How Do You Get Rust Off a Garage Door: Step by Step Guide
garage door rust

If your garage door is made of older steel materials, it may eventually corrode due to rain, humid air, road salt, snow, and other corrosive materials. Rust takes away the beauty of garage doors. Not to mention, it can compromise your door’s integrity and ability to keep moisture and dirt out of the garage.


Garage doors often start rusting at the bottom panel and spread from there. Rust spreads much quicker than you might initially believe when left unattended. So, when you notice that the garage door starts to get rust spots or decays, it’s essential to tackle the problem right away.

How Do You Get Rid of Rust on a Garage Door?

There are two options for getting rid of garage door rust. The best method depends on the amount of rusting and how much money and time you have to finish the project.

Method 1: Getting Rid of Rust Spots

garage door rust

If you deal with the garage door rust as soon as you start noticing rust spots, the job wouldn’t be as time and effort-consuming. This option works well if there are only a few rust spots on the garage door. 

It’s also the less expensive and quicker option, depending on the amount of rust you need to deal with. 

What Do You Need?

  • Warm water
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • White vinegar
  • Sponge or cloth
  • Steel wool pad
  • Sandpaper
  • Paint primer
  • Rust-resistant paint
  • Paintbrush

Step 1: Clean the entire door using a solution made of warm water and dishwashing liquid. Rinse the door with tap water and allow it to dry. 

Step 2: Soak a piece of fabric or sponge on white vinegar and use it for spot treating rusted areas in the garage door. The high acid content of white vinegar will dissolve the rust, making it easier to brush it off. Repeat this step until you treated all rust spots. It may take some time and effort, depending on how many rust spots are in there.

Step 3: Use the steel wool pad to rub and wipe away the garage door rust. Repeat the process until the garage door panel is clean. 

Step 4: Sand the vinegar-treated rust spots. Ensure to cover at least a 2-inch perimeter around them to eliminate any possibility of rusting later on. Repeat the step until you sanded all rusted areas. Then blow or wipe off any debris. 

Step 5: Use the paintbrush to apply the primer on sanded areas. Wait for the primer to dry or as long as indicated in the product label, then paint the primed garage door.

Method 2: Getting Rid of an Entire Door

garage door rust

This option is more time and effort-consuming, but it’s the best approach in dealing with a large amount of garage door rust. You might also want to choose this method for the better assurance that rusting won’t come back. 

What Do You Need?

  • Hand sander
  • Sandpaper (fine-grit, medium-grit, and coarse-grit)
  • Auto body filler and putty knife
  • Warm water
  • Trisodium phosphate cleaner
  • Drop cloths, masking paper, and painter’s tape
  • Rust-inhibiting paint primer
  • Rust-resistant paint
  • Paintbrush or paint sprayer

Step 1: Start by scraping away loose and damaged paint flakes caused by the garage door rust. Then proceed with sanding the rusted garage door using the coarse-grit sandpaper. The hand sander will make this process faster than when sanding by hand. But you might have to use just the coarse-grit sheet for filing hard-to-reach corners. 

Step 2: Replace the coarse-grit with medium-grit sandpaper, then start sanding the entire garage door to smoothen any rough areas. While sanding, check the panel closely for any small holes or dents caused by the garage door rust. 

Step 3: If you noticed any imperfections in the door pane, repair them using the auto body filler and the putty knife. Ensure that you use the appropriate filler and not wood or spackle filler as they won’t adhere to the garage door well. 

Step 4: Wait for the auto body filler to dry and smoothen out any repair using the fine-grit sandpaper. 

Step 5: Get a bucket and combine warm water and the TSP cleaner, as suggested in the product label. Soak a sponge or a piece of fabric in the cleaning solution and process cleaning the entire garage door. Once done, rinse well with water and let it dry. 

Step 6: Cover the garage door handles with masking paper and secure them with painter’s tape. Do the same in the walls around the doors or any nearby window panes. Lastly, place the drop cloth on the ground, under the garage door. 

Step 7: Apply the paint primer by hand using a paintbrush. But if you want to make the process quicker, you can use a paint sprayer. The paint sprayer also gives a smoother finish without the paint drips you get from using a paintbrush or roller. Apply a single coat of your primer to the entire garage door and let it dry for as long as the product container recommended. 

Step 8: After the suggested drying time, apply the first coat of the rust-resistant paint. Use a paintbrush or paint sprayer as you prefer. Once the first coat dries, apply the second coat, but this step is only optional. Remember, only paint your garage door during a warm day. Painting in cold and snowy weather is only a sure recipe for disaster.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you paint over rust on a garage door?

You can, but it’s not recommended. Painting over garage door rust without cleaning and treating the spot first might be a quick cover-up, but it’s not a long-lasting solution. Covering rust spots with paint doesn’t get rid of them. They are still there and will continue to spread throughout the garage door panel. 

How long does it take for a garage door to rust?

It depends on local climate conditions, construction quality, and maintenance. If you live in a coastal region, there’s a high risk of garage door rust due to the humid salt air. 

But ultimately, with proper care and maintenance, you can expect a quality garage door to last for at least 15 years.

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