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5-Minute Fix for Doors That Stick

This morning I’m thinking about doors, interior and exterior, sticking or binding when you try to open. I find it’s a common encounter as a home inspector. I recently even discovered one at my house, the result of a loose door hinge.

I’ve decided the obvious first question to ask yourself when you come across one of these inconveniences is “What's the issue?”

I  then use this mental checklist to hopefully lead me to the culprit:

This morning I’m thinking about doors, interior and exterior, sticking or binding when you try to open. I find it’s a common encounter as a home inspector. I recently even discovered one at my house, the result of a loose door hinge.

I’ve decided the obvious first question to ask yourself when you come across one of these inconveniences is “What's the issue?”

I  then use this mental checklist to hopefully lead me to the culprit:

  • Fixing Door HingeLook at the reveal of the door. This is the spacing between the door and the frame. Where exactly is it binding? Reveal should have a minimum of 1/8” clearance on each side as well as the top. A small amount of planing may be necessary.
  • Check for any visible damage on each side of the door. Is this restricting the door in any way? Worst case scenario, the door may need replacing.
  • Manually operate the door handle and latch, and watch where it enters the strike plate. It’s possible a little graphite or bar soap can correct the problem.
  • Ask yourself, “Has the door swollen from high humidity or excessive moisture?" Usually just waiting a few days will take care of the problem. If not, does the door need to be planed?
  • Take a Phillips or flathead screwdriver and check the hinges for tightness. Frequently, I find this to be the source of the issue.
  • Does this door have weather stripping? Is it torn or binding at the bottom underside? Remove old weather stripping and install new. Available at all home improvement stores.
  • Lastly, do you see any cracks in the wall near the frame? It’s possible it could be structurally related. My experience though is it’s probably not. The door may just be victim to high traffic and gets closed a lot. Spackle the cracks and paint over.

There you have it. Straightforward and simple to accomplish. Something any homeowner can complete in less than five minutes.