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How to Restore a Wood Door After Damage

Post by on June 15th, 2020

Wood doors add a special kind of rustic charm to a home’s exterior and interior spaces. However, beautiful wood doors tend to be more susceptible to damage than other types of doors. From an accident to excessive weathering, wood doors are vulnerable to many types of damage that leave them in desperate need of repair and restoration.

Fortunately, a damaged wood door does not always call for a total replacement. If your interior or exterior wood doors suffer damage from any of the following circumstances, you may be able to restore them by following these situation-specific instructions.

Keep in mind that the lighter your wood doors are, the greater the risk for physical damage. Hollow-core wood doors, for example, tend to sustain more serious damage from cracks, punctures and holes than those with solid cores.

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Cracked Panels

Cracked panels on wood doors can range from minor to serious on the damage scale. However, most cracked panels can be repaired with the following steps for each door:

  1. Make sure the door is clean and flat. Smooth away any jagged edges along the crack with a sander.
  2. Insert a wooden spline to test the fit. Then remove it and apply a hefty amount of glue to the crack.
  3. Place the spline back inside and apply pressure until the glue dries.
  4. Chisel off any excess from the spline and sand the crack until smooth.
  5. Reapply the finish and paint before returning the door to its hinges.

Rotted Wood

Fixing this issue depends on the extent of the rot. If it is minor, you can perform these repairs on each of your rotted doors:

  1. Remove the rotted wood with a sharp tool, such as a 5-in-1.
  2. Coat the area with a wood hardener and fill the recess with wool filler.
  3. As the filler begins to harden, cut off the excess with a sharp tool. You will typically have 10 to 15 minutes before it hardens too much.
  4. After the filler hardens completely, sand out the excess and refinish or repaint as needed.

Punctures and Holes

Punctures and holes are common problems for hollow-core wood doors. Minor holes on wood doors can be fixed with the following steps:

  1. Cut loose or jagged wood away from the edges of the hole using a 5-in-1 or other sharp tool.
  2. We recommend that you fill the hole with expanding foam insulation — even if your wood door does not have insulation already.
  3. Wait overnight until the insulation dries, then cut or sand off the excess insulation.
  4. Apply a wood filler or spackle to the surface to help restore structural integrity.
  5. When the surface is dry, you can repaint as needed.

Chipped Wood

Chipping is a common issue for both interior and exterior wood door configurations. However, chips are easy to repair with this simple method:

  1. Cut or sand off any splintered or jagged edges from the chipped area.
  2. Prepare your wood filler and apply it to the damaged area with a putty knife or similar tool.
  3. Shape the filler with your knife blade to accommodate the door’s shape. Add another layer of filler if needed.
  4. When the filler dries, sand off the excess until the surface is completely smooth.
  5. Reapply the paint or stain.


Fixing dents in wood doors is a relatively simple task. Here are the steps to refinishing interior wood doors suffering from dents:

  1. Clean the surface of the door to eliminate dust and other debris before performing any internal door restoration.
  2. When the area is dry, sand it lightly to remove any small protrusions.
  3. Fill the dent with wood filler and use a putty knife or similar tool to smooth the surface before the filler has a chance to harden.
  4. Once the wood filler has dried, gently sand the area until it forms a smooth, level surface.
  5. Reapply your desired stain or paint to the dry surface. Keep in mind that if you are using a stain, you need to purchase a sustainable wood filler.

when to get a door replaced

When Repairing Will Not Cut It

Sometimes, repairing, stripping and refinishing wood doors will not be enough to restore them to their proper state. In such cases, you will need to replace your doors. But when do you know when your interior or exterior wood doors are beyond repair?

  • Your doors have extensive mold coverage.
  • The repairs you previously made are not holding up.
  • Your door panels have gaping holes or cracks that cannot be fixed with the methods listed above.
  • Your doors are warped.
  • Your doors have extensive water or insect damage.
  • There are issues with improper function.
  • You notice temperature changes due to cracks or holes in your doors.

While every contractor would rather salvage wood doors than replace them, repairing will not always be possible. When you need to replace your building’s wood doors completely, turn to us at Manhattan Door for a wide selection of high-quality wooden doors.

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