Renovation & Design

These numbers don’t lie

But they do cover up an OOPS with style

Vertical numbers were ordered from Amazon and a custom and clever backing was created.

Photos by Marc LaBossiere / Winnipeg Free Press

The house numbers are mounted to the overhead door to hide damage on two of the panels.

Damage to the overhead door occurred when Marc was getting familiar with his new tractor.

A few weeks ago an unfortunate and unexpected scenario presented itself to my dismay.

While familiarizing myself with my new John Deere 3046R tractor, ahead of the impending snowfall and subsequent clearing, my right foot hit the forward pedal instead of the reverse (which is beside the forward pedal just to the right). The resulting action forced the front bucket of the tractor into the overhead door of the third garage stall of my house. Although the damage was debilitating to the door, immediate repairs to the mechanics of the inner rollers and track got the door operational again. However, the door’s exterior esthetics proved beyond mending.

Anyone with a garage would attest to the fears of causing damage to overhead doors — they aren’t cheap to fix. Major blemishes to my three overhead doors had been avoided for nearly 20 years, until now.

Several of the rollers had popped completely out of the spindle housings, and the door was left dangling on one side until the rollers were put back together, and remounted onto the backside of the door panels.

Even with the door mechanisms in place, it was clear to me over the next few days that the gouge along the door had become a constant reminder of my brief absentmindedness.

The first step was to contact my overhead door dealer and request a quote on the individual panel replacements, knowing full well that over time, the existing panels will have sun-faded substantially making them virtually impossible to match. As such, it was likely the entire door would need to be replaced. However, since there are three doors of the same style, it would be probable that the two outer nine-by-nine-foot doors in the very least, would need to be replaced to maintain a match. Arguably, the first inset nine-by-eight-foot door could be retained. However, any colour discrepancy would also drive me crazy over time. A quote to replace all three doors was also requested, so a well-informed decision could be made.

The initial information forwarded by my dealer was not encouraging. Because of the age of my doors the existing panel thickness was no longer manufactured, meaning single-panel replacement was not an option. The style of door window inserts was also no longer available. If an entire door was to be replaced the new style would clash with the existing doors. And finally, replacing all three doors would set me back nearly $12,000 plus taxes and could take 90 days before they are installed. Clearly — replacing all the doors was not the way to go.

After pondering my quandary for a few days that quickly became weeks, an idea popped into my head that would eliminate having to replace anything “overhead door” related. The damaged door could be retained by mounting something decorative over the damaged area to hide the unsightly gouges. Finding the right “something” would be key. And then it dawned on me — house numbers! By mounting house numbers vertically from the top of the damaged panel (second from the ground), continuing to the lowest panel with very little dents visible, the area would be once again pleasing to the eye (and my pride restored).

The hunt for custom house numbers on was brief and effective. A company that mounts numbers onto a solid plastic backing was located, and an order for two vertical pieces was placed. On the top portion three numbers were requested and two numbers were picked for the bottom. After receiving the two separate vertical pieces the next week, the metal numbers were promptly removed from the plastic backings, as customization was required. The bottom of the top backing was cut down, as was the top of the bottom backing to ensure that the gaps between all numbers remain consistent from the top piece to the bottom. The plastic backings were then primed and painted chocolate brown to match the trim of the house. To increase the coverage area of the two numbered pieces, 18-gauge steel was cut to create secondary backings for each piece. Before mounting the metal to the plastic, each sheet was primed and sprayed with a copper metal paint. The two were then assembled for installation onto each of the affected garage door panels.

To ensure the 3D profile of the raised numbers would clear the overhead door jamb when the door is being opened or closed, 2x4s of similar heights were temporarily taped to the panel fronts. As anticipated, there was more than enough gap to clear the jamb after initiating an opening and closing sequence. The upper portion of the house numbers was first fastened to the higher garage door panel, by drilling holes along the panel through to the interior, using the pre-drilled metal backing as a guide. Decorative bolts were pushed through the holes of the copper metal backing and fastened along the inside using washers and locking nuts. The lower portion of the house numbers was then fastened to the lower door panel in the same manner. Slight adjustments in placement were made to ensure both panels were level and properly spaced at the seam of the door panels, to guarantee the panels continue to maneuver independently during operation. Once fully installed, the door was again tested. To my delight, the damage was now totally hidden by the custom house numbers. And it only cost roughly $250 all inclusive, plus a bit of my time — a far cry from the cost to replace all three overhead doors just to get them all to match. Although an unfortunate event, it proved to be a fun little project.

It’s fair to wonder why such minor damage had me so bent out of shape. Once the door was operational again the gouging was hardly noticeable. Trust me, the thought of leaving it alone definitely crossed my mind, especially when factoring having to work outside in sub-zero temperatures. That being said, the damage, although nominal and virtually undetectable until up close, would have gnawed at me each and every time my eyes glanced in that direction. Something needed to be done to eliminate the constant reminder of my momentary lapse of focus — that kind of stuff drives me bananas!

Fortunately, this unconventional fix seems to have appeased my door damage anxiety. Even though we all now know it’s still under there hiding, at least it’s no longer a burden on my soul. The added bonus was the cost of this “fix” was a much easier pill to swallow than the hefty price of replacing all three doors.

The John Deere, in case you’re wondering, is fine — and my feet have it all figured out now.


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