When we were kids, the door at home was never locked. At some point...we can't remember when...circumstances changed. No longer could we hop up the steps, amble across the front porch and simply squeeze down on the large brass thumb lever that opened the front door. We needed a key to do so.
Today, we see sliding steel security shades for windows and doors, bars of every size and description and gates with grates of steel and mesh. Every door comes with a lock and every lock is accompanied by a deadbolt. And to top it all off, steel entry doors are more available than ever.
A steel door is a rather secure one, and many look every bit as good as a wood door...some even better. A steel door will need maintenance just like any other door. Hinges will need to be lubricated. The door will have to be adjusted when it rubs or drags. And, when it doesn't close just right, the latch plate will need a little massaging. The nice thing is that a steel door doesn't dry out and split or buckle like a wood one can. Steel doors do get scratched and they do dent, but, believe it or not, a steel door is often easier to repair than a wood one. Steel can be more forgiving.
If the surface of your steel door is slightly damaged, don't get frustrated...get putty. The repair is really easy and you will be amazed at how soft steel really is. Scratches and dents are both repaired in exactly the same way. Here's how:
First, use course sandpaper (80- to 150-grit) to remove the paint down to bare metal in the area immediately surrounding the damage. Be careful not to sand too much area. The sandpaper we recommend is going to leave deep scratches. But that's for a reason. You'll want to create “tooth” on the metal surface that will help to hold the filler in place. With the surface sanded, use a vacuum cleaner and a tack cloth or a rag with thinner to completely clean the sanded surface. If rust exists, use a liquid rust remover to eliminate any last bits. Then follow with the cleaning.
Once all traces of rust and paint are removed from the area of the repair, apply the putty. You will find a trip to the automotive supply center a wise move. The putty you will need is called auto-body filler. The expansion and contraction characteristics of this product are designed to correspond with the way metal reacts to heat and cold. Never use wood putty for a metal repair. It might work at first, but as often as not, it will peel away and split. Auto-body filler is made to adhere to metal surfaces. Furthermore, it dries as solid as a rock. This makes it easy to sand to a really smooth finish. Also, auto-body filler produces a perfect surface for paint. Once it is properly sanded and primed, you can't tell the damage repair from any other area. Spread the metal filler into place with a rubber or plastic spreader. A plastic putty knife works well. Kits are available that include the filler, a hardener and a spreader. A small kit can be purchased for less than $10.
Auto-body filler is a two-part resin that must be mixed with a hardener before it can be used. Once the parts are mixed, the filler must be applied within a few minutes. Carefully follow the manufacturer's mixing instructions. Auto-body filler is really neat. It is very soft and easy to apply and it goes on very smoothly. When you wipe it on, make sure to apply enough so that the filled area is slightly higher than the surface of the door...leaving some extra for sanding. If the dent is deep, be prepared to apply two coats. The nice thing about body putty is that it cures (dries) really fast...in about 30 minutes.
Once the filler has dried, use 400-grit wet/dry sandpaper on a sanding block to tool the new surface to match the surrounding area.
Finally, use a primer especially designed for metal...one that inhibits rust...to begin the painting process. Clean the sanded area with a tack cloth, and mask the surrounding area. Since metal is a smooth surface, you will want to spray rather than brush. Masking the area will prevent overspray from ruining surrounding surfaces. When the primer dries it can be lightly sanded, tack-cleaned, and the final coat of paint can be applied. If the painted finish on the door is old and oxidized, a matching paint patch might be impossible. But who cares, you wanted the entire door to look brand new anyway.