House & Home

5 DIY Repairs for Damaged Doors

Posted January 1, 2015

Scratches, dents, or holes in your door are quite unsightly. And when you have to fight to open a door that refuses to swing freely or on the contrary, it shakes, rattles, and rolls in its frame, you'll probably feel justifiably annoyed. The good news is that it's often fairly simple for the home handyperson to repair door problems or breakage. Here are 5 DIY fixes for damaged doors.

1. The door is hard to open. When a door stops swinging freely, it's usually due to the wood rubbing against the frame. Your first move should be to check the hinges. It could well be that tightening the hinge screws will suffice to solve the problem. Otherwise, you may need to trim excess paint or wood from your door. To locate the parts that are rubbing, try inserting a thin sheet of cardboard between the door and its jamb. Mark the problematic areas with pencil. You may be able to take care of the trouble without taking the door off its hinges if the cause is paint buildup; just shave it with a chisel and sand it smooth. If you must remove the door, find an assistant to help you. Then use a planer or belt sander to plane the edge.

2. The door rattles in its frame. The strike plate may have become recessed due to multiple coats of paint. This is an easy DIY door repair. Simply unscrew the strike plate and add a shim that you've cut out of cardboard. Replace the strike plate. Another fix for a door that rattles is to file the strike plate so that the latch bolt will align with it properly. A third, more drastic, solution is to remove the strike plate and reattach it in a new location. For an exterior door, apply weather stripping. This will work to both stop door rattling and exclude drafts.

3. The hinge screws have pulled out of a particleboard door. When this happens, the screws often take a good chunk of particleboard with them. Fix the door hinges yourself with gap-filling glue. Just clear out any damaged wood, loose chips, and dust. Protect the moving parts of the hinge with Vaseline or other petroleum jelly and sand the cup portion lightly. Immediately after coating the hole with glue, insert the hinge cup, followed by the screws. Weight the hinge in place and allow to dry completely before you reinstall the door.

4. Your sliding door does not glide smoothly. After a few years of use, your sliding door may become difficult to open and close. Oftentimes, a good cleaning is all it will take to get the door sliding smoothly again. Vacuum the tracks, then wash with hot water and soap. Scrub with a toothbrush if necessary to remove deep down dirt. Try the doors; if they are still sticky, check to see whether the rollers need adjustment, to either make them even or raise the entire door slightly. Still not working right? You may have to uninstall the door and replace the rollers.

5. The door has a scratch or hole. Minor scratches can be sanded, while putty or epoxy filler will most likely be needed to fill in major scrapes and breaks in your door. Repair a hole in a hollow-core door by filling it with spray foam insulation. Let dry, trim, and apply spackling compound. Let dry once again. After sanding the surface , prime and paint to cover the patch.

Laura Firszt writes for


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