How to Correct Common Problems With Doors - Sticking Doors

Sticking Doors: Common Issues and Solutions

Key Takeaways
  • Identify the exact areas where the door sticks by marking with chalk or pencil.
  • Use sandpaper for minor adjustments and a wood plane for larger corrections.
  • Regularly maintain doors to prevent future sticking, including oiling hinges and checking for moisture damage.
  • Advanced solutions include using dehumidifiers and reinforcing door frames.
  • Seek professional help if DIY methods do not resolve the issue.

Understanding the Problem of Sticking Doors

Encountering a sticking door can be frustrating. A door that once opened and closed smoothly may now grind against the floor or door frame. Understanding the cause is the first step to solving the issue.

Sticking doors can be caused by:

  • Changes in humidity and moisture.
  • Alterations in flooring material.
  • House settling over time.

Identifying the Cause

To correct a sticking door, determine the precise cause of the problem. Even doors installed by experts can develop issues due to factors beyond control. Here's how to pinpoint the problem:

  • Check if the door is damp. Moisture can cause wood to swell.
  • Examine the door frame and flooring for changes or damage.
  • Look for visible signs of sticking, such as marks on the door or frame.

Steps to Identify Sticking Areas

  1. Open and close the door slowly to observe where it sticks.
  2. Look for tight spots where the door rubs against the frame.
  3. Use chalk or a pencil to mark the sticking areas on the door and frame.

Correcting a Sticking Door

Once you've identified where the door sticks, it's time to fix the issue. Here are practical methods to correct a sticking door.

Sanding the Problem Area

Sanding is often the simplest solution for a door that's too tight against the frame.

  • Remove the door from its hinges.
  • Place the door on a stable surface.
  • Use medium-grit sandpaper or an electric sander to sand the sticking areas.
  • Rehang the door and check the fit.

Tools Needed for Sanding

  • Medium-grit sandpaper
  • Electric sander (optional)
  • Screwdriver (for hinge removal)

Planing the Door

If sanding doesn’t resolve the issue, planing might be necessary.

  • Use a wood plane to shave off thin layers from the sticking areas.
  • Be careful not to remove too much material.

Planing Equipment

  • Wood plane
  • Protective gloves

Realigning the Door

Sometimes, a door sticks due to misalignment with the frame. Adjusting the hinges can help.

  • Tighten any loose screws on the door hinges.
  • Reposition the hinges slightly if necessary.
  • Raise the hinge on the opposite side for doors that stick at the top.

Tools for Hinge Adjustment

  • Screwdriver or drill
  • Replacement screws (if needed)

Preventive Maintenance

Regular maintenance can prevent doors from sticking in the future.

Maintenance Tips

  • Oil the hinges annually to keep them moving smoothly.
  • Check for moisture damage or warping, especially during wet seasons.
  • Paint or varnish the door as needed to protect it from humidity changes.

Advanced Solutions for Persistent Sticking Doors

Dealing with Extreme Humidity

If you live in an area with high humidity, sticking doors can be a recurring problem. Here are advanced solutions to keep your doors functional:

Dehumidifiers and Air Conditioning

Using dehumidifiers or air conditioning can help control indoor humidity levels, preventing wood doors from absorbing excess moisture.

  • Place dehumidifiers in rooms with sticking doors.
  • Maintain a consistent indoor temperature with air conditioning.
  • Monitor humidity levels with a hygrometer.

Weatherproofing Exterior Doors

For exterior doors, proper weatherproofing can prevent water ingress and swelling.

  • Install weather stripping around the door frame.
  • Apply a sealant to the door’s bottom edge.
  • Ensure proper drainage around the door area.

Reinforcing Door Frames

In some cases, the door frame may need reinforcement to correct misalignment or warping.

Adding Shims

Shims can be used to adjust the alignment of the door frame.

  • Remove the door and the trim around the frame.
  • Place shims behind the hinges to adjust the frame’s position.
  • Reattach the trim and rehang the door.

Reinforcing the Frame

If the frame is significantly warped, reinforcing it with additional support might be necessary.

  • Install metal brackets to support weak areas.
  • Use longer screws to secure the frame to the wall studs.
  • Consult a professional for major structural adjustments.

Advanced Tools for Fixing Sticking Doors

Using advanced tools can make the process of fixing a sticking door more efficient.

Power Planers

Power planers are more efficient than manual planes for large adjustments.

  • Ensure safety by wearing protective gear.
  • Adjust the depth setting for precise material removal.
  • Regularly check the door fit during the process.

Orbital Sanders

For a smoother finish, orbital sanders can be used after planing.

  • Use fine-grit sandpaper for a smooth finish.
  • Keep the sander moving to avoid uneven surfaces.
  • Check the door fit frequently to avoid over-sanding.

Professional Help

If you’re unable to resolve the issue with DIY methods, it may be time to seek professional help.

When to Call a Professional

Consider professional assistance if:

  • The door continues to stick despite multiple adjustments.
  • The door frame is significantly warped or damaged.
  • You lack the tools or expertise for advanced repairs.

Choosing the Right Professional

When selecting a professional, look for:

  • Experience with door and frame repairs.
  • Good reviews and recommendations.
  • Proper licensing and insurance.


Sticking doors can be a minor nuisance or a significant hassle, depending on the severity. By identifying the cause, applying the right fixes, and maintaining your doors, you can ensure smooth operation for years to come. For persistent issues, don't hesitate to seek professional help to avoid further damage and ensure a proper fix.