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How to Repair a Sticking Door

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DIFFICULTY RATING: (1 out of 5 - Beginner)

There are many causes for sticking doors. Investigate the symptoms and find a method to bring your sticky door back in line.
Adjustable wrench (Buy) Hammer (Buy)
Paintbrush (Buy) Plane (Buy)
Prime coat or primer (Buy) Sandpaper (Buy)
Shim (Buy) Wire cutter (Buy)
Wood block (Buy) Wood glue (Buy)


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Step 1: Fix loose hinges
Check the hinges to see if they are tight. If they wiggle, the screws need to be tightened or replaced. First try to tighten the screws. If they are stripped, try replacing the screw in the middle with a longer fastener that will go into good wood beyond the stripped hole. If there is not enough good wood to drill into, add wood to the hole by taking a thin length of wood covered in a big drop of wood glue. Push the wood and the glue into the hole and allow to dry. Once dry, cut off the exposed wood end and drive the screw into the hole. The new material may give it enough substance to hold tight.

A longer screw inserted in the middle hole of the hinge may hold the hinge in tighter.


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Step 2: Correct shifting door jambs
If the hinges are tight but the door is still sticking, use a block of wood to help pound the jamb back into place. Rest the wood against the jamb and hit the wood with a hammer. Often, this is enough to widen the jamb and allow the door to swing freely. If opening the jamb does the trick, consider adding finish nails to hold the jamb in place.

Widen the door jamb by hammering against a block of wood placed against the jamb.


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Step 3: Fix a door that rubs against the top of the jamb
If the door is rubbing against the top of the door jamb, try bending the hinge tabs toward the door knob using an adjustable wrench. This will pull the door away from the top of the jamb.

Use an adjustable wrench to bend the hinge tabs and pull the door away from the top of the door jamb.


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Step 4: Sand or plane the door edge
If adjusting the hinges does not work, sand the edge of the door to eliminate any high spots. Check the door frequently for fit and don't sand off too much. If the edge is badly swollen, use a plane to take off the high spots. Work in the direction of the grain to avoid gouging the wood. Check for fit and be careful not to plane down too far. Once the door fits, sand the planed wood smooth. Prime and paint any exposed wood to prevent further swelling.

If the edge is badly swollen, use a plane to remove a layer of wood.


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Step 5: Fix a tilted door
First remove the door. If the door is tilting into the frame, use a chisel to remove some of the wood in the mortise behind the hinge plate. Removing a small amount of wood will pull the top of the latch side of the door away from the jamb. Keep testing the door and work until it is plumb. If the door is tilted away from the frame and not latching, use a cardboard shim in the mortise, behind the hinge, to adjust the fit and bring it back in line. Keep adding shims until the door is parallel with the frame.

Use cardboard shims behind the hinge to pull the door in line.


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Text by Deb Alden
Renovate Your World




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