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Old 07-03-2007, 09:46 PM   #1
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Doors in a 1920's home


Hey all,

I have a 1920's home. It's in lovely condition, considering the neighborhood. However, I have a problem with my bedroom doors. They are all hard to close. The doors (or possibly the frames) are slightly bent, making the bottom of the door come in contact with the frame before the top. Which forces you to give it a good shove with your shoulder to get the top in place so the door will catch and click and whatnot.

Is this at all fixable w/o getting a new door? I'm presuming they are the original doors, complete with original hardware. I tampered down the pins on the hinges, but that did nothing.
Any suggestions?

[Crossposted in Carpentry]

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Old 07-03-2007, 11:46 PM   #2
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Doors in a 1920's home


Sticky doors like you describe are sometimes caused by bigger problems. What is under this area of the house? Is it a first floor? If it is, is the basement finished? (getting ahead of myself...IS there a basement?)

Sticking doors is sometimes (dare I say, often) caused by the floor joists sagging, which naturally pulls the door frame down and out of square.

Sure you could plane off some of the door, or the jamb, but if the problem is floor sagging, it will only last a very short while.

If you're willing, I'd say it would be better to fix the REAL problem (if that is in fact the problem) first.

Tell us what's under the area of the sagging door. Basement....crawl...slab (if it's a slab, then there's no reason to go any further with this "REAL problem first" business...lol).

Are there any more doors sticking like this? Where are they in relation to this one?

OHH, and there's no reason to crosspost in carpentry. I would guess that anyone who reads one, reads both. Also it gets confusing...thoughts and discussion going on here and not there...and vice versa.


Last edited by jproffer; 07-03-2007 at 11:50 PM.
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Old 07-04-2007, 09:22 AM   #3
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Doors in a 1920's home


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Sticky doors like you describe are sometimes caused by bigger problems. What is under this area of the house? Is it a first floor? If it is, is the basement finished? (getting ahead of myself...IS there a basement?)

Sticking doors is sometimes (dare I say, often) caused by the floor joists sagging, which naturally pulls the door frame down and out of square.

Sure you could plane off some of the door, or the jamb, but if the problem is floor sagging, it will only last a very short while.

If you're willing, I'd say it would be better to fix the REAL problem (if that is in fact the problem) first.

Tell us what's under the area of the sagging door. Basement....crawl...slab (if it's a slab, then there's no reason to go any further with this "REAL problem first" business...lol).

Are there any more doors sticking like this? Where are they in relation to this one?

OHH, and there's no reason to crosspost in carpentry. I would guess that anyone who reads one, reads both. Also it gets confusing...thoughts and discussion going on here and not there...and vice versa.
The two doors that stick are across from each other, both on the first floor. Underneath is a basement, which appears to have been 'finished' in the 1970's. The floor is quite level and doesn't appear to sag, but then again, I'm not an expert
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Old 07-04-2007, 12:50 PM   #4
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Doors in a 1920's home


The floor probably would appear level. It would only take....maybe 1/4" or less to jam up a door.

Do you have a long level you can put on the floor? (unless of course, it's carpet...don't waste your time if it is)

How fond are you of your basment ceiling? Don't go ripping into it just yet, because even if you find a low joist or a sag, you would have to be willing to remodel your basement around the supports that would have to go in to fix it.

If you're not interested in going this route, as I said above, you can always plane the door, the jamb, or both in the offending areas and leave it at that. It may or may not last. If the joists are done sagging, it could fix it for good.
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Old 07-04-2007, 01:06 PM   #5
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Doors in a 1920's home


Is this a ranch house?

A two story house?

Are these load bearing walls where the doors stick?

It may be that the previous owner removed some supports in the basement just below these doors to finish off the basement.
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Old 07-04-2007, 01:21 PM   #6
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Doors in a 1920's home


It's not unsusual for a house that age to settle to the point that you have doors not closing properly. Does it mean that you have serious structural worries? Maybe, maybe not. It's an old house.

The simplest solution to this would be to remove the doors and plane the bottoms slightly to fix the issue.
If you want to, you could remove the casing, adjust the plum and square of the frames, etc.... Does that mean the doors will close better? Yes. Does that mean that you may open up another can of worms with door issues in a different way? Very possible...

It's an old crooked house. The rule of thumb when dealing with doors and windows (in an old and crooked house) in the remodeling industry is: You can't straighten out a crooked house.

On the other hand, you can straighten out a crooked house if that is your actual plan and you have accepted the workload and budget to do that. If your goal is simply to get your two doors to close better (without sticking), then take them off and plane them down.....
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Old 07-04-2007, 01:58 PM   #7
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Doors in a 1920's home


There's carpet in the hall and hardwood in the rooms. The room side is level parallel to the door, I obviously can't tell perpendicular to though.

The basement ceiling is just foam tiles that I got out and looked at the floor. The floor from below looked fine (again, not at alllll an expert). I think, depending on what that would entail, I'd be willing for a permanent fix.

It's a 2 story. I wouldn't call it a ranch. Just a box, more-or-less.
It looks like a load bearing wall.

And when you say 'plane them down', I'm not sure that would work? When the door is closed, it fits nicely in the frame, it just hits the bottom part of the frame first. Maybe that would fix it, I'm not sure.

And I don't have the best vocabulary for this discussion, so I apologize for that. But thanks for the tips!
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Old 07-04-2007, 04:11 PM   #8
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Doors in a 1920's home


Have you added any items with a large weight on the second floor above the doors that stick?

When you remove the tiles in the basement do you see a larger beam (floor joist) that is supporting this load bearing wall that is above it?

What is the span or length of the joist that is in the basement just above the doors? Are there any support posts in the basment that reduce the span?

If you look at the space around the doors when they are closed is the gap at the top of the door and the door frame greater on one side then the other?

If so, how much is the gap difference?
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Old 07-04-2007, 05:25 PM   #9
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Doors in a 1920's home


If the door hits one part of the stop molding before the rest, you can just remove the stop molding and reset it. This does not address any structural issues you might have, but the doors will close with a reassuring bang.
This is a good time to remove any of the last 87 years of built up paint on the doors and the stop molding.
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Old 07-04-2007, 06:34 PM   #10
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Doors in a 1920's home


One thing to realize is that (as stated earlier) Older homes (1930's and older were built very differently, in terms of structural methods).

Just because they have sloped floors and ceilings, doors that will not close properly, etc, etc... Does not "necessarily" mean that they are unstructurally sound. (if an inspection from a professional, licensed, certified person or company says they are, that is an entirely different issue)

Many of them have settled and have done ALL the settling that they will.

We have worked in homes dating back to the 1600's (New England). We have worked in "olde" homes with all kinds of slopes, sags, door issues, etc. None of them were structurally inadequate. They were just "old" and settled.

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Old 07-04-2007, 07:38 PM   #11
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Doors in a 1920's home


Are the doors sticking a new problem or has it been that way as long as you can remember. There's new sag and old sag. Old sag I wouldn't bother chasing. If it's new sag, the posts under the girder of that part of the house may be sinking and need new footings.
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Old 07-05-2007, 09:44 AM   #12
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Doors in a 1920's home


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Originally Posted by samsays View Post
Hey all,

The doors (or possibly the frames) are slightly bent, making the bottom of the door come in contact with the frame before the top. Which forces you to give it a good shove with your shoulder to get the top in place so the door will catch and click and whatnot.
[Crossposted in Carpentry]
Ron hit the nail on the head.

I had the same problem in a house I rented. Look at the edge of the door to see if it's warped. Use either a long straight edge or a piece of string. If that's the case, remove the door stop trim, close the door, and mark where the trim needs to adjusted to. The trim is pretty fragile, so you can bend it to the shape of your door.
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Old 07-05-2007, 01:27 PM   #13
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Doors in a 1920's home


Like a few have suggested, the door sounds warped...we run into this all the time. A lot of the doors were constructed thinner...1 1/8"-1 1/4". Over 90 years a pine door isn't going to behave like a 90 year old 2" oak door.

I agree with the other posts about moving the door stop, but you can also move the door strike mortised into the jamb so you don't have to slam the door to latch it.
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Old 07-05-2007, 09:50 PM   #14
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Doors in a 1920's home


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There's carpet in the hall and hardwood in the rooms. The room side is level parallel to the door, I obviously can't tell perpendicular to though.

The basement ceiling is just foam tiles that I got out and looked at the floor. The floor from below looked fine (again, not at alllll an expert). I think, depending on what that would entail, I'd be willing for a permanent fix.

It's a 2 story. I wouldn't call it a ranch. Just a box, more-or-less.
It looks like a load bearing wall.

And when you say 'plane them down', I'm not sure that would work? When the door is closed, it fits nicely in the frame, it just hits the bottom part of the frame first. Maybe that would fix it, I'm not sure.

And I don't have the best vocabulary for this discussion, so I apologize for that. But thanks for the tips!
I live in a house that was constructed in 1919 and I had the same problems as you with the doors on the second story. What they mean by planing is to take the door off of its hinges and use a hand planer on it. Here is a picture of a hand planer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Plane_parts.jpg

You can google to find out how to use it but it is relatively simple as you are just shaving wood from the door to make it close. This calls for sanding, repainting/staining and the like but it is a relatively easy fix if you are up to it.

I would not worry about structural issues if the house appears to be in otherwise good condition, like others have said, it is an old house and it has simply settled.

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