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Common Solid Wood Door Problems You Can Fix Yourself

June 26, 2020

Although solid wood doors have a well-deserved reputation for strength and durability, you can run into problems over time as a natural product. Age, wear and tear, harsh weather and varying humidity levels take their toll. 

Fortunately, you can fix many common door problems yourself. Read on for some solutions to annoying issues you may be experiencing with your doors.

Squeaky Hinges

Door hinges that constantly squeak and creak are one of the most annoying problems you are bound to run into with solid wood doors. Fortunately, they’re also among the easiest to fix. Just apply a little lubricant to quiet down the noise. TIP: Vaseline ™ or other petroleum jellies will do the trick without making a greasy mess. 

Don’t have any on hand? In a pinch, try rubbing the hinge pins with a bar of soap or a wax candle. If a small amount of lubricant doesn’t quiet down your hinges, or the noise quickly returns the hinges themselves may be bent or out of alignment. If the hinge pin gets stuck, or will not easily be reinserted you may need a new hinge.

Sticky Door

A door’s stubborn tendency to stick when you try to open it could be due to two possible causes. First, check the hinges and edges of the door. Run your hands around the gap between the door and the door frame looking for obvious signs that the door isn’t sitting squarely inside the frame. 

Take a look at the hinges and tighten any loose screws you find, or if they are gummed up with dust, dirt, or even old paint, a good cleaning or a light sanding may have your door swinging freely in no time. 

Otherwise, try fitting a shim (a folded business card or piece of cardboard to start) behind the hinges on the opposite end to the trouble source (for example, if the door is sticking at the top corner, the shim should go behind the bottom hinges). If all else fails, you might need to remove the door from the hinges, lay it flat horizontally, and sand or trim a little wood off the sticking edge.

Door Doesn’t Latch

Though a door that refuses to close properly might seem like the opposite of the sticky door described above, the solution is frequently similar – look at the hinges. They could have worked loose and need a bit of DIY maintenance. As you adjust them, be gentle to avoid stripping the screws.

Faulty Strike Plate

If your door still refuses to latch properly, the strike plate is another potential cause. When this piece goes out of alignment, the door latch barrel will not meet the plate hole. A hair’s-breadth misalignment is simple to correct. 

Loosen the screws and tap the strike plate back into the correct position with a hammer. Then screw it tightly to avoid future shifting. Fix a more serious misalignment by removing and repositioning the strike plate.

Loose Screws

Overly loose screws in the hinge plates can result in a couple of door problems. Your door will be off-kilter, rather than square in its frame causing it to stick and rub against the door frame. And the door itself will shift and rock when opening and closing – giving it a very unsecure feel. 

The obvious first step in solving this problem is to tighten the screws. However, if you find that they are simply spinning freely in the hole, you can replace them with longer screws. For a quick fix, inserting a small piece of wooden dowel, or rolled up cardboard covered in glue into the screw hole (and letting dry) should give the screws something to bite into.

Loose Handle

A loose, wobbly handle on an interior or exterior door is an inconvenience that can become dangerous. There’s a possibility it might fall off completely, preventing entrance or trapping someone inside a room or a building. 

Take care of the hazard right away by making sure that all the screws are in place and fastened tightly in the door plate. In addition, clean out any dirt or rust. Finally, ensure that the door’s locking mechanism is functional.

Door Won’t Stay Open

If your door keeps swinging shut on its own, it’s probably out of plumb (not sitting straight up and down). Its hinges aren’t correctly lined up, forcing the door and frame into an awkward tilted configuration. Take the pin out of one of your hinges and tap the tip with a hammer to bend it slightly. You may need to repeat this action with the second hinge pin.

Is Your Door Past Repair?

Of course, these quick fixes will not save a badly damaged door, but should solve about 80% of the problems people encounter as their homes age. If problems continue to persist, it’s probably time to consider investing in a new, high quality, solid wooden door from Madawaska Doors & Trim.

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