Fixing Sticky Doors

in Door

One of the most annoying things when opening a door is having it stick. As a result you bump into the door, because you anticipated it would open, and you probably spilled or dropped what you were carrying.  It is so aggravating you just want to kick the door, but don't.  Sticky doors are especially annoying when the door refuses to close or open and later it magically closes or opens without sticking. Sticky doors usually result from house settling or the door and door frame expanding as the humidity increases in the house. Whatever the cause, fixing sticky doors is not a difficult task.

Fortunately fixing sticky doors is a fairly simple project for the DIY homeowner. In the old days a simple application of soap at the sticky point resolved the problem, at least temporarily. Permanently fixing the sticky door takes a little more effort than applying soap to the sticky points.

The first step to fixing a sticking door is to evaluate the problem. Determine if the door or the door frame is causing the problem. The doorknob and latch can also be culprit. Usually the door itself and not the frame or doorknob is the cause of the problem. If the door only sticks when the humidity is high or when the door gets wet from rain, the problem is probably due to swelling of the door or the door frame.

For a temporary fix apply soap to the sticky point but when the soap wares off the door will stick again. For a permanent fix you need to remove the door by taking it off the hinges and sand and seal the edges of the door. Sealing the edges will waterproof the door and prevent expansion when it gets wet or the humidly is high.  If this does not solve the problem the door frame may need adjusting. You can adjust the frame but placing a block of wood at the sticky point and hammer it with a few sold hits. The door frame will move slightly but will not remain in the new position unless you install a nail or screw to hold it in place.

Another possible cause of a door to stick is because the door sags at the hinges as the hinge screws loosen. Simply tightening or replacing the hinge screws will fix the problem. Use small wedges of wood to apply upward pressure to the door during screw replacement and tightening the screws.

If the sticking door is caused by the door knob or latching mechanism remove the doorknob and latch and determine exactly the cause.  Most likely the problem is in the latching mechanism where it attaches to the door frame. This can be corrected in two ways. First adjust the door height slightly by removing and reinstalling the door hinge screws. Remove the hinge screws, install a wedge under the door to move it slightly and reinstall the screws. If the problem is in the latching mechanism, reposition the latching plate by removing the screws and adjusting it up or down as required.  

Fixing sticky doors can take time to isolate the cause of the problem. Once the problem is isolated, it's simply a matter of sanding, sealing, adjusting, or a combination of three to permanently fix the problem. Kicking the door out of frustration will not remedy the problem.

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Les Donovan has 1 articles online

 Les Donovan is semi-retired and lives in the lakes region of central New Hampshire following more than four decades in the aerospace industry. He has extensive home building experience having build four house, built garages, porches, finished basements and attic rooms as well as made extensive addition to houses. For the most part, he built the house by himself and acted as a general contractor for some portions of those projects. These projects included framing, plumbing, electric wiring, finish carpentry, masonry projects, sheet rocking, wall papering, and interior exterior painting and landscaping. His website offers DIY home improvement projects and ideas for the DIY homeowner. Visit our site at:

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Fixing Sticky Doors

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This article was published on 2010/10/26