How To Fix A Swollen Exterior Door? Solved
Your exterior door may start to swell for a variety of reasons, but don’t worry, there are ways to fix it. Whether the swelling is caused by moisture or pressure from the environment, you can take steps to correct the problem and restore your door to its original condition. Here are some tips on how to fix a swollen exterior door.
Prepare the exterior door surface: You don’t have to remove the door from its hinges or completely strip it down before you can fix a swollen exterior door. Before you start taking it apart, prepare the surface of your swollen exterior door by cleaning it with a degreasing cleaner and nonabrasive pad. You may need a solution made specifically for heavily soiled surfaces if other cleaners fail to break up the gunk that is making your exterior door swell.
Soften and ease swelling: After you’ve removed as much grime as possible, moisten a clean cloth with mineral oil and rub it on the swollen areas of your bubbling exterior door. When choosing the oil, make sure to use one that won’t damage the finish on your door. Mineral oil, baby oil, and even petroleum jelly will all work to hydrate your swollen exterior door. Once softened, the wood should return to its original size and shape, which means you can remove any clamps or braces you applied before you started treating it with oils.
Remove mildew from a swollen exterior door: Scrub away any mildew from a swollen exterior door using a solution of 1 part bleach and 9 parts water (10:1 ratio). You’ll need about two cups of the mixture because you’ll be scrubbing away at both sides of the door as well as other affected areas. After you’ve removed all signs of mildew, wipe off the area with mineral spirits to get rid of any bleach residue.
Fill in cracks on a swollen exterior door: Using the same mixture from the previous step, fill in even deep cracks on a swollen exterior door to ensure that it can hold moisture and not swell again. Once you’ve completely filled in the crack with the solution, let it dry until it’s hard enough for sanding. Don’t worry if your solution begins to shrink while drying because this will help create a tighter fit within the crack of your bubbling exterior door. Sand down any dried solution sticking out beyond the line of your wood siding to make your swollen-exterior-door smooth and flush with its surrounding surface.
Open up pores on the swollen exterior door: If you still see swelling on your exterior door after you’ve done all of the previous steps, open up its pores with a solution made from 1 part vinegar and 3 parts water (4:1 ratio). Use a soft cloth to apply this solution to the affected areas and let it dry. After it’s been sufficiently dried, feel free to repeat Step 4 above if there are still cracks or other issues that have left your swollen-exterior-door bubbling up despite all of your efforts.
Repair joints on a bubbling exterior door: The last step in how to fix a swollen exterior door is repairing any potential joints that could lead to future swelling. Apply glue along the edge of the joint and use clamps or braces as needed until the glue dries. Make sure to wait until the glue has completely dried before trying to replace your exterior door on its hinges.
Fix moisture issues with an exterior door sealant: Fix any lingering moisture issues by applying a clear, weatherproof sealant over the exterior of your door using a paintbrush or foam brush (if you prefer). This will keep out unwanted elements that can cause your swollen exterior door to break apart again.
Stop pressure from swelling an exterior door: If your bubbling exterior door is still causing issues even after repeated cleanings and treatments, consider blocking off the area that’s causing it to swell up so much by building a simple jig about 1/2″ taller than the bottom edge of your door. You can use scrap wood or other pieces to fashion a base about 18″ wide and 36″ long, then apply pieces of the same material for sides that will keep pressure from swelling any part of your bubbling exterior door as it circles around.
Repair minor dents on an exterior door: After you’ve removed pressure from your swollen exterior door, using either a jig or braces, you can repair small dings and dents with matching paint and a small brush. Use flat latex paint if there is a gloss on parts of your bubbling exterior door (i.e., where hinges are bolted), then choose semi-gloss enamel for areas that have no gloss surrounding them (like along the jamb of an exterior door where the paint has bubbled). Once you’ve reached your desired color, let the paint dry completely before removing any braces or jigs that might still be in place.
Repair stripped screws when your exterior door doesn’t close easily: If the threads on your exterior door are stripped, don’t just replace the screw with another one due to fears it will strip again. Instead, use a metal screw insert kit to create threads in your wood siding so that you can continue using your bubbling exterior door without fear of stripping.
Fix swelled exterior door hinges: When replacing hinges on an exterior door, make sure not to miss any mounting screws along with cracked hinges because these can swell the entire hinge assembly. Completely remove any screws that are in or near your bubbling exterior door, including the ones along the top and side jamb of door assemblies.
Prevent exterior door hinges from swelling up: When you replace your swollen exterior door hinges, use screws with washers to attach them because these hold much better than nails or other methods can when pressure is applied to them, especially when they could be under pressure for weeks or months at a time before needing repair due to swelling again.
Fix loose doors on an exterior door: If your bubbling exterior door doesn’t close tightly anymore (and not just due to swollen hinges), consider installing weatherstripping along its sides to keep out elements like moisture and bugs.
Fix an exterior door that swings open too easily: If your bubbling exterior door seems to swing open too easily, you might have a problem with the strike plate being forced out of place over time by pressure on swollen hinges or the bottom edge of the exterior door. Tighten up screws in both places to keep things in order (you can use longer nails for this purpose if needed).
Get back into your home quickly when your exterior doors are swollen shut: When how to fix a swollen exterior door turns vicious and even removing all braces doesn’t work, try removing the top hinge first using vice grips or any other tool that lets you grip one part of the hinge without its opposite end (so you don’t mangle it in the process). After you reattach this hinge with longer screws, the door should lift up enough to create a gap in your bubbling exterior door so that you can remove both hinges entirely without damage. Once this happens, simply replace the hinges and tighten all screws, including any along top jamb for doors where there might be pressure on doors mounted here.
Repair an exterior door when it’s swollen shut at night: If how to fix a swollen exterior door won’t budge when you go outside at night or early morning because of swelling pressure hours after sleep, bring some wood glue along when you head out to make temporary repairs until dawn breaks again (use whatever material is handy—wood scraps will do if you don’t have a dowel on hand). Nothing else will set the glue as well as exterior door swelling so you can work to keep your bubbling exterior door from getting torn up by wind and other elements until you can fix it fully.
Fix an exterior door when it won’t stay closed during cold weather: When how to fix a swollen exterior door is being slammed shut by freezing temperatures, cover the top of the jamb near hinges with insulation strips that have adhesive backs so they’ll hold better against excess pressure caused by freezing outdoor air. Then line the bottom of the jamb with foam sealant stripping that also has an adhesive backing for a second layer of protection against extreme conditions. Finally, check over all exposed screws to make sure they’re not swollen as well before you reattach the exterior door.
Fix a broken bubbling exterior door: If your bubbling exterior door has been mutilated from being left swollen shut too long without repair, it may take more than just replacing hinges to get it back in working order again. You might have to replace a bent or missing piece of wood that’s keeping your bubbling exterior door from opening and closing properly along with fixing screws that haven’t been doing their jobs lately because of pressure against them. Finally, after everything is repaired/replaced, make sure to let any repaired parts dry thoroughly before use (especially if you’ve had problems with swelling or breaking earlier). Once you do this, how to fix a swollen exterior door should be in good shape (or better than it was before, if you want to get real ambitious on your exterior doors).
Conclusion: Exterior door swelling can be caused by a variety of factors, but fortunately, it’s usually not too difficult to fix. By preparing the surface and following some simple steps to soften and ease the swelling, you should be able to restore your exterior door to its former glory in no time. Remember to clean off any mildew or dirt buildup before repairing joints or filling in cracks, as this will help the sealant or filler material adhere properly. And if you have any trouble fixing the problem yourself, don’t hesitate to call in a professional!