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If your door tilts downwards, away from the hinges, you’ve got yourself a sagging door. It might not sound like much — after all, what could a sagging piece of wood possibly be other than questionably aesthetic? And frankly speaking, it’s not really that bad on the eyes. In fact, you most likely won’t be able to catch your door’s sag when it’s open, especially if it’s in the earlier stages.
A sagging door can have functionality problems that leave scratches on the door frame and can often get caught in the frame. You can even get scratches on the hard floor. In severe cases, the door can get stuck so tight, you have to get the entire frame out before you can do anything to improve the situation.
Fortunately, you won’t need to wait to take action. Read on to learn about the problem points to identify, alongside some tips and tricks on how to fix a sagging door.
What Parts of Your Door Could Be Responsible for the Sag?
Because the door’s sag can be quite difficult to discern if it isn’t very severe, sometimes the only way to tell that your door becomes misaligned is when it starts to stick in the frame or when begins to leave scratches on it.
Worse, because it’s all so subtle in the very beginning, it is often missed in those important initial stages where a small fix can go a long way. Moreover, missed signs can often accumulate into far bigger problems.
If you feel some mild resistance in your door when it turns or if you find it catching in the frame, here are five places that you can check for the responsible problem point:
In most cases, your door will sag because the hinge screws are starting to come loose. Either that or the hinge itself has contorted into an awkward angle. This second option is not a common occurrence, but you will come across it if the weight of the door is significantly greater than its load-bearing capacity.
Nonetheless, your hinges are where you want to start out when looking for reasons why your door is sagging.
This might not be the case for everyone, but some door set-ups do have shims on the top and bottom hinges, between the hinge and the door frame. While their original purpose is to correct out small gaps, as the hinges loosen over time, these fixes actually end up becoming the problem.
Another frequently overlooked problem point is the screw holes. As the door continues to bear its weight on the frame, the core force keeping this situation in balance is the grip between the screw and the wood it’s lodged into. As time ticks, the wood fibers around the screw begin coming apart, and the force holding the door level slowly begins to shift.
Gravity doesn’t discriminate: The pull it has on your door? Your frame feels it too. However, because door jambs (the parts of the frame that run up along either side of your door) are vertical, it’s not easy to catch on when they start leaning.
These parts of a door frame also have the most issues with warping from moisture. So, if your door just feels wrong, your jambs are probably why.
Lastly, and most obviously, check your door. If your door faces a great deal of moisture (i.e., it’s either a main/back door or a bathroom door), your door’s frequent distortion from water exposure could have caused it out of being level.
How to Fix a Sagging Door – 6 Tips to Do
Now that you know where to look to identify the source of your sagging problem, it’s time to prep you with how you can get to solving these issues.
Here are some quick tips on how to fix a sagging door’s various problem points:
1. Getting to Loose or Misaligned Hinge Screws
This is, without doubt, the fix you’ll be using the most. Almost two-thirds of all door misalignment issues can be dealt with by just tightening the hinges.
Just run a finger along the frame to see if you feel any movement around the hinges. If the movement is so severe that you can see it without even touching it, you might also want to consider checking for slants on the door jamb because the angled weight of the door often pulls the frame with it.
In either case, use a screwdriver to tighten the hinge screws enough so that the head just sits into the hole. Any tighter and you’d actually be putting additional strain on the frame wood.
2. Mortising Your Door Hinge
At its essence, it’s just a replacement for your present hinge. Although, mortised hinges can be a bit trickier to install. For instance, their placement requires a relief to be chiseled into the frame. If installed properly, however, these can often turn out to be a permanent solution to door hinge problems.
Mark the hook’s location for the original hinge, and chisel out a shallow gap within the tracing of the original hinge. This “bed” should be no deeper than the hinge’s actual thickness. Check by placing the hinge into the relief, and make sure that it’s just flush with the jamb’s outer surface.
Once you’re satisfied with the fit, you can remove any chippings and screw the hinge into place. Because the screw is being inserted at a slightly deeper point of the entrance, it will also have the additional benefit of tightening the jamb as well.
3. Do Away with or Replace Stuck Hinge Spacers
This is a relatively simple fix. Turn out the screws, and let the shim slip out before just putting the hinge back in place. But, this one very basic fix can go a long way to both realigning your door with its frame and ensuring that it swings more smoothly.
The best part is this is also effortlessly reversible. When you remove the original shim, make sure you trace it on some old playing cards or a piece of cardboard. After some time has passed, if you feel like the gap between your door and the frame needs to be replaced, all you have to do is cut out multiple copies of your tracing and stack them in between the hinge and the jamb.
4. Fill Out Stripped Holes
This is a fix you will want to know about because your screw holes are bound to get stripped. It’s only a matter of time before you need to put this tip to action.
To temporarily support the weight of your door while you unscrew the hinges, use a doorstop underneath your plane. Once they’re unscrewed, take the door off the frame along with the hinges.
The screw hole itself can be filled in with an accordingly sized dowel liberally coated with carpenter’s glue. Wait until the glue is completely dry before drilling a new hole into the jamb. Make sure it lines with the older hole’s position so that you don’t create a new alignment issue.
5. Tighten Your Jambs into Place
Another quick fix is to tighten your jambs back onto the frame so that any slant that might have been developed is remedied. You can go about this in two ways: you could either nail the jamb into the frame separately or use longer screws (up to two and a half inches long) when drilling in the hinges so that the drill through the jamb as well.
Between the two, using longer screws is just tidier. Everything comes together around one clean point of contact and it’s much easier to assemble as well. The only issue is because both the weight of the door and the jamb falls on the screw, the hole or the screw itself is more likely to strip faster.
6. Sand or Plane a Warped Door
If you feel like your door is swollen or just misshapen and is tilting from the uneven distribution of weight, your best hope to fixing the situation might just be to sand or plane the door itself so as to bring it closer to a uniform spread of weight. This is, however, something you should consider as a last resort.
If you are absolutely sure that this is the only alternative you have left to fix your sagging door, start by taking out all the door pins and moving them onto a flat, open surface.
Between sanding edges and planing the door, the second has more risk, but also comes with better results. Start with some 80-grit sandpaper for the first couple centimeters, and follow it up with 150-grit paper for the major body of the process. If you want a smoother finish, you can clean it up with 120-grit. Just make sure to cover the entire place in uniform strokes and to not stay on just one spot, and you’ll end up with a solid dent in an otherwise even door.
Is It Easy to Replace a Door?
If you’re wondering about how to fix a sagging door but think it might be time to replace your door, I’ve also got an answer for you.
One of your options is to remove the door and door hinges, and replace the doorway without using a door.
You also have the option to get a new door. Measure the original door’s template and replace it with a new door jamb frame.
Then, you can install new door hinges and door.
If you want to change the look of the doorway while you’re replacing the door, you can consider installing a sliding barn door. This type of non-swinging door won’t sag.
Level Doors and Smooth Swings
You may now think your job is done knowing how to fix a sagging door or any one of its many important components, but this is only the beginning. While it’s great to have damage control skills, you want to focus on maintaining the quality of your door and hinges to make sure they don’t sag ever again, or at least anytime soon.
Regularly lubricate your hinges, and check for loose screws for you to gently tighten. Make sure you paint your door with a longer-lasting, hydrophobic base coat, like with oil or latex-based paints. This will keep it from warping due to hydration.
Now that’s how to fix a sagging door. These small fixes that you can easily DIY will help protect your doors from any major sagging incidents that can take up more of your time and budget.
And so the next time guests are over, finding them stuck in your room from a lodged sagging door will be one less thing you’ll have to worry about.