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Repair Scratches in a Wood Door

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: John in Illinois, what’s on your mind? How can we help you?

    JOHN: Listen, I have some six-panel pine doors.

    TOM: OK.

    JOHN: And my dog, when he was a pup, he thought that the way to get out of the house was to scratch the doors. (Leslie and Tom chuckle) How can I go ahead and repair that?

    LESLIE: Are they painted? Are they stained?

    JOHN: They’re not stained. They’re just polyurethane coated.

    TOM: But they’re clear coated?

    JOHN: Yes.

    TOM: So that – you want to keep it so that you can see the grain?

    JOHN: Correct.

    TOM: OK. Well, how deep are those scratches?

    JOHN: I don’t know how to answer that. (Leslie chuckles)

    TOM: Eighth inch. Sixteenth of an inch. I mean gouged.

    JOHN: Oh, gosh. No, not an eighth inch. Probably – oh, maybe somewhere between 25, 50-thousandths.

    TOM: Ah, you must be – you must be a technical guy. You must be like a machinist or something.

    JOHN: Correct. (Leslie chuckles)

    TOM: Alright, how did I guess that? Alright, John, what you’re going to need to do is this. First of all, you have to take the door off the hinges, get it up on a couple of sawhorses and you’re going to have to sand it down.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Sand it down. Because if you try to fill that with anything, even those waxy crayons that are used for getting out those scratches …

    TOM: Naw, it’s not going to look right.

    LESLIE: … it’s going to not be clear.

    TOM: What I would do is I would start with about an 80-grit sandpaper and try to get as much of it out as possible. If you get down to the point where there’s just a tiny bit left, I’ll give you a little trick of the trade. You can take a wet washcloth, lay it on top, take a very hot iron and steam it. That will help the grain swell and perhaps close some of those scratches. And then, once you get it to the point where you want a little bit of a 120-grit sandpaper or 150-grit sandpaper would be the last thing that you want to put on there. Then I want you to use a sanding sealer on top of it. And then the last thing is your topcoat of finish, which could be a polyurethane.

    JOHN: Because the house is over 10 years old, there has to be some discoloration in the doors from the time that it was originally …

    TOM: Yeah, that’s a good point. You’re going to have oxidation. So the door, when you sand it, you’re going to have to sand the entire door. Because if you just try to sand those spots, they will come up lighter than the rest of the door. Now eventually that will fade in so it’s the same …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: … but it will be pretty obvious. So I would recommend sanding the whole door. You won’t have to do nearly as much. And I hope you have a – do you have a sander? Do you have a vibrating sander?

    JOHN: Yes, I do.

    TOM: Yeah, well that’s the thing to use. You don’t want to do it by hand.

    LESLIE: And you know what? John, I’ve even seen stranger things happen. Before you go and start sanding everything, take a little bit of Murphy’s oil soap. Because sometimes if the scratches aren’t too deep and they’re not terribly discolored, you can actually make it go away with Murphy’s oil soap. You’re not physically getting rid of the divot or the scratch but it makes the appearance go away. Give it a try before you start sanding everything.

    JOHN: Well, I want to thank you folks so much.

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