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How to Fix a Door That Sticks

Instead of pushing, pulling, and cursing, why not fix that door that sticks?


  • Step 1: Check installation Check that the door was properly installed. Close the door and see if the top of the door lines up with the doorframe. Examine all sides of the door, then make sure the hinges are properly installed and aligned.
  • Step 2: Test tightening See that the hinges are tight and secure. Use your screwdriver to tighten any loose screws. Do not use a drill; it could cause you to strip the screw holes.
  • TIP: Wedge a book or piece of wood under the door to keep it steady while you work on the hinges.
  • Step 3: Check for warping Look for swelling. Time and humidity can cause wooden doors to warp and expand, so check where the door sticks and see if its shape has been altered.
  • Step 4: Mark warped areas If warping seems to be the problem, slip a thin piece of cardboard between the door and frame and notice the problem areas where it sticks. Lightly mark these spots with a pencil, unscrew the hinges, and remove the door.
  • Step 5: Sand the door Sand the problem areas with a sanding block. Be careful not to take off more than you want.
  • TIP: If a door has been painted over several times, the layers of paint may be what's making it stick. Sand them down.
  • Step 6: Plane the door If the problem area is significant, use a belt sander to grind it down. Follow the manufacturer's directions and don't wear away too much wood! Add finish to the sanded area, let it dry, and reattach your door, making sure the hinges are tight. Chances are you've fixed the problem by now.
  • Step 7: Replace screw Still sticking? Replace the middle screws on the hinges with larger, longer screws that will grip the frame better.
  • Step 8: Dent the doorframe You could also try carefully denting the doorframe. Take your wooden block and place it on the frame where the door tends to stick. Hammer the block lightly so the doorframe bends a bit; this make the door looser when it's closed.
  • Step 9: Push frame closer to the studs Here's another trick -- push the doorframe closer to the studs by hammering a nail into the frame where the door tends to stick. Sometimes this can buy you a little room.
  • Step 10: Buy a new door If all else fails, it may be time for a new door. At least you know you didn't overlook an obvious fix! Make sure the new door is stained or varnished on all sides, which can prevent warping by keeping out moisture.
  • FACT: The narrowest house in the world is in Amsterdam; it is not much wider than its 39-inch front door!

You Will Need

  • A screwdriver
  • Some cardboard
  • Screws that are larger than those in the hinges
  • A pencil
  • A belt sander or sanding block
  • A book or piece of wood
  • A solid wooden block

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