Repair Of Binding Door
REPAIR OF BINDING DOOR
A. This procedure includes guidance on inspecting and
repairing a door that binds or rubs unnecessarily. Some
causes of a binding door may include paint build-up,
thermal expansion or swelling of the wood, loose hinges,
a worn hinge pin, or an open joint between the rail and
stile. See Section 3.01 below for guidance on examining
the cause of the problem so that the appropriate repair
can be made.
B. For guidance on repairing a door that has a springy
resistance to closing, see 08712-01-R "Resetting a Hinge
C. See 01100-07-S for "General Project Guidelines" to be
reviewed along with this procedure. These guidelines
cover the following sections:
1. Safety Precautions
2. Historic Structures Precautions
4. Quality Assurance
5. Delivery, Storage and Handling
6. Project/Site Conditions
7. Sequencing and Scheduling
8. General Protection (Surface and Surrounding)
These guidelines should be reviewed before performing
this procedure and should be followed, when applicable,
along with recommendations from the Regional Historic
Preservation Officer (RHPO).
1.02 SYSTEM DESCRIPTION
A. The parts of the door assembly involved in this procedure
are the door unit and door frame.
1. The door unit is composed of a head rail, lock
rail, bottom rail, lock stile, hinge stile,
muntins, and panels. The door unit assembly is
held together by mortise and tenon joints.
2. The frame is composed of the jambs, head jamb,
stop, and blocking. The cuts made on door and jamb
at hinge side are the hinge mortise and the cut
made on the jamb at latch side is the strike
B. Ideally, a door should hang with a 1/16 to 1/8 inch
uniform gap around the door between the door and the
C. A door should swing smoothly and silently on its hinges,
latch firmly, and remain fixed when closed.
A. Wood screws
B. Wood dowels
C. Wood wedges
D. Wood glue
E. Wood filler
A. To discern the problem, watch the door operate as it is
opened and closed a few times. Note the location of any
binding or rubbing, or if doors bind inconsistently from
top to bottom or hinge side to latch side.
1. If the door binds evenly along the latch side and
head, the problem may be caused by paint build-up,
or seasonal expansion.
2. If the door binds along the top of the latch side
and/or on the floor, the problem may be a loose
upper or lower hinge, a worn hinge pin, or an open
joint between the upper rail and stile.
a. A loose lower hinge is usually a problem with
wide throw hinges on entry doors, causing the
door to sag. This is evident by the door
resting against the jamb on the hinge side.
b. The joint between the upper rail and the stile
may be forced open by the weight of the door
or warping in the stile or rail.
3. If the door drags on the floor and a gap exists on
the latch side of the head or when a door binds at
the latch side of the head and a gap exists at the
floor, the cause is building settlement. This
situation can be differentiated from loose hinges
by the gap between top of door and head jamb.
3.02 ERECTION, INSTALLATION, APPLICATION
A. For paint build-up: This is typically the cause of
1. If the paint is loose and flaking, carefully remove
it from the mating surfaces using a paint scraper.
TAKE PARTICULAR CARE NOT TO GOUGE THE WOOD
2. For paint build-up that cannot be easily removed
using a scraper, remove excess paint using heat or
chemical removers. Being aware of hazardous coatings/materials, see 06400-07-R "Chemically removing paint from wood features" and 06400-09-R "Removing paint from wood features using thermal methods" for guidance.
B. For a door that swells from seasonal expansion: The door
must be carefully removed from the frame, planed, and
reinstalled. Planing should be performed during the peak
of the humid season when the wood has expanded fully.
C. For a loose upper or lower hinge:
1. Check for loose top hinge by opening the door
partially and pulling up on the knob and pushing in
toward the top. If the hinge moves, it is loose.
2. Tighten screws as much as possible. If the screw
holes have been stripped, install longer screws, or
drill new pilot holes for screws.
a. For stripped screw holes in the door STILE:
Resecure the hinge to the stile using longer
screws. This method is suitable for the door
stile because the stile is made of solid wood
and can accommodate longer screws.
NOTE: SCREW HEADS MUST BE SMALL ENOUGH TO FIT
FLUSH WITH HINGE LEAVES. A PROTRUDING SCREW
WILL UNDO REPAIR BY FORCING HINGE OUT OF ITS
b. For stripped screw holes in the JAMB:
Resecure the hinge to the jamb by filling in
existing holes and drilling new screw holes.
NOTE: INSTALLING LONGER SCREWS IS GENERALLY
NOT ADEQUATE FOR RESECURING THE HINGE IN THE
JAMB AS THE JAMB IS TYPICALLY NOT WIDE ENOUGH
(3/4") TO ACCOMMODATE LONGER SCREWS.
1) Remove the hinge and drill out existing
screw holes in the jamb.
2) Insert glue-soaked dowel into the hole
and allow to dry.
3) Re-drill pilot holes for new screws and
D. For a worn hinge pin:
1. Check for worn hinge pin by lifting and pushing
door. If there is no movement in hinge leaves but
knuckle moves or is misaligned, the hinge pin is
2. Make sure pin is fully inserted. If needed,
straighten bent hinge pin or remove hinge and
straighten bent knuckles with vice.
3. If the pin is all the way in and knuckles are still
loose, the pin or whole hinge must be replaced.
Replacement pin and/or hinge should match the
E. For an open joint between upper rail and stile: Remove
paint and any filler or caulk from previous repair.
Before proceeding, understand joint type.
1. To repair a through tenon joint, remove old wedges
and work joint open to dislodge glue.
a. Glue all exposed areas of tenon joint and
b. Make new wedges slightly longer than needed
and drive glue-soaked wedges in tight. Remove
any excess glue.
c. When the glue dries, chisel off ends of wedges
flush with the edge of door.
2. To repair a rail tenon joint (tenon reaches only
partially through the stile):
a. Reglue all exposed areas of joint (see Section
3.02 E.1. above) and clamp tightly.
b. Peg connection through stile and tenon with
wood dowel. The dowel will show on the
surface of the door.
Countersink 2 long wood screws through side of
stile and face of tenon. Fill the hole with
tinted wood filler.
F. For a gap at the top due to building settlement:
1. Check for frame squareness with level at head and
2. If gap between door and head is small enough so
that one cannot see through the frame into other
room, carefully remove the door from its frame,
plane the bottom of door and leave the frame out of
3. If one can see through the gap into other room, the
frame must be rebuilt.
G. For a gap at the bottom due to building settlement:
1. Check for frame squareness with level at head and
2. If not level, the door must be reframed.
NOTE: Planing the door is not an option here.
Planing the narrower top rail of the door would
leave it distorted and unsightly and weakened if
the tenon is exposed.
END OF SECTION