This house had a double wooden entry door, each door being about 40"
wide. One is rarely used; the other is for everyday use. The everyday
door is bowed at the latch side toward the inside of the house by about
1/8-3/16". (The hinge side is okay.) So to engage the latch and
deadbolts into their strike plates, one must push the lock area really
hard toward the outdoors or slam the door closed hard.
The first thing I will try doing is repositioning the door stops. I've
read several methods for reversing the warp, and may try one of those
The real question is why should just one of the doors warp? Both are
exposed to the same temperature differentials. Both doors have outer
storm doors with glass panels during New Jersey's winter season. The
colors on both sides of both doors match, but I can't guarantee that
both sides of both doors are painted with the same type paint (latex vs.
oil). The house was built in 1993.
Assuming "wooden" means solid wood (as opposed to veneered MDF, etc.,
alternate construction) any number of possibilities, virtually all
centering around moisture and movement of same.
It's possible the one wasn't as well-selected piece of stock originally
as the other so there's more grain to deal with (ideal would be
quartersawn as opposed to plainsawn); that's the luck of the draw and
how well the doors are built originally.
More than likely there is a difference in whether the top/bottoms have
also been finished, how much wear of that finish at the bottom, say,
from the threshold has removed the finish and then allowed moisture a
way in preferentially. Also, the side that is used also probably does
get more direct impact from what weather there is as the storm on that
side will be opened much more often to allow same; over a period of time
that may have had an accumulative effect as well.
Is there any change in the amount w/ seasons, weather, etc.? That would
be dead giveaway you do have a moisture penetration problem.
A differential in the amount of direct sun owing to shading of one side
preferentially because of direction facing, etc, could also be a factor.
You raised good points. All I can really be certain of is that it isn't
steel-clad. Can't say anything about the finer points you raised.
Another excellent point. The active door has a weather seal across the
bottom that also covers the whole thickness of the door, so I can't see
if the bottom edge is finished. Actually, the door is about 1/16 inch
too long, causing the weather seal to rub too tightly along the
threshold even as the door just starts to close from the fully open
position. While an unfinished bottom might have allowed the moisture
entry that contributed to the warp, the rubbing of the seal is still a
separate problem. If I take the door off and try to reverse the warp, I
will belt-sand the bottom by 1/16" and refinish that edge.
All the screws that hold the wooden threshold to the floor have damaged
heads, like when you damage a phillips-head screw by over-tightening
using a bad bit. Probably someone's attempt to deal with insufficient
clearance. Maybe I'll just try to find a thinner threshold that's
prefinished to match the existing one. But if I take the door off, I
will definitely check the bottom for an appropriate finish.
Would moisture entry through the bottom cause bowing at the height of
the locks, rather than closer to the bottom?
I've been dating the mother of the owner for several years. She goes
over the house every day to clean. She says the problem just recently
The doors face directly east.
Thanks for the insights.
At a more basic level, the warped door is in its closed, locked position
almost 100% of the time, with usual entry/exit via a car in the garage.
So why didn't whatever force that caused the main door to warp (be it
moisture or the quality or cut of the wood) get transferred via the
lock and deadbolt to the mating entry door, which is rarely opened, and
cause it to warp an equal amount?
Someone suggested that moisture entering via an unfinished bottom edge
could contribute to the warping. If so, why wouldn't the warp occur near
the bottom, which isn't restrained by the adjacent door the way the lock
To install a lockset and deadbolt requires mortising into the lock
stiles of both doors. I've never seen these recesses finished. Seems
far-fetched, but this could be the entry source of moisture if in fact
moisture is the cause.
I was the one that suggested that was one place for an entry of
unbalanced moisture entry. As for the "why" in your follow-up, I can't
see your door from here to try to analyze specifically. :)
For example, I don't even know the warp is actually in the middle (and I
sorta' expect it isn't, or at least all) but is actually spread along
the length and just shows up at the lockset owing to needing the extra
force to take out some of the twist/bow/warp to close the door against
the stop of the other door.
Pictures and measurements might help but it's one of those things that
from afar is very, very hard to diagnose specifics altho general
characteristics are able to be outlined. In general, a movement in wood
after some period of time is going to be owing to a change in relative
moisture and/or combined w/ temperature that causes either an increase
or decrease from a prior equilibrium condition.
You didn't do something like add a kickplate or somesuch relatively
recently by any chance?
Has it been exceptionally humid or dry or other weather extremes? Or
have you added/modified the HVAC in the house that would either make it
much more or less (hopefully not) weathertight or change the RH
significantly (add humidifier over the winter or somesuch, say)?
It's also _possible_ that the problem is that there has been some
shifting in the door frame that has introduced some twist into the
opening that is apparent as the one door appearing warped relative to
All of those were more or less rhetorical questions to instigate the
thought process of what may/may not be a difference. Hopefully they'll
trigger more from your end based on being there as opposed to here.
You'll need much longer straight edge than those to determine the
out-of-plane condition unless it is really marked--you said the two
doors are _each_ greater than a 3-0 so the opening will be a minimum
pushing 7-ft. Plus you have to deal w/ whatever the door
frame/baseboard, etc., are to get to a consistent measuring point to see
if the two are in plane or not. The easiest way to do that is w/ the
crossed strings method.
re: "And I'll take a 4' level to examine the bow more carefully."
4'? Wimp! Get a real level. ;-)
Seriously, you might want to use a 6' level since the door is probably
close to 80". The longest straightedge you can use will give you a
more accurate assessment of where and how much the door is warped.
Indeed a 4 is likely only marginally useful here. Given that these were
said to be >3-0 in width in a double entry, one can guess they may be
full 7-0 or even taller in height.
The string method--attach near corner at bottom and stretch over the top
on the concave side will clearly reveal a longitudinal bow if it exists.
Working from one end to the other at the end will allow to see
partials as well.
I'm not going to buy a longer level just for this problem, so I'll try
the string method. I'll be away from my computer from Sunday night until
Tuesday morning; then I'll report the results and post photos.
Again, thanks to all for the tips.
By the by, if the door is twisted, the above may not clearly indicate a
linear (or very nearly so) twist. To see if the door itself is
essentially a twisted plane w/o taking it off to use winding sticks
where can eyeball them horizontally the crossed strings at a fixed
distance from each corner can determine if the door is coplaner or not
just as they mentioned above in the opening to see if it's the opening
that is at fault and you're forcing the door to match.
"Squareness" isn't an issue from what you've described and the square
isn't going to tell you anything useful as the last note.
On 4/18/2012 4:26 PM, hr(bob) firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
The problem with hard-to-latch doors started just recently (past month
or two). The house was built in 1993, but present owner bought it in
1999. He's single, so there's not a lot of activity (no kids or wild
parties)in the house. He mainly uses the garage as the entry/exit, as
the house is on a cul-de-sac and several miles from commercial businesses.
How do you know that the door is actually "bowed" as opposed to just
not closing properly?
I'm not doubting you, just curious as to whether you've put a sraight
edge on it and know for sure that it is bowed. Maybe there's a hinge,
threshhold or stop problem.
Just asking...don't take it personal. ;-)
Your house was built with contractor grade doors, now reaching their
terminal expected life. Such products are subject to all of the
problems that lower quality millwork exhibits, for reasons well
described in posts above. It is futile to worry about it, just accept
the fact that if you want something better, start shopping now for the
replacements that will meet your requirements. There are better door
systems these days other than wood which are very attractive.
Fiberglass is an excellent choice for superior performance and
appearance. It is highly likely that one of those will be your best
I went back to the house Monday, April 23, intending to photograph the
door and post the photos. Oddly, everything changed over the weekend,
during which it rained close to 2.5" starting Saturday night and
continuing well into Sunday.
The door no longer bowed inward at the lock area by 1/8-3/16". Now the
bow was only about 1/16", and the locks clicked into their strike plates
fairly easily. The top of the door, which had been flush with the
mating, rarely used door, was now twisted a bit _away_ from the house
interior, and the bottom of the door, which also had been flush with the
adjacent door, now bowed toward the _inside_ of the house.
Apparently the 24 hours of very high humidity had the effect of somewhat
straightening the lock edge of the door, while at the same time adding a
somewhat uniform top-to-bottom twist to that edge.
Odd thing, an identical house one block away doesn't suffer from any of
these problems. The conspicuous difference is that the problem house
gets morning sun on its doors, while the other one gets afternoon sun.
But as one poster suggested, might have something to do with the cut of
the wood used in the stiles and rails.
My plan now is to wait for a period of several dry days, put the door on
saw horses, weigh the bowed/twisted places until everything is planar,
then paint it with an oil-based paint for moisture immunity. This is
tricky, since when the weights are removed the door will tend back to
the bowed/twisted position, forcing trial and error for maybe days and
leaving the house with an unsecured entrance.
Probably easier to replace it, if it's available by itself without the
If you can temporarily block the entrance for a few days/weeks
Remove the door while it's damp
But it on blocks and weigh it down and set it out to dry in the sun
That should set the new alignment much better than if you do it with the
Keep the frickin' weight off it; it won't do a lick of good in the long run.
If it was straight when it was dry initially (as OP indicated) it'll
return to that condition when moisture equilibriates. At _THAT_ point,
_then_ (and only then) can do some potential good w/ a refinish of all
sides. Otherwise, it will just continue to move as moisture moves from
the equilibrium point.
BTW, trying to dry it in direct sun will likely be the worst thing you
can try; it'll really accentuate the rate of moisture removal
preferentially which is _not_ what you want to do. A uniform, dry area
of moderately warm temperature w/ the door in a neutral support position
would be ideal.
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