When a door in your home is no longer moving freely, it can quickly turn into a binding door. Doors that are tough – or impossible – to open and close firmly and easily can result from a number of different mechanical and environmental factors. The right fix depends on both the cause and the precise location of the problem on your door.
Check the Hinges First
The majority of door binding issues center around the hinges. If your hinges make any kind of squeaking or squealing noise when you move the door, the hinges are probably the culprit.
Before trying more time- or labor-intensive methods, first spray your door's hinges with WD-40 or some other lubricant. Spray liberally, then open and close the door several times to help the lubricant move thoroughly through the hinge mechanism.
Tighten or Shim Hinges if Door Still Binds on Hinge Side
If lubricating the hinge doesn't solve the problem completely, but you still suspect the hinges might be the issue, try visually inspecting the door jamb and adjacent wall area for any paint or varnish from your door. If you see either, the binding is probably related to the hinges.
Start by tightening all the screws fastening your hinge. Replace any stripped screws with a 6-inch drywall screw.
If the binding is severe on the hinge side, insert shims to push the door farther away from the wall. This should prevent the door from sticking against the wall's surface on the hinge side. Start by removing the hinge closest to the binding point. Next, insert a small piece of cardboard between the door jamb and the hinge and reattach the hinge to the wall.
Binding at the Top or Bottom of the Door
If the hinges aren't the problem behind your binding door, check your flooring or carpeting for signs of excessive wear. This indicates the issue is probably related to either the top or bottom of your door. Visual inspection may confirm one or the other.
If the top of the door frame is responsible for the binding and the problem isn't too pronounced, you may be able to fix this without taking the door down. Try using a door rasp to scrape down the area of the door's top surface that's most affected by the binding. Go slowly and work in layers, trying the door every so often, to avoid scraping away too much.
If the problem is more significant or the source is on the bottom of the door, you'll first need to take the door down and place it on sawhorses or a worktable in order to work. Use a sander, and don't forget to wear safety goggles to protect your eyes.
Lastly, if your door only binds in one type of seasonal weather, usually humid summers, the problem is most likely the expansion of the door's wood. Try visually examining the underside of the door with a hand or dental mirror. Look for any signs of visible cracks or breaks in your door's varnish or paint.
If you see any cracking or peeling there, you can apply a new finish to resolve the problem. This is best undertaken when the weather turns and the door is no longer binding.
Annie Sisk is a freelance writer who lives in upstate New York. She has written extensively for publications and websites in the home repair and decor fields, among other topics. A homebody by nature, Annie particularly enjoys Scandinavian and French Country design, and learning how complicated things are put together.