How to Repair a Steel Door Frame
Steel door frames are typically used in commercial building applications. These frames offer a higher level of strength and durability than a traditional wood frame, and will hold up better against high traffic levels. Over time, steel frames may suffer aesthetic damage in the form of rust, scratches or dents.
They may also be damaged in other ways, which can affect the function and operation of the door and frame. Many of these problems are easy to repair, and will improve the operation and appearance of a steel door frame.
Things You Will Need
- Wire wheel bit
- Mineral spirits
- Auto-body filler
- Paint brush
- Hinge binding tool (Hinge Doctor)
Welding should be performed only by trained and licensed individuals. Use personal protective gear and take fire-safety measures when using a welder.
Repair Scratches And Dents
Remove all paint and rust from the damaged area. Use a drill with a wire wheel attachment to remove rust, paint and primer. You may wish to use sandpaper to remove these items from a larger area, as the use of a wire wheel for this task can be quite time-consuming.
Clean the frame using mineral spirits applied with a rag. Wipe away all sanding dust and dirt, then dry the surface with a clean, dry rag.
Mix an auto-body filler such as Bondo according to the directions on the package. Use this material to fill the scratched or dented area. Apply the filler with a putty knife, using thin layers to help the material adhere to the frame.
Allow the filler material to dry completely, then sand the patched area until it is smooth and even with the rest of the frame.
Clean away all sanding dust, then prime and paint the repaired section. If you are having trouble getting this area to match the rest of the frame, you may have to paint the entire frame. Use painters tape to protect your walls and door as you complete this task.
Repairing Operational Problems
Weld or re-weld frames with broken or damaged corners. Many frames are held together at the corners with two sets of clips. These clips are often damaged during construction. Without these clips, the frame can separate at the corners, which can impede the operation of the door. Hold each section of the frame tight to the surrounding wall, then use a portable welder to weld the entire corner, including the face of the frame and the underside of the header. It is critical to wear appropriate personal protective gear when performing welding activities.
Level the frame. Steel frames are often left out-of-level by the end of a construction project. As walls are constructed around the frames, and spreader bars are removed so materials can be carried through the opening, the frame may end up crooked or uneven. Try inserting wooden shims under the legs of each jamb, or between the jambs and wall framing to help plumb the frame. If the bottom of the frame has been pushed into the opening, try forcing it back towards the surrounding wall framing using a mini-sledge hammer.
Adjust hardware. Many problems with frames and doors can be fixed by adjusting the hardware. Try tightening the hinges, which can loosen up over time, causing the door to sag. Use a hinge binding tool (Hinge Doctor) to repair binding hinges. These tools slip over the hinges when the door is closed. The door is pulled open just past the point where the hinges bind. The tool will help to tighten and re-align the hinges, preventing it from sagging or binding. This is often all that is needed to repair an opening where the door and frame are rubbing or hitting instead of operating as intended.
The Drip Cap
- Steel door frames are typically used in commercial building applications.
- Apply the filler with a putty knife, using thin layers to help the material adhere to the frame.
- Allow the filler material to dry completely, then sand the patched area until it is smooth and even with the rest of the frame.
- As walls are constructed around the frames, and spreader bars are removed so materials can be carried through the opening, the frame may end up crooked or uneven.
- Use a hinge binding tool (Hinge Doctor) to repair binding hinges.
- The tool will help to tighten and re-align the hinges, preventing it from sagging or binding.
- "Door and Frame Applications;" Door and Hardware Institute; 2007
Emily Beach works in the commercial construction industry in Maryland. She received her LEED accreditation from the U.S. Green Building Council in 2008 and is in the process of working towards an Architectural Hardware Consultant certification from the Door and Hardware Institute. She received a bachelor's degree in economics and management from Goucher College in Towson, Maryland.