How to fix a sticking door for good

how to fix a sticking door
September 23, 2021 admin 0 Comments

When a door keeps sticking, there’s nothing more frustrating. Oftentimes, we become so used to it over time that dealing with the frustration just becomes routine. We become blind to it.

No homeowner should have to live with doors not working properly! There are a couple of possible solutions to fix a sticking door and today I’ll share them with you.

Door sticking due to humidity

The most common reason a door sticks is due to seasonal weather changes. Most interior doors are made of solid wood or wood fibers like particleboard and wood is very absorbent.

Even if the doors are painted or stained, moisture in the air can still penetrate and cause the door to swell. On the other side of the coin, wood will shrink when the weather is cold.

This is why doors often start to stick during the warmer months. The problem then usually vanishes in the chillier months. Wood is very much alive and simply knowing this fact is empowering.

Now, if you’re looking to fix a door due to humidity, there is a cure-all solution. We need to trim the door so that when it swells there’s still enough clearance for it to close without sticking.

Tools and materials

  1. Pencil
  2. Tape measure
  3. Painter’s tape
  4. Circular saw
  5. Saw horses or chairs
  6. Safety glasses
  7. Sandpaper
  8. Hammer
  9. Screwdriver
  10. Shims or cardboard

Steps to fix (door assessment)

1. In your garage or outside, set up a couple of saw horses. Old folding chairs work just as well.

2. Go over to the door and shut it. With the door shut, look over the edges. Take stock of where it seems to be sticking and where there are gaps between the door and jamb. The door may have to be trimmed at an angle to follow the unevenness of the jamb.

In this case, I’ll show you how to do that in a bit. Typically, doors stick either at the top or bottom. this is because the top and bottom are unfinished edges. This means moisture can easily penetrate. Measure the gaps between the door edge and jamb at the top, bottom, and sides. Depending on how close, I’d recommend taking off 1/8″ – 1/4″.

Steps to fix (door trimming)

3. Remove the door by popping out the hinge pins with a hammer and screwdriver. Most interior doors are 80″ tall and have three hinges. Place shims or cardboard underneath the door to keep it propped while removing the hinge pins. Work from the bottom to the top.

It may be wise to have a helper hold the door in place to avoid it falling. Hollow core doors are pretty light, but solid core doors are heavy so take proper care.

4. Place the door on the sawhorses (or chairs) and mark the locations to be cut. Take your tape measure from the door’s edge and mark 1/4″ or smaller at either end. Take a straight edge like a level or scrap piece of wood and draw a line between the two points.

Now, if you have an angled cut, follow the same procedure. However, make sure to keep track of the orientation of how the door is installed in the opening. This is important because you don’t want to reverse the measurements and cut the smaller dimension on the opposite side.

5. With the line drawn, take painter’s tape and apply a strip flush against the pencil line. This prevents the saw blade from splintering the door. In addition, I recommend adding strips of tape next to each other to form the width of the base of the circular saw. This will prevent the saw base from scratching the door.

6. Now you’re ready to cut! With safety glasses on, steady yourself and run the saw following the pencil line.

7. Repeat for all the edges of the door that need trimming.

8. Now remove the tape, sand any scuffed edges, and replace the door back on its hinges. A bonus tip is to paint the cut edges to finish the door and to prevent more moisture from getting in. Congratulations, you’ve just learned how to fix a sticking door!

Door sticking due to house settlement

If you don’t like the thought of trimming all your doors, there’s another solution. However, this may be a bit more involved and potentially more expensive if you hire out.

The second most common reason why doors stick is due to the house settling. This is common in older homes, say 50-100 years old. Luckily, in Canton and the surrounding areas, most homes aren’t that old and settlement isn’t too bad.

If you did want to follow this route, you’d need to square up the door jamb and casing. This can be done by removing them and depending on how extensive the settlement is, reframing the opening. I don’t recommend this method as it is more involved.

There you have it, the most common methods on how to fix a sticking door and why they stick in the first place. This project is more intermediate and if you don’t feel comfortable doing it on your own, I’d be happy to help. Read more about my story as a handyman here or click the button below to fill out a service request and I’ll get right back to you.

How to fix a sticking door for good was last modified: May 10th, 2024 by admin

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