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Mr. Mike
Mr. Mike, Civil Engineer
Category: Home Improvement
Satisfied Customers: 1387
Experience:  Homeowner and fixit fan. What works is what I am interested in.
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How do you unstick a door thats been painted

Resolved Question:

Front door was painted 5 days ago. We left it semi-open with storm door locked. When we finally closed door it stuck and would not open unless someone on outside pushed with all their might.
Submitted: 10 years ago.
Category: Home Improvement
Expert:  Mr. Mike replied 10 years ago.
Once the door has been opened by force, as you describe it, you will want to sand down the surfaces of the door - and the surfaces of the door frame that contact the door - until there is a little bit of clearance.

Then sand it a little more, as wood can absorb and retain moisture from the air, which can cause jsut enough swelling to cause it to stick again.

Wrap your sandpaper around a piece of wood to get a more even job, with less damage to your fingers. Wear work gloves to protect your skin from the inevitable slippage.

Sometimes it is just a portion of the door that sticks - perhaps just part of the top or part of the edge. Put some chalk or magic marker on the top and edge of the door after your initial sanding. When you close the door it will automatically mark for you where more sanding is needed.

The sanding is usually easier to do that the alternative, which is removing the door from the frame, removing the hinges and setting them just a little deeper... and you will probably have to sand the top of the door and door frame anyhow even if you do this.

Apparently is was a well-fitting door to begin with! Good luck with this fixit project.
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Customer: replied 10 years ago.
Reply to Mr. Mike's Post: Won't sanding take off the paint?? The whole door and frame was painted white.
Expert:  Mr. Mike replied 10 years ago.
A very logical question.

The paint has a thickness. If you remove just a little of the paint at the top of the door (just the thin horizontal part) and just a little of the paint on the edge of the door (the thin vertical part) you will restore some of the clearance.

(You can't see the top of the door anyhow, so take off all you want there! That way you only have to sand down the high spots at the top of the door frame).

You only see the edge of the door when you open it. So you can remove a little more of the paint on that edge of the door.

If you remove, say, half the thickness of the paint from the door, and a quarter of the thickness of the paint from the door frame, with any luck your door will close without sticking, and you are done!