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How to Fix a Hole in a Door

Monday April 8th, 2024
Fixing a hole in a door is simpler than you might think. You don't need to be a pro. With the right tools and steps, anyone can repair a door—whether it's hollow or solid wood. Here's what to do:

How to Fix a Hole in a Door

  1. Gather Supplies 
  2. Prepare the Door 
  3. Fill the Hole
  4. Trim the Foam 
  5. Apply Filler
  6. Sand the Door
  7. Texture and Paint
Dealing with a damaged door can be intimidating, especially if you've never had to repair a hole in a door or wall before. But don't worry, the process is more straightforward than it seems. With some basic tools and a bit of guidance, you'll have it looking as good as new in no time

How to Fix a Hole in a Door 

By following these easy step-by-step instructions, you’ll have a repaired door in no time and add a new skill to your toolkit. Let’s get started! 

1. Gather Supplies 

First, gather all the supplies you’ll need to start and finish the job. Essentially, this project will require you to fill the hole and then add spray foam insulation. Once hardened, you scrape off the insulation and apply a filler. This is then sanded down and topped with primer and paint. 

Supplies you’ll need: 
  • Tarp, drop cloth, or fabric sheet for your working area
  • Rubber gloves 
  • Newspaper, loose paper, cardboard, or paper towels
  • Low-expansion spray foam insulation (purchase one specifically for windows and doors)
  • A dowel (optional—used for solid wood doors) 
  • Utility knife 
  • Filler for the hole (wood filler, auto body filler, or spackling)
  • Putty knife
  • Sandpaper (120 grit)
  • Sanding block or orbital sander 
  • Disposable rags 
  • Paintbrush, primer, and paint
  • Masking tape (optional) 
  • Room temperature vulcanizing (RTV) silicone rubber (optional—used for mimicking the door’s texture)
  • Polyester or acrylic resin (optional—used for mimicking the door’s texture)
  • Hammer and flathead screwdriver (optional—needed if removing the door)
  • Worktable, bench, or sawhorses (optional) 
Tip: Wear old work clothes and rubber gloves for this project, as the spray foam insulation can be a bit messy

2. Prepare the Door 

For best results, remove the door from its hinges and lay it flat on a workbench or table. To remove a door from its hinges, tap out the pins of each hinge with a hammer and flathead screwdriver. 

Removing the door isn’t necessary, but working on a level surface makes this project much easier. Plus, the spray foam can be messy, so working with these materials in a garage or shop may be better than inside a house. 

If you leave your door up and choose to work with it in a home, prepare the space around the door. Put a drop cloth or old sheet where you’ll be working to protect the floor. Spray foam is extremely difficult to clean if it ends up on the floor or on furniture.

Once your space is ready, prepare the damaged door by cleaning the hole’s rough edges with a utility knife. You’ll want to create a somewhat smooth edge around the hole’s perimeter. Remove any soft edges around the hole or where the wood’s structural integrity is compromised. 

If repairing a solid wood door, you’ll want to use a dowel about the same size as the hole. In this case, prepare the hole and widen it if necessary to so that the dowel fits perfectly. 

3. Fill the Hole 

Once you have your door and the hole fully prepped, it's time to fill the hole with loose paper/newspaper for a hollow door or a wooden dowel for a solid wood door. 

With a hollow core door, stuff crumbled up paper or newspaper into the door’s hollow cavity all around the hole, sealing the gap between the hole opening and the rest of the door. This creates a parameter for the insulating foam so that it stays concentrated in the area. 

Next, follow the instructions on the spray insulating foam can. You’ll likely have to shake it vigorously and insert the included straw into the nozzle. Wear rubber gloves for this step, as you don’t want the foam to get on your skin. 

Once the spray foam container is ready with its nozzle, and you’ve read the instructions for proper use, place the straw in the back of the hole. Spray in a circular motion. Once the hole is filled about two-thirds of the way, stop spraying. 

The foam will continue to expand for a few moments after you stop spraying. If the hole isn’t completely filled after allowing the foam to expand, spray a little more. It’s okay if the foam expands outside the hole—this is actually preferred to ensure the hole is completely filled. 

Before going to the next step, allow the foam insulation to fully cure. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for how long you should wait, but it will typically take 24 hours. 

For a solid wood door, you can either fill the hole with spray foam insulation as described above (loose paper in the hole isn’t necessary) or fit a wood dowel into the hole. 

If using a dowel, measure the distance between the back of the hole and the door’s surface and cut the dowel to size. You don’t want the dowel to protrude out of the hole. Apply wood glue to the back of the dowel and place it firmly in the hole. Allow the wood glue to dry completely before moving on to the next step.

4. Trim the Foam 

If you are using a wood dowel to repair a hole in a solid wood door, skip this step and move on to the next. 

After you’ve allowed the spray foam insulation to cure, you can continue with your door repair by trimming the foam. 

Using a utility knife, place the knife at the top of the foam so the knife is parallel to the door’s surface. You need the foam to be flush with the door’s surface, so cut the foam with the knife as close to the door’s surface as possible. If you have trouble removing all the excess foam with a knife, use sandpaper to smooth everything out and to ensure it’s as flush as possible. 

During this process, you may remove a little too much foam, resulting in a slight indention in the hole. This is OK, as it will be covered with filler in the next step. 

5. Apply Filler 

Now that the foam is completely flush with the door’s surface or the wood glue on the dowel is dry, it’s time to apply a filler. You can use wood filler, autobody filler, or a spackling compound. The strongest but most expensive filler is the autobody filler. This filler will result in a strong, durable, and permanent repair. Wood filler is the next best option and is more affordable, followed by a spackle compound. 

If applying an autobody filler, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper use. Some brands require you to mix the base autobody filler with a hardening agent before applying it to the door. Mix the base filler and hardening agent on a piece of cardboard to activate it. 

Whether you’re using auto body filler or wood filler, use a plastic putty knife to apply the filler to the hole. Smooth it out as much as possible—it’s better to apply more and have the filler protrude from the hole than to not apply enough (you’ll sand it down in the next step). 

Let the filler cure completely before moving on to the next step—check the manufacturer's instructions to see how long you should wait.  

Tip: If you have a stained wooden door, it’s best to use a wood filler that matches the stain color of your door. Matching stain colors is difficult, so consider painting the entire door. 

6. Sand the Door 

Once the filler or wood putty has cured, sand it down with 120 sandpaper and a sanding block or orbiting sander. Start with 120-grit and then work your way up to 220-grit, which will produce a smooth finish. If you want it to be extremely smooth and polished, you can work up to 320-grit sandpaper. While this isn’t necessary, will give it an extra smooth coating. 

Tip: Grit refers to the roughness of the sandpaper; the higher the number, the smoother the sandpaper is. 

7. Texture and Paint

If your door has a smooth (non-textured) surface, the final step in this door repair project is priming and painting the door. Some wood fillers don’t require primer, but most auto body fillers will need a coat of primer for proper paint adhesion. Plus, a coat of primer will minimize the number of paint coats you’ll need to conceal the wood filler, so it may be best to apply primer even if it’s not necessary for your filler. 

Once the primer has dried, paint over it with a color that matches the door. If your door is stained, it will be more difficult to match the patch to the rest of the wood, so you’ll want to make sure your wood filler matches the door stain and that you choose the same stain color as the rest of the door. 

Consider re-painting the entire door so that there is an even color consistency. If you decide to re-paint the whole door, be sure to clean it first.

After applying a couple layers of paint or stain, let it dry for about 24 hours and re-assess your work. At this point, you can call it good or apply another coat if necessary. 

If you have a textured door, consider making a texture mold so that the repair blends seamlessly with the rest of the door. Follow these instructions for making a texture mold. 

Tip: If you’ve never painted a door before, check out our step-by-step instructions on how to paint a door.  

When Should I Replace a Door? 

In some instances, it’s best (and more cost-effective) to replace the door rather than repair it. This is especially true for a hollow core interior door that is relatively cheap to replace. However, whether you have a hollow core or solid wood door, you’ll want to replace your door if: 
  • The hole is larger than six inches.
  • The door has multiple holes and cracks.
  • The door’s overall structural integrity is weak.
  • The hole punched through the other side of the door.
  • It’s an exterior hollow core door. 
Lastly, a damaged door is an opportunity for you to invest in a new, high-quality, solid wood door. This is something to seriously consider if you have an exterior hollow core door. These doors are more susceptible to damage, and are less energy efficient than exterior solid wood doors. 

Seamless Door Fixes and Stylish Upgrades

Now that you know how to fix a hole in a door, small holes and minor damage won't bother you. With the right materials, you can quickly repair the door and make it look brand new. It's a satisfying skill to have, whether you're experienced in home repairs or this is your first project.

If you’ve determined it’s better to replace your door—or you simply just want a new door—check out Rustica’s impressive selection of handcrafted, designer doors. We offer everything from barn doors to exterior doors and more!  

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