If you’ve removed a doorknob and moved it to another part of the door, you have an unsightly hole to fill. The good news is, it’s relatively easy to do so.
In most cases, you can fill in a hole in a doorknob with a combination of a wooden plug and wood putty. Once that dries in place, it’s relatively easy to sand over the hole and finish it to make your problem area disappear.
4 Reasons Why You Will Need to Fill in Door Knob Holes
If you have a hole in your door, it’s a no-brainer why you might want to fill it. It’s ugly or it creates an actual gap to the outdoors. But, the reasons you might have to fill the hole vary considerably and will affect how you fill the hole.
The Old Doorknob was Bigger
If you’ve recently purchased a new doorknob only to discover that either the old or new knob is non-standard, you have a problem. The new doorknob might be loose in the hole, which will cause it to rattle around. Failing to have a tight fit between the knob and the door ranges from unpleasant on interior doors to dangerous on exterior ones. Resolving that as quickly as possible by filling the hole is your best option.
Here, you’ll have to choose between using wedges and good glue to fit the doorknob into the door or simply moving the doorknob up and completely filling the hole. Your choice should depend on the door, comfort, and how strong the whole knob has to be.
You’ve Changed the Direction of the Door
In some cases, you might want to move the doorknob from one side of the door to another. This happens when, for example, the wood around the hinges degrades to the point where you can’t use it on that side anymore. You might also want to change the direction of the door – but if you have glass fittings or an outward-facing door, you may not be able to simply flip it around. In this case, moving the hinges and the doorknob might be the best way to go. When you do, you’ll have to drill a new hole in one side of the door and fill the hole in the other.
You’ve Moved the Doorknob Higher or Lower
People who are particularly tall or short might want to adjust their doorknobs to a more comfortable height. In some cases, you might choose to do this for aesthetic purposes as well. Or, if your doorknob is too small for the existing hole or the hole has been damaged.
The Door has Been Damaged
It’s always a good idea to fill a hole and move the knob if the wood around the doorknob has been damaged. For example, by a burglary or a fire department breaking down the door. In this case, moving the knob will ensure your door is more secure than it would be if you left it in the damaged wood. However, you may also prefer to get a new door.
How to Plug a Doorknob Hole: 5 Easy Steps
Filling a doorknob hole is a simple matter of cutting a plug, fitting it, and then filling the wood around it. It’s also relatively low-skill. However, you should expect to take several days doing this.
Things You Will Need to Patch a Door Knob Hole
- A 1” circle bit
- A 2 1/8ths circle bit
- Power drill
- 1 ¼” to 1 3/8” thick wood
- Wood glue
- Wood filler or wood putty
Measure and Cut Your Plug
Most doors use a 2 1/8ths” primary hole through the main section of the door and a 1” cross section. Your goal here is to either cut these out of a wood plank using a circle bit. Alternatively, you can purchase a down rod in these sizes and cut them to measure on the door.
First, check the thickness of your door. Most doors are 1 3/8ths thick. This means a 1 and 3/8ths thick piece of lumber will perfectly align with the edges of the door. However, you’ll likely need a 1 ¼ or 1 ½” section, as the slightly thinner section is harder to find. Then, you can fill the discrepancy with wood putty or sand the wood down to match.
Alternatively, you can purchase wooden dowels and cut them to thickness with a hacksaw. This may be the preferred choice, especially if you don’t have circle bits on hand. In this case, you need a 1” down and a 2 1/8ths dowel or a 2” dowel and a lot of wood putty.
Insert the Plugs into the Door
Insert the plugs into the holes. The tighter the fit, the more firmly they will stay. Some people prefer to take the door out for this. In fact, it’s much better if you do. In this case, lay the door on a soft surface such as a rug. Put a block of wood under the doorknob. Apply wood glue around the edges of the holes. Then, use a hammer to wedge the plug firmly into place.
Fill the Holes
Once you’ve given the wood glue ample time to dry, you can start to finish the holes. Here, you want to take wood filler or wood putty and fill any remaining cracks or seams in the doorknob hole. It’s always better to use thinner layers and to take longer. Why? The final product will dry faster. It will also be stronger. Just like paint, a thick layer of wood putty can take a long time to dry. This allows it to sag, crack, and weaken as it dries. Applying thinner layers and waiting for each to mostly dry in between gives you a very strong refinished hole.
Sand the Hole
Use a rough grain sandpaper to sand the hole until it’s level with the door. Switch to a finer grain as you get closer to your goal.
Refinish the Paint
Take paint, varnish, or another finish and refinish the hole to match the rest of the paint. This might be difficult if you have an old white door, because white paint changes color over time. However, chances are, you can match the spot closely enough that it won’t be noticeable without close inspection.
3 Alternate Techniques to Fill Door Knob Hole
While the above process of using a plug and wood putty works to fill door knob holes, you might want alternative methods. The following three options work but are not as secure or not as natural.
Using a Doorknob Hole Plug
Most hardware stores sell basic plastic or wood dowels that fit over a doorknob hole. These are largely only suitable for interior doors. However, they can be an excellent choice if you simply want to cover a hole – especially if the goal is to simply take the doorknob off of a door entirely. These plugs are cheap, normally screw in from each side, and can look like something of a “pseudo doorknob”. Most importantly, installation time might take as little as a few minutes.
That can be a great thing if, for example, your goal is to prevent a door from closing. For example, if you want to allow pets to move freely through the house and taking doorknobs out is the best way to do so. Opting for screw-on plugs has the added advantage of not being permanent in case you want to put the doorknobs back on again later.
Using a Plate
It’s also an option to use rivets or screws to attach a metal plate over the hole. This provides a secure alternative to patching the hole. However, it may require a pre-drilled plate, as many home drills do not have the power to cut through metal plates. Alternatively, you could use a softer material such as wood or a tile. However, most plates made for doors are brass or steel.
Like plugs, these have the added advantage of being removable. They cover unsightly holes but don’t permanently fill the doorknob hole. So, you still have the option of putting a door knob on again in the future. Plates are also a great option for push doors, because it’s easy to see that the door will simply open. Some are intended for this purpose and even have handles attached for that reason.
Filling the Hole with Putty
If you need a quick and inexpensive fix, putty might be a good answer. However, in no circumstance will a large amount of putty be a secure hole filler. It will be weak and it may crack or break over time. However, if you’re simply filling a hole on an inside door, chances are, it will be fine. In this case, you want to apply the putty or wood filler around the outside of the hole and in the lock channel first. Allow that to dry. Then, repeat the process to close the hole. As noted above, simply filling the entire hole at once can result in sagging. Apply the wood filler in layers so that it dries evenly and firmly in place.
Once the hole is finished, you can simply sand it and refinish it to match the rest of the door.
Are Door Knob Hole Fillers Worth It?
If you’re filling a doorknob hole, you’ll have to decide between using a wood plug and patching it yourself or choosing a commercial solution. In most cases, which you choose should entirely depend on what the fix is for. For example, do you want a permanent fix and a hole that’s difficult to find in the wood? You want a plug. Do you have a few days to allow the plug to dry? You probably want a prefabricated solution.
Eventually, doorknob hole fillers are normally quick install solutions. They might not provide a lot of security for an outer door. However, you might not need a lot of security. And, with some fillers costing as little as a few dollars, they can definitely be “worth it”. Eventually the choice is yours. However, we’d recommend the plug option for any permanent fix where quality and aesthetics are a concern.
On the other hand, if you want a push door, a plate or a hole filler might actually be a better call. Consider looking at a few options and deciding based on aesthetics before you make a call.
Filling a hole left by a doorknob is a relatively simple task. However, it can be intimidating to do the first time. Hopefully this FAQ helps.
What Size Hole Do I Need to Drill for a Doorknob?
Almost all modern door knobs feature a 2 1/8ths primary hole for the doorknob. This also has a 1” cross hole for the latch. These hole sizes are standardized and nearly any doorknob will feature them. However, there are doorknobs that don’t meet these standards. For example, patio doors will often have slimmer holes. In addition, older door knobs may have greatly varying holes and fixtures. If you’re installing an antique fixture, you might have to measure the actual doorknob before buying a drill bit. That’s important because you need the knob to fit well and snugly for it to be secure.
How Much Space Should Be Between the Door Knob and Deadbolt?
You should have a minimum of 5 ½ inches between the center of the deadbolt crosshatch and the center of the doorknob latch below it. This allows you to drill holes without reducing the security of the wood by weakening the structure. For example, if you were to install the deadbolt right next to the latch, it could cause the wood to simply cave in if someone were to apply pressure against it. In addition, the backset for both the latch and the doorknob, or the distance between the door edge and the center of the hole, should be 2 ¾ inches. This ensures your installation is as secure and as sound as possible.
Filling door knob holes is usually simple work. There are also plenty of options. However, the longest lasting solution is to use a plug and wood filler. You may choose other, faster and more cosmetic solutions as well. However, you should always consider the security of the door if it’s an exterior door.