That Darn Closet Door--Fixes for Warping or Sticking

Susanne Clemenz

Your warped or sticking closet door is probably made of solid wood that is subject to humidity and sagging. Sometimes door stops or paint buildup are the culprits. Here's what to do:

How to Repair Warped Doors on Your Closet or Elsewhere

  • First, check hinges and doors for loose or missing screws and pins. The door may look warped but isn't.
  • Set two sawhorses apart one foot less than the door length.
  • Remove the door and set it on the sawhorses, warped side up.
  • If warping isn't obvious to you, hold a taut string diagonally corner to corner. Trade corners and repeat. If the string touches everywhere, turn the door over and repeat. If the string touches diagonally on both sides, the door isn't warped, and the jamb needs repairing.
  • For warped doors, turn up the side where the string didn't touch. Sand the top and bottom ends for humidity transfer.
  • Protect the warped area and weigh it down with bricks, cement blocks, or gallon jugs of water.
  • Check every couple of days, possibly for weeks. Immediately seal the sanded ends of the flattened door with paint or polyurethane and rehang the door.
  • If the door wasn't warped, your door stop may be misaligned. The stop is the vertical piece of wood centered in the door frame to stop the door from swinging. If walls are warped the door frame may be twisted. Check it with a vertical level.
  • Gently pry off the vertical door stop on the striker side, and possibly its continuation across the top of the door frame.
  • Close the door with the striker plate engaged. Draw a pencil line on the stop side of the door and re-nail the stop to the line.
  • Repaint if needed.

Five Quick Fixes for Sticking Doors

  • Again, fix your loose or missing hinge screws and pins on the jamb and the door. This may solve your problem.
  • Plug stripped screw holes with matchsticks and carpenter's glue, and re-drill them or use longer screws.
  • Notice where the door rubs the jamb. Hold a wood block against the jam and rap it. Nail the jamb tighter.
  • Paint buildup on both door and jamb can make a door stick. Sand or plane just the rubbed areas. Stop and immediately repaint when it stops sticking.
  • Seams of old doors may gap. Fill them with glue, tap them tight, and clamp the door until it dries.

These are some obvious fixes for warped and sticking doors. Give 'em a try!


About the Author
Suzanne Clemenz designed her passive solar home and interacted with the contractors every day of the 6-month project. She started drawing floor plans and making models in the early '70s after purchasing several building lots. Recently she expanded and remodelled her newly-purchased home, working with contractors on the floorplan, electrical changes, painting, installation of wood laminate flooring, flood prevention walls and stonework, major drainage issues, an irrigation system and a landscaping. Researching and keeping up on issues and products related to home design and maintenance is an ongoing avocation.

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