How to Fix Doors That Stick? (Moisture Regulation & Foundation Repair)

Do you have a door that is almost impossible to yank open or shoulder-shove close? Do you have a doorframe that is leaning out of square? If you’re tired of fighting to open and close your doors look no further, this article is for you.     

Dalinghaus Construction Inc. has been in the foundation repair industry since 2015, holding over 100 years of combined foundation repair experience. We’ve helped hundreds of homeowners across Southern California and Arizona reclaim their homes and solve their sticking door issues once and for all. 

This article covers the characteristics of sticky doors, why doors stick, and the two most common ways to fix your sticky doors.

Characteristics of Sticky Doors

Besides being difficult to open and close, sticky doors can also have other annoying characteristics:

  •   Cracks emanating out from the corners of the doorframe
  •   A new, widening, or significant gap between the floor and bottom of the door
  •   Sloping and or bowed floors directly adjacent to the sticky door
  •   The doorframe looks out of square to the naked eye  

Sticky doors can be dangerous during a fire or other emergency where a quick escape is imperative.

In addition to safety concerns, sticky doors with gaps effectively eliminate visual and auditory privacy. This is not ideal for a busy and full household.   

Why Do Doors Stick?   

Obviously, when your abode was a newly built home and just recently placed on the market, the doors did not stick. This indicates that something changed over time to cause your doors to be difficult to open and close. Doors stick for two primary reasons: excessive moisture and/or an uneven foundation.

Doors Stick Due to Excess Moisture

Sticking doors caused by excessive moisture are common in climates where the humidity is high, and the moisture is unregulated in the interior of the home. Moisture seeps into the wood and causes it to swell. So, doors that used to open and close with no problem suddenly rub up against the doorframe due to an increase in volume/mass.

Humidity can swell:

  •   The door itself
  •   The exterior door frame/drywall
  •   The interior wooden framing

Whether one or all the items above are swollen can affect how well your door opens and closes. Extreme temperature differences between hot and cold can also cause your doors to expand and shrink, causing sticking and cracks.

Doors Stick Due to Uneven Foundations

Doors also stick due to uneven foundations caused by foundation settlement or foundation heave. Foundation settlement is when a foundation sinks due to incompetent, non-load-bearing soil (such as clays, loams, and silts). The soil cannot support the weight of the home and gives way, causing the home to dip unevenly.

When the home settles it transfers a tremendous amount of pressure up through the foundation and into the framing of the home, warping doorframes, and window frames – causing your doors & windows to be difficult to open and close.   

How To Fix Your Sticky Doors

If your sticky doors are caused by humidity and an excess of moisture in your home, moisture control is key. Moisture control can include:

  •   Running an air conditioner to dry out your home
  •   Properly encapsulating your crawlspace
  •   Utilizing a dehumidifier
  •   Running exhaust fans in your home

Once your home has dried out, the wood should begin to shrink back into place. You may need to completely replace a door if it’s been damaged too much due to the cyclical swelling and shrinking over the years.

If your sticky doors are caused by an uneven foundation, the solution is to even out your foundation through foundation repair. Some of the most common forms of foundation repair that even out homes are:

  •   Steel pier underpinning (push pier, helical pier, and helical tieback systems)
  •   Polyurethane Injection
  •   New posts and pads

Underpinning is the most common form of foundation repair that mitigates foundation settlement and combats expansive soil. To learn more about underpinning, read our article: What is Underpinning (Definition, History, & Types).

In our experience, sticky doors and windows are generally caused by foundation issues, but this is not always the case. Be sure to have a foundation repair professional come out and inspect your property to ensure you have peace of mind.

Have Your Foundation Inspected

In this article, you learned the common characteristics of a sticky door, what causes doors to be difficult to open and close, and that most sticky doors are caused by humidity or foundation issues.

Dalinghaus Construction Inc. has serviced hundreds of foundations in Southern California and

Arizona. We strive to help homeowners make the best-educated decisions for foundation repair and home projects. Be sure to check out our cool content on our Youtube channel.    

If you live in Southern California or Arizona, odds are high that your sticky doors are not due to high humidity. To determine if your sticky doors are caused by foundation settlement, click on the link below to book a free foundation inspection –

WRITTEN BY

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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