How to Fix a Squeaky Door or a Door That Sticks

Fix your squeaky wooden door this winter.

Does your door squeak or stick when you shut it? When it’s cold outside, door metal hinges may contract and cause it to stick. Moreover, a wood door may shrink, making it difficult to close and stay closed. However, it’s easy to fix annoying squeaky or stubborn doors.

Why does my door squeak?

There can be a myriad of reasons why your door is making a high-pitched screech. The door may be crooked, causing it to drag on the floor or rub against the door frame.

This is often due to the door hinges becoming loose. Often the metal parts of a door are the culprit, wearing over time and creating a ruckus.

If it’s an outside door, the metal parts exposed to the weather will cause them to rust.

If you have a sliding door, then dirt can make its way inside the track, causing noises. Luckily, it’s an easy fix –clean dirt and debris from the tracks to eliminate squeaks.

In a nutshell, if the door rubs against a surrounding surface, it can make a noise.

Learn how to fix a squeaky door with our guide.

How to fix a squeaky door

Home repair expert Bob Vila says, “A recurring squeak might signal that your hinge pins are too dirty for the door to function properly. If that’s the case, your lubricant alone won’t solve the annoyance — instead, you’ll want to start with a good cleaning.”

Once you’ve cleaned the door of any debris or dust, then it’s time to fix the source of the squeaking. If you’re short on time, you can fix a squeaky door with household items.

Here are two household items to use to help fix a squeaky door.

1) Mayo as a door lubricant how-to

What you’ll need:

  • Mayonnaise (regular, not low fat)
  • Hammer
  • Damp cloth
  1. Remove the door hinge pin by tapping it with a hammer.
  2. Coat the pin with a thin layer of mayonnaise.
  3. Push the pin back into the hinge.
  4. Swing the door a few times to distribute the mayo. Listen to hear if the noise has stopped.
  5. Wipe away excess mayo with a damp cloth.
  6. Clean under and around the door to remove dirt and debris.
  7. If you still hear a noise, then repeat the above steps.
2) Candlewax as a door lubricant how-to

What you’ll need:

  • Petroleum-based wax candle (not soy-based)
  • Hammer
  • Paper plate
  • Protective gloves
  1. Using a hammer, remove the hinge pins from the door and set them aside.
  2. Light the candle. Let heated wax drip onto the paper plate. Then collect about a teaspoon of melted wax on the plate.
  3. Put on protective gloves and smear the warm wax onto the hinge pins.
  4. Reinstall the hinge pins.
  5. Clean under and around the door to remove dirt and debris.
  6. Open and shut the door a few times to listen for squeaks.
  7. Repeat the steps above if the door still squeaks.

*WD-40 and motor oil also work as an effective door lubricant.

how to fix painted squeaky doors

Why does my exterior door stick when I try to shut it?

Doors exposed to the elements can experience changes due to changing temperatures and humidity.

This can cause doors made of natural wood to expand or contract. Thus, making it difficult to open or close the sticking door.

How to fix a wooden exterior door that sticks

Luckily there are quick fixes to remedy a sticky exterior door without removing the door from the hinges. A loose hinge can cause a door to stick, so be sure to tighten the hinge back into place.

What you’ll need:

  • Hand screwdriver
  1. Open the door wide until you can easily see the hinge plates.
  2. Tighten the door hinge screws with a screwdriver.
  3. Swing the door to test the fit. If the door continues to stick, follow the next DIY solution below.
How to fix a sticky painted wood exterior door

For painted doors, the issue may be because of multiple layers of paint. Moreover, if the door is scraping up against the frame, here’s what you should do to fix it.

What you’ll need:

  • Hand plane or coarse sandpaper (50 to 80 grit)
  • Dust mask
  • Indoor paint (optional)
  1. Examine the door around the latch for scraping or scuff marks as these areas indicate where the door may be meeting the frame too tightly.
  2. Mark these spots with a pencil.
  3. Put on a mask and set the block plane to remove one, thin wood shaving – half the thickness of copy paper. Or, if using sandpaper, sand the marked areas.
  4. Make one pass with the plane over the scraped or worn wood areas of the door.
  5. Periodically check the door to see if it opens smoothly without sticking.
  6. If not, repeat the above steps until the door easily opens and closes.
  7. If layers of paint were removed during the process, repaint the door.

how to fix a squeaky door

How do I fix a door that won’t stay closed?

The strike plate is frequently the problem when a door won’t stay closed. Here are a few easy ways to repair a door that won’t stay closed:

  1. Using a screwdriver and hammer, tap inside the small opening located in the center of the metal plate, inward, toward the door. This will open up the hole so the bolt can fit in the opening more easily.
  2. If the above fix doesn’t work, use a screwdriver to loosen the screws that hold the plate in place. Then, use the screwdriver to gently tap the door plate toward the door and reinsert the screws.
  3. If the problem persists, then remove the plate from the door. Remount the plate, so it’s closer to the edge of the casing.

Nothing is more frustrating than a squeaky door or one that won’t open and close.

If your interior doors continue to stick, windows become difficult to operate, or your floors become uneven, then you may have a foundation problem. So, call a professional to have your home foundation inspected.

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