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I need to replace/repair a door in my rented apartment. During a rather rowdy party one of my guests managed to put a hole in my bathroom door.

enter image description here

I don't think that there is probably anyway to repair the door cleanly. (If you look carefully I drilled a whole in the broken in piece and tried to pull it back out). I think that the easiest solution is going to be replacing the door. (Please let me know if there are any suggestions).

The dimensions of the door are somewhat strange. The door is 74'' tall and 28'' wide.

I cannot find a 74'' x 28'' door anywhere. The closest thing that I can find is 78'' x 28'.

I am thinking I will buy a similar door and cut off the bottom (or have it cut off at home depo). I am concerned that it is not going to be solid after being cut. Here is a diagram:

  ^      ============     ^
  |      ||        ||     |
  |      ||        ||     |
  |      ||        ||     |
74''     ||        ||    78''
  |      ||        ||     |
  |      ||        ||     |
  v      |---cut----|     |
         ||        ||     |
         ============     v

I was planning on using this kind of door:

enter image description here

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If you can get the manufacturer name on the door, go to their website and see what the specs are. Most wood doors have a solid piece going across top and bottom and if it's wide enough, you can equally take 2 inches off top and bottom to make a door that will fit. There has to be enough wood left to give the door structural support to do this. –  Fiasco Labs Oct 21 '12 at 19:21
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In the unlikely event that cutting exposed the hollow void, you could nail/glue an appropriate sized piece of wood to close off the opening which would give adequate 'structure' to typical cheap hollow core doors. Just don't cut so close to the grooves that they would obstruct this remedial measure. –  bcworkz Oct 21 '12 at 22:48
    
74" is awfully short. Clearly whoever framed your bathroom door didn't have basketball players in mind. –  maple_shaft Oct 22 '12 at 11:31
    
@FiascoLabs why not post as an answer? –  bib Oct 22 '12 at 23:00
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4 Answers 4

On numerous occasions I have had to cut hollow core doors off more than the available blocking in the top / bottom of the door. What I have done in these instances is to take the cut off bottom piece and then reclaimed the inner block for re-use. If a table saw is available it is quick work to set the fence just right so that a couple of rip direction passes cleanly cuts off the outer laminations. Alternatively the laminations can be removed using a plane.

Once the block is nicely cleaned up it can be glued and slipped right up into the open bottom of the door. Use a couple of 1x4 boards on either side of the door and some good sized C-Clamps to tighten up the glue joint so that the glue can dry without any gaps.

Note that often the inside of hollow core doors has an internal webbing of cardboard material to bridge the gap between the two lamination skins of the door. Sometimes it is necessary to use a chisel inside the cut open bottom of the door to scrape back the glue joint of this web material on the laminated panel. If this is not smoothed out the re-claimed bottom block will make the laminated sides bulge out when trying to glue the block in place.

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What you can do is the following. I have used this techniques on several occasions for doors (hollow), walls (plaster and chipboards), and it is almost impossible to notice it has been repaired if you are accurate in these steps:

  1. Cut out the whole piece and sand down edges on both the door and piece. Remove any splints etc. that would stick out. Also degrease the door (wash it with soap) - see later step why.

    Cut out

  2. Glue solid wood pieces on the backside in the opening. Place them so you get the pieces flux with the door backside. Make sure you use something to tight them with properly (ie. Quickgrip) while the glue is drying, and use proper glue! You might need to do this is two or more steps.

    In your case I would suggest something like this: (doesn't have to look pretty, but function as solid support for the next step) - use my suggestion only as a pointer, you need to see on-location what actually is possible:

    Supports

  3. When glue is completely dry, glue back the piece you cut out onto the supports. Gaps are ok, but don't make them too big! (see next step) You can use small screws to tighten the piece onto the supports. If you do, screw them in so they go a bit into the wood (use screws meant for wood and with flat top).

    After the glue is dry, use filler for wood or plaster to fill in the gaps. When dry, sand down and repeat for another two times to get proper result. You might need to wait 24 hours between each step (read the instructions). If you used screws, fill the top of these as well (remember the step to leave them a bit inside the wood).

    Filler before sanding

  4. Do a final sanding and repaint the whole door with two layers of paint in the color and shine of the original paint. This should leave the door pretty (perhaps prettier than original due to the new paint).

    Finished repair

This is also a low-cost method.

Happy repair!

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Nice Answer. The painted finish on the door certainly enables this approach to the max. –  Michael Karas Oct 23 '12 at 21:04
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It would be better to cut 2" off the top and 2" off the bottom.

It's unlikely that the bottom 4" (or more) of the door will be solid. It's not certain the the top and bottom 2" will be solid either - but it's more likely.

If you go to a smaller store - rather than a big barn - the owner/assistant is more likely to know whether the door is suitable for trimming and how much can be trimmed of each edge.

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If the door is pre-hung, then you won't be able to cut off the top without redoing the hinges. –  BMitch Oct 23 '12 at 18:34
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Exterior doors are usually solid all the way through. Interior doors are usually hollow everywhere except for around the permitter, in order to make it lighter/easier to open and close.

A fair amount of the bottom of the door is usually solid so that you can cut the size smaller, but this will vary. I would just tap the door with your knuckles to find out where it is solid.

You're only cutting 4 inches off, so you should be OK with most doors. If not, buy an exterior door instead.

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"in order to make it lighter/easier to open and close" = it's mainly just to make it cheaper and easier to install (therefore, cheaper to install). I loathe them myself, though will admit these days there are 'tolerable' hollow core options out there. ;) –  DA01 Oct 21 '12 at 20:27
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@DA01 For an adult the extra weight makes little difference, but for a family with young kids, the light weight of a hollow door is significant. My niece is of an age now where she can easily open interior doors but struggles with the back door (which is kept closed because of aircon, but the yard fenced well so she can go in/out whenever she wants). –  Abhi Beckert Oct 21 '12 at 20:37
    
I'm sure that's true. Just saying the original intent of hollow core doors is that they simply are cheaper to make. –  DA01 Oct 21 '12 at 21:00
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