Unsticking a Metal Door
What to do when you can't use a plane
I know that sometimes you have to plane a little bit off the edge of a door to keep it from sticking, but what do you do when a metal-clad door sticks? My outswinging patio doors are wood on the interior but metal on the exterior. The doors stick so badly that the metal is pulling away from the wood. What should I do?
B. Phillips, Arlington, Texas
Tom Silva replies: Are the hinges tight? That's the first thing I check when a door binds. A door with loose hinges rubs against the opposite jamb. Often all it takes is some screws long enough to reach the framing. If the hinges are tight, maybe the wood has swelled under the metal. The solution in that case is simple: Wait for the driest part of the year, when the wood has shrunk back to where it belongs, then seal all the exposed surfaces — top, bottom, sides, and inside face — with a coat of oil-based primer and two coats of paint. To do the job right, you'll have to take the door off, but when you're finished, there will be less chance of the door swelling when the humidity goes up again. If that doesn't work, call my brother Dickie and ask if you can borrow his door squeezer.