A well-fitted door should have a long and trouble-free life. If it does start to misbehave, the problem is likely to be the door binding against its frame and, in extreme cases, failing to shut properly.
There are 3 possible causes:
- A build-up of paint on the door and frame surfaces after years of re-painting, expansion due to atmospheric conditions – the door sticks in damp weather as moisture causes it to swell slightly, but shrinks and closes freely in dry weather; and hinge faults caused either by wear and tear or had fitting.
- Where a paint build-up is to blame, the remedy is quite simple: strip off the old paint from the door edge back to hare wood, and re-paint from scratch. If atmospheric conditions are to blame, the solution is to plane down the door edges slightly to increase the clearance between door and frame. You will have to take the door off its hinges to do this unless it is only the leading edge that is binding.
- Hinge faults that can cause binding include hinge screws standing proud or working loose, and hinge recesses being cut too deep or too shallow. In each case the cure is relatively simple; the biggest problem is often trying to undo the old hinge screws, especially if they have become encrusted with paint over the years. Clean out the slots in the screw heads thoroughly before trying to remove the screws; paint remover is useful for this. Then position the screwdriver in the slot and give the handle a sharp blow with a hammer in order to help free the grip of the threads in the wood.
How to Repair a Door
- If the hinge screws show signs of pulling out, remove them, drill out the screw holes and hammer in glued dowels. Then drill new pilot holes.
- If the door is sulked in the frame because it has expanded over time, close it and mark a pencil line on the door face against the edge of the frame.
- Take the door off its hinges, remove the handles and the latch mechanism, and plane down the leading edge of the door until the pencil line has disappeared.
- If the door is binding either at the top or bottom, take this opportunity to plane oft a little wood there too. Plane inwards from the corners to avoid causing splits
- If the door binds on the hinge side of the frame, the hinge recesses may be room deep. Remove the hinge and pin some packing into the recess.
- Drill fresh pilot holes for the screws through the packing piece, and drive the fixing screws back into place. Make sure that their heads fir in the countersinks.
- Alternatively, re-locate the hinges in a new position. Chisel out the new recesses and re-fit the hinges.
- If the hinge recesses are too shallow, the hinge leaves will hind and prevent the door from closing. Remove the hinges and chisel the recesses slightly.