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Repairing Door Dents & Dings

Dents, dings, and other damage to doors can generally be repaired fairly successfully. The methods to use depend upon the surface material of the door. Here are the methods:

Repairing a Damaged Wood Door

There are many methods for repairing or restoring woodwork, and they work just as well on wood doors.

You can sand out minor scratches, fill gouges with wood putty. Areas or rot and deeper damage are very common and a bit more complicated to handle. To deal with this problem, buy a package of epoxy wood filler, which contains two tubes of material meant to be mixed together immediately before application. Here’s how to fill a damaged area:

Use an old chisel to remove damaged wood and debris.

1Hand-holding an old wood chisel, clean out of all of the loose, damaged wood. Then brush or blow out the area.

2On a disposable surface, mix together equal parts of the two tubes, using a flat, disposable stick or tool (such as a piece of a paint-stirring stick).

Pack the damaged area with epoxy putty.

3Pack the epoxy inside the hole, forcing it into every nook and cranny. Smooth the surface just below the plane of the door’s surface. Then allow it to set up completely, according to label directions.

4Apply exterior vinyl spackling compound, using a putty knife. Finish it so that it is smooth and flat with the door’s surface. Allow it to dry.

Apply exterior spackling compound, allow to dry, and then sand.

5Use fine sandpaper to sand the area. Then prime with an exterior primer, allow the primer to dry, and paint to match.

If major areas are damaged or rotted, replace them by cutting away the damaged area and gluing in a new matching piece. For a panel in a Colonial-style door that’s cracked or split, you may be able to re-glue it without removing it from the rest of the door.

If you have to remove a panel or replace it completely, try prying off the moldings that surround it and hold it in place. On some panel doors the moldings are routed in and can?t be removed. In this case, one option is to cut away these integral moldings carefully. After you?ve fixed the panel, buy new moldings to match the rest of the door?s trim.

Repairing a Fiberglass Door

To repair a fiberglass front door that has a dent or a ding, buy a Corvette body repair kit at an auto parts store and follow the label directions to prepare and apply the filler so that it is flat with the surface.

Once you’ve finished the repair, prime the patch with 100% acrylic latex primer, and then paint the entire door with 100% acrylic latex paint.

Repairing a Dented Steel Door

To repair a dent in a steel door, buy auto body filler at an auto parts store and follow the label directions. With most types, you sand down the dented area until you reach bare metal and then apply the filler in thin layers to build up the patch. When the filler is flush with the surface of the door, sand it smooth. Prime the patch with 100% acrylic latex primer, and then paint the entire door with 100% acrylic latex paint.


About Don Vandervort
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Don Vandervort developed his expertise more than 30 years ago as Building Editor for both Sunset Books and Home Magazine. He has written more than 30 home improvement books and countless magazine articles. He appeared regularly on HGTV’s “The Fix,” and served as MSN’s home expert. Don founded HomeTips in 1996.

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