man using wood shaver to unstick door
Photo: Laura Moss
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7. Unstick a Door

A door that swings freely in arid winter conditions can jam in summer's humidity. Take note of the sticking points. If the door hinges are solidly anchored and properly mortised, it's likely the house has settled, there's too much paint on the door, the door is swollen, or all of the above. TOH general contractor Tom Silva likes a gap, or reveal, of about to 3/16 inch—the thickness of a nickel—between door and jamb to accommodate seasonal changes. If the sticking is localized, shave the high spot down with the door in the open position. Tom uses a hefty bench plane and takes long, smooth strokes with the plane held at a slight angle. (If you suspect lead paint, first remove the finish with a liquid stripper.) Round over the sharpened edges left by the plane with 150-grit sandpaper.
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