Problem: Door in home binds,
sticks, or won’t latch properly.
Background: If the door frame has become distorted,
your door may stick at the corners or be hard to close,
and its latches may not fit the strikeplate. A door that
binds or sticks against a door frame can also be caused by
loose or ineffective hinges, by the frame settling, by the
door or frame swelling, or by the door warping. Hinges
that are loose, either on the top or bottom, will allow a
door to sag. If a door is too tight on the hinge edge, it
will bind against the hinge jamb. A door that has warped
inward or outward at the hinge edge will be hard to close.
If a door frame spreads because the home has settled, it
may widen the doorway so the bolt in the lock may not
reach the strikeplate. If partitions next to, or below, a
door frame settle or shrink, the frame can move slightly
and move the strikeplate with it while the door and lock
stay in position.
What to do: Check for loose hinges, by pulling and
pushing the opened door away from and toward the hinges.
If the hinges move, you can either tighten the original
screws, insert wood plugs in the screw holes, or
substitute longer screws. Also check for a loose
strikeplate or lock faceplate screws. If the door still
binds after tightening the screws, you may be able to sand
or plane down the high spot (or call a finish carpenter if
you don’t trust your skills). Mark where it binds, remove
the door and check to see where the door finish has been
rubbed. Sand or, if necessary, plane lightly from the
edges toward the center, then re place the door to check
for fit. (Re move as little as needed because wood will
shrink as humidity drops.) When the door works properly,
refinish as appropriate.
Special advice: If a door binds at the hinge edge,
and has clearance on the lock side, you can try inserting
card board shims under the outer hinge leaves (those set
in the jamb). If the lock bolt does not enter the hole in
the strikeplate, check to see if it strikes the plate too
high or too low. Take out the screws, remove the
strikeplate, and file the metal opening until it is large
enough to accommodate the bolt. If more than ¼ inch needs
to be removed, it may be better to reset the strikeplate.
Doesn't Work In Door about locks and keys.)
Helpful hint: If the
margin of a door is even along the top and bottom edges,
and the hinges are firm, either the hinge or lock edge can
be planed. However, it’s usually best to plane the hinge
edge, because hinges are easier to remove and reinstall