Fixing Stuck French Doors

  • 2-6 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 25-400
What You'll Need
Coarse sandpaper
Power drill
Wall plugs
Steel brush
Penetrating oil

A picturesque garden can be a pleasant addition to a home when viewed through a set of French doors. However, frustration can result when the doors become stuck. By having an idea of how to fix the doors when this happens, you can ensure that access to the garden is never hindered.

Step 1 – Determine the Source of the Problem

Whether the French doors are completely unable to open, only stick intermittently or simply feel rather stiff, you must examine them thoroughly to determine the cause of the problem. If the doors cannot open at all, use a flashlight to check the gap between the doors and the frame for anything amiss. If you can open your French doors, you can check the hinges as well as the door handle and fastening.

Test the French doors by swinging them back and forth to check for resistance or any strange noises. If noises are present, the problem is likely to lie with the hinges. If the door feels and sounds fine, you must look elsewhere for the cause. Another issue that can arise from the hinges is where the screws holding the hinges in place have come loose. This will cause the door to be misaligned.

Wood that is exposed to the elements can expand in size; even a small increase is enough to make a door stick. Check the French doors for any distortion, expansion and cracking. Check the handle to ensure that the mechanism is working properly and that it fits in the recess of the doorjamb.

Step 2 – Rectify the Problem

Once you have discovered the reason for the problem, refrain from fully closing the doors again, if possible, until you have gathered the relevant tools. If the problem appears to be with the hinges, lubricate them with penetrating oil if they are stiff but do not display any visible problems. Where the hinges have rusted or are showing signs of doing so (such as discoloration), use a steel brush to remove as much of the rust you can before you oil the hinges.

If the French doors have dropped due to loose screws in the hinges, attempt to tighten them before you test the doors again. The more you use your French doors, the more likely the thread of the screws will drag against the walls of their casings and loosen. If this is the case, you may need to remove the entire doors so you can renew the holes.

If the door handle is not working as it should, tighten the screws to determine whether this will solve the problem. If not, you may need to replace the handle due to the inner workings wearing out.

Where the door has expanded, carefully shave off strips of the wood. Regularly try out the doors along the way so you don't shave off too much wood.

Step 3 – Re-examine your French doors

After completing the task, try the French doors again before you repeat the relevant tasks (if they have not worked). If you needed to plane any wood, be sure to varnish the exposed edge.