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Went around visiting my son the other day, just to make sure that the family were settling into the new house without problems. As usual I knocked on the back door and was given the usual cheery, “Come in”! It took me a good three minutes of struggling with a sticking door to realise that I had the topic for this week’s column.
Timber doors and door frames react to the humidity in the air as well as the changing seasons. Doors that open easily in the summer just can’t be budged on a wet winter’s day. (and as we know its been a tad wet over the past week) Timber will always absorb a certain amount of moisture and equally get very dry no matter how well the timber is protected. It’s the degree of protection that will either cause the timber to have or not have a problem. Door frames that have worn paint work will become very wet (even to the point of rot setting in) and consequently the timber fibres will swell causing the door to jam. The cure for this problem is to dry out the door and frame completely; this should be done as naturally as possible, if you can, wait for the dry season. When dry, strip all the old paint work, repair any damaged or rotted areas and repaint very carefully including the top and bottom of the door.
Loose screws holding the hinges can also cause a door to stick. What happens here is that the door sags out of square with the frame and jams. The cure here is relatively simple, you need to tighten the screws holding the door hinges. The best way to do this is to open the door and using wedges under the door to hold it square with the frame. You will notice that the hinges will sit back into the frame rebates. Now there are a variety of things you might have to do. If the screws are simply loose and there is plenty of grip with the wood just tighten them. If however the screws will not tighten then you might be able to use longer screws of the same gauge or you may have to fill the screw holes and then drill them to the correct size before refitting the screws. Or it may be that the original screws have simply rusted away and all that’s needed is a set of new screws.
With old doors another cause of sticking is the door construction itself has become loose around the joints. To cure this problem you will need time and patience and is only worth doing if the door has some intrinsic value of a sentimental or historical nature. Remove the door, strip all paint and varnish, force glue into the loose joints by pulling them apart slightly. You will then need some large sash cramps, available from your local hire store, to hold the door tight and square while the glue dries. Hang the door before repainting, if it still sticks slightly you may need to plane or sand down the edges a few millimetres to allow the door to fit correctly. Remove one more time and paint making sure that you include the top and bottom of the door and behind the hinges on the door and frame.
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