Someone punched my wooden door. Now it has a giant dent in it.

enter image description here

The dent is similar to this one. Fortunately, it's a bit less severe than this. How can I "pop" the dent back out?

  • You won't get an "invisible" repair on that.. But to pull the pieces up flush you can use a hook - make one from a metal coat hanger, if you use a screwdriver then you may damage the edges further...
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 13:01
  • 3
    Possible duplicate of How do I fix a hole in a hollow door?
    – bta
    Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 17:37
  • This is an interesting question, and the "buy a new door" answers and comments are not very helpful. No matter how cheap a new door is, transporting it, cutting it to clear the floor, lining up the hinges perfectly so it swings right in the jamb, lining up the doorknob cut perfectly to the existing cut in the jamb, etc. is a big pain, and if you mess up, is going to be more offensively wrong than the damage to the existing door. Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 21:24
  • @R.. Except that many of the repair steps are not much easier. To do a proper fix, you'll have to source and buy a 1/8" sheet of ply the same size as the door (which is typically only found at a door fabricator's shop), transport it, cut it to perfectly fit the door frame, lift the old ply off the door frame (which will require taking the door off the hinges), glue and clamp it up, keeping the door flat, and the sand and finish the edges, and then rehang the door.
    – Edwin Buck
    Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 22:56

12 Answers 12


You can't. Wood doesn't "pop back out". The wood is actually broken.

If you just want to repair it structurally, then filling in with something like a suitable epoxy and sanding would work.

Getting it to look like the undamaged original will be impossible or very difficult at best. This is due to the grain, and no replacement piece of wood having the same matching grain pattern.

The best try would be to very carefully get the pieces of the wood back into their original positions. Then open the cracked areas again a little, carefully insert some wood glue, back to original position, and somehow clamp or hold in that position until the glue dries. Then you still have to sand the result to make it smooth, and hope the few inevitable interruptions in the grain won't be too noticeable.

  • 12
    That or reskin the door but for less expensive doors it may be cheaper to replace, if left unpainted the spot will always be visible unless reskined.
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 14:09
  • 1
    I guess a follow up question would be: How could I go around getting the pieces back up? I can't really get my fingers in there.
    – Shaun Wild
    Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 15:59
  • 5
    Not worth it, I once blew out a slat on an Ikea chair by using the long screws instead of the short ones, was about to go in dervishes tryijg to buy or make just a slat, til I realized the chair cost $18. NVM! Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 16:17
  • 1
    Patch it however then slap some paint on that side of the door.
    – Nick T
    Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 19:11
  • 2
    @ShaunWild: I would make one or more additional tiny holes with a small drill bit to facilitate pulling the broken pieces back into place with a coat hanger or similar, but you could also try pulling them using a removable adhesive (wall hanging type). Try to repair it structurally with wood glue, and once it dries, fill any remaining gaps and holes with stain-grade wood filler. You can even mix it to match the different colors of the grain and carve to recreate it. Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 21:29

Ditto what Olin said. But here is another option:

Hollow core doors are probably the cheapest thing that can be replaced in a home. Brand new from a big box home improvement store for approx. $40 or if you have any "Habitat for Humanity ReStore" stores in your area, for much less.

Even if you do patch the door, you will always see that patch.

Heck, if you go to a ReStore type place, you can even pick up a solid core door so the next time someone punches the door, the hand will be the issue. BTW and just throwing this out there, drywall is the cheapest thing to replace in a home.

  • 11
    "... the hand will be the issue..." I like that approach. Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 15:41
  • 2
    When you say "drywall is the cheapest" do you mean to reiterate that hollow core doors are probably the cheapest? If not, what does it have to do with the rest of your answer?
    – stannius
    Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 17:12
  • 8
    I assumed he meant that if someone gets mad enough to punch something, next time he should go for the drywall instead of the hollow core doors.
    – Charles
    Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 17:36
  • 3
    Taking time into consideration, drywall is more expensive to repair. Depending on the severity, it may be possible to mud over a tiny dent or hole, or it may require cutting out a larger rectangle, backing the edges with wood, cutting a rectangle to fit, taping and mudding, sanding, mudding, sanding, priming, painting. For a typical hollow-core door of a standard size, go to ${BigBoxStore}, drop $40 on a door slab, and spend five minutes installing it.
    – user4302
    Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 21:09
  • 6
    Someone else can personally vouch for Charles' drywall suggestion, though it's a bigger hassle than replacing a $40 door. As far as the solid door idea, a hand costs enormously more than $40 to repair, and not a DIY project for most of us (and that goes double for replacement). I'd stick with hollow core just to be safe. Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 21:11

I have successfully repaired a stain-grade hollow core door very much like the one you have pictured that received a jagged puncture about 3" in diameter. On close examination you can see that it was damaged but it's not noticeable to a casual observer in the room. You will need a can of low-expansion Right Stuff spray foam, some masking tape, a clear sealing acrylic finish and some permanent felt markers close to the color of the wood finish.

The first thing to do is to unmount the door and put it horizontally on sawhorses so you can work on it. Don't try to do this in place.

Next is to save or retrieve any loose pieces of door skin that blew out or into the interior of the door. You'll want them for the jigsaw-puzzle-like reassembly - the more original material the better. If they were marred by the impact clean them or sand off the scuff.

Next is to carefully pry up any still-attached pieces of the door skin so they are slightly convex relative to the door skin.

Now you will fully agitate the Right Stuff foam and carefully fill the area inside the door below the breaking point. You want to fill up an area of the door slightly larger in diameter than the hole but no so much that it is coming OUT of the hole. Be careful since the foam is nasty stuff and any excess will stick to everything - but sticking to the INSIDE of the door skin is what you want.

You must use the low expansion version of the Right Stuff product because you need some working time to fold the still-attached pieces of door skin back to a co-planar position with the door face, and as the foam slowly expands you will fill in as many of the broken shards of door skin as possible back into the foam in their original positions. BEFORE the foam has a chance to fully expand beyond the face of the door you are going to cover the entire area of the repair with masking tape. This holds the shards in place and prevents the foam from expanding outward beyond the door skin, instead expanding horizontally within the door. Wait for the foam to stop expanding and then cure.

Once the foam is cured, you can remove the masking tape, and all the broken pieces of door skin will be adhered to and fixed in place by the foam, hopefully coplanar with the door skin and with as few actual gaps of exposed foam as possible. Where the foam expanded beyond the cracks onto the face of the door you can carefully scrape or sand it off.

The foam is a yellowish color and hopefully close to the tone of the blonde wood shown in the photo (our door was clear birch.) This is now where you are going to use the permanent markers - one or two colors - to stain the foam closer to the actual wood color. It may be tricky to find markers of the correct color, but we had them around the house (graphic artists) - you may have to take a loose shard of the door skin to the art supply store to get a match. (Alternatively, you might be able to find a wood stain that matches.) We used the markers to match the color of the wood AND to actually draw in a bit of simulated darker wood grain.

Finally, brush the acrylic sealer over the area that was repaired to make the areas of foam and the sanded areas more uniform wth the rest of the door. Several coats may be required. You will need to match the existing finish - matte or glossy, which is more difficult - and it's entirely likely you'll have to put a coat on the entire face of the door if you don't get a good match. Let it cure FULLY and then rehang the door.

Good luck! :)


If you want to get really fancy, you could highlight the difference rather than trying to obscure it.

Fitting an inlay of contrasting wood could make the patch into artwork rather than the repair it is.

An inlay of different wood:

enter image description here

You would want to cut the punchhole out till its a clear and regular hole, a circle might be easiest. Then feed some backing wood in through the hole and glue it inside the void to provide support. Then from scrap timber cut a pattern to fill the hole. Finally glue it all in, sand and varnish the entire side of the door.

Or burninate the wood to show a picture and disguise the patch that way.

enter image description here

Images are ideas, not examples.

  • 3
    +1 for decorate over the top rather than try to repair. I'm not sure how easy or economically sensible it would be to put an elegant inlay in a damaged $30 door though. I'd stick a plaque or artistic print over it (or a poster of Rita Hayworth, like Andy used to disguise his prison wall tunnel in Shawshank Redemption.) Commented Dec 1, 2017 at 0:07
  • @LevelRiverSt Good suggestion - like patching the knees on kid's pants rather than replacing. A coat hook rail might work well as a patch, if the hole is high enough off the floor.
    – Criggie
    Commented Dec 1, 2017 at 2:00
  • 1
    Burnination always gets a +1.
    – Pharap
    Commented Dec 1, 2017 at 3:52

You cannot fix this door in the manner you describe. You can patch the hole but the patch will look almost as bad as the original hole. At that point the only aesthetically pleasing solution would be to paint the door.

This makes the door look good - but whether it looks good in the entire scheme of things is another question.

  • 2
    As you have already abundantly heard, bring this door back to its original condition would be nearly impossible. In the following is my down home repair. Fill the hole with a spackel product of drywall mud. Use puddy knife to leave a smooth surface. Allow to dry. There is available a peal and stick drawer lining material in a foe wood grain. Cover to you satisfaction.
    – Paul Logan
    Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 17:44
  • 2
    @PaulLogan: s/spackel/spackle, s/of/or, s/puddy/putty, s/peal/peel, s/foe/faux.
    – Martha
    Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 22:32

If its low-down, a kick rather than a punch, then you could skin the lower part with a kickplate which would cover the hole. This might be something you'd see on a door that gets a lot of use, like a school classroom or a restaurant kitchen door. Chromed steel or aluminium, or a thin piece of wood could do. RISK is if its the side that faces the jamb, you will have to leave space for the door to press against the jamb rather than being full-coverage.


This would also work if the hole could conceivably be covered by a hand push plate, but most internal doors wouldn't need this.


One option worth considering is to cut out a square around the damaged portion - the idea is instead of a jagged, irregular hole, you get a clean, regular hole. The wood used on hollow-core doors is likely to splinter, so be gentle - maybe use a dremel instead of a saw, and if you use a saw, more teeth is better.

Now find a piece of wood that fits - perhaps a small piece of dimensional lumber, or a piece of hardwood plywood. Cut a piece that fits the nice hole you just cut. The goal here is to build a "plug" that fits in that hole with a very tiny gap around it, just enough space to fill in with a thin layer of glue. Ideally, the wood grain would be vaguely similar, but it will be nearly impossible to find a perfect match.

Next, find a stain to use on that plug that matches the rest of the door as closely as possible. Stain the face of the plug that will be visible, plus a little extra around the edges. Once dry, use wood glue around the edges and put it in the hole. Wipe away any excess. If the plug is deep enough, you can actually glue it to the other side of the door for extra support.

You cannot get this to look brand new by repairing it, but you can likely get it close enough. If that is not satisfactory, then replacing the door slab is cheap and easy. The potential problem there is instead of a small portion of the door not matching the rest of the door, the entire door might not match the rest of the doors in the house.

This assumes that the door is wood-grain like in the picture: if it is a painted door, this is easy. Repair it like I said, then paint over the area with whatever paint matches the door. It might be worth expoxying and sanding the edges where the plug meets the door first, however, to get a smooth finish to the pain can truly hide it. For a wood-stained finish that is less important, but can still be done.

  • Getting a thin plug flush with the door surface will be nearly impossible. If you take this approach, you want to cut the plug to just the right thickness that it spans across to the opposite panel. It would likely work better to use a backing piece inside the door and a veneer piece of the same thickness as the broken panel, as in Criggie's inlay suggestion. Then you don't have to worry about the panels moving independently. In either case, you want to glue to the larger backing surface, not around the gap. The cut and the plug should fit together as tightly as possible. Commented Dec 1, 2017 at 19:55

For a decent-looking, though far from invisible repair, I would recommend Durham's Rock Hard Water Putty. Just follow directions on the can. This will only cost a few dollars, look a lot better than a hole, and take no more than 15 minutes. While you're at the hardware store you might want to get a plastic putty knife a little wider than the hole. Both the putty and the knife will be reusable for future holes.

If you want to make it look like it never happened, I don't believe there is any method both cheap and easy. But if you do want to try to pull it back into place, I don't think a coat hanger is stiff enough. A small Allen wrench (about a 1/8") would probably be, since it's tool steel. Of course this will leave a hole at least the diameter of the Allen wrench (so you'll still need the putty). You'd need a pliers to grip the wrench adequately. Any wood glue would do but would require pulling on the Allen wrench for about a half hour while the glue sets. Clear 5-minute epoxy might work, if you can avoid getting it on the surface of the door -- excess won't wash off with water like fresh wood glue. And don't glue your Allen wrench in place.

A vise grips and a couple wooden wedges might hold the Allen wrench taut for you, making it feasible to use wood glue (even Elmer's)-- make sure you have everything within reach before you get started. Your wedges have to span the hole while fitting between the door and the vise grip jaws. If you can get it all set, then wipe excess glue with a wet cloth or sponge. This sounds delicate, so don't let anyone use the door during the dry time! When dry, sand very lightly only where needed with extra fine sand paper, so as not to spoil more finish than necessary, just enough to smooth the inevitable crack a bit.

How were your "friend's" knuckles after this incident?

  • 1
    I have to add: Several decades ago, I once fixed a girlfiend's guitar by putting Elmer's glue in my mouth and spitting it into the crack between the body and neck, then clamping it. The guitar outlasted our relationship. But I digress.
    – Gary G
    Commented Dec 2, 2017 at 6:01

I guess this is what Ed Beal suggested already, to reskin the door. If it truly looks like your photo, you can get a sheet of wood like that, about 1/4 in, and cover the entire side of the door. You might be able to get it cut to size at the store. Glue it and tack it. You can probably remove the tacks if you don't put them all the way in. It might fit tight if its on the closing side of the door.


Hollow core doors are cheap first off, and any serious repair will most likely not be worth your time and money.

A patch for wood?

I'm sure such a thing exists but I doubt it's easy to use and getting it to set correctly on a hollow door would present its challenges due to only having access to one side. No doubt there is many other convoluted ways. Sometimes those are fun so I'm gonna discuss that as well. One that I considered briefly was laminate flooring held to each side of the door via some sort of suitable adhesive, and that would definitely be something cool if you wanted to change the appearance of the door. Perhaps with wood slats or squares or something else unique. This would present some challenges though I'm sure, such as not being able to cover the other sides of the door and it looking slightly funky on the top and sides.

In the end, if you want to fix it like a normal person your better off buying a new door. You can reuse the hinges and door knob as long as your sure to get the same size door.


Following the answers here, it is apparent that there will be no simple, quick, cheap repair that works well. Financially, it's a write-off.

Repair will always show, particularly with the grain as it is, it's impossible to match up, and if the 'missing' part is pulled out, the break will be there showing for ever.

A contrasting panel, as big as needed, can be glued on, perhaps with some tasteful quadrant round its edges. Or, a glass panel inset, straight through, or on the offending side. Or, a picture screwed onto the door - not hung. Most of these solutions will not involve taking off the door. If it has to come off, the time effort and money will be better spent on a replacement. Unless it has to match another door in the same room, when maybe two insets could be used - one on each door.


A Mirror glued over the top may see this whole problem behind you


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.