I have a couple of doors that stick in an old home. They stick even worse when occupants hang coat racks or mirrors over the door. The doors, like the home, are old and have plenty of character, i.e. wooden, imperfect appearance. Hinges seem good, and the sticking appears to be a combo of doors swelling and of frames being not-exactly-square due to settling, along with the tight fit being tighter in those sticky spots when something is hung over the door. So, I sanded a door down on its top edge (<1mm) using a rasp and sand paper, and it works. The sanded wood looks fresher and has a lighter tone than the rest of the wood door.

The usual next step, I understand, is to apply a thin coat of finishing paint on wood I sanded. Why, if at all, is this necessary? Since the doors are inside the house, protection from weathering doesn't seem like it would be an issue, and because the doors already have an aged woody look to them, these small sanded spots on the edges aren't an aesthetic problem. Is there any need for finishing paint on interior wood aside for aesthetics?

  • i had several sticky doors that i was able to fix just by tightening the heck out of the hinge screws with a fat handle screwdriver, typically the top set if it rubs at the top.
    – dandavis
    Commented Oct 26, 2017 at 2:10
  • Yeah, problems like that, I would start with the hinges. Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 14:47

1 Answer 1


Unfinished wood is very porous, so it's more subject to dimensional changes due to humidity. Also, it's very receptive to dirt and oil from skin and cleaning.

I the case of a door top, it's not critical. I've done the same myself. You could simply apply a coat of stain or paint, which will improve appearance and partially seal the wood. A coat of urethane will not substantially increase the dimensions of the door either.

  • also, a finished surface is smoother+slicker, so really noisy rubbing will be louder and "stickier" with bare wood, especially if the grain is perpendicular to the friction spot.
    – dandavis
    Commented Oct 26, 2017 at 2:12

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