Planning & preparation
- Door problems can arise for many reasons, but luckily they tend to be quite easy to fix. Here we will show you how to fix a loose hinge, ease a sticking door, pack out a hinge and move a doorstop
- Start by identifying the area of the door that is causing the problems and ensure you have the right tools and materials for the job
- Seek professional help if a rated fire door is causing problems. Do not plane the edges as these may include intumescent strips as part of the fire protection
- If your door sticks in the frame or rubs on the floor, it tends to be because one or more hinges are loose, or because the door has swollen in damp conditions. Always check the hinges first, as it may not be necessary to alter the door
- If a door is only slightly sticking and the weather is unusually wet or humid, consider waiting to see if the door eases once conditions improve
- If a door rattles against the doorstop in a draught, or springs open when closed, the doorstop can easily be repositioned forwards (rattling) or backwards (springing open) to solve these problems
- If a door is catching on the hinged edge, this can sometimes be fixed by placing cardboard between the hinges and the doorframe. You may need to plane the other edge of the door afterwards
- A similar packing process can be used to slightly adjust the position of a strike plate that isn’t engaging with the latch
- Squeaky or stiff hinges can usually be fixed with a quick squirt of an aerosol lubricant. Open and close the door a few times and the squeak should disappear. Take care to wipe off any excess lubricant before it drips and causes any stains
Do it right
- If you need to plane close to a lock or latch, it’s best to remove these first
- If you plane the edges of a painted door, always prime and repaint afterwards. This is particularly important for external doors – even if the top and bottom edges are not usually visible
- A small adjustment to the strike plate with a metal file that enables the latch to engage properly is an alternative fix when a door is springing open
- An aerosol lubricant can also be used to ease a lock that is hard to turn, or a sticking latch mechanism. Again, take care to wipe off any excess before it drips
- When using a chisel, wear safety goggles and be sure to chisel away from the body
- Doors can be heavy so it’s best to ask for help when you are taking a door off its hinges or rehanging one
Fixing a loose hinge
A door may ‘bind’ or ‘drop’ if the hinges are loose. If you are lucky, all you need to do is use a screwdriver to tighten the screws.
However, it is likely that one or more of the screws are no longer gripping properly as the wood around it has worn down. Remove the screw(s) that won’t tighten, ensuring the door is still held securely.
Place a little wood glue into the screw hole, then use a hammer to tap a couple of small, thin pieces of wood, such as matches with their heads removed, into the hole. Allow the glue to dry.
Use a hammer and chisel to tap or trim the matches until they are flush with the hinge.
Finally, replace the screw(s) into the hinge and tighten as normal.
Ease a sticking door
If the door is only sticking slightly, you may be able to solve the problem using coarse sandpaper and a sanding block.
If this doesn’t work, you’ll need to use a plane to remove the excess material. First, use a pencil to mark on the door edges all the points that are sticking.
If the door is sticking against the top of the frame, or against the floor, unscrew the door from its hinges and secure it into your workbench.
Plane enough material from the door to give you sufficient clearance. If the door is painted, then you’ll also need to factor in the additional coats of paint.
Use fine sandpaper and a sanding block to smooth off all planed edges.
Replace the door and check clearances. If required, remove the door again and make small adjustments. Then apply primer and paint.
Packing out a hinge
To increase clearance on the hinge side of the door, remove the screws that hold the bottom hinge to the doorframe, then prise out the hinge.
Cut some thick cardboard to the same size as the hinge leaf and place this into the recess in the door frame.
Reattach the bottom hinge with the packing in place, then repeat for the top hinge. Ask a friend to support the door whilst you do this.
Move a doorstop
If the door isn’t shutting properly against the doorstop, use a chisel to gently prise the doorstop away from the rest of the doorframe. Take care not to damage the doorstop as you’ll be reusing it.
Use a hammer to tap the existing nails out of the doorstop. If the nails are damaged or bent, it’s best to replace them with new 30mm lost head nails.
Use a chisel and/or fine-grade sandpaper to remove raised paint edges where the edge of the doorstop was.
Close the door and engage the latch with the strike plate. Then, reposition the doorstop to fit against the door.
Tap the nails halfway in and check the door closes easily, making sure that it doesn’t rattle or feel like it will spring open.
Knock the nails flush with the doorstop.
Use a nail punch to sink the nails in a little further, then fill the holes, sand them down and repaint as necessary.