How To Lubricate A Squeaky Door
The two best lubricants to use on hinges are silicone spray and plumber's grease (a light, odorless grease used to lubricate O-rings and other rubbing surfaces in plumbing fixtures). Silicone spray, if used properly, it is the least sloppy and fairly long lasting. Plumber's grease is very light weight as greases go and stable enough not to run off the hinge like 3-in-1 oil (which was my father's favorite for EVERY lube job imaginable). It generally lasts longer than silicone spray, but is a little sloppier to use. (Automotive greases will also work if you have some handy.)
Wait... I feel a rush of self-righteous indignation sweeping over me...
DO NOT USE GRAPHITE LUBRICANT ON DOOR HINGES! NEVER EVER!!
The person who recommends using graphite on door hinges must have never seen what that black powder can do to mess up a carpet!! I have seen beautiful white carpets destroyed because the contractor used graphite to silence a squeak. Did he think that the graphite was going to stick to the hinge and not drop to the floor, leaving a disgusting black stain on the carpet that is virtually impossible to remove?? Take a breath, now continue...
The way I apply the silicone is as follows, doing one hinge at a time
- Determine which hinge is squeaky.
- Tap out hinge pin. If you do this with the door closed and latched, you can remove the pin without the door falling off. Be sure that you have everything you need on your side of the door. Most hinges with removable pins are open at the bottom, so you can gently hammer a nail or even a nailset up underneath the hinge pin to push it up enough to get a screwdriver or prybar underneath it.
- Put the tube that comes with the silicone spray on the nozzle, aim the spray at the hinge and gently press the nozzle till the spray just gently drizzles out. I also hold a paper towel behind the hinge to keep any over spray or dripping off the floor and paint. Just spray enough so that the interlocking sections of the hinge are damp.
- Place the hinge pin loosely in the top of the hinge and drizzle more silicone spray on the pin so that the lubricant drips into the hinge.
- Tap the hinge pin partially in to engage the hinge and again drizzle a little spray on it.
- Tap the hinge in fully and test for squeaks. If there is still some squeaking, you can apply a little more silicone spray to the seams where the hinge sides rub together.
- When done, wipe any excess silicone from the hinges.
Using grease to lubricate the hinge pin...
To apply the grease, extract the pin, rub a light coat of grease on the entire length of it and then also put a small glob on the "business end". Tap the pin fully in. Work the hinge (by opening and closing the door over its full travel) to spread the grease and then wipe off the excess. If there is still some squeaking, you can work a little grease into the seams where the hinge sides meet.
What about using silicone spray or WD-40 instead of grease?
You can use either on the hinge pin and/or the exterior of the hinge, too. However, the potential problems are:
1) OVERSPRAY. Getting either spray lubricant on the walls or trim may cause problems with paint adhesion in the future. If you take care to mask surrounding areas, then you minimize this risk.
2) Any spray that gets on the floor could cause a slipping hazard. Is that a banana in your pocket...?
3) Spray lubricants are thin, so the lubricating effect will not last as long as our method of removing the hinge pins and applying a solid grease.
Unfortunately, squeak repairs are not permanent. SORRY!
This is because of the cause of the squeak- unusual friction in the hinge and/or parts that are not smooth (even though they may appear smooth to the touch). This friction can be caused by settling which puts pressure on the hinge, faulty installation, or both. Since lubrication does not solve the problem, but rather addresses the symptom, the squeak will probably recur after a time.