Q: We recently bought a resale home. When we moved in, the front door took a beating. We were clumsy movers, and we dented the door in several places. The door is metal and has been faded by the sun. Can we get rid of the dents, or do we have to replace the door?
A: Ask not what your door can do for you, but what you can do for your door.
The front door is very important for first impressions. When you have guests over, while they are waiting for you to answer the door, they will have plenty of time to count the dents and dings you left while moving.
It’s not a very difficult job to remove the dents; all you need is some specialty filler and some sandpaper. Then just give it a coat of paint.
You will want to start the job by thoroughly cleaning the door. Use some detergent and rinse it with water then dry it with a towel.
Use some medium-grit sandpaper and rough up the dented areas. That will help the filler to stick like stink on a skunk.
You will need to buy some filler to fill in the dents. You can buy some premixed compound that is made for steel doors at a home center, or you can go to an auto parts store and buy a two-part auto body filler. The two-part filler incorporates a hardener that makes for a durable repair.
You will spend less than $20 for either product. You can use the premixed filler right out of the can. For the two-part filler, you will need to blend the two parts together. Use a stir stick and mix the compounds following the manufacturer’s instructions.
Use a wide putty knife (3 inches is good) and fill in the dent. Push the compound into the dent and, with one final pass, smooth over the area. Feather the compound out to blend it in with the surrounding area.
You might need to add a second coat if you have a deep dent. If so, wait until the first coat dries before adding the second.
Now you will need to sand the patches. Use a sanding block and start with a 120-grit sandpaper. Use a circular motion to smooth out the ridges and then strap on the fine sandpaper. Go with a 220-grit wet or dry sandpaper and feather out the edges.
Wipe the door down to get rid of any dust from the sanding and get ready to prime the door.
Don’t just paint the patches because they will stand out like a three-legged racehorse. Paint the entire door, and you won’t have to worry about perfectly matching the surrounding color. You can choose either oil-based or latex paint for the door.
First, prime the entire door with a primer. You might have to give it several coats.
Latex is easy to use, and it cleans up with water. Oil is more challenging to use but lasts longer.
The best way to paint a steel door is with a sprayer, but it is a lot of work to clean up for a project this small. You can use a short-nap roller and a brush but use an additive to slow the drying process and minimize any stroke marks.
Add Floetrol for latex paint and Penetrol for oil-based paint. Mix it up according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The products can be bought at a home center or paint store for less than $10.
After you have painted the door, you won’t be able to close it fully until the paint dries.
The next time you have company over, they won’t be whispering about you as you answer the door.
Mike Klimek is a licensed contractor and owner of Las Vegas Handyman. Questions may be sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, mail to 4710 W. Dewey Drive, No. 100, Las Vegas, NV 89118. His web address is www.handymanoflasvegas.com.
Project: Repair dented door
Cost: Under $40
Time: 2-3 hours