Steel entry doors offer many advantages. They are incredibly strong, for one, making it harder for would-be burglars to gain access to your home through this primary entry point. Beyond this, steel is a great material because of its ability to stand up to severe weather and sport a wide variety of finishes. All that said, even a steel door needs some TLC from time to time. If you’re curious about how to repair a rusted exterior steel door, the following tips from Master Seal in Rosedale, MD, may help. Looking for a full-out steel door replacement in the Baltimore, MD, or Washington, DC, areas? Call us at 855.608.1580 or contact us online to learn more about our steel entry door styles and get a price quote.
How to Repair Rusted Steel Doors and Their Frames
The first thing to determine in assessing your rusty steel door is whether it needs to be repaired or entirely replaced. Replacement is necessary if structural integrity has been compromised. For example, if rust damage has eaten away so much of the frame that it is no longer square and plumb, a replacement is in order. Misshapen frames also put serious stress on hinges and hardware and may even be a fire hazard if they make the door prone to jamming.
Similarly, if the steel core of your door itself is compromised, it likely needs to be replaced. One way to test this is by bracing your foot against the bottom of the door and pulling the top toward yourself. If the door bends vertically by more than about 1/4 of an inch, the core may have delaminated due to corrosion.
It also bears stating that rusty steel doors and frames cannot be repaired simply by painting them. The presence of rust under a coat of paint elicits bubbling and peeling, and therefore this approach will only cost you more money in the long run. Here are a few simple steps for removing rust from your door easily and effectively prior to painting: Use a wire brush to whisk away the rust. You can use a power drill with a wire brush bit attachment to tackle larger or more stubborn areas of rust if desired.
- Use a rag to wipe away any rust particles still clinging to the door.
- Carefully sand the door using silicon-carbide sandpaper, beginning with coarse-grit paper and moving gradually through finer and finer grits. Sanding in stages makes for a smooth surface that takes paint or other finishes well.
- Wet a rag in isopropyl alcohol and wipe the sanded surfaces down to remove dust thoroughly.
What to Do About Rusted Exterior Door Handles
While rust development is relatively common on steel doors over time, their hardware, which may be made from other metals, is more likely to corrode in a subtler way known as tarnishing. Nonetheless, if actual rust has formed, you can purchase a solution to remove it or whip up a homemade cleaner. One such DIY option is made from equal parts cream of tartar and baking soda with hydrogen peroxide stirred in little by little until a paste-like texture emerges. Smear this mixture onto rusty handles, let it sit for an hour, and then wipe it away with a rag.
If tarnish – which is brownish-black rather than orange-like rust – is your hardware malaise, try one of the following instead:
- For brass or copper hardware: Make a cleaning paste from a tablespoon of flour, a tablespoon of vinegar, and a tablespoon of salt. Apply it to the hardware using a microfiber cloth and let it sit for about 3 minutes. Then wipe it away with hot water and soap. Buff with a soft dry cloth afterward to improve shine.
- For pewter hardware: Mix a teaspoon of salt into a cup of white vinegar. Slowly add flour to the mix until it becomes a paste, then apply the paste to your hardware and let it sit for a longer period of about 15-60 minutes. Rinse and polish as before, knowing that you won’t achieve the same shine through scrubbing as you might with other metals since pewter naturally has a softer finish.
- For plated chrome and nickel hardware: Realize that your hardware’s finish is delicate and thus probably wants only careful dusting and cleaning with mild soapy water. Lightly coating this hardware with wax after cleaning it can also help preserve its shine and integrity over time.
Go Beyond Rusted Door Repair with A Brand-New Entry Installation by Maryland’s Door Specialists, Master Seal
Looking for a home improvement project that will make a big difference both to your home’s aesthetics and practical value? Upgrading your front entry door with a sturdy, highly customizable steel variety by Master Seal may be a great choice. Call us at 855.608.1580 or reach out online to learn more about what our friendly team in Rosedale, MD, can do for you.