Door Sticking After Painting? Why It Happens & 5 Fixes

It can be quite frustrating having your freshly painted door stick to the door frame, as it can make an annoying noise or simply make it harder for you to use the door.

There are a couple of common reasons that could cause this issue, which will be discussed in detail so you can prevent the door from sticking after painting in the future.

On the other hand, if you’re already dealing with this problem with sticky paint, whether it be your interior door, garage door, or any kind of exterior door, we’ve got the solutions.

Why is your door sticking after painting?

A sticking door is an issue that could appear due to numerous factors that we could categorize into two groups: external and internal.

External factors have to do with the climate and temperature, which is something you cannot prevent, but you can definitely make certain adjustments to prevent these factors from making such a big difference.

Internal factors, so to speak, are related to the actual paint choice, the adjustment of door hinges, the choice of lubricants on your door, as well as the sanding process.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons behind a door jam due to sticking so you can better understand the situation and hopefully avoid it in the future.

1. Too much paint was added

When painting the entire door, you may end up using way too much paint to get the desired coverage and saturation.

However, paint buildup and thick brush strokes that remain on the door can prevent the paint from drying all the way through, resulting in a sticky finish.

In a vast majority of cases, paint buildup will cause a door jam, and you will often notice the paint blocking the closing mechanism.

2. Sagging hinges

In some cases, it is possible that you haven’t installed the door properly after painting, especially if you’ve added a thick layer of paint that has made the door too big for the hinges you’re currently using.

Another possibility is that the hinges are sagging, which will also make the door stick to the door frame.

3. Weather

Now, this is the external factor we mentioned at the beginning, which is completely outside of your control. 

In the hot summer months, higher temperatures, as well as humidity, may cause the door to swell. In the winter, on the other hand, the door (especially the exterior door) could contract.

That being said, if the door hasn’t been properly sealed, it will expand in the summer months, absorbing the moisture and possibly sticking to the frame.

Once the temperature goes down and the door contracts, you should be able to close it properly, but these changes could damage the door, especially the wood.

While we cannot control the weather and the temperature changes during the year, we can certainly take certain measures to prevent the fluctuating temperatures from affecting the door mechanism

4. Oil-based paint

When using oil-based paint, it is necessary to allow it to dry properly, which is a rather long process.

While oil-based paints are generally quite durable and high-quality, working with them can be a bit more challenging as they take up to 24 hours to dry completely before you can apply the second coat of paint.

Many people make the mistake of hanging their door painted with oil-based paint after only 6-8 hours. While the door will feel and look dry, it will in fact take 24 hours to dry 100%.

How to fix a door sticking after painting 

While there are a lot of methods you can use to prevent the door from sticking after painting, you may also be in a situation where the damage” had already been done and all you can do is fix it.

Luckily, a sticking door isn’t a lost cause and, in a majority of cases, you can easily solve this issue without damaging any of its components.

Keep on reading to learn more about how you can fix the door that is sticking after painting and prevent it from happening in the future. 

1. Prepare the door for painting

When painting your doors, one of the most crucial steps that many people seem to overlook is the preparation process.

Before you go in with the paint, it is necessary to remove it from the hinges and then sand it down to get rid of any imperfections. This step will also remove the existing paint, so you can work with a clean canvas.

Sand down the door using either an electric sander (which is faster and provides a smoother finish) or regular sandpaper (which will take a bit more time).

Once you’ve removed the existing paint and are now working with a smooth, paint-free surface, you should also clean the door with a damp cloth to remove any dust residue.

In case there are any gaps or cracks, use wood filler to fill them up and even out the surface. Once you’ve completed these steps, it is recommended to apply a coat of primer and let it dry before you add any paint.

Adding a primer will not only make it much easier for you to paint the door evenly, but it will also make the paint last longer. 

Also, remember to use painter’s tape to protect hinges and door handles from paint. While these stains can be removed afterward, you don’t want any of the paint to get into the gaps and compromise the function of these components. 

2. Apply the paint properly

Many people make the mistake of applying a very thick coat of paint right away in order to get the desired coverage and depth of color.

However, as we’ve mentioned, applying thick coats of paint could result in the paint not drying entirely and the door sticking after painting.

It is also possible for paint buildup to jeopardize the closing mechanism, so you want to take your time painting the door and building the desired depth and coverage.

Paint the front part of the door, and then let it dry completely before you move on to the back portion. You also want to wait enough for the initial coat to dry before applying the second one. 

The same applies to all the edges, which can be particularly tricky and make the sticking of the door even worse. 

Even if the door isn’t sticky to the touch, you should still wait the recommended period of time before you install the door. 

3. Use a lubricant

While this is not a permanent solution, it can still help you if your door is sticking after painting. There are many products you can use to prevent sticking or at least reduce it, including soap and petroleum jelly.

However, we recommend using a household lubricant spray, as it is the easiest to use and provides the most long-lasting results. 

If the lubricant doesn’t help, you should make sure that the door was properly hung and the hinges aren’t sagging. 

4. Adjust the hinges

If you’ve already painted the door and you’ve only realized that the paint is too thick and hasn’t dried properly in between the layers, the paint will probably stick to the door frame.

What you can do to readjust the door and prevent it from sticking to the frame is to adjust the hinges accordingly, usually by tightening them.

The first step would be to tighten the screws on the hinges, making sure that they’re set in place. You may also replace the screws in the central portion of the hinge with even longer screws, which should reduce the door sticking.

In case neither of these tricks work, you may have to reposition and re-install the hinges lower to make the door fit better. 

5. Remove the paint buildup with sanding or planing

Sometimes the paint buildup is so thick that none of the above-mentioned tips will work. If your door is still sticking after you’ve readjusted the hinges and even re-hung the door, you may have to remove the paint buildup.

A very successful method of fixing a door that sticks is sanding down the hinge side of the door to remove any excess paint and allow the latching mechanism to function properly.

You first want to use coarse grit sandpaper, which will allow you to remove all the imperfections. Once you’ve successfully removed the built-up paint, you want to go in with fine-grit sandpaper to ensure that the hinge side is smooth.

In case the sanding doesn’t remove all of the excess paint, you may have to shave away a portion of wood at the top of the door to create enough room for the door to open and close effortlessly, which is a method known as planing.

Simply add a piece of cardboard between the top of the door and the door frame to see exactly how much of the wood needs to be shaved away. Use a pencil to mark the spots where the door sticks to the frame, and then remove the door from the hinges.

Use a jack plane to shave off the marked portion of the wood, and sand down the area to ensure that it is smooth. 

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