Door Repair

“Close the door!” “I can’t!” We often take doors for granted — until something goes wrong. This Fix-It Guide on door repair tells how a door works, what often goes wrong, how to identify a door problem, and what parts and tools you will need to fix it. It then gives simple step-by-step instructions for how to remove a door, how to plane a door, how to service a sliding closet door, how to repair a sliding glass door, and how to weatherstrip a door. See door hardware repair if needed. Interior door repair, exterior door repair, storm door repair, and screen door repair are all similar.

How Does a Door Work?

Door Repair

Prehung doors are installed in an opening as a unit.

A door is a moveable barrier that allows entry or exit into a defined space. Some doors swing on hinges while others slide on tracks. Exterior doors typically are made of solid wood while many interior doors have hollow cores. Fire doors are often made of or covered with metal. Some doors are made of glass with a metal frame rather than wood. Others are made of vinyl or even fiberglass. Yet they all operate and are repaired approximately the same way.

Doors include the door itself as well as the jambs (surrounding frame) and casing or trim. Doors also have locks, latches, knobs, and hinges, covered under the Door Hardware Fix-It Guide .

What Can Go Wrong with a Door?

The most common problem with a door is that it sticks or binds. A door may not close properly. It may rattle. A sliding door may be jammed or not slide smoothly. An exterior door may let in a draft from outside.


Before removing a door from its hinges, make sure you have somewhere safe and solid to lean it. Doors can be heavy and, if they fall, can hurt someone or something.

How Can I Identify a Door Problem?

  • If a door sticks or binds, remove excess wood or other material with a plane (see below). In humid climates, wood can expand and make a door stick to the jamb. Humidity control may solve the problem.
  • If a top-hung sliding closet door does not operate smoothly, adjust and lubricate it (see below).
  • If a sliding glass exterior door does not glide, clean and lubricate the tracks (see below).
  • If an exterior door lets in a draft, add weatherstripping (see below).

Fix-It Tip

As you vacuum your home, use a crevice tool to remove dirt and debris from the track of any sliding doors. Periodically use a brush or broom to loosen caked-on dirt that can make sliding doors stick and cause bigger problems.

What Do I Need for Door Repair?

Hardware stores and home improvement centers are full of replacement parts, materials, and tools for fixing doors. The tools you’ll need include these:

  • Screwdrivers
  • Hammer
  • Pry bar
  • Saw
  • Utility knife
  • Awl
  • Nail set
  • Wood plane
  • Wood filler
  • Tape measure
  • Weatherstripping

What Are the Steps to Door Repair?

Remove a door:

  1. Open the door to expose the door hinges.
  2. Tap the lowest hinge’s pin up using a nail set (or an old flat screwdriver) and a hammer.
  3. Pull the hinge pin up until about the top half of it is exposed. Repeat for the one or two other hinges, moving from the bottom of the door to the top.
  4. Place a piece of wood under the center of the door to support the weight, then pull each of the pins out of the hinges, from the bottom of the door to the top.
  5. Remove the door and place it somewhere safe.
Door Repair

After removing the door from the hinges, use a wood plane to remove wood from the bottom or side of a door.

Plane a door:

  1. With the door hung, mark the location where material needs to be removed from the door.
  2. If necessary, remove the door (see above) to easily access the area that needs planing.
  3. Adjust the plane’s blade to remove small increments of material.
  4. Use the plane to remove material so the edge won’t catch on the jamb as the door is closed.

Service a sliding closet door:

  1. Swing the door out and up to remove it from the track.
  2. If the track is damaged, remove and replace it before continuing.
  3. Inspect the rollers, tracks, and slots for obviously loose or damaged components. Replace and adjust as needed.
  4. If the door is not level, adjust the pivots on the top and bottom of the door.
  5. If there is a gap above the door, check for adjustable roller brackets and adjust as needed.

Repair a sliding glass door:

  1. Lift the panel up and away from the door frame to remove the panel.
  2. Inspect the wheels and replace them if they are worn or broken.
  3. Clean the track and repair any damaged track runners before continuing.
  4. Find and test the adjustment screws on either end of the panel to make sure that they are clean and work properly.
  5. Replace the door in the frame and on the track. If necessary, use the adjustment screws to adjust the height of the door.

Weatherstrip a door:

  1. Purchase a weatherstripping kit for the door or measure the door and take the dimensions to a hardware store for materials.
  2. Install the weatherstripping on the hinge, top, and latch sides of the door opening, in that order (unless the weatherstripping manufacturer suggests otherwise). Weatherstripping is installed by nailing it in place with small brads, positioning it so the compressible surface is facing the door’s perimeter. Closing the door will compress the weatherstripping to reduce air leaks.
  3. Install a door sweep on the inside bottom of the door. Use a hacksaw or utility knife to cut the unit to length if necessary. Mark and drill the screw holes.

Fix-It Tip

Weatherstripping exterior doors may earn financial assistance from your local power company. Contact the company to find out more.