How to fix a hole in a door – a step-by-step guide for hollow and solid doors

Find out how to fix a hole in a door yourself and make it look good as new

White Georgian style internal doors with white wood and glass antique cabinet
(Image credit: OnlineDoorStore)

Want to know how to fix a hole in a door so you can DIY rather than having to call in a contractor? It’s a straightforward job you definitely can do yourself even if you’re not an experienced home improver, so long as you have the right tools, products and a step-by-step guide – and we’ve got everything you need to know.

You might have a hole in a hollow door or a solid core interior door and we’ve got the details on making repairs to both types. Problem with an exterior door instead? We’ve got you covered.

Just scroll down for the lowdown plus expert tips so you can create a professional finish.

How to fix a hole in a door

Your doors might be solid core or hollow core doors. Hollow core doors have plenty of advantages, including the fact that they’re lightweight and one of the easier types of door to hang, and can be inexpensive. However, if you accidentally knock something heavy into one of these doors, it is possible to make a hole, so it’s essential to know how to fix a hole in a hollow door.

Solid core doors are a little different, but if you need to find out how to fix a hole in a door like this, we’ll give you the inside track on repairing it.  

Alternatively, perhaps your door is a solid wood exterior door with damage caused by rot, and we’ll let you know how to fix this as well.

How to fix a hole in a hollow door

To fix a hole in a hollow door you will need:

  • Utility knife
  • Paper towels
  • Low expansion foam
  • Spackle
  • Putty knife
  • 120 grit sandpaper
  • Paintbrush
  • Paint

1. Neaten the hole

Using a utility knife held at a slight angle cut away the ragged edges of the hole. The aim is to make the edges clean and beveled but not enlarge the hole any more than is necessary. 

2. Create a barrier around the perimeter of the hole

Take some paper towels and gently insert them into the hollow part of the door around the perimeter of the hole, or try this strategy from Jeff Shipwash, owner of Shipwash Properties, who says: ‘I like to use a folded piece of cardboard or a thick poster board material.’

This will keep the foam which you’ll use next in the place where it’s needed.

3. Apply foam

Now it’s time to apply foam to the hole. Always opt for low expansion foam for this task as a high expansion version could create new damage to the door.

Make sure you work cautiously to allow the foam to expand and fill the hole; working too quickly could result in using an excessive amount of foam with the potential to damage the door.

4. Allow the foam to dry

Leave the foam to dry before you try to neaten it. This will likely take around 4 hours, but check the manufacturer’s guidelines on the pack.

5. Trim excess foam

Use a utility knife to cut off the excess foam which has expanded beyond the hole. Aim to leave a concave surface on which you will apply spackle. 

6. Fill the hole

Using a putty knife, smooth spackle over the hole. Make sure you spread it as evenly as possible and create a slightly raised surface, which you will sand back so it is flush with the door in the next step. 

Leave to dry, according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Want an alternative to spackle? ‘Use plastic wood because it’s sandable, stainable, and can take paint as well,’ recommends Andrew Ervin, founder of Maxsin Investment Group.

7. Sand the surface

Using 120 grit sandpaper, sand down the surface until it is flush with the door and smooth. 

8. Paint the area

Clean the area with a damp towel first to remove dust, then allow to dry before painting the door completely or just over the repaired hole. You may need more than one coat; if so, allow each to dry thoroughly in between.

How to fix a hole in a solid core door

A solid core wood door is less likely to get damaged, but if you do need to know how to fix a hole in a door like this, bear in mind that you should have the following ready: 

  • Wood filler
  • Putty knife
  • C-clamps
  • Piece of wood
  • Drywall joint compound
  • Sandpaper
  • Paintbrush
  • Paint

Use wood filler according to pack instructions to fill the hole, leaving the patch slightly concave. 

Use C-clamps and a piece of wood to cover the repair, and allow the filler to dry.

Remove the C-clamps and the wood, and spread drywall joint compound over the repair. 

Leave to dry, then sand smooth before painting the repaired area.

How to fix a hole in an exterior door 

Need to find out out how to fix a hole in a door that leads to the exterior of your home and is made from solid wood? 

If the wood has rotted, you’ll need to chisel it out first then use a hot air gun to dry the area. Next, use wood hardener on the damaged area, allowing it to dry, then filling with an exterior wood filler. Leave to harden then sand smooth before repainting.

How much does it cost to fix a hole in a door?

It’s likely to cost around $200 to $300 (£70 to £100) to fix a hole in a door, if you prefer to pay a professional to come and do the job for you. This could make the repair more costly than if you were to hang a door slab replacement, so ask your contractor about the alternatives.

Sarah Warwick
Sarah Warwick

Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor writing for websites, national newspapers, and magazines. She’s spent most of her journalistic career specialising in homes – long enough to see fridges become smart, decorating fashions embrace both minimalism and maximalism, and interiors that blur the indoor/outdoor link become a must-have. She loves testing the latest home appliances, revealing the trends in furnishings and fittings for every room, and investigating the benefits, costs and practicalities of home improvement. It's no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house revamper. For Realhomes.com, Sarah reviews coffee machines and vacuum cleaners, taking them through their paces at home to give us an honest, real life review and comparison of every model.