There are so many different factors that can cause a sagging door. Whether it’s issues with the installation, problems with the hinges or door frame, or even settling foundation—a sagging door is actually a fairly common issue that many homeowners deal with.
Although it is common, a sagging door can be a major issue. It can allow drafts to come through, create unsightly gaps in the door or prevent your door from closing all together. The good news is there are things you can do to fix sagging doors when they happen, and they don’t require you to hire a professional to come fix the problem for you. Here are a few different solutions to handling your sagging door issue.
First, you will want to inspect your door and look for areas where you have gaps and areas where the door seems tight against the frame. The more you can do to locate the cause of your door sagging issues, the easier it will be to isolate the problem. With this information in tow, here are a few ways to fix your sagging door for good.
Tightening Hinge Screws
This is the first thing you should always check when attempting to fix a sagging door, as it is not only one of the most common issues, but it is the easiest to fix.
Leave the door open and check each of the hinges on the door. Try to see if the screws are still tightly screwed into the door and the jamb. Take your screwdriver to check every single screw and tighten them if they are loose, but do not overtighten as it could push the door even more out of place.
Replacing and Fixing Door Hardware
If the screws are all tight along the hinges, then you need to do some further inspection to determine if you need to fix the actual door hardware or repair certain pieces. Here are the steps that you should take.
- Look for stripped holes along the hinges. If you find one, take a doorstop and use it to hold the door open. Carefully remove the hinge surrounding the stripped hole and remove every screw holding the hinges in place.
- Take a dowel and dip it in Carpenter’s glue. Insert the dowel into the hole.
- Once the glue dries, predrill a hole with an appropriately sized bit and replace the hinge and its screws.
If there weren’t stripped holes in the hinges, then move on to replacing the screws in your door hinges. Sometimes, a sagging door actually has to do with improper screws. If the screws are not long enough, then you need to replace it. Here’s how to check if your hinges have the right screws.
- Remove a screw from the hop hinge of the door. Make sure you are holding the door in place with a door stopper while you do this.
- Measure the screw. If it is not 2 ½ to 3 inches long, then it isn’t long enough. This means the screw is not reaching the wall stud through the jamb. In short, the weight of your door isn’t being fully supported—which is why it is sagging.
- If the screws aren’t long enough, remove every old screw and replace them with longer ones., making sure you check the level of the door after every new screw. Even if the door seems level after a screw has been replaced, you should still replace all of the screws along the hinge.
If the screws seem fine in your door hinges, you can actually add shims between the hinge and the doorjamb. Your shims can be made with thin pieces of wood or cardboard. You can even use playing cards if you don’t have any other options. The goal of using a shim is to help align the hinge and the door. Here’s how to make one.
- Remove the hinge that needs to be adjusted. In most situations, it is the top hinge.
- Trace and cut out its shape from your shim material. The thinner the material, the better.
- Add the shim behind the hinge, one layer at a time until the door doesn’t sag anymore.
This process takes some guess work and a little trial and error but it can help with door sagging. If this still isn’t working, you can take the shim process to the next level my mortising the door hinge.
Here’s how to do it.
- Score an outline around the hinge you are working on. The score lines should be perpendicular to the door jam.
- Remove the hinge from the door
- Take a chisel and carve out a deeper new pocket for the door hinge. Lightly tap the chisel to deepen the score lines you have. Do this for the entire perimeter of the hinge.
- When the perimeter is done, make a series of cuts on the inside of the perimeter using your chisel. You should make each cut 1/8 of an inch apart.
- Adjust the depth of your cuts so that the hinge now lays flush with the door.
- Replace the hinge and check on the status of the sagging.
Determine If Your Door and Frame are Level
If it seems as though your door and frame just aren’t matching up and that certain areas are tighter or looser than others, than you may be dealing with an issue related to your door frame not being level. Take a Carpenter’s square and a bubble level to check.
Hold the level against the door jam on the left and right sides. Look to locate where the bubble settles. If it is level it will go in between the two middle lines. You can use the Carpenter’s square and hold it against the corners of the door jamb to determine if they are 90 degrees or not. This will tell you if the door is level and if the frame is level. If the frame is not level, there may be an issue with your wall or your foundation, but typically you can have your door jamb reframed to accommodate.
If you are having an issue with the door being level, you will need to plane the door so that it is evenly square and fits within your frame.
Sanding and Refinishing a Sagging Door
The most common solution for fixing a sagging door is to remove the door completely from the frame and to sand or refinish it. If you have tried all of the other solutions to fixing your sagging door and they don’t work, then this is an option worth pursuing. This is the most complicated process and while it typically delivers results, it does require a bit of work.
Here is how you can refinish your sagging door.
- Take a Carpenter’s Compass and draw a line along the side of the door that rubs against the jamb. The line should be 1/8 of an inch from the edge of the door.
- Trace the line so it is very easy to see.
- Remove the door and place it on a flat worktable or sawhorse.
- Take a belt sander and sand, or plane, the edge of the door you just marked. Start by using 80-grit and sanding 1/16 of an inch.
- Try out the door to see if your issue is resolved. If it if not, go back and try again, until you reach you 1/8 line. It is best to take too little out of the side while planning than too much. You can always take more of the door off, but you can’t add more door to what you have.
- Once the door fits better and no longer sags, refinish and repaint the raw edge. Use a varnish on top of your door edge as it keeps moisture out. This will prevent further issues with your door, as many times excess moisture causes wood doors to swell. The varnish will help the door stay the same size and prevent sagging in the future.