This door (pictured below) used to work just fine, but my superstitious mother, may she rest in peace, painted over it to prevent it from closing. Now it is sealed open. Since it is the door to the bathroom and I intend to rent out the house, I would like to get it in working order again. Is there a way to repair this? Do I need to replace the entire door?

Note that this procedure has also been applied to several other doors in the house, so I will be looking to implement a solution multiple times over.

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  • Have you tried using a utility knife around the edges?
    – MooseBoys
    Dec 6 '17 at 5:03

That's an interesting tactic.

You may be able to mask things off and use paint stripper to clean up the latch area in place. Otherwise, take the hardware apart and soak it clean. Lubricate as appropriate and reinstall.

  • +1 removing a lock isn't that hard (I'd first use a knife to cut through the paint around the lock) and will avoid getting paint stripper on places you don't want it. Plus you have the option of fitting a new lock if necessary. Dec 5 '17 at 11:06

One way to address this problem is to use a paint stripper. Stripper is nasty stuff so you want to use it with hands, skin and face protection in a well ventilated space. I would paint on the stripper with a small discardable bristle brush over the metal latch piece on the edge of the door. If you use care you can try to confine the stripper to just that area so you do not remove paint from the wood parts of the door.

The stripper will make the first layers of paint start to soften and bubble up. A scraper can help to remove the paint that has softened. Be careful as sometimes the latch plate is made of brass metal which is soft and can be seriously scratched by too aggressive of action with a sharp scraper. Some steel wool is also handy for removing the softened paint. You want to use a fairly coarse grade of steel wool for this purpose. Since the paint appears to be rather thick you may very well have to apply the stripper multiple times to get all the paint off.


Dissolving, scrapping, cutting, and/or stripping away the paint are all good options for restoring the latch.

You could also just buy a brand new set on amazon for $10-$30 depending on style: https://www.amazon.com/Prime-Line-2497-Mortise-Classic-Bronze/dp/B00CTHSVV2/ref=pd_sim_60_14?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=HX8Y7WEP63ZCZN0YZ4XC

Or if you goal is just to do something quick to get the door to open and close: take a hammer and smack the latch into the door - the paint will break off and the knob/latch will be functional. Scrub off any flaking paint with a wire brush and spray a little WD-40 in there. Not elegant or pretty but your door will close and the knob will work.


The paint looks like it covers small trenches and holes rather than filling them.

Try to unscrew the screws on the side and put the lock mechanism out.

Then remove as much paint as possible mechanically (wire brush, file). Try to move the latch (bang it gently with a small hammer). If it is still stuck, try to dissolve the rest using paint stripper or acetone. Try to move the latch.

If it moves, lube it well, clean it and return it to the doors.

If it doesn't move, carefully open the lock and disasembly it. Clean every single piece and lube it well. Put it back together and try to move the latch.

You can also use "If hammer doesn't work for you, lager hammer does." approach, but the risk of damaging the lock or yourself will rise.

There is no need to replace whole door, except you apply the hammer rule to removing the lock out of the door. In the worst case you will need to buy new lock - look for the one with same dimensions and latch direction.

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