foam in place – in a couple of areas, I’m guilty of using too much foam, which has actually pushed the sheet out roughly 10mm proud of the frame.

This foam cleaner is excellent! It removes 'wet' foam and cleans inside the nozzle superbly.

Before adding the sheets of hardboard, I was concerned that the additional weight might be too much for the lightweight door… It hasn’t fallen on me yet!! Gluing in the insulation boards seemed to stiffen the door up considerably and, with a squirt of WD40 in all the right places, it was swinging up and down better more smoothly than I’d ever known! Screwing the hardboard to the existing frame has also increased rigidity but, at the same time, added more weight than the sheets of polystyrene combined… I am a little concerned as when the door is lowered to less than half-open (less than 45°, say), it is now ‘self-closing’. From the inside, it’s also a bit of a bugger to open and you can feel the extra weight. With all that in mind, I think it may be best to crank the tension up a bit – fortunately, the instructions glued to the frame remain visible after all this work!

A coat or two of white emulsion should brighten it all up again.

It still needs a coat of emulsion and, seeing as I’m now taking this more seriously than I could previously have imagined, I may also look at sealing the top and vertical side edges – does anyone have any suggestions for either of those? I’d also like to seal the eaves [where the roofing sheets meet the wall plates] with more foam in the future. I know that a lot of heat and noise escapes through there.

Thanks for reading. If you don’t hear from me again before the big day then, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and all the very best for the 2010 and beyond!! I won’t be able to complete the dining table in time now but I feel I have some good ideas for this blog and I’ll hope you’ll stick around long enough to see them come in to fruition.

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One response to “Wrapping Up for Winter

  1. Andy 24/12/2009 at 15:30

    I keep thinking about more insulation and draft proofing in the garage but as you know I’ve working on the house (thanks for reading).
    If you want to try a cheap way of sealing the top and edges – Strips of lino can make flap seals, Thick pile carpet can make brush seals.

    Merry Christmas Olly and a Warmer New Year

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