How to Straighten a Wood Door

basic door hinge

Regardless of the age of your home, you should know how to straighten a wood door. That is because all doors eventually will give a little with the house's settling. As houses settle, the doors don't move. They remain in their original place, which means that the door may cause problems. If your door is sticking when you open it, or if the gap at the top or bottom (more common) seems to become larger, then you need to straighten the door.

Identify the Problem Area

Determine Where the Door Sticks

The first step will be to determine where the door is sticking and where it is misaligned or warped. While you may think you can identify this area quickly, your visual cues may not be accurate. Instead, get some type of chalking substance. You can get a sidewalk chalk that is colored or wood chalk. Put the chalk along the edge of the door on each side as well as the top and bottom. Open and close the door a few times and see where the chalk has disappeared. Focus on this area.

Check the Door Frame

Then check first to see that a broken or injured door frame is not the problem. Fixing the door frame requires different instructions, and correcting the door will not help.

How to Straighten a Wood Door with Hinge Misalignment

The Hinge System

The most common culprit is the hinge system on the door. Many times, as the house settles, the door will pull more on the hinges because the alignment gets out of kilter between the door and the door frame. In these cases, all you will need to do is to reset the hinges on the door. The task is manual labor, but it is simple from a mechanical perspective.

Identify the Hinge Problem

First open and close the door while you watch the hinges. If you see the screws in the hinges moving, or if the hinge seems to move, then you know that you have loose hinges.

Remove the Door

Begin by taking the door from the hinges. In most cases, especially in newer homes, all you need to do is use an electric screwdriver to unscrew. The door will be heavy, and an extra set of hands is very useful here. Be very careful with specialty doors, such as French doors, because they are delicate and not easily replaced.

Hold the Door

Hold the door as the hinges unscrew to keep it from falling down. Then lay the door down flat and be sure that each screw in the door frame is tight.

Repair or Replace the Screws

Should your house be twenty years old or more, you may want to go ahead and replace the screws as well so that they are in better shape. Once you get the screws in, you will be able to put the door back up and get the hinges realigned. This adjustment should fix the hinges so that the door now will open and close without any problems.

How to Straighten a Wood Door that is Warped

Identify a Warped Door

A bigger problem occurs if your door is warped. Warping happens in several circumstances. First, older homes will often have untreated wood. This wood is better environmentally and health-wise, but it is not as good as a building material. In addition, doors exposed to the elements, such as front doors or wood garage doors, may become warped over time due to precipitation. Finally, cheap doors can get warped because the wood quality was not good. Should you run into any of these problems, you can try to straighten the door to avoid purchasing a new one.

Remove the Door

Remove the door from the hinges. Allow the door to dry out for at least 24 hours. You should prop up the door so that all sides get air. Then you will need to inspect the door for bulges. These spots are places where the wood is very strained. Using an electric saw, cut small ridges in these areas to allow the wood to breathe and relieve the stress.

Flatten the Door

You then will need to put the door down flat and lay something heavy, such as bricks, over the warped area. The wood eventually will return to its original position. Refinish the door to make sure that moisture does not seep into it again. This method should solve the most severe problems, but in many cases, the door will continue to warp over time, and you will need to repeat this process.

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How to Straighten a Wood Door