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Steel Door Repair: Repair a Dented Steel Door

Make an invisible dent repair in a steel door the same way you do it on your car, using the same auto body filler. Even a novice can master the simple techniques.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

Steel Door Repair: Repair a Dented Steel Door

Make an invisible dent repair in a steel door the same way you do it on your car, using the same auto body filler. Even a novice can master the simple techniques.

Step 1: Sand the damaged area

Fill a dent or hole in a steel door the same way a body shop would fix your car. You can do this with the door in place, but it will be easier with the door lying flat on sawhorses. Remove an area of paint a couple of inches larger than the damaged spot (Photo 1). Sand away the paint with 60- or 80-grit paper, or do the job faster with a small wire wheel in a drill.

Tip: If the damage is near the bottom of the door, you can skip the repair and cover it with a metal kick plate (find at home centers and hardware stores). Kick plates are about 8 in. wide and come in lengths to match standard doors.

Step 2: Apply the filler

Next, fill the wound with auto body filler (find at hardware stores and home centers). To mix the filler, place a scoop of resin on a scrap of plywood or hardboard. Then add the hardener. Mix the two components thoroughly; unmixed resin won't harden and you'll be left with a sticky mess. A plastic putty knife makes a good mixing tool.

Apply the filler with a metal putty knife that's wider than the damaged spot (Photo 2). The filler will start to harden in just a couple of minutes, so you have to work fast. Fill the repair flush with the surrounding surface. Don't overfill it and don't try to smooth out imperfections after the filler begins to harden. Adding another coat of filler is easier than sanding off humps.

Step 3: Smooth and paint

When the filler has hardened completely (about 30 minutes), sand it smooth (Photo 3). After priming the repair, you could paint over the primer only. But the new paint won't perfectly match the older paint, so it's best to repaint the entire door.

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Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

    • Drill/driver, cordless
    • Wire wheel
    • Putty knife
    • Putty knife, plastic
    • Sanding block
    • Paintbrush

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.

    • Auto body filler
    • Sandpaper, 60-, 80- and 100-grit
    • Plastic gloves
    • Primer
    • Paint

Comments from DIY Community Members

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July 01, 11:17 AM [GMT -5]

I've done this before and it works, but doesn't work... In areas where you have freezing weather, the repair patch will show through after your first winter if you use canned spray primer or even a good roll on primer (like Kilz). I've done both, I live in Chicago, and the repair patches are now a couple years old. The ones on the outside of the doors are noticeable while the ones on the inside are not. On the other hand, my neighbor is an auto-body guy. He made the same repair, but sprayed the door with a high quality primer that he uses on cars. He also sprayed the door with paint he uses for cars. His repair never came through. And a final story... My grandfather made this repair on a door (which is where I got the idea from). He lives in Arizona and his repair patch looks great. I'm no expert, but I'm guessing that the extreme cold/hot weather cycles has something to do with why my repairs didn't last.

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