How to repair a hole in a hollow-core door

Written by cat mccabe
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How to repair a hole in a hollow-core door
Use a utility knife to trim the edges of the hole. (folding utility knife image by Christopher Dodge from

Cheap and lightweight, hollow-core doors are a common choice for home interiors and are found in many bedrooms, bathrooms and closets. Unfortunately, they don't dampen sound well, and they are easily damaged and punctured by anything from the corner of a piece of furniture being moved to a kick from a stiletto heel. Hollow-core doors are harder to repair than solid-wood doors. You can't just dab the hole with putty, then sand, paint and forget it. Still, repair is possible with a few simple tools you wouldn't think were intended for this purpose.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Screwdriver and hammer (optional)
  • Utility knife
  • Fine-grit sandpaper
  • Expanding-foam insulation
  • Wood putty
  • Putty knife
  • Primer
  • Paint

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  1. 1

    Remove door bolts at the hinge. These bolts should slip out easily. If they need a little help, set the flat edge of a screwdriver against the top of the bolt and tap the end of the screwdriver with a hammer to pop each bolt out.

  2. 2

    Lay the door flat on the floor with the hole facing up. Trim away torn pieces of wood with a utility knife and sand the edges smooth with fine-grit sandpaper.

  3. 3

    Spray expanding-foam insulation directly into the hole, holding the nozzle close to it and pointed straight down. Continue spraying until the foam protrudes from the hole. Let it dry.

  4. 4

    Cut off the excess insulation with the utility knife until the filled hole is a slight depression. This will leave a porous, rough surface to which the wood putty can adhere. Spread enough wood putty to fill the depression and level it with a putty knife. Let it dry, then sand and repeat until the surface is smooth.

  5. 5

    If the wood putty does not exactly match, or the hole is too noticeable because of its location, prime and paint the door. Allow several hours between priming and painting, and after painting. Set the door back on its hinges and restore the bolts.

Tips and warnings

  • Install doorstops to prevent hollow-core doors from being damaged when they strike walls, and to keep doorknobs from damaging drywall.
  • Patching a hole in a hollow-core door may not be a permanent fix. Another hit in the same place will most likely cause the hole to open up again.

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