How to Make a Self-Closing Garage Service Door

Updated: Sep. 08, 2023

Bring a fire rated garage entry door up to code with this simple retrofit.

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The service door between an attached garage and a house must be self-closing as a protection against fire. Here's a simple way to add a closer to the door and bring your house up to code.

Tools Required

  • 4-in-1 screwdriver
  • Cordless drill
  • Drill bit set

Materials Required

  • Self-closing hinge or door closer

Project step-by-step (3)

Step 1

Self-closing hinges

Replace two of the existing hinges with self-closing hinges.

If you plan to use self-closing hinges, take the original middle hinge to your home center or lumberyard, and find self-closing hinges with plates the same size as the ones already on the door. You may have to chisel the edge of the door to get a new square-cornered hinge to fit in mortises machined for round-cornered hinges.

Self-closing hinges look much like ordinary hinges except they have a bigger barrel to house the internal spring that makes them self-closing. Switch hinges one at a time so you won’t have to remove the door, then wind and adjust the springs with the tools and instructions provided.

Adjusting Self Closing HingesTMB Studio

Step 2

Door closer

Use a door closer if hinge replacement is not a good option or you need a little more power and control.

Door closers work well for odd or old doors that have hard-to-match hinges. They’re also a good choice if the existing trim won’t allow for the extra thickness of the barrel found on self-closing hinges. You can mount them on either side of the door. Drilling templates and installation instructions come with the closer.

Adjusting Door CloserTMB Studio

Step 3

It’s code in most areas that the entry door to an attached garage be “fire-rated” and have self-closing hinges. The purpose is to keep a garage fire from spreading to the house. But don’t worry—making this door self-closing is as simple as changing two or three of the door’s hinges or installing a door closer at the top of the door. It’ll cost about the same to go either route, and either is acceptable.

Whether you use closer or self-closing hinges, adjust the mechanism so the fire-rated garage entry door closes and latches on its own from a wide-open position.