How to Fix a Warped Door

Doors can warp through years of use or if moisture penetrates the wood. The door jams, drags on the floor or no longer closes properly. I will show you how to fix a warped door yourself in just a few simple steps.

Here is how to fix a warped door depending on the problem:

  1.  The door is stuck at the top : Tighten the top hinge. If that doesn’t help, sand down the top of the door.
  2.  The door jams in the lower area shortly before closing or drags across the floor 
  3. Place one or more washers on the upper hinge. If that doesn’t help, sand down the door below.
  4.  The door is stuck in the lock area: Turn the screw hinges further.
  5.  The door drags along its entire length: Adjust both door hinges. If that doesn’t help, sand the entire edge off.
  6.  The door rubs against the top of the door jamb: Adjust the upper hinge.

Now I will show you 4 step by step methods how you can fix your warped door! Scroll down to see it!

Why causes doors to warp?

Before starting the repair, you should find out the exact reason why doors warp. The problem is particularly common at the front door. 

The door warped because of the following causes:

  • The door leaf has changed shape due to moisture.
  • The masonry has changed.
  • The door leaf and frame do not fit together exactly, i.e. the frame is not installed vertically on both sides.

If the door has been installed in a new building and the walls are not yet completely dry, the door will fit and close perfectly. 

However, as soon as the walls are completely dry, an accident occurs. The door leaf itself is therefore not “to blame”, but the changed framework conditions.

It is also possible that wood was used for the door leaf that was not yet completely dry. If there are other factors, for example moisture from the outside and / or heating air from the inside, it is only a logical consequence that the door no longer closes perfectly.

Do you know how to dry wood? I have written a complete guide on how you can dry wood in 5 different ways!

So first find out where the vulnerability is. You can discover a gap between the door leaf and the frame by closing the door and checking the door rebate piece by piece with a business card or postcard. 

The door can have deficits either on the lock side or on the hinge side. If the door is dragging on the floor, the cause is also clear.

How to Fix a Warped Door

Method 1. Fix a Warped Door by Adjusting the Hinges

Fix a Warped door by adjusting the hinges

It is often sufficient to adjust the hinges (fastenings of the door to the door frame) correctly. Follow these steps:

  1. To do this, roughly determine the misalignment of the door. For example, if the front part of the door rubs against the floor, or the lower edge of the door does not run parallel to the floor.
  2. Then take the door off its hinges .
  3. Turn the tape attached to the door either a few turns to the left or to the right, depending on which misalignment you have diagnosed. 
  4. If the front part of the door rubs against the floor, you have to turn the upper hinge to the right or the lower hinge to the left.
  5. Put the door back on its hinges and check that you have set the correct distance. If the problem persists, repeat the process and readjust the bands.
  6. Tip: A glass door or one made of solid wood can be very heavy. So get some help to unhinge the door.

Read this article about what type of hinge you need to choose based on your project!

Method 2. Fix a Warped Door by Straighten the Door

how to fix a warped door by straighten the door

Sometimes it also happens with wooden doors that the door is warped, ie not flat. 

You can recognize this by the fact that the door either falls into the lock, but one corner does not lie against the door frame, or does not fall into the lock at all because one corner touches the door frame in front of the lock. If so, you will need to straighten the door. 

Here is how to fix a warped door by straighten it:

  1. Unhinge the door and remove the handle. Usually this is screwed to the door plate on the door. You have to remove this. 
  2. Once you have done this, you still have to remove the actual handle, which is usually fastened with one or two Allen screws.
  3. Place the door on a workbench or similar. 
  4. Now the problem should be clearly visible and you can see which corner (s) are sticking out.
  5. To restore the door to its original shape, use screw clamps to pull it into the same straight surface as the workbench. 
  6. If possible, overstretch the door a little. Caution: the contact surfaces of the screw clamps can damage the door. 
  7. Therefore place a small board between the clamping surface and the door.
  8. The door should now remain in this position for about 24 hours.
  9. Then check whether the door is really flat. If this is not the case, you can restrain the door for a further period of time and / or stretch it if you have not tried it yet.
  10. Once the time has elapsed, if the door is correctly aligned as expected, you can reassemble it and put it back in its original place.

After you’ve taken the door of it’s hinges it’s a good time to start staining it. I have for you the best step by step guide how to stain a door!

Method 3. Fix a Warped Door with Hinge Washers

The simplest option is to put washers in the hinges so that the door hangs a little higher. 

Make sure to get the right washers, they have to be big enough to fit on the hook. The outer diameter of the discs must be so small that it does not rub against the frame. But you can find hinge washers in a well-stocked hardware store.

This is how you fix a warped door with hinge washers:

  1. To do this, lift the door off its hinges and set it aside. 
  2. First, check that the hinge is screwed tightly and tighten the screws if necessary.
  3. You can also use this opportunity to clean the hinge pin and apply new oil to the hinge.
  4. You can then correct the door height by placing one or more washers on the hinge.

Do you want to remove door hinges in an easy way? Find out in this article I wrote exactly how you can do this!

Method 4. Bring the warped door leaf back into shape with wooden plates and wedges

fix a warped door with wooden plates and wedges

The method works better with softer wood than with hardwood. In any case, you need thin wooden plates and wooden wedges. 

The material should not be harder than the wood of the door so that you do not damage anything.

  1. If the top of the door or the lock side is affected, clamp the wooden wedges against the direction of warping. 
  2. Slide the plates between the door leaf and the frame. 
  3. The door can now only be closed with greater force. 
  4. If the door closes first on the lock side, then clamp a plate between the frame and the door. 
  5. Then wedge the lower corner of the door. 
  6. You may need to do a little testing to find the right positions. 

The door leaf takes time to regain its proper shape. It only makes sense to attempt repairs if you can keep the door closed for some time.

It works faster and safer if you sand down the door leaf in the tricky areas with a sander.

What to sand the door and don’t how to start. I have written an in depth article how you can sandblast wood!

Method 5. How to Fix a Warped Door by Sanding it

Of course, this only works if the door leaf also fits into the frame when it is lifted a little. 

If there is no space for it, there is no way around sawing a few millimeters off the door below. 

You should definitely use a hand-held circular saw with a guide rail, otherwise the cut will not be straight. And that is noticeable.

Do you want to refinish your furniture and restore it’s original look? Here is a step by step article I wrote which will help you do this procedure effortlessly!

How do you tell if a door is warped?

To determine if a door is warped, you have to take a closer look at the all-round door rebate when it is closed, both on the lock side and on the hinge side. If in doubt, a business card can help to determine where there might be a gap. 

Helpful tip!
“You try to insert the card between the door leaf and the rebate and move it around from the inside and outside and then notice very quickly where the door leaf is or where there is air.”

When doors warp, the wrong distance in the door rebate is almost always the cause. 

How to determine if the door is warped follow this steps:

  • A distance of 2 mm (the thickness of a coin) on the side and top of the door rebate is ideal. The coin sample can provide an initial indication of where exactly it is stuck. There should be a distance of around 5 mm to the floor (depending on the floor covering).
  • When troubleshooting, carbon paper that you wedge between the door and the frame can be helpful. Where the paper rubs off, it’s too narrow. 
  • Mark the spot with chalk or a pencil.
  • Another variant is the chalk test : draw a track in front of the door with chalk. Where the chalk blurs, the door grinds.

With these 5 methods present now you know how to fix a warped door. This will save you precious time and money on door replacement.

Adrian Tapu

Adrian is a seasoned woodworking with over 15 years of experience. He helps both beginners and professionals expand their skills in areas like furniture making, cabinetry, wood joints, tools and techniques. Through his popular blog, Adrian shares woodworking tips, tutorials and plans related to topics such as wood identification, hand tools, power tools and finishing.

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