How to fix a hole in a door

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One of the best ways to repair a door knob sized hole in drywall is called a “hot patch.” The name stems from the fact that pros often use fast setting, or “hot”, joint compound for this job.

Repair Door Knob Hole Using Drywall Hot Patch

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Trace around the damaged area with something square, like a coaster, to create clean lines.
  2. Cut all the way through the drywall along these lines with a utility knife and remove the damaged drywall.
  3. With a small piece of NEW drywall turned face down, trace the same coaster, or other square object on the brown paper backing. Position it 2 inches away from the edges in one corner
  4. Draw two more straight lines the same distance away on the other two sides, so you’ll have a square within a square.
  5. Score the outer lines with a knife and snap drywall cleanly along them. You’ll have to slice the paper facing on the other side to finish the cut.
  6. Now you have an eight inch square of drywall with a four inch square drawn in the center. Using a ruler or straight edge, extend each side of the smaller square out to the edge of the piece and score along it with the knife. When all four lines are scored, snap them one at a time. But this time don’t cut the paper facing. Simply peel away the backing and the gypsum core to leave the face paper.
  7. Apply a generous amount of joint compound around the hole in the wall. And carefully press the repair piece, which should be a four inch drywall square with an attached two inch paper border, into the hole.
  8. Next use a drywall knife to press the paper border into the joint compound. Pull from the center of the repair outward to squeeze out the excess joint compound.
  9. Finally, apply multiple, thin layers of joint compound across the whole repair, allowing it to dry and sanding between coats.
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Tools Needed

Once you have decided to go ahead and attempt fixing the door you will need only a few tools.

A painters putty knife is good for prying between cracks but be careful when using it.

We are using two heavy duty utility knives with fresh blades. The blades must be brand new because you will need sharp cuts and you will later shave high spots with the length of the knife blade.

Clamps are also useful and since you can’t easily clamp the center of the door to press open cracks together for gluing we will use a painter’s roller extension rod that will be placed between a piece of heavy furniture and the door to provide pressure while the glue drys. A painter’s roller extension is also adjustable in length so you can make it slightly larger then the distance needed and force it gently into the surface to add pressure.

Masking tape is good and it can be used to hold pieces in place as they dry but it will not have a lot of clamping pressure so don’t expect to be able to pull joints closed with tape.

You will need a brush and paint to cover the area once you have completed the structural repair.

Making The Repair

Before you start gluing your door you need to align the cracked pieces to their original position.  Gently pull on the panels to position them using too much force may cause additional damage.

If you can not position the pieces to their original position do your best to get the edges to touch for later gluing.

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Using your utility knife you may need to shave the edges to provide better contact.

It is best to begin gluing the edges of cracks that do not need  much clamping. Here we first glue the smaller cracks around the hole by using small clamps.

The longer cracks will require some pressure to hold them in place.  This is where the painter’s roller rod will be used to force the edges together.

Place the roller rod in position after you glue the edges. The rod will need to be slightly larger then the distance between the door and bed mattress that is used to hold it in place. Then it is taped in position so it will not slip away.

Allow the glued areas to dry for at least an hour before removing clamps.

Finally you will glue and replace any large chunks of material. Hold these pieces in place with masking tape.

Once the door has been completely glued and has dried the edges of the repair will not be flush.

Using your utility knife blade in its fully open position shave the cracked edges to make them flush / flat.  You can then use your carpenters glue to fill any small holes and reglue cracks.

Sanding can be performed if necessary but the shaving process should have resulted in a paintable surface.

Apply at least 2 coats of paint to finish the repair.

Final Note

Making repairs of this type will take more then a few hours because of the drying time for the glue.  It is better to take your time then to try to get all of the cracked edges and pieces glued in one shot.

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You may also need to use wood filler or small pieces of press board to complete your repair. Most home stores sell these items and all of the other tools you need for this task.

Final paint should hide most of your repair but do not expect to make a repair that can not be seen. You are simply improving the damage to a point that it is livable.

After a week or so when the glue and paint has fully dried you may want to go back and do any touchups or you can wait until the next time you paint the room.

Got A DIY Question? Ask-The-Expert!

If you have a DIY home repair, maintenance or improvement question for Norma, now is your chance to ask-the-expert and have her answer. Your burning question may just be the “star” of an upcoming Fix-It Friday column.

Add your question to the comments section below or email it to Women You Should Know.

Fix-It Friday is an exclusive Women You Should Know® editorial series authored by seasoned veteran of home improvement, Norma Vally, the former host of Discovery Home Channel’s series “Toolbelt Diva” and a show on Sirius Satellite Radio by the same name. The weekly column is designed to inspire women – weekend warriors, aspiring handywomen, and even seasoned DIYers – to take on home repairs and maintenance projects with confidence and gusto.


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