How to Fix a Hole in a Door

How to fix a hole in a door

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Project Overview
  • Working Time: 20 - 40 mins
  • Total Time: 1 - 2 days
  • Yield: Fix 3-inch hole in door
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $15 to $25

Holes in doors are common due to their fragile nature. Pressed-board skins of hollow core doors are easily punctured. But you can learn how to fix a door with just a couple of supplies: spray expanding foam and acrylic latex filler.

Materials to Fix a Hole in a Door

  • Spray expanding foam: Expanding foam insulation in a can fills the hollow space within the door and creates a base for the top coat of acrylic latex filler. Purchase low-expansion foam filler designed for gaps and cracks.
  • Acrylic latex filler: Use an exterior acrylic latex filler (like DAP Platinum Patch) as a sandable top coat. Acrylic latex filler cures hard yet remains flexible. Avoid using spackle or drywall compound, as these will crumble with the door movement.

Safety Considerations

Expanding spray foam will damage hard flooring, carpeting, and the door itself. Always wear eye protection, gloves, and proper work clothes when using spray foam. Protect the door and the immediate area.

Clean fresh spray foam from the skin with a soft cloth and vegetable oil. Once the foam has dried, it can only be removed mechanically by gently abrading it.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 1 utility knife
  • 1 hacksaw blade
  • 1 putty knife
  • 1 drywall knife, 4-inch
  • 1 foam sanding block
  • 1 pair latex or nitrile gloves
  • 1 eye protection

Materials

  • 1 can low expansion spray foam
  • 1 acrylic latex exterior filler
  • 1 scrap newspaper or grocery bag
  • 1 scrap cardboard

Instructions

  1. Protect Door and Work Area

    Lay plastic sheeting on the floor, directly under the hole. Because the foam will expand and may cascade down the door, tape paper or plastic on the face of the door, from the hole down to the floor.

  2. Clean the Hole

    Pull off loose, broken areas of the door. Use the utility knife to carefully carve away the hole's ragged edges.

  3. Add a Barrier Around the Hole

    Bunch up the newspaper and force it into the hole. Form a ring around the hole (on the inside) to prevent the foam from spreading throughout the rest of the door. The ring must be tight and solid, with no gaps.

  4. Add Foam to the Hole

    Wearing personal protection, add spray foam to the hole in the door. Work slowly and stop frequently to give the foam time to expand. Start at the bottom of the hole and gradually work upward. Use small strips of cardboard to force the foam into the hole. Fill the entire hole.

    Tip

    The spray foam should bulge out from the door. After the foam has dried, it will later be cut flush with the door.

  5. Let the Foam Cure

    In the first hour or two, frequently check up on the foam and remove excess foam before it spills down the door. Use disposable material like cardboard to catch the foam. Give the spray foam at least 24 hours to harden.

  6. Trim the Excess Foam

    Hold the two ends of the hacksaw blade against the door, above the foam bulge. Saw the blade side to side to cut off the foam bulge.

    Tip

    An oscillating multitool is a good tool for trimming the expansion foam flush to the door surface.

  7. Abrade the Foam

    With the putty knife and sanding block, clean up the foam surface and edges of the hole so that they are flush with the rest of the door. Next, abrade the foam with the rough side of the sanding block to lower it about 1/16-inch below the surface of the door.

    Tip

    Acrylic latex filler does not work for skim coating. Sanding away some foam provides space for more filler to be applied, giving the filler a better grip.

  8. Add the Patch Material

    Scoop the filler from the container onto the door with the putty knife. Switch to the 4-inch drywall knife to smooth over the patch and bring it flush with the rest of the door. Wait two to four hours. Check the patch for pits or depressions. Patch over again as needed.

  9. Sand the Patch

    Run the fine-grit side of the sanding block over the patch to smooth out the patch and to bring it flush with the door.

  10. Prime and Paint the Door

    Prime and paint the patch and the door. For the patch to blend in with the door, the entire door should be painted.

When to Call a Professional

Hiring a home repair professional to fix a hollow core door may not be worthwhile compared to replacing the entire door. But if you do need to replace the door, a professional can help with preparing and installing a new door slab into an existing door frame.

FAQ
  • Is it worth it to fix a hole in a door?

    Yes, it is usually worth it to fix a hole in a door rather than replace the door. A new hollow core interior slab door costs around $75 to $100. So, it is less expensive to fix a hole in a door than to replace it. Fixing a door is easier since a slab door will need to have mortises cut for the hinges.

  • How do you simulate wood grain in a patched door?

    An electric rotary tool can produce a reasonably accurate simulation of wood grain once the filler has fully cured.