Door Jamb and Frame Adjustment and Repair Q&A
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I have some newly installed pre-hung doors in an old house. The doors do not align with the stops. Some touch the stop at the top before they are closed, and some touch the stop at the bottom before they latch closed. I can make them latch, but this involves a fair amount of pressure to warp the door to the stop. Yes, the walls are askew, and the installer claims that there was nothing he could do to install them so that they closed correctly. I think that is nonsense.
I don't want to reinstall the doors at this point. Is there any way to adjust the door so that it meets the stops correctly? I was thinking that I just need to move the stops on the top and the latch side. Can you set me straight?
NB from Boca Raton, FL
Yes, you can move the stops and repaint. It is easier than moving the hinges, for sure!
It may be possible that the door, and not the frame, is warped. Get a length of string and stretch it between opposite corners of the door on both sides, one at a time. If the string does not lie flat against the door, the door is warped.
As you close the door, watch the hinges. Do they appear to flex and move as the door reaches its closing point. Perhaps the contractor installed the hinge-side jamb slightly twisted. That would require removal of the moldings and reshimming of the jamb. This is an easy error to make and can make the wall appear to be out of whack when it really isn't.
Unfortunately, it is indeed possible that the carpenter did the best he could. It can be extremely difficult to install a new, straight door and jamb in an older "seasoned" house. The old doors and frames have "settled" into the framing and have bent and twisted to conform with the aging of the house. New doors, however, are not very compliant.
I have always warned my clients that this possibility exists so they are prepared for less than perfect results. Perhaps your carpenter set your expectations a little too high!
Need to know how to replace a door jam on my daughter's bedroom door. Her older brother and his friend bashed into the door (it was locked) and all but destroyed the door jamb. We've nailed it on a hundred times to no avail ... the wood of the jam is split, etc. I'm a single mother and do not want to pay someone to do what I think I can do myself.
But, knowledge is power, so I first wanted to ask the pros… you!
LR from Madison Heights, Michigan
Sometimes you can save the expense and labor of replacing the jamb by a three step REPAIR... gluing, nailing, and filling. The first thing to do is to see if you can fit the pieces to fit back together reasonably well. It doesn't have to look great... just "together". If there are big gaps with broken pieces of wood missing, it can be filled with a two part product called Minwax High Performance Wood Filler. It is a stinky-as-heck product that sets in about ten minutes, but it sticks better than many glues, fills holes, and can be sanded.
With a door jamb, you have to both nail and glue. The glue will do most of the work, but the nailing is necessary to hold the pieces together while the glue dries. So apply your adhesive, either regular wood glue or HP Wood Filler, and then press the broken parts together. Drive a few thin nails through the broken part into a solid part. If this cannot be done, just hold the wood in place while the HP Wood Filler dries... it won't take long. Sand the HP Wood filler as soon as it is hard enough... it continues to harden for an hour or more, and will eventually get so hard that it will not sand very well.
You might have to fill/sand a couple of times to get it nice and flat. Once painted, if you did a good job, the repair should be almost invisible.
On the other hand, REPLACING part of a door jamb requires the following steps… at a minimum:
1) Use a putty knife to break the paint seal between the jamb and the door
moldings (or casing). You will also have to break the paint seal between the
moldings and the wall.
I could go into more detail, but hey… I'm not trying to write a book here! The point is for you to understand why I always think REPAIR first instead of REPLACE in most any job I tackle. Replacing a door jamb is not a monumental carpentry job, but it is a more time consuming, expensive, and skill-intensive job than a repair.