My elderly father doesn't trust that his daughters know anything about home repair or maintenance. I keep pointing out that I've bought and sold 2 houses in the past 15 years, so I know something about it. They are ignoring my recommendations on GFCI outlets, but that's another matter.

Their realtor has told them that their front door is hollow core, not solid, and that he needs to have it replaced with a fiberglass door. It's also possible that he was listening to the realtor say that a fiberglass door would fix the binding lock in certain seasons and having to get a locksmith and misinterpreted the reason. Or the realtor thought chipping veneer was ugly and made up a reason to replace it.

It's a ~70 year old house, and they've had it ~35 years, so the door is at least 35 years old. If so, it survived the previous family having active boys. The door appears to be stained wood veneer. On the edges of the door you can tell that the wood is different for about a quarter inch on both sides. Something with minimal wood grain on the exterior or interior. Where the veneer, or the top layer of wood has come off, it's wood underneath.

The area where the lock was replaced with one shaped differently shows bare unfinished wood in the area that is exposed now.

So what is the least destructive way to conclusively confirm whether it is solid or hollow core? It is fairly heavy to open and close, but I may be comparing it to thinner, narrower doors that are also hollow core.

Also, because the door needs replacing, they are ignoring calling a locksmith, handyman, or letting me fix the deadbolt that is sticking. The door has had problems seasonally for decades. Sometimes you would have to pull the door hard in one or another direction in order to turn the deadbolt. This has gotten much worse since they replaced a broken lock. I think the new deadbolt is marginally larger than the old one, and the tolerances on the strike plate are too tight to accommodate seasonal swelling. Dad says the door keeps moving in one direction, but if it's doing that, it would have been doing it for decades and then the door wouldn't close. 1/8" motion for 35 years is 4 1/2 inches.

My proposed solution is to buy a larger strike plate, perhaps a quarter inch larger vertically and horizontally in the hole. Filing down the existing one would be an option, but its reinforced in two directions that would prevent that. I've got a Dremel clone, but am not sure which accessory would best file it down.

  • 4
    If you can pick it up, it’s hollow core.
    – Lee Sam
    Commented Aug 11, 2019 at 9:53
  • if there is a peep hole in the door, then remove the lens assembly and look inside the door
    – jsotola
    Commented Aug 11, 2019 at 17:54
  • GFCI's can be tricky. One device can protect downline outlets, so it saves money and does not sacrifice performance to use one per circuit, placed correctly. This is subtle and difficult, so cut him a little slack if he doesn't understand it. Commented Aug 11, 2019 at 18:43
  • He doesn't think the house needs any GFCIs installed in kitchens and bathrooms, and he won't listen to me that it is a cheap way to install 3 prong outlets in a house that only has 2 prong outlets.
    – AGiff
    Commented Aug 11, 2019 at 20:39
  • There is no peep hole - its got a weird slide window installed. I may see about going onto the hinge side and either drilling in or hammering a nail. He's got a cordless drill that has a perpetually drained battery and a corded drill with a missing drill chuck key. (my fault for losing it after the tether broke) So nail would be the easiest solution.
    – AGiff
    Commented Aug 11, 2019 at 23:12

2 Answers 2


Since you're going to replace it anyway, drill a small hole in it. It's the only way to convince your dad. You can easily patch the hole afterwards. Good luck.


A solid door weighs a lot more than a hollow door. If it's being replaced, just check out the weight... you can get an idea by checking out doors at a store first. If the door is going away anyway just cut it in half after it's removed to prove it to yourself and whoever else you want...

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