cheap painless repair for faux wood garage door panel?

Apologies in advance for putting a home repair question in this political round table. :^/
Now that I am driving to and from work in daylight again, I noticed a problem on the bottom panel of my hardboard-skinned (with fake woodgrain) Dalton garage door. On one end, where it meets the stop strip, water or bugs or animals have been chewing away at the stop strip and door surface, like giant rats were trying to get into my garage. The stop strip, I can replace pretty easily. But there is a triangle-shaped section of the door panel surface layer where the top layer with the fake woodgrain is actually gone- it isn't through to the insulation layer, but the surface that is now exposed is beyond merely touching up with paint.
Any ideas on a cheap painless fix? Aside from this one chewed-on spot, the door is in pretty decent condition, and works well. Epoxy wood fill slathered on? Bondo? A big piece of aluminum tape? I need to do something before it gets much worse, since a new door would not pay for itself at resale. I presume I need to wait for several dry sunny days in a row, so it is all dried out, before I attempt any repair?
--
aem sends...

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The policitcal hacks will have to bear with you on this one. :)
What is the door made from?
I have done some amazing to me repairs using bondo. If one takes the time to carve and shape it after curing you can do about anything. I have done this on both Aluminum siding and several different forms of wood. Doors, windows, window sills and shashes, baseboard and aluminim siding they all seem to turn out well if you spend a little time with the prep.
If the edge is gone use a paint stick or other control to get the straight edge, you can round it off later with a palm sander.
I have never used epoxy wood fill. I suspect the wood grain would be hard to carve in after the repair.
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Colbyt
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On 5/7/2011 7:13 PM, Colbyt wrote:

Door appears to be wood frame, presumably with foam in middle, with (what I call) Masonite faces, smooth on inside and wood-grain texture on outside. Idiot previous owner never finished the inside face, so it is stained from the water that runs through cracks when you open the door. Outside has at least 3 coats of paint- factory, previous owner, and the 'college pro' half-ass paint job I foolishly paid for (on entire house) 3 years ago.
aem sends....
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Are the wood grain structure inserts painted, or wood-colored? I like bondo myself.
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On 5/8/2011 1:12 AM, hr(bob) snipped-for-privacy@att.net wrote:

Painted, but they aren't inserts. It is more like an interior hollow-core door. The frame of each panel is not visible from street when door is closed- the faux woodgrain sheet of masonite covers the whole surface of the panel on both sides.
--
aem sends...

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the woodworking stores used to have a rubber stamp for putting "wood grain" into finishes.they might stil carry it. It probably won't match what he already has on the garage door.
If using Bondo,I'd form some window screening mesh to fit the large missing areas to provide reinforcement(or add chopped glass fiber),since Bondo is only supposed to be used in THIN layers.
--
Jim Yanik
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On 5/8/2011 3:34 PM, Jim Yanik wrote:

have been scratching my head over- how to get such a thin layer of bondo to stick well to the exposed fibrous substrate. Afraid that with the first thermal cycling or hard bump, the whole patch would fall off with some fuzz sticking to the back of it. No room for screen or screwheads. Afraid staple-gun staples would be instant rust magnets. Maybe some tiny holes through the masonite, so the bondo keys in like an old plaster job? Sit there with the cordless drill and a 1/4 bit, and make a matrix of holes down into the frame and foam layer, englishing the bit to make the holes bigger on the bottom?
Not worried about it looking perfect- this is a 50 year old house, and 32 year old garage addition. Just want it to not look horrible. Once bondo hardens, I can scratch it up enough with sur-form and a screwdriver, so it doesn't stand out so much from the faux woodgrain.
-- aem sends...
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wrote in

If you start with a clean dry surface I don't think you will have any problems with the Bondo failing.
I have some well painted exterior repairs that are fast approaching the 10 year mark. Some of those were at little as 1/32" and others were far thicker than recommended. Most but not all were sealed with the West epoxy system before the Bondo was applied. It is expensive but much less than a new door or panel.
Colbyt
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wrote in

I agree; a fibrous or rough surface is great for Bondo adhesion,and a thin layer of Bondo is desirable. Bondo fails most when it's laid on too thick,and the different thermal expansion rates of bondo and metal bodywork.
I was thinking of filling in large missing chunks and edging when I suggested the screening or chopped glass fibers.
--
Jim Yanik
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wrote:

Paint a square a desireable color and attach it over the damaged portion, and attach 3 other squares up down and diagonally from the first.
Or paint a square to look like a big mouse hole or atomic explosiion or the entrance to Wonderland and glue that over the damaged area.

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wrote:

Get a piece of metal carpet or linoleum edging. It's normally made out of aluminum. Screw it on above the new stop strip. It will add a decorative look. Best yet, mice wont chew on it. It's probably mice causing the problem. Get a cat.
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