Don't suffer a sticky front door.

How to Fix a Front Door That Sticks

by Wade Shaddy

If you have to tug on the front door to get it open, it's likely because the door or jamb has warped or the hinges have loosened, causing the door to tilt slightly. It happens all the time -- carpenters and woodworkers often need to fix this problem. Routine maintenance is all it takes to get your door swinging smoothly again. Follow a few telltale signs to locate the problem, and fix that sticky door in about an hour.

Open the door. Examine the side of the door and the doorjamb where the door makes contact with the jamb. Locate the areas where the finish has been rubbed off. It will likely be a matching set, with one spot on the side of the door and one on the side of the jamb.

Remove the center screw from the hinge that's directly opposite the damaged area on the door or jamb using a drill/driver. Drive a screw that's 1 inch longer than the original screw into the hole where you removed the screw. As the screw bites into the wood behind the jamb, use enough force to drive the jamb back. This results in tilting the door in the direction needed to relieve the sticking problem on the opposite side.

Tighten the remaining screws in the hinge using the drill/driver. Shut the door.

Open the door. If it continues to stick or rub the side of the jamb, use the drill/driver to remove the door from the jamb by unscrewing the hinges from the jamb. Leave the hinges on the door. Place the door across two sawhorses.

Place a clamp on both ends of the door to secure it to the sawhorses. Place a 12-inch strip of masking tape on the face of the door, centered above the damaged or rubbed off area, 1/16 inch from the edge.

Install a 100-grit belt on a belt sander. Hold the sander with both hands, horizontally, parallel with the piece of tape and the rubbed off area, on the side or edge of the door. Turn on the sander and apply the belt to the damaged area. Move the sander from left to right over the rubbed off or damaged area, tapering the sanded area from the center of the tape to both ends of the tape, using the tape as a guide to regulate the depth, or how much wood you've removed from the side of the door.

Stop sanding when the sanded area meets the tape line. Install the door back on the jamb. If it continues to stick, repeat Steps 5 and 6.

Rub the sanded area with a matching stain. Spray the repaired area with two coats of aerosol lacquer from a can to finish, allowing the lacquer to dry after the first coat.

Items you will need

  • Drill/driver
  • Wood screw
  • Sawhorses
  • Clamps
  • Masking tape
  • 100-grit belt
  • Belt sander
  • Stain
  • Aerosol lacquer


  • If the sticking problem is minor, rub some woodworkers paste wax on the side of the door and doorjamb. That might be all it takes to get the door working properly again. If the doorjamb is damaged, sand and refinish it when you do the door.


  • If any of the hinge screws seem loose or stripped, replace them with longer screws.

About the Author

Specializing in hardwood furniture, trim carpentry, cabinets, home improvement and architectural millwork, Wade Shaddy has worked in homebuilding since 1972. Shaddy has also worked as a newspaper reporter and writer, and as a contributing writer for Bicycling Magazine. Shaddy began publishing in various magazines in 1992, and published a novel, “Dark Canyon,” in 2008.

Photo Credits

  • Siri Stafford/Photodisc/Getty Images