How to Fix a Door That Sticks

White door that sticks being fixed with hands

The Spruce / Almar Creative

Project Overview
  • Total Time: 5 - 20 mins
  • Yield: Fix one sticking door
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $5 to $15

A door that sticks is one of those house fix-it problems that you know is simple to repair, but somehow you never quite get around to doing it. Plus, the sticking door will remind you every time you open and close it.

The good news is that a sticking door is often easy to fix. Tightening the strike plate and hinges are reliable ways to fix a door that sticks. If that doesn't work, replacing the hinge screws with longer screws usually does the trick.


Does the door stick against the door stop due to sticky paint? Acrylic-latex paint has a tendency to stick against doors. Brush the door stop with a light dusting of talcum powder or rub with candle wax to make the paint less sticky. 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.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 1 manual screwdriver
  • 1 cordless drill


  • 9 screws, 3-inch


Strike plate tightened with screwdriver to fix door that sticks

The Spruce / Almar Creative

  1. Locate the Sticking Point

    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 door frame, this fix may only make the situation worse. Most times, you'll find that the door sticks along the top because the door is sagging. You can even see where the door has scraped against the frame.

  2. Tighten the Strike Plate

    If it's a matter of friction on the metal strike plate, try to tighten both the plate and the lock on your door. Often, turning these four screws slightly clockwise is enough to eliminate rubbing at that point.


    If you break off a screw head or strip it, use an inexpensive device called a screw extractor to remove it.

  3. Tighten the Hinge Screws

    If it's a matter of the door edge hitting the door frame, use your Philips screwdriver and tighten the screws on either the top, middle, or bottom hinge. Tighten the screws that go into the door and the screws that go into the door frame. Do not over-tighten the screws or you may strip/break them. In most cases, the problem is now fixed. If not, tighten the screws in the other hinges.

    Use a ratchet or hand screwdriver for better control with these small hinge screws, as they are prone to breaking or stripping.

  4. Pre-Drill for Longer Screws

    Do the screws keep turning but not tightening? Purchase longer screws and use them in place of the existing screws. Screws that are 2-1/2 or 3 inches long will be long enough to penetrate the door casing and deep into the door frame stud.

    After removing a short screw, drill a deeper hole in the same location, using a drill bit slightly smaller in diameter than the new screw. Creating a pilot hole helps the new, longer screw drive into the wood more easily.


    It is especially important to pre-drill pilot holes when using brass screws, which are softer and easier to strip than steel decorative or drywall screws.

  5. Add Longer Screws

    Remove the middle screw from the jamb side of the top hinge. Replace it with a 2-1/2-inch or 3-inch wood screw. Often, this is enough to pull the entire door jamb closer to the door frame, correcting its swing.

When to Call a Professional

If you're unable to fix the sticking door by tightening the hardware or by adjusting the trim or door stop, you may want to remove the door and install a pre-hung door. A pre-hung door comes attached to a frame, so swing issues are eliminated. A carpenter, an experienced repair person, or a company that specializes in doors and windows will be able to install the door.

Tips and Advice for Fixing a Door That Sticks

  • With older homes, a common cause is that your home's foundation may be subsiding. Subsiding foundations affect many parts of the house. Over the years, windows start to stick. Drywall or plaster and doors and windows develop cracks, and the floorboards may begin to pop and crack. In this situation, adjusting doors is an ongoing process that you may need to revisit every few years.
  • The door may stick because the door itself is warped and does not close tightly. If it's a door of great value, a skilled woodworker may be able to bend the door back in shape gradually. Otherwise, it's best to adjust the doorstop to fit the curvature of the door. Carefully pull up the doorstop with a thin pry bar, and re-nail to fit the warped door.
  • If you do use a drill or driver, it also helps to have one with a low-torque option. Low-torque allows you to drive screws in hard. Most drills today have clutches, but not all will have low-torque settings.
Hinge screws tightened in door frame to fix door that sticks

The Spruce / Almar Creative