Summary: Learn how to repair a sticking door, fix a squeaking door, prevent a door from slamming, repair a crack, fix a sagging door, prevent a door from springing open and repair the base of a door.
If a door is stiff and difficult to open, it could be due to a build-up of paint on one or more edges of the door causing it to stick in the frame. You can easily check this by inserting a thin knife blade in the gap between the door and the frame. If the blade gets stuck, that is where the problem is.
- Firstly, try to remedy the problem by removing the paint from the offending area on the edge of the door with a sander or plane. To do this you will have to prop the door open with wedges above and below it. Once the door closes without sticking, smooth the door edge with sandpaper before priming and re-painting.
- However if this does not resolve the problem and the door is still sticking, you may need to remove the door from its hinges and plane the entire length of the door edge.
- Clamp the door in a workbench and mark a trimming line using a spirit level.
- Plane each end of the door towards the centre to avoid splintering the edges.
- Also, check the underside and the top edge of the door, as these surfaces are often unpainted and may soak up moisture and expand causing the door to stick. If required damp-proof with wood preservative and then prime and paint.
The problem of squeaking hinges can easily be resolved by oiling the hinges with a lubricating product. Wipe away any surplus lubricant with a cloth. If the door is fitted with rising butt hinges you will need to lift the door off the hinge pins to lightly oil them.
To prevent a door from slamming shut, install a door closer. These are available in different sizes to suit the size and weight of your door. You can also buy door closers that can be concealed in the top of the door. Door closers are usually adjustable to allow the door to open to 90º or 180º.
- Take the template supplied with the door closer and using a bradawl mark the position of the screw holes at the top of the door.
- Drill pilot holes for the screws in the door and fix the door closer in place.
- Mark where to fix the pivot arm of the closer unit onto the architrave.
- Drill pilot holes into the architrave and then screw the end of the arm in place.
- Connect the pivot arm to the closer and make the necessary adjustments with the adjusting screws until the door closes slowly and quietly.
Splitting door panels
On painted doors, repairing a crack or split is easy – simply fill the crack with wood filler and paint over it. If your door has a natural wood finish, use dowels to close the gap.
- Clean out finishing products from the crack with a filling knife.
- Cut some 8mm diameter dowels to a length that equals the width of the stile (the upright part of the door that accommodates the hinges or lock) plus 20mm.
- Drill holes of the same size as the dowels into the edge of the door.
- Paste wood adhesive in the crack and drive the dowels into the holes to push the gap closed.
- When the adhesive is dry, saw off the excess dowel, and sand the surface smooth.
If the door sags in the frame, first try tightening the screws on the hinge. If the hinges are not large or strong enough to support the door, replace them.
- To do this, plug the old screw holes and drill new holes, as described in the section on hanging doors.
If the problem is caused by a loose mortise and tenon joint at the corner of the door, it will need reinforcing.
- Remove the door from its hinges and carefully lever the loose joint apart.
- Apply wood adhesive to the open joint and using a sash clamp firmly close the joint together ensuring the door remains square.
- With a hammer, knock small wooden wedges into the ends of the joint to keep it from opening up.
- Then drill a hole through the door and into the tenon, which will accommodate a length of glued 8mm dowel. This will keep the tenon firmly in position.
- When all the wood adhesive has dried cut away any protruding dowel and sand it flush to the door.
If a door will not stay closed and keeps springing open, this is usually because the hinge has been set too far back into the wood on either the door or the frame. To remedy this problem simply pack out the hinge recess with cardboard.
- Unscrew the hinge from the frame and insert cardboard the exact dimensions as the hinge.
- Do the same for all the hinges and replace the door.
Staining at the base of the door
If the paintwork or finish becomes stained at the base of the door, this is probably a sign of damp. See the section on damp-proofing for information about identifying and treating damp problems.
- To repair the damage, chisel away the rotten wood and apply wood hardener in the hole. Let the hardener soak in and dry.
- Fill the hole with wood filler, gradually building up the level until it is slightly proud of the surface of the door.
- When the filler has set, sand the surface level and then conceal the repair with paint.
- If the doorframe or architrave is rotten, replace the section of timber by following the instructions in the sections for installing architraves or doorframes.
- Electric sander
- Spirit level
- Power drill
- Filling knife
- Tenon saw
- Sash cramp
- Claw hammer
- Wood chisel
- Wooden mallet
- Wood preserver
- Lubricating oil
- Door closer
- Wood filler
- Wood adhesive
- Small wooden wedges
- 8mm dowel
- Cardboard packing
- Wood hardener
- Finishing wood
- Fitting a door frame
- Fitting a doorstop
- Fitting architrave
- Fitting shutters
- Floor maintenance