Home Maintenance 101: How to Loosen Doors that Stick

Sticky doors is a relatively common problem, and they may be caused by any of a number of factors, from excess humidity to improper hanging. Fortunately, this problem is also easy to fix, even if you know next to nothing about home improvement. Just follow a few simple steps to loosen doors that stick.

Determine where the door is sticking. This is called the sticking point, and finding it is necessary to determining what the cause of your sticky door is, and how to fix it. To determine where the door is sticking, close it gently and then open it back up again, being sure to pay close attention to the point at which its movement seems to be impeded.

Hinge readjustments. If your door seems to be getting stuck at the hinged side and there is either a wide gap, or no gap, between the door and the door frame, then it’s likely that you may need to adjust the hinges. Simply open the door all the way to expose the hinge screws and then tighten the screws. If certain screws won’t tighten, then it’s possible you have enlarged screw holes. This problem is easy to solve by either using larger screws in those holes, or filling the holes with a fiber plug before reinserting the screws.

Hinge/door frame readjustments. If all the screws are tightly in place, then it may be that you need to readjust the hinges on the door frame. To do this, loosen the hinge screws that are in the door frame (but not the door) until you can pull the hinge out enough to place something behind it. Then insert wood shims underneath the hinge until the hinge is where it needs to be for the door to open and close smoothly, and then trim the shims and retighten the screws.

Swollen door or frame. If your door is sticking because either the door or the door frame is swollen from humidity, then you may need to plan the area that catches. Simply use a handheld wood planer to shave the surface area off the door or frame where needed, and continue to do this until the doors is able to open and close freely.

It is not unusual to run into the problem of sticky doors, especially if your home has been around for a while. Fortunately, there are some simple and relatively quick fixes for this common problem. The trick is to figure out where, exactly, the door is sticking, and then choose a solution from there.