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Fixing Common Problems with Internal Doors

Doors have a big impact on a room’s aesthetics. They also provide insulation and minimise draughts, playing a key role in making your home as comfortable as possible.

Over time, however, interior doors can develop a number of different faults. Those faults could be caused by general wear and tear, damp or humidity, or any treatments that have been applied to the doors (think painting and staining).

The good news is that internal doors are generally quite hardwearing and you can fix most problems pretty easily.

Fixing a Dropped Door

The hinges on internal doors tend to be a little less robust than exterior doors, since security is not such a concern. If those hinges get loose, the door will droop or drop. You can fix this quite quickly by tightening the hinge screws, or if they won’t tighten properly, replacing them. If you can’t find a suitable sized screw, you can sometimes plug the existing hole using match sticks.  To do this:

  • Remove the screw.
  • Put a small blob of wood adhesive onto the end of a few match sticks, and carefully tap two or three match sticks into the screw hole.
  • Let the adhesive set.
  • Cut the ends off the match sticks so that they are the same height as the hinge flap.
  • Replace the screw. All being well, it should fit snugly.

Fixing a Stuck Door

Sometimes doors stick because they are a tiny bit too big for the opening. This often happens if there is an excess of paint or grime on the door frame or the edge of the door. It can also happen if the door has swollen because the room is very humid. In some cases, simply sanding away the excess paint will do the trick. If the door is sticking badly you may need to sand down the door itself.

  • Examine the door and the frame for scuff marks. This will show where the door is sticking.
  • If the excess is on the top, or on an easy to reach area of the side edge, you may be able to plane it off without removing the door from the hinges.
  • If the excess is near the floor, then you will need to lift the door off the hinges and lay it out on a bench.
  • Plane the edge, removing a small amount but making sure to leave enough clearance for primer and paint.
  • Sand the planed edge, prime the wood, and repaint it for a smooth finish.
  • Replace the door onto the hinges if necessary.

Stopping a Door from Squeaking

Doors squeak or creak if the latch or hinges have become stiff and are in need of lubrication. You can fix this using an aerosol lubricant such as WD-40.

Simply spray it onto the stiff area, open and close the door a few times so that the oil runs through the parts, and then use a lint-free cloth to wipe off any excess liquid.

Fixing Door Lock Issues

Over time, adjusting hinges could cause the door latch to become misaligned with the strike plate. If the alignment is off by just a couple of mm, you should be able to fix the problem by enlarging the cut-out area of the strike plate with a metal file. For bigger issues, however, you may need to remove the strike plate.

  • Start by removing the plate.
  • Rub the latch with a soft pencil or some chalk, then open and close the door a few times.
  • Look at the door frame – you should see some marks on the frame that indicate where the latch currently sits.
  • Mark the position of the current latch with a pencil, and use a chisel to enlarge the cut-out area.
  • Plug the original screw holes for the strike plate with wooden pegs.
  • Drill new pilot holes for the new position of the strike plate.
  • Replace the plate.

Stopping a Door from Springing Open

If your door keeps springing open, this means that the hinges are incorrectly positioned, and the door is straining to re-open. It can also be a sign that the door is not closing fully to hit the doorstop. It may be jamming at the bottom because it doesn’t have enough clearance against the carpet – in which case simply planing a little excess wood off the bottom of the door will solve the problem.

If the issue is with the hinges, you will need to reposition them. To do this:

  • Remove the screws from one hinge and prise it out of the recess. Pack the space with a little cardboard and then replace the hinge.
  • Do this for each hinge on the door to improve the clearance.

If the door is not staying closed against the doorstop, you will need to reposition the doorstop slightly further away.

  • Carefully lever the doorstop off the frame, using a wood chisel.
  • Close the door to determine where the doorstop needs to sit.
  • Nail the doorstop back into place, using 30mm nails that are positioned approximately 30cm apart.

The above are just a few common problems with interior doors. If you find that you are frequently needing to fix sticking doors, then the issue could be one of humidity, in which case you can fix it by using a dehumidifier or improving ventilation if there is a persistent problem with damp.

With proper care, doors can last for decades, and you should need to perform only minimal maintenance on the hinges and handles to keep them looking and performing their best.

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