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My front door is hollow core. The plywood on the exterior facing side was peeling - well, just the outer most layer of that plywood, which still has several layers to it left. I ripped away as much of that loose layer as I could, and am now left with an exterior face that looks really uneven.

I could replace the door, which is 32" wide, although I wouldn't go with pre-hung because I would have to open up the exterior door casing, which I can't even see because it's wrapped in aluminum (that I'd prefer not to mess with). I could find a 32" door without the jamb, but still I am a little nervous about getting a new door to work with my old jamb. I think I have the carpentry skills to do it, but...

I was hoping I could skimcoat the face of the door I have, either with some exterior rated spackle or maybe some appropriate form of bondo, then try to sand it as evenly as possible. What product would you use to skimcoat? Do you recommend sanding techniques to ensure an even face?

Or am I being ridiculous for even considering skimcoating? Should I just get over my nerves and grab a new door?

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I would strongly consider a replacement door.

I had an insulated steel door that was falling apart (one of the steel skins got caught on something and started bending back). I bought a replacement, pre-hung door (it was cheaper than buying just the door slab, believe it or not) and fit it in place.

The door I replaced was purchased about 30 years ago. For some reason, the hinges lined up perfectly, but the strike plate didn't. I chiseled out a larger opening in the door jamb, glued a patch piece of pine into the hole, then chiseled a new mortise for the strike plate and drilled a new hole for the latch to sit in.

Other than waiting for the glue to dry, it only took a couple of hours and wasn't really hard. I did the chiseling with an old, cheap set of chisels (I did sharpen first), and this was the first time I did something like this.

Watch a few videos on the Tube of You about making and installing a "Dutchman patch". That'll give you the idea of what to do and how to go about it.

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    Thanks. I think I am overthinking it, and should just replace the door. Luckily for me I live in an area where houses are being torn down all the time, so I might even be able to find a 32" door for free. If not I'll just bite the bullet and spend a few hundred bucks.
    – joeb
    May 2 at 12:53
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    Setting a new door isn’t technically tough — it’s just that it can be time consuming. (Especially without the fancy tools that specialists have.) Still, I’d encourage this path 1000x more than trying to bondo/ skim an old one. May 2 at 14:08
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I would lay the door down, sand the surface then glue a new outer surface to it.

Perhaps a waterproof plywood or another material like laminate.

Do seal the edges well, otherwise weather will get in.

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  • Thanks. I was worried about waves in the new plywood material. Also, the door having 3 little windows in a diagonal doesn't help.
    – joeb
    May 2 at 12:55
  • Oh, @joeb, the windows will add a bit of difficulty to the reskin job. However, cutting out the holes in the new plywood skin and retrimming them shouldn't be too tough.
    – FreeMan
    May 2 at 12:56

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