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I removed a piece of door hardware I'd screwed into the metal firedoor we have on the front of the house. Now, I have two holes in the door. The only advice I've found is this guy who seems to default to "buy this product I'm suggesting". I'm mainly looking for something cosmetic, but I also want to make the door as safe as possible. The hole is only on one side of the door, the inside.

One of the other methods he mentioned was to simply put a screw in and either grind it down or just paint it over. Would that work?

  • Do the holes go through both faces of the door? Do you know what the interior of the door is filled with? – mikes Jan 4 '15 at 1:23
  • The holes are just on one side. And no. It's hollow as far as I can see. Frankly, I don't know for certain that it's even a proper fire door. I just know it's metal on the outside and the home inspector called it a firedoor, claiming that all of our external doors should be like that, including the ones to the garages. – Sean Duggan Jan 4 '15 at 5:00
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If you could dimple in the metal around the hole so that you leave enough metal for screw threads to engage then you can install a flat head sheet metal screw that has threads right up to the head. This strategy in the best case would recess the screw head enough so that you could use some high temperature epoxy to fill in over the screw head. In the less than optimum case the screw head may stick out above the surface in which case you would have to go ahead and grind it down to flush or more so that you can the fill the area around and over the screw head.

If the metal door has a wood core behind where holes are located you may be able to countersink and dimple the area around the hole so that a flat head screw will fit up to the surface. In this case a longer screw could be threaded into the wooden core inside the metal door.

If there is no real chance to get a screw threads to engage in the metal cladding of the door or into some door core material then the problem of plugging the hole with a metal piece becomes a bit more complicated. For a very small hole in the size of say 1/8 inch it would seem to me that a high temperature epoxy may be the best thing. Just fill it, let it harden and then sand to level. Note that when using the filler it would really be best to sand down to bare metal near the hole. The epoxy will adhere better to bare roughened bare metal than it would to paint surface.

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Fire barrier sealant/filler by 3M might do the trick. I've used it when I've drilled holes in studs for running wire or pipe that are required to be solid for fire-barrier purposes. This is good enough for the inspectors. It hardens well enough to paint.

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I just want to make sure I understand the situation. You have a fire-rated door at the front of the house with a small screw hole on the interior - does this mean it is an exterior door? Fire-rated doors are usually used to separate two areas of a building to slow down the spread of any fire, e.g. separate garage from living space.

If you are using the fire-rated door as an exterior door, then you are not really benefiting from the fire-rating (maybe it was chosen for the higher security that might be afforded by such a door). In this case, you don't need to worry about the repair meeting the fire-rating. I think you recognize this as you said you were "mainly looking for something cosmetic".

There are many ways to make a cosmetic repair, so the first thing is to assess what tools and skills you have. For example, do you have a grinder? If so, would you have the skill to be able to grind a screw head down smooth?

It is a change in texture that makes patches visible. For example, most painted drywall has a bit of an "orange peel" texture, but patches are quite smooth. If you want your patch to completely disappear, take care in giving your patch the same texture as the rest of the door when you prime it for painting (and please paint the whole door, not just the patch).

I don't have a new repair technique to add to the excellent suggestions above, but I would put them in the following order of difficulty - starting with easy:

  1. Just paint alone. Con: might not hide the hole, risk of drips...
  2. Put in a dap of toothpaste or drywall compound, smooth with finger, then paint. Con: Patch material might rust.
  3. Patch with bondo, then paint. Probably the best option to get a really good finish. (I would go with this one myself.)
  4. Patch with other more liquidy material such as epoxy, jb-weld, etc, then paint. Con: Would have to take door off and lay flat to apply patch material otherwise it would run.
  5. Install screw and grind flat. Con: a lot of work for no significant benefit. Plus would probably want to take door off for ease of repair.
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Regarding Mark's comment - exterior doors may be fire rated per the IBC depending on the proximity of the building in question to adjacent properties and the property line. As a fire rated door, NFPA 80 limits the proper repair methodology to using either a steel fastener that completely fills the hole, or by filling the hole with the same material as the door. This would imply welding, though some AHJs will accept a listed fire door caulk as a suitable substitute.

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j-b weld will go to 450 degrees - if you can pop the hinge pins and lay the door flay it would be easier to apply.

Bondo is cosmetic - (auto body filler) ... good for 180 degrees.

BTW - your screw idea seems just fine. If its hollow a rivet is an option.

  • Remember that a house fire can go to 1500 degrees or more, once it really gets going. Personally, I'd be happier repairing steel with more steel. – keshlam Jan 4 '15 at 4:34

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