My 6-panel masonite doors stick in the winter but not in the summer.

Peggy W
by Peggy W
I have 6-panel masonite doors throughout my house. Several years ago, my bathroom door started sticking so that it couldn't be closed in the winter when the heat was being used but in the summer, when the air conditioning was on, it would close correctly. Now several more of the doors stick in the winter but don't stick in the summer. They stick at the top opposite from the hinge side. I have this problem on two floors. My house was built in 1991 and I have unheated garage underneath. Has anybody experienced this?
  4 answers
  • Generally the issue is reversed but the cause is the same - moisture is swelling doors Make sure you are running the vents when you cook & shower this winter - if you are running a humidifier you might want to cut it down some. This summer when it has all dried out - check the reveal first & then paint / seal all the edges of the door to help prevent it from happening again
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Dec 10, 2012
    I see this a bit here, summer is our dry season and closed up homes cooking showing etc in the winter often lead to more interior humidity. Despite good intentions I see many door that are not finished properly...aka naked tops and bottoms. These are areas that people do not see because of their locations. If you read the fine print on most door manufactures literature, most warranties are void if all 6 sides are not painted / sealed etc. Ideally the doors should be fitted or "tuned" to reveal an 1/8" gap on the two sides and top. This uniform reveal is part of a proper install, using shims etc. Down the road if this "reveal" changes it will give you clues as to other issues in the settling, worn hinges etc.
  • Peggy W Peggy W on Dec 10, 2012
    Thanks. I'll wait until summer when they are working properly and seal all the edges.
  • Peggy, while humidity has a lot to do with door sticking, I am not so sure if that is your issue. Typical swelling of doors which relates to door sticking happens during the summer months in your part of the country. While winter is the dryer season. Think of it this way. During the summer your AC system works not only to cool the house down, but to remove the humidity within the house. IN the winter months, your running humidifiers to raise the moisture within the house lost to the dryer outside. I suspect that you have a settlement issue. This is a common occurrence with homes of the age you have, and with the location of the doors or rooms being over an unconditioned space such as your garage. There are a lot of variables that need to be considered when determining the cause of the movement, but overall it has to do with the combined shrinkage of the framing plus combined moisture within the garage area. Add to this that most six panels Masonite doors rarely swell or shrink very much due to their composition of man made materials. You can do a few things to determine what is going on. 1. if you have exposed hardwood floors. Take a marble and place it near the hinge side of the door. Does it roll towards the latch side? That is telling me that the floor framing has settled. This in turn lowers the unhinged side of the door frame causing it to bind near the top. 2. If you have a carpet on the floor and cannot use the marble. you need a long mason line that will reach from one end of the garage to the other. A lazer pointer will also work but the string works best. Fasten the string about two inches below the ceiling along the area where the middle of the garage is located. Then do the same at the other opposite side. Using a short 1x2 board about 16 inches long works well for this. Using long screws fasten the board to the wall with the bottom or the top edge at the 2 inch mark. Do the same at the other end. Then take the string wrap it around the board and pull it tight while you fasten the screws tight. This string span if the floor is level should be exactly 2 inches from the string to the ceiling along the entire span. You may find that the middle of the distance between each wall has dropped. It may only be a half inch. But combined with typical wood shrinkage that can result in as much as one inch on the living side of the room. If this indeed is the case, you need to look where there are columns if you have them in the middle of the garage. This assumes you have a two car garage. In any case if there are columns look were they sit on the floor. Are there any cracks around them? This indicates that the footing has dropped. Look where they meet the support beam above. Is there any indication of crushing even slightly where they attach to the beam above? If you observe this, I would suggest that a contractor familiar with structural improvements be consulted. He or she may need to install a lolly column to lift the floor back up that half inch or so.
    comment photo