There are many causes for sticky doors. Humidity can cause wood to swell and expand, hinges can become loose with overuse and your house itself can shift resulting in changes to the doorframe.
Humidity is usually the culprit when it comes to sticky doors. In the winter months, the humidity in the atmosphere is low because cooler air can’t hold that much moisture. Most people complain that their doors are sticking in the summer, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t stick in the other months as well. If you can fix a sticky door before summer hits it’s less likely it’ll stick in the months that follow.
Before you fix your sticky door and prepare it for summer and the humidity that goes with it, you need to find out where it’s sticking.
How to find the sticky spots
First, look at the door closely. Are there noticeable scratches in the paint or damages around the doorframe? Run your hand in the gap between the door and frame slowly. Any place where the gap is very thin could be caused by wear and tear, making the door stick. Also, if you notice a grimy area on the door, it just may need to be cleaned and that will fix your sticky problem.
If you can’t determine where the door is sticking, there’s another method you can try. Take a piece of paper and run it around the closed door. Wherever the paper gets stuck is your sticky spot.
Other indicators of sticky doors are squeaking hinges, the joints in the wood relaxing, a strike plate becoming loose, the screws in the door jamb untightening and other failing hardware.
There are different methods to combat each problem so let’s examine them in detail:
To deal with humidity, a temporary solution would be to rub the area of the door that’s sticky with a bar of dry, moisturizer-free soap. The powdery residue left by the soap will suck up the humidity. This action may need to be repeated over the course of the summer; but, it doesn’t damage your door so you can soap up as necessary.
Another way to deal with humidity is to run your air conditioner. This will decrease the level of humidity in your home but it does cost more than a bar of soap. If you live in an area that requires constant A/C during the summer, then you may be prepared to pay the extra electricity costs. Plus, you won’t have a sticky door.
Additionally, you can run a dehumidifier. Place it near the door and watch the stickiness disappear. Though, like the A/C unit, a dehumidifier costs money to run and if you’re going to be running one of the two all summer you may not want to have them going in the months leading up.
Oil the hinges on your door. Once done, open and close the door a few times to get the oil worked into the hinge joints. This is a two-for-one solutions since it gets rid of that squeaky sound un-oiled hinges make and fights stickiness. Be sure to place a newspaper or rag under the door so that any oil that drips down the hinges doesn’t ruin your floors.
Spray lubricants like WD-40 will also work on hinges in the same way the oil does. If you don’t have oil or a spray lubricant lying around at home, petroleum jelly (vaseline) works in a pinch.
If you have a lot of houseplants, you need to get them away from your door. Plants are humidity fiends and the closer they are to your door, the stickier your door will get no matter the season.
Another way to prepare your door for the summer season and the humidity it brings is to trim the panel. When you were doing your visual door test and noticed that an edge of the door is rubbing against the jamb causing it to stick, you can take care of the problem. The space between the door and jamb should be approximately ⅛ inch wide (about the size of a nickel).
In order to shave down the panel, you will need to mark the area of the panel where it rubs against the jamb. Then you’ll have to remove the door by taking it off its hinges. Place it on a blanket or pile of newspaper (to catch the sawdust) and use a power planer, hand planer or belt sander to eliminate the excess material. It’s better to shave of less than you want to that way you don’t overdo it.
If you’ve tried everything and your door won’t unstick, then it may be time to buy a new one. It could end up being cheaper in the long run to replace your door altogether than try and shave it down yourself or keep your dehumidifier running 24/7.