Fix a Sticking Door With This Easy Trick

Woman Fixing Door
Woman Fixing Door. Getty / Blend Images - Jose Luis Pelaez Inc

You've got a door that sticks along the "strike area," the part of the door frame where it meets the outermost edge of the door. No need to do anything drastic. Instead, pull out a Philips screwdriver and do this fast fix. In 9 out of 10 times, this will fix your problem.

Be Careful of Stripping Screws

Note about tools: I prefer to use a hand screwdriver for better control with these tiny hinge screws that are prone to breaking.

If you use a cordless drill or driver, be sure to set the clutch very low so that you do not risk stripping or breaking the screws.  This is especially important because door hinges often are hung with brass screws, which are softer and thus easier to strip than steel decorative or drywall screws.

It also helps to have a drill/driver that has a low-torque option. Low-torque allows you to drive hard screws.  Most drills today have clutches, but not all will have low-torque settings.

If the problem is more visual, due to a warped door, skip on down to the last section.

Where Does It Not Work?

This fix does not work in these instances:  everything else.  This is not an attempt to be funny:  sticking doors can be the result of a number of other causes.  

One of these "other causes," unfortunately, is that your home's foundation is ever-so-slowly subsiding, taking many victims with it  Windows start to stick.

 Plaster around doors and windows cracks.  Floorboards pop, sink, sag.  

If this is the case, then look into foundation repair; your problem cannot be fixed with a screwdriver.

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: 5 minutes

Here's How:

  1. Determine where the sticking is happening. If the sticking area is along the door frame where the hinges are located, this fix will not work. If it is happening along the top edge of the doorframe, this fix will only make the situation worse. This fix only works along the edge of the door frame where the strike plate is located.
  1. Now, precisely where on this part of the doorframe does the sticking occur? On the top, middle, or bottom? Most times, you'll find that the door sticks along the top because the door is sagging.
  2. Using your Philips screwdriver, tighten the screws on either the top, middle, or bottom hinge. Tight the screws that go into the door and the screws that go into the door frame. Don't over-tighten the screws or you may strip/break them.
  3. In most cases, the problem is now fixed. If not, tighten the screws in the other two hinges.

What You Need:

  • Philips screwdriver
  • Cordless drill with low-torque option

Warped Doors:  Second Fix That Is More Of a Cover-Up

Sometimes, the problem is that the door itself is warped.  If it's an antique door of great value, a skilled woodworker may be able to gradually bend the door back in shape. But in this case, we're referring to a less valuable 6-panel wooden door (but not a hollow-core door, which is unfixable).

What you do instead is adjust the door stop to fit the curvature of the door.

The door stop is the vertical strip of wood that runs down the center of the door casing, which serves to stop the door from swinging any farther. You can very carefully pry up the door stop with a thin pry bar, and re-nail to fit the warped door.