Design & DIY

How to fix a problem door


Sticky door
: Shave down areas that rub using a hand plane or electric power planer. Always work from an outer edge inward to avoid splintering the wood. To fix a door that binds along the floor when opened, try repositioning the bottom hinge: Remove the hinge, fill old screw holes by jamming in glue-coated toothpicks, then move the hinge outward in its pocket, up to !/4″. This lifts the door’s outer edge as it opens, no planing required. But if a door needs more than !/4″ taken off the outside corner, consider rising-butt hinges. Their cylindrical hinge knuckles are angled, so they lift the door as it opens. Although difficult to find, they’ll help you avoid the architectural equivalent of those too-short flood pants that caused so much social anxiety in Grade 5.

Door swings on its own: 
Caused by hinges that aren’t perfectly plumb. If the hinge pins can be removed, tap them up and out, lay them on a rock or concrete floor, then whack the pins in the middle with a hammer to put a slight bend in them. Reinstall pins. The added friction may keep the door where it’s put. If not, relocate hinges to line up with each other, exactly vertical, using a long carpenter’s level for reference.

Noisy or loose hinges
: Apply light machine oil to loud hinges, opening and closing the door to work it in.  If it still sounds like the cottage is haunted, the hinges probably need to be replaced, or relocated to align with each other. 

Door won’t latch shut: 
When a metal strike plate isn’t positioned correctly, it won’t engage the door latch. Close the door and look into the gap to see exactly where the latch is hanging up. If the misalignment is small (as it usually is), using a small file on the plate can solve the problem. Certain styles of modern strike plates have working edges that can be bent slightly with a flat screwdriver to tweak the latch engagement point so the door clicks shut nicely