Things to think about

A door sticks when edges bind or rub against the frame or floor. Shave away a little wood and the door will open and close easily again.

If a door is sticking near the latch, remove the latch before you repair it or you will damage the wood plane.

A well-adjusted door should not rattle. Most strike plates have a flange that can be bent slightly to solve the problem.

Doors that fit too loosely in the frame will rattle in a draught. This is often because the doorstop is badly positioned or the strike plate is in the wrong place. Both can be easily moved to solve the problem.

Pack out a hinge if a door is binding on the hinged edge. This can be done by unscrewing the hinge and cutting thick cardboard to the size of the hinge leaf. Position the card behind the hinge and screw it back in place. Open and close the door and, if necessary, add more pieces of cardboard until it opens and closes smoothly.

If a latch doesn't catch when you close a door you may just need to file the inner edge of the strike plate, as it may be set too far forward in the frame. A latch won't catch either if the plate is too far back in the frame. 'Pack out' the plate as you would a hinge.

If a door won't stay shut, the latch may not be properly aligned with the strike plate. Check the wear on the plate as the door closes. To make small adjustments simply file the edge of the hole in the strike plate.

Move the strike plate only as a last resort.

A door will not close properly if the hinge fittings are loose. Drill out the old holes, plug them with wooden dowels and drill new fixing points into the surface of each dowel before refitting hinges.

Wooden doors and windows stick and swell in wet weather. Try rubbing on beeswax or polishing the sticking edge. If this doesn't work, remove the door or window, plane or sand the edge that sticks and be sure to prime and repaint the edges.

Do not adjust doors and windows too much as they swell during periods of high humidity and shrink when the humidity falls.

Do not hang an external door and leave bare wood exposed as water will enter the grain and cause swelling. To remedy, remove the door, dry it and plane a little wood from the affected area. Prime the bare timber and undercoat and topcoat to prevent swelling again.

Extend the life of outside doors by using a good quality exterior paint system, which will be durable and long-lasting.

Ask someone to help hold the door if rehanging is awkward.

Take care when using chisels, always follow three rules:

  1. Keep hands behind the cutting edge
  2. Chisel away from your body
  3. Always secure the timber you are working on with a clamp or vice

Ease a sticking door

1

If the door edge is sticking, mark where the door catches against the frame and where excess wood needs to be planed away.

2

Open the door and plane the edge where the mark is; work toward the centre of the door. Open and close door regularly to test clearance.

3

If the door is sticking at the bottom, measure the height needed for it to clear the floor; 3mm is ideal. Cut a wood block to this measurement.

4

Mark a line along the bottom with the block and a pencil. Remove the door and cut along the line with a saw, or use a plane, as required.

5

Planed edges should be primed before recoating with finishing paint. The underside of exterior doors should also be painted before rehanging.

Fix a rattling door

1

If any parts of the doorstop do not fit properly against the door when it is closed, lever off these sections. A chisel is ideal for this.

2

Tap the nails back out of the doorstop so that they can be reused, as long as they are straight. If not, use new lost-head nails for refixing.

3

Use a chisel to remove rough paint edges. Close the door and draw a pencil line from the top to bottom of the frame where the door closes.

4

Open the door and reposition the doorstop on the marked line. Gently tap the nails in halfway and check that the door shuts correctly.

5

Knock the nails flush and, if necessary, use a nail punch to knock the heads in below the wood surface. Fill, sand and repaint as required.

Strengthen hinge fixings

1

A loose top hinge causes a door to sag. If the screws will not retighten because they no longer grip, make a repair with dowels.

2

Remove the door then use a wood bit to bore out holes to the diameter and depth of a wooden dowel – 6 x 20mm is an ideal dowel size.

3

Coat some dowels in wood adhesive and knock them into the drilled holes until they are flush with the surface. Remove excess adhesive with a cloth.

4

When glue is dry, reposition the door. Mark through hinge holes, remove door and drill pilot holes through marks and into each dowel.

5

Reposition the door and use new screws (if the originals have been damaged) to refix the hinge and secure the door in place.

Fill old hinge positions

1

Fill an old hinge position if you change the side of the frame on which the door hangs. Cut a piece of batten as long as the hinge recess.

2

Use a hammer and chisel to split the wood to the approximate depth needed. Ensure the length and width of the offcut is reasonably accurate.

3

When chiselled to size, apply a generous amount of wood adhesive to one side of the trimmed offcut. Excess adhesive can be wiped away.

4

Press the wooden block into the old hinge position. Remove excess adhesive with a cloth and allow it to dry overnight until secure.

5

Plane off the new block flush with the frame. Use a little filler for any small holes and allow this to dry before sanding, priming and painting.