Door will not close, what do I check next?

williamsemJuly 5, 2012

I hope someone has an idea, not sure where to go from here.

We just finished a bathroom budget remodel. The last thing for me to do was repaint the door and change out the hardware. I set the door on some sawhorses, put on 2 thin coats of paint with a roller and brush, and took the hinges to Lowes to be sure the replacements were exactly the same size.

And now the door does not close. The original hinges were not flush, the new ones fit just the same. But I went and got a chisel to make both sides of both hinges flush. Still does not close, the bottom third of the door is just barely hitting the frame on the strike plate side. There is no room at the bottom hinge to move the door.

What should I try next? It's the same door and the same size hinges that fit fine when I took it down. Could the paint make that much of a difference? I took out much more wood in the hinge area than the thickness of the paint.

Any suggestions?

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Hi, If you have a gap at the top half of the door on the strike side try to shim the top hinge with some thin cardboard and move the top over. The bottom half will pivot away from the jamb and may close.
Good Luck Woodbutcher

    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 3:45PM
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Thanks, woodbutcher. Unfortunately there is not any room on the strike plate side on the top do do that. It just barely clears as it is. Plus on the hinge side while there is a gap up at the top hinge, there is very little gap at the bottom hinge. I'd be afraid to get it any closer for fear it would touch on that side too!

Still holding out hope there is another answer. I'd rather not have to shave the door, there has got to be some reason it all of a sudden doesn't fit. I must have overlooked something.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 7:59PM
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The door closed before you replaced the hinges. It does not close now.

The hinges are the problem. Just how the hinges are the problem is the question.

Are the new hinges the same thickness as the old ones?

Is the closed thickness the same? Sometimes hinges look the same, but have the pin set differently. Those hinges will not close completely and the halves be parallel. There is a gap when the hinge halves are parallel.

Those hinges will not replace flat closing hinges. They will push the door away from the hinge side towards the striker side.

The cure is to make the mortices(the cut out part of the frame/door in which the hinge sides are installed) deeper to allow the parallel when in the closed position. That means you have to actually cut out more material to allow the hinges to be below the surface.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 10:25PM
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So, is there no gap/air space between the jamb and door on the hinge side?

Paint can make a difference but only if the door was fitting tight to start with. One thing you can try is to remove the center screw on the lower hinge and replace it with a 3" wood screw. This will draw the hinge, and door, a little closer to the jamb and give you a little more clearance on the strike plate side. It's possible the hinge screws aren't stable so you may have to add a 3" screw to all the hinges.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 10:45PM
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Great suggestions, thank you! So here are a few pictures to help with the puzzle. I am reasonably certain the hinges are the same, they both fold flat when not attached to anything, they are the same thickness (though I already removed material from the mortise (see, learning already!) on both sides to set them flush), and the curves around the pin look the same.

This is what the door looks like when pushed against the frame:

When closed, from the inside...notice the near lack of an air gap near the bottom, but it gets wider as you move up the door:

And the new, installed hinge, compared to the old hinge when the door is forced closed (yes, I know the pins is not quite in all the way, i've had the door off and on so many times I am digging up the pin top with the pliers quite a bit and don't push it the last little bit now):

The best I can tell, these hinges look the same as the old ones, and when closed have the same spacing as the ones on the other doors in the house. So which fix might help? I'm really starting to think little gnomes came in the night and changed out the door!

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 1:07AM
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Ok, the hinges are the same.

Now, look at your last picture--the one with you holding the old hinge next to the door.

See the gap between the hinge and the door frame? That gap should not be there. First thing to try is the 3" screw idea in the bottom hinge. That should make a difference.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 12:17PM
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Just a thought...You stated:

The original hinges were not flush, the new ones fit just the same.

Check your door opening. See if it is square. See if your actual door is actually the same dimension top and bottom. Just wonder, since there was no mortised area that you have the door installed upside down. Did you mark the top? If it is upside down your new mortised areas are on the wrong side.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 10:15PM
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Well, the hinges sit flush with the frame or door, that gap I believe is due to my lack of chisel skills and the hard time I had due to the door frame. I will pick up some 3 in screws and see if that helps.

I did not mark the top, but all the rest of the doors have the same orientation with the small panels at the top, and there was a spot cut out for the hinges, they just weren't deep enough hence the new chisel. If the hinges are in the same spot as before, would it be possible to not put it on the right way? To keep the knob on the correct side, wouldn't that make the hinges face the wrong way? Well, i'll have to think on that in the am. Too late to be flipping doors around in my head, not a good visualizer normally, let alone right before bed!

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 10:34PM
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Housefairy, it may be because it's late, but I'm not sure what you are getting at with the measurements. Given this house, I would actually be surprised if everyhing was square! This is the same door that had been hanging there, I just took it down for 2 days to paint it and change out the hardware.

I think I am missing something?

Thanks so much for everyone's suggestions! I'm really hoping longer screws do it, I have had them in and out several times for this project trying to figure this out. I just keep thinking it HAS to fit, there's no logical reason it shouldn't fit. Very frustrating as this door is the only thing keeping me from declaring this remodel DONE!

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 10:42PM
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The reason I wanted you to check the measurements is because your opening is probably not square. Trying to determine if the door has been shaved off, thus wondering if you have it turned upside down.

Good luck. It's always the little projects, that you think will be a snap, that seem to cause the most problems.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 12:13AM
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Williamsem, okay I missed the statement where you said there was different panels on top and bottom. You can't fully see the top panels in the pictures.

Hopefully the screws will work. Make sure both hinges are mortised the same. Obviously if one is deeper that will affect the way it hangs.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 12:59AM
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Did the door warp? Painting can cause warping. Next time the door is off, view down the length of the door.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 4:56PM
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If I am correct that it is "hinge bound" , then more/longer screws are not the solution. The hinge edge of the door needs to be planed, or the entire jamb reset. Planing is simpler.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 7:48PM
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The hinges need to be flush with the both the jamb and door. If they are not, make the mortise a little deeper or shim out the hinge with small strips of cardboard. The cardboard from a gift box, like the kind you would put a shirt in, works well.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 8:30AM
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Let's let LOGIC prevail
There HAS to be a difference, SOMEWHERE.
"Precise" measurments have to be made,
in every aspect of the installation.
You will find it with due diligance.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 2:41PM
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Hi Wow! We all got different ideas. You know football season is comming up so I'm in favor of just fixing it. Plane the door. If you think you can get by with just planning the lower part on the lock side go for it.DO NOT plane the whole side by the lock set, you will change the back set. Remove the hinges and plane that side just go easy. The shavings are hard to glue back on.
Good Luck Woodbutcher

    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 7:17PM
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Try to scraped it the sides to fit the door and check if still not closed.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 4:46AM
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So I have purchased a hand planer and some long screws. I am currently taking a little break from the door puzzle for more pressing issues, but will resume this battle in two weekends (at a conference this coming weekend).

I was certain the chisel would fix things, so it was very demoralizing to see it did not. Just need a break to regroup and recharge. I know it's not a huge problem, but after having the whole room ripped apart and being so close to completely finished, it was just more frustrating than it should be.

Will update when I resume the battle, I sincerely appreciate all the help. Hoping the third times is the charm!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2012 at 10:04PM
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Before planing the door-
Take the hinges off the door and "dry-fit" the door in the frame-
Does it fit square?
Are there minimal gaps between door and frame?
If not- we need to figure out why-
Was the frame changed/moved/repaired during your remodel?
Was the door taken outside in high humidity to be painted and left out? (may just need to dry out)
Obviously, something has changed- a door does not "grow" in size, unless you used several real HEAVY coats of paint!

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 8:53PM
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Ok, back with an update. Turns out my conference was cut short due to the unexpected death of my grandmother, so this project went on long term hiatus to deal with that.

Around the beginning of this year the door actually started to close with some force, though it was rubbing on the hinge side. So it must have needed to dry out. Called in my Mom for back up to finish this once and for all!

Checked the hinges. Checked the frame. Checked everything we could think of, could not figure out why the door wasn't fitting right anymore.

So I learned how to use a hand plane to plane a door. While it relly wasn't that much that came off, I was surprised at how much had to come off to close right. More than the depth if the paint. And on both sides of the door from the bottom hinge down. Puzzling!

But now it closes! And the hinges match. New knob assembly is in too. I was so excited, I popped the assembly in and pushed the door closed to make sure it would still close and latch properly before I had the doorknobs on! We both realized almost instantly that I had just locked us in! It only took about 3 seconds for me to stick the knob in and open the door, but boy we busted a gut laughing!

Now I just have to paint the newly exposed wood...

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 7:48PM
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