You may have been dealing with that sagging door for years before deciding to do something about it. The good news, though, is that fixing sagging doors is easy, fast, and inexpensive. With just a few tools, you'll have the door re-aligned and swinging freely in no time at all.
What Causes Sagging Doors?
A sagging door tilts downward and to the side. Often, the sag is not visible when the door is open. But opening and closing the door causes the door to scrape the door jamb at the top. Doors with pronounced sags can stick to the point where it becomes difficult to open or close the door.
As houses age, it is not uncommon for doors to begin to sag. In most cases, the source of the problem can be traced to the top hinge. Screws in the top hinge may turn loose or they may begin to pull straight out.
Hinges are durable fixtures that can last for decades. But in some cases, the hinge leaves or the hinge pin may begin to wear out. Loose hinges may need new pins or may need to be replaced entirely.
Sometimes, a previous owner may have added a spacer to the top hinge. The spacer may be a thin strip of cardboard inserted under either hinge leaf and likely was designed to cause the door to fit into the frame more tightly.
Paint or stain may have been added to the mortise in the door or door jamb. Sometimes, doors are removed for painting and the entire door edge is painted or stained. Extra layers of paint or stain act like spacers to push the door out of alignment.
Equipment / Tools
- Cordless drill with driver bits
- Five-in-one tool
- Scrap piece of wood
- 3 x 1-1/2-inch screws
- 1 x 3-inch screw
- 3 coarse-thread screws
- Door hinge
Tighten the Existing Hinge Screws
With the cordless drill or manual screwdriver, tighten all of the screws in the top hinge by turning clockwise. Be sure to tighten screws on both the door side and on the jamb side. Often, this repair alone is enough to fix sagging doors. Use caution to not overtighten the screws.
Remove Hinge Spacers
If a hinge spacer is visible, remove the hinge by turning out the screws. Slip out the spacer, discard it, and replace the hinge.
Add New Hinge Screws
Standard hinge screws are 1-inch long. If you tighten the existing screws and they keep rotating, you will need to increase the length of the screws. Use 1 1/2-inch screws. You may also try switching out the existing screws for screws with a coarser thread.
Replace Hinge Screw With 3-Inch Screw
A highly effective way to fix a sagging door is to replace one of the top-hinge screws with a 3-inch long screw. This serves not only to pull the hinge closer to the door jamb, but it draws the entire door frame closer to the underlying stud.
- Remove all three screws from the hinge on the side of the door jamb.
- With the cordless drill, drive a 3-inch screw into the center hole of the hinge.
- Replace the other two screws in the top and bottom positions.
Remove Paint From Under the Hinge
Similar to removing spacers from under the hinge, remove the hinge, then use the sharp blade of a five-in-one tool to scrape away accumulated paint underneath hinges.
Tighten Top of the Door Jamb
If you have tightened the door to the door jamb yet the door still sticks, drive a 3-inch screw to the top of the door jamb on the latch side.
Bend Back the Top Hinge
Remove the door from its hinges by removing the pins, then sliding the door off. Gently tap the three knuckles (the barrel-shaped portion that holds the pin) with a hammer. Buffer the hammer by placing a piece of scrap wood between the hammer and the knuckles.
Do not try to bend the knuckles more than 1/16 inch. Otherwise, you risk misaligning the door with its other hinges.
Sand the Top Edge of the Door
Sand the top edge of the door by hand or with an orbital sander. The sticking area will usually identify itself with prominent scuff marks.
Sand the Top Section of the Door Jamb
Much like sanding the top edge of the door, sand the top of the door jamb where the door sticks.
Install a New Hinge
Some very old hinges will naturally loosen over time, as metal rubs against metal and wears away. If a pin rattles or moves when it is in place, it's likely the hinge is not as tight as it could be. You may be able to replace the pin with a new one. If you are able to find a single hinge that matches the door's other hinges, replace the hinge entirely. Or you may decide to replace all three hinges at the same time.