Planing a Sticking Door

How to Plane and Eliminate a Sticking Door

By Mark J. Donovan

A sticking door is a common problem and usually with just a little effort you can easily fix it. Unfortunately for many of us we just seem to live with it, as the problem is more often an annoyance than anything else. If, however, you want to fix your sticking door, purchase a simple hand planer and a Philips screw driver and follow the directions below.

Due to the fact that most doors are made out of wood, they have the tendency to absorb moisture. As a result, during hot and humid summer days they can swell causing the door to stick.

If you live with a sticking door long enough, you’ve probably also noticed that the door sticks less during cold and dry winter months, and more during the summer months.

Doors can also begin to stick due to the house settling. Likewise door hinges can also loosen up over time, so make sure you first try tightening the hinge screws with a screwdriver to see if you can quickly eliminate the sticking door. If the door still sticks after checking the hinge screws, the next step is to actually plane the sticking door.

Instructions on Planing a Sticking Door

The first step in planing a sticking door is to see where it is actually sticking.

Check along the top, bottom and sides of the door and lightly mark the locations on the door edges with a pencil.

Depending upon where the door is sticking, you may be able to plane the door while it is still on its hinges. However, for an overall better job it is best to just remove the door from its hinges.

Once you have identified the high spots on your door stiles (outside door edges) use the hand planer to shave them off.

Be careful, however, to not take too much off at once and always take long smooth strokes with the planer. Also, make sure to plane in the direction of the wood grain. In addition, always plane from the edges towards the center. This way you can prevent from chipping the door edges.

If you determine that you need to plane along the door hinge stile (inside door edge), first remove the hinge leafs and then plane the door stile. Note that you may need to deepen the hinge mortises, depending upon how much you need to shave off of the door stile. Use a sharp chisel to deepen the hinge mortises if necessary.

Planing a Sticking Door

Again, do not plane too much off of the door at any one time. It is best to shave a little off and then check the door to see if you have eliminated the sticking problem, versus taking too much off at once.

For information on how to install interior door trim, see the “Installing Interior Door Trim” eBook from  The “Installing Interior Door Trim” eBook provides step-by-step instructions on how to install interior door trim. Pictures are included for every key step in the process.

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