Repairing a Broken Door Frame

wood exterior door
Installing Exterior Doors

Repairing a broken door frame can eliminate large gaps, poor latching, and restore a well-kept appearance to your home.

How to Repair a Broken Door Frame

Many times repairing the broken frame of a door requires removing the trim, which is also called molding or a door casing. Do this carefully to prevent damage to paint on the wall around the frame. To remove door trim follow these easy steps:

  • Cut along the trim edge on both sides through all old caulking and paint.
  • Pry the trim off with a pry bar and hammer.
  • Continue all the way around the door.
  • Remove all nails.

Selecting Replacement Trim

When replacing the wood trim around your door frame, there are several things to take into consideration, because changing the trim can also change the style and look of the room. As long as you are repairing a broken door frame, it's a good time to make a style change if that's what you want to do. A variety of trim styles can be found at your local home improvement stores like Home Depot or Lowe's Home Improvement Store.

Installing New Trim

Once you've chosen the style trim you want to use, you'll need to miter the pieces where they meet at the corners. If you only need to replace part of the trim during your door frame repair, the wood molding available today should provide a close match to your existing trim because of standardized molding profiles put into place decades ago. Even if your trim is old, don't worry, you should be able to find a match or something very close.

To replace your trim when repairing a door frame follow these steps:

  • Measure and miter top trim.
  • Nail top trim in place.
  • Miter the trim that will run vertically along the length of the door frame.

Door Jambs

If your door jamb has been damaged or split away due to breaking in, you'll have to cut away the damaged wood with a circular saw. Once the damaged wood is removed, replace it and re-drill the door knob striker and deadbolt holes. Here are a few reminders as you take on this home improvement maintenance task:

  • Measure and calculate accurate dimensions before cutting.
  • When cutting pieces for the jamb, avoid cutting angles.
  • Cut side pieces for jamb one inch shorter than measured height.
  • Install the side pieces before the top piece.
  • Use finishing nails to secure (if using a nail gun be sure to wear safety goggles).
  • Secure the bottom parts of the jamb, near the floor.
  • Once you are finished, reinstall your trim.

Paint Buildup

Paint buildup can make repairing a broken door frame interesting as buildup hinders the removal of trim. In fact, a common reason and contributing factor to doors not shutting properly is the building up of layers of paint over the years. If you have to remove trim to repair a broken door frame, you may want to consider stripping the excess layers of paint or just replacing the trim to provide a nice clean fit when the door is closed. Paint can be removed with a heat gun and scraper, or with a chemical paint remover. Use the scraper with care to prevent accidental gouges in your woodwork.

When the Door Sticks

Sometimes when a door sticks, even on a fairly new door, it may be that the frame needs to be replaced because it has settled. To repair a door that binds without replacing the frame, try installing a shim to correct the problem. If the door binds at the top, then install the shim at the bottom hinge, or if the problem is at the bottom, try binding at the bottom and shimming at the top. This helps to position the door to open and close properly.

Wet Rot

Wet rot is another reason a door frame may need to be repaired or replaced. If the rot is not extensive, the rotten wood can be scraped out and replaced with filler like Durham's rock hard putty or bondo. However, if the rot is extensive, it is better to replace the door frame.

A Quick Fix

Another option for repairing your broken frame is a product called Kwik Jam. This door repair kit comes with clear instructions and not only costs less but it only takes 20 minutes to install.

More Information

For help with other home repairs, check out the following LoveToKnow Home Improvement articles.

Repairing a Broken Door Frame