How NOT to Fix Your Sticking Doors (Foundation Settlement Complications)

Does your home have doors that are difficult to open and close? Do you have doorframes that are noticeably crooked or out of square? Before you dive headlong into Google to query how to fix a door that sticks, get the facts. If you want to know the common repair methods that do not work to address sticking doors and crooked frames caused by foundation settlement, this article is for you.

Dalinghaus Construction Inc. has been in the foundation repair game since 2015. We have serviced hundreds of foundations in Southern California and Arizona. We have assisted numerous homeowners to eliminate sticking doors and crooked doorframes, reclaiming their homes.

This article covers how sanding and shimmying doors do not provide long-term repair against foundation settlement. In addition, this blog post covers how steel pier underpinning is the best repair method to combat foundation settlement doorframe issues. 

How Not to Fix Crooked and Sticking Doors Caused by Foundation Settlement

Dalinghaus Construction Inc. is all about saving you time, effort, and money. Here are the two biggest faux pas we see homeowners do when attempting to address sticking doors caused by foundation settlement.

Don’t Sand or Plane Your Sticking Door  

Sanding down sticking doors is a very common method of addressing difficult to open and close doors. The sandpaper is utilized to grind down the door and/or the door frame to reduce the amount of contact. Door sanding is particularly helpful in humid climates where doors swell and stick due to excess moisture.

Door planing is also a common quick fix and involves using a door trimmer or electric hand planer to shave the door down, enlarging the gap between the door and door jamb/floor. 

Door planing typically requires that the door is removed; however, the top edge and latch edge of the door can be planed without fully removing the door off its hinges. Door planing requires a touch-up sealer or finish to match the original color scheme.

Door planing is utilized on new doors or to trim doors that have swelled due to moisture.    

 While door sanding and planing are viable repair options during normal circumstances, neither option permanently addresses sticking doors or crooked doorframes caused by foundation settlement.

Foundation settlement is when a foundation sinks into incompetent, non-load-bearing soil. Uneven settlement exerts a tremendous amount of pressure on the foundation, which is transferred up and into the interior framing, warping doorframes and causing doors to stick.

Ultimately, if you choose to have your foundation repaired and lifted back to maximum practical recovery, you will need to replace your sanded down and planed doors because the frames have been returned to square.

Don’t Shimmy Your Sticking Door

Door shimmying relevels crooked doorframes and helps doors open and close with ease.   

This procedure involves removing the pre-hung doorframe, adding shims to the doorframe’s sides, adjusting the shims so the doorframe will be level, screwing the door shims into place, and reinstalling the door/trim. 

Shimmying a doorframe with a perfectly level foundation works wonders for correcting crooked doorframes and freeing up sticking doors.

Shimmying a crooked doorframe caused by foundation settlement is not a long-term repair, as the home will simply continue to settle if the expansive soil is not addressed. In addition, if the home is eventually returned to maximum practical recovery during a lift, the doorframe will need to be adjusted to match the newly level interior framing.

In short, shimmying a crooked doorframe caused by foundation settlement at best offers a temporary solution for a long-term compounding problem and, at worst, needs to be corrected after a foundation lift.  

How to Fix a Door That Sticks Via Steel Pier Underpinning

Sanding, planing, and shimmying don’t address sticking doors caused by foundation settlement in a permanent capacity. If you’re looking for a permanent fix, steel pier underpinning is step one to reclaiming your doorways. 

Steel pier underpinning utilizes an underground stilt system where piers are driven to competent, load-bearing soil and support the load of the home.  

Steel pier underpinning with push and helical piers can help relevel your home’s foundation, alleviating the stress exerted on your foundation and correcting the warped internal framing.   

To learn more about underpinning, read our article What is Underpinning (Definition, History, & Types). 

Not Certain If Your Sticking Doors are Caused by Foundation Settlement? 

In this article, you learned that door sanding, planning, and shimmying are not long-term solutions for sticking doors caused by foundation settlement. You also learned that underpinning is the key to reclaiming your doorways.   

Dalinghaus Construction Inc. has helped hundreds of homeowners across Southern California and Arizona with foundation repair. If you’re not sure if your sticking doors are caused by foundation settlement, look for other signs and symptoms associated with foundation settlement. 

Read our article 5 Signs and Symptoms of Foundation Issues (Foundation Settlement & Foundation Heave) to familiarize yourself with the telltale signs and symptoms. 

If you live in Southern California or Arizona and have multiple foundation settlement symptoms, book a free foundation inspection today by clicking the button below.


Brian Dalinghaus

Brian is one of the Co-Founders of Dalinghaus Construction. He has been in the foundation repair industry since 2005. During his career, he has been associated with helping over 4,000 homes and structures throughout California and Arizona.

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