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How to Fix Doors that Stick: A Guide for Homeowners

how to fix doors that stick
how to fix doors that stick

Doors that stick can be a frustrating problem. Not only can they be annoying to deal with, but they can also be a sign of a more serious issue. While doors can stick for various reasons, one common culprit is differential settlement, a serious foundation problem.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss the common reasons why doors stick and what homeowners can do to fix a sticking door. We will also emphasize the importance of addressing any potential foundation issues.

Reasons Why Doors Stick

There are several reasons why doors stick. Some are minor and easily fixable:

  • A door hinge that needs to be oiled
  • A buildup of dirt and debris around the door frame
  • Warping or changes in the shape of the door due to moisture or humidity
  • Improper installation of the door or frame
  • Paint buildup

However, there are other reasons that are more serious and require further investigation. These include differential foundation settlement and problems with the wooden structures in the crawl space (if you have a crawl space foundation).

Differential Settlement

What is differential settlement?

Differential foundation settlement occurs when one part of a building’s foundation settles into the ground more than another. This puts a lot of stress on a foundation, and as a result, doors and windows may become misaligned, causing them to stick, jam, or not close properly.

A gap between the wall and the floor can indicate your home has structural damage. Foundation settlement is a common cause of a gap between the wall and the floor.


So, what causes differential settlement?

Differential foundation settlement can be caused by various factors, including changes in soil composition, moisture content, and temperature. In areas with expansive soils, for example, repeated cycles of moisture absorption and drying can cause the soil to swell and shrink, leading to differential settlement of the foundation. Other factors that can contribute to differential foundation settlement include poor drainage, improper construction techniques, and natural disasters like earthquakes.

How is differential settlement repaired?

One of the most effective solutions for differential settlement is to stabilize the foundation via underpinning. This involves using push, helical, or slab piers to extend the home’s foundation down to stable soil or bedrock. Once the piers are in place, the foundation is slowly raised as much as possible without causing damage. This will often correct any problems with sticking doors or windows. For more information, see What Is Underpinning?

Problems In the Crawl Space

If the wooden structures in the crawl space – support posts, beams, and joists – begin to deteriorate due to moisture, wood rot, or damage caused by wood-eating pests, they can no longer provide the necessary support. As a result, the house can shift, causing the doors and windows to become misaligned and not open or close correctly. In addition to sticking doors and windows, problems in the crawl space can cause uneven floors, bouncy floors, and wall cracks.

crawl space repair solutions

Repair solutions for problems in the crawl space

The correct repair solution will depend on the exact problem in the crawl space. For example, if the issue is settled support posts due to drainage problems, the solution might be installing a drain tile system and then installing new support posts or screw jacks. If the problem in the crawl space is related to damaged joists, the solution might be to sister the joists to make them stronger.

For more information, see Signs Your Crawl Space Might Need Floor Joist Reinforcement.

Fixing Doors that Stick (Not From A Foundation Issue or a Problem In the Crawl Space)

If you have determined that your door sticking is not due to a foundation or crawl space issue, there are some possible steps you can take to fix it.

  • Sand the door – Weather changes can cause wooden doors to expand and contract. If the door sticks due to expanded wood, it can be sanded down a bit to relieve the sticking.
  • Adjust the hinges – When a door isn’t aligned correctly, it can cause the door to stick. Adjust the hinges to reposition the door so it sits properly and moves freely.
  • Tighten screws – Over time, screws in the door hinges may come loose. This can cause the door to sag and become misaligned, resulting in it sticking to either the door frame or the floor. Make sure that all the screws are tightened, and if necessary, replace any that are missing.
  • Get rid of paint buildup – If the paint on the door is too thick, it can cause the door to stick. In this case, the solution is to sand down the painted area until smooth.
  • Use a dehumidifier – Sometimes, interior doors can become swollen due to high indoor humidity. If this happens, the door may stick. To fix this problem, try lowering the indoor humidity by using a dehumidifier.

While minor problems causing sticking doors can be resolved easily with regular maintenance or some simple fixes, more serious issues like differential foundation settlement or problems with the wooden structures in the crawl space, require the attention of a professional foundation repair contractor. It’s essential to address any potential foundation issues early to prevent further damage to your home.

If you suspect your sticking door might be caused by a foundation issue or a problem in the crawl space, contact us today to schedule a foundation evaluation. If we find a problem, we’ll give you a repair estimate. We serve areas in four states: Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri.


Dave Epp

Dave is the President at Epp Foundation Repair with over 27 years of experience in the industry. Dave has worked on thousands of foundation, basement, concrete, and crawl space repair projects since 1993. Dave is involved in several civic and church organizations and enjoys coaching youth sports, mainly football, golfing, and elk hunting.



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