What Causes Doors to Stick, and What You Can Do About It

Apr 12
Gayler Design Build

What Causes Doors to Stick, and What You Can Do About It

By Gayler Design Build
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Fitting an Internal Door Header

Photo Courtesy of Wickes

A common question we get here at Gayler Design Build, is “why is my door sticking and how do I fix it?” Nothing can be more frustrating than not being able to open and close your doors easily. Many homeowners experience this issue, particularly in Contra Costa County with the warmer air and high levels of humidity.

The good news is there is an explanation. Here are the top 3 reasons that your doors may be functioning improperly, all perfectly normal and not a cause for concern:

Changes in the Weather

It is not uncommon to find that your doors won’t shut correctly after a rain shower. This is because high humidity or an abundance of moisture in the air due to a heavy rainfall can cause wood to swell. As the amount of water in the air increases, the fibers in your door expand. As the humidity in the air decreases so do the fibers, typically shrinking back to its original state.

Natural Wear and Tear

Day-in and day-out we are busy opening and closing our doors. Do you have children who like to swing on the doors? Over a period of time, excess weight on the door will cause the door to become misaligned. This natural wear and tear may lead to screws coming loose or hinges being pulled out of alignment.

Shifting Foundation

Another reason that a door might not fit its frame correctly could be the result of your home’s shifting foundation. As a home naturally settles, slight shifts can occur that will throw your door slightly out of alignment.

Soil movement is also a common cause for drywall cracks, grout, and caulking. For more information, read Cracks in Drywall, Grout and Caulking: Cosmetic or Structural

How to Fix Your Sticking Doors

First, determine the real issue.

Is your door expanding and contracting with the weather changes? Has the hardware loosened? Is the foundation shifting?

If the door is level but sticks in the doorframe, it’s likely swollen. If your door is crooked, it’s possible that the hinges have come loose. If the door is level and the hinges are tight, it might be an issue with the shifting foundation. All of these issues are not the result of faulty workmanship or a defective product.

But, fixing a sticking door can be somewhat tricky. To begin with, their measurements have to be precise to fit the frame perfectly. Consequently, you may need to call on an expert to help you. However, you may want to try these remedies first:

  • Clean the sticky area with soap and water (might be the problem)

  • Tighten the hinges or screws to realign the door

  • Lubricate the hinges

Sometimes it’s possible to shave or sand the expanded area a few centimeters yourself to ensure the door will open and close smoothly. Doing so, you will want to be careful not to make your door too small, causing an unwanted draft.

Another option may be replacing your exterior wood door with a newer fiberglass or steel door, which are a little less susceptible to expanding or shrinking during changing weather patterns.

Red Flags

However, if your interior doors are continuing to stick over time and you're noticing that your windows are not opening and closing correctly, your floors are uneven or you have large cracks in your walls, it could be an indication that you have a severe a foundation problem. In this case, you should consult a professional and invite them to inspect your home right away.

For more helpful home maintenance tips, sign up for our bi-monthly eNewsletter that is chock-full of ideas for remodeling your home.

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