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How To Fix a Sticking Door

A sticking door is an infuriating problem to have, and it can be a tricky one to solve, too. There is no one simple solution to a sticking door, because there are several different things that can cause a door to stick. Sometimes, it is the door itself that is causing the problem, but in other cases the issue is with the latch or the hinges.

1930's Oak Door

1930's Style Oak Door

Before you start taking your door to pieces, it’s a good idea to check that the latches are working properly and that the hinges are loose. If you’re lucky, oiling the hinges will solve the problem, saving you a lot of work. Another thing to try is adjusting the pins on the bottom hinge to make the door swing more easily. If the latches and hinges seem fine, then the problem is most likely with the door itself.

What Causes a Sticking Door

Doors stick if they do not fit into the frame correctly, either because they are misaligned, they are too big for the frame, the frame has shifted, or the door has become warped due to extreme temperatures or humidity. Usually, you will notice that a door is sticking fairly soon after hanging it, but sometimes the problem can arise later – for example if you change the carpet in the house, or the house develops a damp problem.

To fix a sticking door you will need the following tools:

Richmond Campion Bi-fold Door

Richmond Campion Bi-fold Door

  • Screwdriver
  • Sandpaper
  • A wood plane
  • Chalk
  • Wood seal or paint

Firstly make sure that the door is not damp. If the door is damp, let it dry and see if the sticking problem has solved itself.

If the door is dry, open and close it a few times and identify where the sticking is occurring. If the sticking is occurring on the handle side, not the hinge side, lightly sand the door to remove some excess wood, checking the fit of the door frequently. If the problem is that the door is sticking against the frame or the floor you may need to remove the door from the frame to remove the excess wood. Never sand the frame itself, always remove wood from the door.

If it is obvious that there is a lot of wood to remove, mark the sticking area with some chalk and remove the door from the frame, then use a wood plane to remove a few mm of wood at a time, re-testing the door regularly. Remove the bottom screws first when taking the door out of the frame, and support the door on some wedges.

-       It is a good idea to have someone assist you when removing the door, for safety reasons. Even hollow internal doors can be much heavier than you expect when their weight is no longer being supported by hinges.

When using a plane to remove excess wood, always lay the door flat. Never work with the door upright or on its side, because it is easy for the wood to become warped or damaged under its own weight.