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How to Fix a Sticky Door

April 24, 2024

Dealing with a door that sticks can be a frustrating issue faced by many households, no matter the season. The smooth operation of opening and closing doors is crucial for their functionality. If you’re encountering difficulties with a door that won’t close properly or is tough to operate, you’ve come to the right spot!

We’re here to shed light on why doors stick and offer straightforward troubleshooting suggestions for addressing this problem. Let’s start by exploring why sticky doors are prevalent concerns among homeowners in Ireland.

Why Doors Stick to the Door Frame

Humidity typically serves as the primary culprit behind sticky doors, as elevated moisture levels prompt material expansion, nudging the door against its frame. While this phenomenon commonly affects wooden doors, steel and fiberglass counterparts can also experience sticking if the wooden door frame swells.

Though this issue often arises in summer when humidity spikes, it can persist throughout colder months as well. In winter, moisture settling on the door frame can render the door difficult to open, potentially causing lasting damage to hinges and screws.

Beyond environmental factors, several other reasons may hinder a door’s operation, including:

How to Fix a Swollen Door

Learning how to fix a door that sticks due to humidity starts with diagnosing where the door is sticking.

Find the Sticking Point

Sticky doors will make themselves known in one way or another. Look for the following signs to see which door part is sticking to determine what component you need to fix:

Identifying the Source of a Sticky Door: 5 Methods

  1. Scratches and paint damage: Regions exhibiting scratches or torn paint often indicate where sticking or rubbing occurs.
  2. Door alignment: Assess if there’s a narrower gap on one side of the door compared to the other. Run a piece of paper along each side; wherever it snags reveals the door’s sticking points.
  3. Accumulated grime: Noticeable buildup of grime on door frames may contribute to sticking.
  4. Squeaky hinges: The presence of squeaks suggests that lubricating or replacing the hinges could alleviate door stickiness.
  5. Loose screws: Loose screws on the door jamb can impede door operation during both hot and cold seasons.

Fix the Door Hinges

Are you noticing squeaks every time you open or close the door? This annoyance often stems from a malfunctioning hinge. Over time, the hinge pins can lose their lubrication, leading to friction.

To restore smooth operation, begin by applying a multipurpose household oil. Swing the door a few times to help the oil spread. If this doesn’t solve the issue, follow these steps using either a screwdriver or an electric drill with the appropriate bit:

  1. Check if the hinge screws are loose; loose screws can cause the door to sag.
  2. Tighten the hinge screws into their respective screw holes using a screwdriver. Avoid over-tightening, as it can lead to squeaking and resistance.

If the screws still turn without tightening, here’s what you can do:

  1. Replace the existing screws with longer ones, preferably 2½ or 3 inches in length, to better grip the door frame.
  2. Use a drill to remove the current hinge screws, then swap the bit for a masonry drill bit.
  3. Deepen the holes with the masonry drill bit to accommodate the longer screws.
  4. Drive the longer screws into the holes until they are flush with the surface.

Trim the Door Panel

Struggling with your door during extreme temperatures? It could be due to an oversized panel. If previous attempts haven’t resolved the issue, you might need to trim a few inches from the door panel.

For this task, gather a planer, sander, blanket, and newspaper. Once prepared, follow these steps to address a swollen door:

  1. Unscrew the hinge screws to detach the door, then place it on a blanket or newspaper.
  2. Utilize a power planer, hand planer, or belt sander to remove excess material. Adjust the blade angle to the desired amount of wood to be removed, then glide the plane across the surface.
  3. Rehang the door temporarily by the hinges to check if the new size fits. Continue planing until the door no longer sticks to the frame.

How to Fix a Sticky Door Lock

The shifting of doors due to expansion and contraction can cause the latch or deadbolt lock to become sticky. This difficulty in pushing, turning, or pulling the key hampers the door’s opening and closing. Additionally, dirt, grime, and rust accumulation within the lock further obstruct the key’s pathway.

But fear not, here’s a guide on resolving a sticky door lock:

  1. Apply Teflon lubricant or powdered graphite into the lock and insert the key to check for improvements.
  2. If the lock remains problematic even after lubrication, the door’s alignment might be at fault. Verify if the panel fits evenly into the frame by referring to the alignment solutions mentioned above.
  3. If the alignment appears perfect, the issue likely lies within the lock itself, possibly due to damaged parts. Contact a professional locksmith to thoroughly inspect and address the problem with your door lock.

How to Prevent Sticking Doors

Now that you’ve learned how to address a swollen or sticky door, let’s explore preventive measures to avoid recurrence.

Instead of opting for a new door, a more budget-friendly approach is investing in a dehumidifier. This useful device works to reduce the humidity or moisture levels in your home, thereby minimizing the amount of moisture absorbed by your doors and preventing shrinkage. If a dehumidifier isn’t readily available, simply turning on the air conditioner can effectively lower humidity levels!

Maybe It’s Time to Replace Your Sticking Door…

Now that we’ve explored ways to fix a door that sticks due to humidity, it’s evident that while some fixes are within reach, others signal a deeper need for an upgrade.

Contact us today for a free estimate!


Established in 1979 Sean Doyle Windows Ltd is Ireland’s leading specialist manufacturer of quality windows and doors. One of the aspects which makes Sean Doyle Windows unique is the fact that we handcraft, design, manufacture and install all our own products from energy efficient windows to lift and slide patio doors to hardwood and composite doors.

Contact our Dublin or Roscommon showroom for a free quotation or to find out more.