Home Improvements

How to Deal With a Swollen Wooden Door

Picking doors for your home can be tricky. You want something that’s durable while also matching the aesthetic of the rest of your home. One of the most popular options are wooden doors. But a swollen wooden door can give you a lot of trouble. 

Even if you aren’t building your own home and picking out your own doors, chances are any home you buy or rent will have either wooden doors or gates. Wooden doors are a common and traditional option, which is why they’re seen in so many homes these days.

A door has a few very basic functions. It has to close solidly, be able to lock, and open up with ease. When wooden doors swell, you might find that they’re difficult to open and close. This isn’t just frustrating, but makes the door unusable.

Luckily, this problem isn’t new. Keep reading to learn how to deal with a swollen wooden door.

Exterior wooden door in a boundary wall with leaves and branches over the top. If this were a swollen wooden door, it would be very difficult to get onto or out of the property.

What Causes a Door to Swell?

Wooden doors swell and shrink due to the weather and changes in humidity. Wood tends to absorb the heat and humidity in the air, expanding and swelling when it absorbs moisture. This is why wooden doors and gates are more likely to swell during the winter months.

When wooden doors swell, they start rubbing against the frame, making it difficult to open and close the door. A small amount of swelling won’t cause any issues, but wooden doors can swell so much that they can’t be closed at all, which is a privacy and security concern. 

White wall with a curved doorway and a bright blue curved wooden door.

Unsealed wooden doors are also more prone to swelling than sealed doors. Not only do they swell more, but as they shrink down later on, the door can crack. When sealing your doors, you have to make sure all the edges are sealed as well. The bottom edge is often left out as it’s difficult to get to.

Not all wooden doors in your home swell in the winter. The location of the doors also matters, as doors that face the sun are more prone to sun damage, which can affect the finish. On the other hand, doors that don’t get much sunlight take longer to dry out, meaning they can stay swollen for long periods of time, which can even lead to wood rotting.

Dampness in your home is also an important factor to keep in mind. Ventilation and insulation can differ from room to room, meaning some doors can swell more than others for no visible reason.

These factors are clearly at play when you see exterior doors and gates getting damaged faster and being more likely to swell than interior doors. 

Wood panelled front door in a wooden slat wall.

Use a Dehumidifier

If your indoor doors are constantly swelling in the winter, a good-quality dehumidifier might solve your problem. If you remove the moisture and humidity from the air, then there’s less that can seep into your doors.

When using a dehumidifier, you have to make sure to close all external doors and windows to ensure the device works as intended.

If your doors are already extremely swollen, you can speed up the process with a hair dryer or heat gun. Use your chosen tool to dry out the moisture from the door, but make sure you hold it at least 30 cm away from the door to ensure you don’t burn the wood!

Once the doors have less moisture in them, the dehumidifier can do its job much easier.

Close up of a silver handle and keyhole on a dark green painted wooden door set in a white wall.

Sand the Edges

If you’re constantly struggling with swollen doors, it might be time to take more drastic measures. First, you should tighten all the screws on the hinges and strike plates, as they can cause the door to slacken in the frame. This can give the appearance of a swollen door without moisture being to blame.

Side part of a brown swollen wooden door, where parts have been sanded back around the gold door handle.

If tightening the screws doesn’t work, take a good look at the door and take note of the areas that rub together. You can use a pencil to mark the areas so that you don’t forget anything. Then use some coarse sandpaper to sand the area, making sure it’s smooth afterward.

You can also remove the door from the hinges and sand all the edges evenly. If possible, allow it to dry fully under the sun or fans to remove all the moisture from the door. 

Once it’s dry, you need to seal the door again. This can be done with a sealant or paint, depending on the look you prefer.

Close up of a red painted wooden door with a silver door knob, keyhole, and letter slot.

Managing a Swollen Wooden Door

If you’ve tried everything but just can’t seem to get rid of the swelling in a swollen wooden door, it might be time to replace it. Starting fresh might be a good option, especially if you continuously struggle with your doors.

If you’re tired of dealing with your unruly doors, hire a handyman to come and help you out. Whether you’re sanding the edges or completely replacing the doors, we’ve got you covered.

You’re in good company