How To Fix Sagging or Sticking Doors

Fix tight doors by tightening hinges and jambs — with planing and sanding as a last resort.

Next Project

An hour or less






Unstick your doors by doing a little work on the hinges and (if necessary) breaking out the planer.

Tools Required

  • 4-in-1 screwdriver
  • Belt sander
  • Cordless drill
  • Drill bit set
  • Hammer
  • Safety glasses
  • Sanding block
  • Sawhorses
  • Square

Materials Required

  • 3-in. screws
  • Varnish
  • Wood filler
  • Wood shims
  • Wood stain

The standard prescription for fixing a sticking door is planing the rubbing edge so it swings freely. This always works, but it’s a major hassle. You have to remove the door and lug it out to the garage. When the planing is done, you have to refinish the planed edge. Before you go to all that trouble, try the three shortcuts described here. In most cases one of them will cure your sticking door.

Watch this video to see how simple fixing a nuisance door can be:

Project step-by-step (7)

Step 1

Fix #1: Tighten the Hinge Screws

Screws magically work themselves loose over the years. If your door rubs near the top or drags on the floor, use a screwdriver, not a drill, to tighten the screws. With a drill, you’re more likely to over-tighten the screw and strip the screw holes or chew up the screwheads.

Make Sure All the Screws are Tight

Tighten the hinge screws in the door and the jamb. Snug them firmly with a screwdriver rather than a drill to avoid stripping the screw holes.

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Step 2

Replace the Screw Closest to the Doorstop

To use this technique, remove a screw near the middle of the hinge (rather than the top or bottom screw).

  • Drive in a 3-in. screw with a drill.
  • When the screw is snug against the hinge, give the screw another quarter turn with a screwdriver.
  • Close the door to check the fit. Continue tightening and checking until the door no longer sticks.
    • Pro tip: Keep an eye on the door trim as you tighten. If you begin to create gaps at the trim joints, stop. It’s rare, but you might find that you can’t draw in a hinge at all because the jamb is already tight against the framing or shims.

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