Adjusting and Repairing Doors that Don’t Close or Stick
Ill-fitting exterior doors reduce energy efficiency and may allow moisture into your home.
Inside, doors that scrape and stick cause damage to floor coverings, the door and the frame, and they’re a nuisance! If the doors originally fit properly but now don’t, they can be adjusted to open and close smoothly without rubbing or banging.
This house repair guide explores the problem and offers tips and suggestions for fixing the problem without shaving wood off the door. This can definitely be a do-it-yourself home project, but if you’d prefer to call a professional, a handyman or carpenter should be able to make the adjustments to each door in a few minutes.
Door Adjustment and Repair Guide and Resources
Our goal here is to give you clear instructions for doing the work or at least knowing what should be done if you choose to hire someone for the work. You’ll learn about the techniques and tools required to have your doors fitting properly again. Door repair and adjustment costs are included for DIY and professional work, and we offer suggestions for saving money on the repairs. Finally, we include a list of online resources that provide additional information for this home repair.
It’s not uncommon for doors to get out of adjustment for a number of reasons especially in timber framed houses, regardless of age. “A timber framed house is not an inert object”. The fact is it moves! moisture makes wood swell, heat makes wood shrink, pure and simple.
The good news is that doors (and windows) can usually be adjusted quite easily, and minor repairs can be DIY projects with a few basic tools and skills. Let’s get started.
- The first tip is to refrain from grabbing a planer and shaving wood from the door because if the door fits in the first place and hasn’t been damaged, (keep in mind a door is usually true and square at the corners) it should fit after you carry out the following guides
- When the edge of the door opposite the hinges is hitting the jamb, use a screwdriver to tighten the hinges
- Check to see if the hinge is bent, and if it is, attempt to straighten it or replace it
- In extreme cases in which this is the problem, possibly due to the swelling of a wood door from moisture, a small amount of material might need to be removed from beneath the hinge
- Use a pencil to outline the hinge, remove it, and remove 1/32 to 1/62 inch of material using a wood chisel and small hammer, sand paper or Dremel tool with the appropriate head
- When the finish of the jamb is removed, re-stain/paint the jamb and allow it to dry before replacing the hinge
- If all else fails!: lay a block of wood against the spot were the door is sticking and hit it with a heavy hammer (it may need quite a blow). As previously explained framing moves, door jambs move, the wedges behind the jamb may have moved? constant slamming of a door by wind are a major cause.
- When the door is hitting the top of the jamb, again there are a number of reasons
- Obviously the top edge of the door must be lowered in the first place, or does it?
- Lets look at adjusting the hinges first.
- Very simply you rehang the door with enough clearance at the top to enable it to close properly.
- If the door has been tight for some time, the strike plate might be damaged or scratched by being repeatedly struck in the wrong place. It may be the strike plate no longer works, take it off and file the opening down so that is does. You may also need to remove some material from the latch recess
- Strike plates are easy to replace by unscrewing the old one and using the screws to attach the new one
- Take the strike plate with you to a home improvement store to find a suitable replacement
- It’s possible that the door jamb has become loose, causing the door not to fit properly
- Look for popped nails on the jamb, and remove them, adding new nails to tighten the jamb
- For this job, finish nails should be used, sunk slightly below the wood’s surface and the holes filled
- Lets look at an alternative fix:
- Normally framing and door jambs sit on flooring which in turn are connected to floor joists and bearers. Some internal walls are load bearing which is especially true of double story homes.
- If a door is binding at the top on the opposite side of the hinge the floor has sunk! fractionally, sure but enough to make the door bind. So you need to provide extra support under the floor by adding timber between the joists then wedging the floor back up to level, which in turn will lift the closing side of the door jamb. The gap between door and frame should be even along the top of the door.
Provided you have the room to move under the sub-floor of your home it is not that hard to do.
Door Adjustment and Repair Costs
If you do the work yourself, your costs will include tools and materials. Here’s a list of the items used for adjusting the fit of doors. The spectrum of prices reflects that these tools come in a range of quality.
- Phillips screwdriver: $3 to $8
- Sandpaper: $5 to $10 per pack
- Wood glue: $4 to $8
- Wood stain/paint, quart: $12 to $18
- Wood chisel: $7 to $20
- Small hammer: $5 to $15
- Dremel tool kit: $25 to $100
- Door hinges: $5 to $20
- Drill: $25 and up
- Professional Door Adjustment and Repair Costs
Hiring a professional for the work usually involves paying a minimum service fee of $90 to $175 that will cover the first hour of work. In that time, one or two doors can be adjusted or repaired. Materials such as hinges, latch plates and stain will cost more.
How to Save Money on Door Adjustments and Repairs
If you want to do the work yourself and don’t have the tools, consider borrowing them as a way to save money. However, most of the tools are commonly used for other projects, so you might want to pick them up for future use.
When hiring a professional, get estimates from several handymen to find the one with the most reasonable prices. Check a few references too to make sure the one you hire has good experience.
DIY Door Adjustment and Repair Resources
SBS Alaska – Here’s a list of good tips from a local builders supply company.
YouTube – This Wichita handyman’s video shows you how to add washers as spacers behind a hinge to stop the door from hitting the top of the door frame.
Pretty Handy Girl – There are quite a few helpful pictures on this page showing the various aspects of adjusting a door that doesn’t fit properly