How to fix a cracked center of a hollow wooden door?
January 5, 2015 8:59 PM   Subscribe

IMAGE I need to fix a hollow wooden door, quick and fast. Is this possible? I only need it to look unnoticeable. Doesn't have to be perfect.
posted by bluelights to Home & Garden (23 answers total)
Response by poster: * quick and cheap, I meant.
posted by bluelights at 9:03 PM on January 5, 2015

I have no idea what the easiest way to fix your kicked-in door is. If you have a way to transport a door you can probably find one that will fit for very little money ($25ish) at a Habitat for Humanity ReStore.
posted by foodgeek at 9:28 PM on January 5, 2015 [5 favorites]

With the wood grain pattern on the exterior and the nature of hollow doors in general, I don't think a quick, cheap, unnoticeable fix is possible.
posted by infinitewindow at 9:37 PM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: thank you! or, alternatively, would Craigslist be a viable option? what about the time/cost/supplies needed to actually install a new door?
posted by bluelights at 9:37 PM on January 5, 2015

Sharp drywall screws in each of the major pieces to create a handle so that you can get ahold of them.
a can of that expanding foam emptied through the crack will help push the broken bits into place.
you may need a board to go across the break to prevent the expanding foam from pushing the broken bits out of the hole until the foam cures .
posted by hortense at 9:47 PM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Buy a sheet of thin plywood, plywood is cheap, have it cut to the same size as your door (whoever sells it to you will cut it for cheap or free) and glue with liquid nails or similar. Tape in place, put something underneath to support the ply while the glue is drying. Lick of paint. Someone you know will have a tin of leftover paint.

If you dont want to have to paint/wait for paint to dry, you can buy a sheet of wood veneer and do the same thing but that will cost more but it will look like new.

Patching the hole will look patched, it's a big hole so will probably be noticeable however you patch it and you'll need to wait for whatever compound to cure before you can sand and paint etc.

Or +1 buying a new cheap door...but beware, doors aren't always square, you might run into problems. We've had to shave edges off solid doors, I don't know what you do about a cheap hollow one if it doesn't fit.
posted by Hillsbillie at 10:12 PM on January 5, 2015 [5 favorites]

I'd just do wood glue (usually ~$3) and see what happens. Based on the picture, looks like it could work. Drill a little hole in the small piece and put in a screw, just a couple turns, to make a decent handle, and tie a string to the screw in case the piece falls in. Then glue around the edge of the big piece, and move the small piece aside to carefully wedge some scrunched paper or something behind the large piece to keep it pressed flush while the glue sets. And quick, while that's happening, very gently wipe off any outside glue with damp paper towel. Then use the handle on the small piece to glue it secure as well (this piece you will have to hold for a couple minutes while the glue sets a little). Let the glue cure before trying to remove the screw. Touch any exposed, unstained wood with instant coffee to darken it. It'll be less of a hole at least, if it's not a disaster.

This concludes this episode of "Yes, My Family Was That Cheap" DIY.
posted by zennie at 10:16 PM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

Unnoticeable? To whom? As the veteran of a lot of busted doors, the way to make it "unnoticeable" is to get a new door, sand it and stain it. It's really not hard to put in a new door that will be just as good. If you just need to get through a security deposit inspection, you might try one of the wood glue solutions upthread or just grab a piece of luan cut to door size and lay it over. If I had to fix something like this as a theater tech, I'd just do luan door-sized and stain.
posted by klangklangston at 10:36 PM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Reinforcing the damage with quick dry spackle, sanding and smoothing it out, and then applying wood veneer or super thin ply wood is your best maybe option - but that is still a 2 day fix and the finnishing supplies and technique are NOT easy. Or cheap.

If I had fucked up like that, here's what I would do:

Wood filler, paintable kind. Sand dried carefully applied wood filler. Carefully touch up the paintable swath of dried and sanded wood filler area with satin type (it looks from your pic) poly-stain that matches the rest of your door. Do not paint the whole door! Poly-stain won't "grab" and it will look like shit.

*pray* my landlord won't notice on final walk- through.

ALTERNATELY: Just replace the door. Hanging a door is not easy. Doors are not super cheap. IDK, I think you might be on the hook for this cost.

Take your best guess. If the damage is towards the bottom, roll the dice with wood filler.

They make colored wood filler. I would not experiment with that for this project.

Good luck.
posted by jbenben at 10:36 PM on January 5, 2015

Cover it with wood grain wallpaper? Quick, cheap and fast.
posted by Gneisskate at 11:23 PM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

With a hole if that size, I think your only option is replacing the entire door: it's not painted, so any damage to the wood grain will remain obvious, no matter how smoothly you manage to glue the pieces back into place. Cutting out the damaged area and putting in a patch would be the equivalent of drawing a big circle and saying "huge hole here!", and covering a patch with paint would do the same. And I'm sorry, but covering the door with something like wood grain wallpaper would be a hugemongeous neon sign to anybody looking for problems.

A whole new door, that's the only real solution here. Sorry.
posted by easily confused at 12:20 AM on January 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

son of a landlord here who replaced many a door, and has repaired several solid core doors.

measure it in every dimension you can think of, go buy another door, smash this door the rest of the way to pieces and put it in the garbage.

anything else is a waste of time. any solution will look like janky shit and immediately be noticeable.

if it's a weird sized or looking door(and it looks pretty standard home depot to me) find your local equivalent of this.
posted by emptythought at 1:01 AM on January 6, 2015 [5 favorites]

Nthing replacing the door. Any half decent hardware store should have hollow core doors in stock. Rehanging can be a pain, but way less of a pain than dicking around trying to fix that mess up, then giving up and going to buy a new door anyway.

Last time I bought a door it was pocket change. Not that I make a habit of breaking doors. They make an excellent desk top, with handy cable management included by way of the door knob cutout. Legs not included.
posted by arha at 1:56 AM on January 6, 2015

Nothing cheaper and easier than replacement is going to work. You are not as well equipped to do the replacement as your landlord is, so just plan on eating the cost. I know that's what you're trying to avoid, but you're pretty much stuck; this is a Humpty Dumpty situation.
posted by jon1270 at 2:22 AM on January 6, 2015

Take the $150 hit on your deposit and roll on.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:45 AM on January 6, 2015

Personally I would try gluing it (exactly as described above, with screws to hold onto the pieces) because the only cost is the glue. If that passes muster with the damage inspection great, if not then you take the hit. I wouldn't bother buying and installing a new door -- that can be a huge pain in the neck from things being out of square and needing to get everything aligned; if you had all those tools you probably wouldn't be asking this question here. Ditto gluing luan over the entire face and restaining -- it would work, but there are a lot of steps to make it work well and it still might be noticeable.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:56 AM on January 6, 2015

Can't tell the height, but since it's at the bottom, would a kick plate cover it? The internet tells me they are mostly 8" tall but can be found at 12". Full disclosure, I don't even know if you can mount a kick plate on a hollow door.
posted by novelgazer at 7:19 AM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Unnoticeable? Is that the side the knob is on? I'd hang a long coat or a large lightweight bag over the doorknob.
posted by phunniemee at 7:30 AM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: It is the side the doorknob is on. Note: the house is shabby anyways. I'm not sure my landlord would even know if it was me who did it, he doesn't care about the place much. But I really want to fix this so he can't hit me with damages due to various compounding factors that are going on right now. I'd rather spend the money myself, but I also (potentially) need to get out of this place fast.
posted by bluelights at 10:47 AM on January 6, 2015

Okay, if you insist.

1. Get some wood putty and level out the door as best as possible. Let it dry. Ask the dude what kind of sandpaper you'll need.

2. Get some Con-Tac paper with a wood look, like this at Home Depot. Do a good job matching the pattern and cover the door. You might want to do both sides, just so it doesn't stick out.


3. Using a brown pencil, sketch in the wood grain, then use a stain/glaze lightly wash over it.

Then don't look at that door again, if you're doing a walk-through your instincts are to let your eyes roam to the thing you most want to conceal. So stare at the rug, or the wall or anyplace else but that door.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:01 AM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Don't do the con-tac paper. That'll never escape anyone's notice. Better to try with the wood glue and sand then stain a little (the guy at the hardware store should be able to help you match the stain). That's your low risk, high payout option, with probably a 30 percent chance they won't notice it if you don't look at it and don't mention it. If you can leave the door open or toss a coat on the knob, do that too. If they do notice, you're out the cost of a new door and labor, but if they don't you're only out the cost of some wood glue, sandpaper, stain and a foam brush. And wood glue and sandpaper are things you should have in general anyway, since they're handy for a ton of different shit.
posted by klangklangston at 11:10 AM on January 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

Will the place still have your stuff in it when the landlord next comes through? If so, I'd try one of the quick fixes others have suggested and then get an over-the-door rack and hang a bunch of towels or coats on it. You can get cheaper ones, that's just the first link I found. It will cover more of the door than just something hanging off the doorknob. Obviously this won't work if the place is already emptied out.
posted by une_heure_pleine at 2:42 PM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

When my brother and I were wrestling in the (rental) house as kids we put a dent (basically a hole) in a hollow core door. My parents had just separated and Mom didn't have much extra money. Her solution? Buy a door size dressing mirror and screw it to the door.
Fortunately this was a bedroom door. The answer may not be an option for you, but hopefully it will help you come up with a solution.
posted by Leenie at 3:29 PM on January 6, 2015 [5 favorites]

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