A sticking door, especially an interior one, can be a major nuisance. Jerking the door open or slamming it shut only serves to cause further damage to hinges, lock plate, latch and doorknob not to mention the jamb and doorstops. Many people put off fixing a sticking door because they think they will have to plane the door edges and this may be the case in some instances. But fixing a sticking door is usually much more mundane. There are a few things to look for before removing the door from the jamb.
As a door and its associated jamb grow older, the wood that makes up these components absorbs moisture causing the wood to swell. This applies especially to bathroom doors. Then the wood dries out from room heat or warm weather and as it gives up its moisture content the wood shrinks. This continuous moisture exchange causes the wood to give up its hold on the wood screws that attach the hinges to the door jamb and door edge and the screws loosen. Loose hinge screws cause hinges to sag and even a little bit of door sag will cause a door to stick in its jamb. Replacing the screws is easy but it does mean installing either longer screws of the same size to reach solid wood or installing a larger size screw. In some cases you may need to plug the screw hole and then reinstall a new screw. Be careful not to over tighten it.
The same atmospheric conditions that cause loose hinge screws can also affect the wood that makes up the jamb and door framing members. The fasteners used to hold the jamb in position in the door frame can also become loose or even rust away allowing the door jamb to bow inward or outward. Examine the latch side of the door against the door jamb and all along the top of the door. Look for places where the door edge rubs the jamb when the door is nearly closed. Mark those areas and open the door fully. Now drive an 8d finishing nail through the jamb and into the stud behind the jamb at each mark. If the finishing nail does not reach solid wood, remove it before setting it with the nail set and install a longer finishing nail. Set the finishing nail with a nail set of the proper size and plug the hole with the proper color wood putty.
The screws that hold the latch plate in its recess can also loosen and the door can rub against the latch plate. These screws are typically much smaller than the hinge screws but you will want to replace them with screws long enough to reach solid wood. You probably won’t be able to use a larger screw here because its head could interfere with proper latching so instead you can plug the screw hole with a wooden match stick or properly shaped sliver of hardwood, then drive in the new longer screw. One note of caution here: always select and use the proper size and shape screwdriver tip when driving these hinge and latch plate screws and don’t use a power screwdriver or power drill driver because you can easily strip out the screw head or the screw itself in the wood.
Bottom line: before you take the door off its hinges and remove wood you can’t replace, check out these features and make sure they are all tight and properly aligned. You may save yourself a lot of aggravation, the cost of a new door and make yourself look like a hero to your family.