In an older home, due to layers of paint, I have several doors that close too tight to the stop molding. If left closed the paint binds up and "pops" (it must be left closed for two or three hours for the pop to happen).

While I could sand the inside edge of the stop molding, the bottom layer is lead paint, and it's not my first choice to manage the dust. Moving the stop molding also impacts the lead paint layer.

Where can I find a tutorial on adjusting the hinges out a small distance? What else might work on an older house with layers and layers of lead paint on each door and jamb?

door so tight it holds up a newspaper door too tight because of layers of paint

The brown stuff in the photo is paint that apparently stuck during a repainting covered with wax that kinda sorta fixed the problem for a while. See also Why doesn't my freshly painted door fit back in the frame? and the classic Doors are sticky and noisy when opened?

  • Lead paint won't hurt you unless you inhale or eat it. Take your doors outside and sand them. Wear a mask. I had to do something similar a few years ago at last home to three doors. Belt sander did a great job in about 30 mins for all three. – DMoore Sep 26 '14 at 17:23
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    @DMoore - it's really hard to take the door jamb outside for sanding, and that side is heavier with paint dross. Note I would never sand without a HEPA vac, even outdoors. Lead gets in soil and up to plants. – Bryce Sep 26 '14 at 19:06
  • I don't think you worry about the jam, I would just do the door. No one will ever notice that they have a 1/16" angled on the corners. – DMoore Sep 26 '14 at 19:26
  • @DMoore If I do the jam, I hardly have to repaint. If I do the door, I have to feather the new paint into the old. – Bryce Sep 26 '14 at 19:46

Moving hinges are not an easy task.

Moving the hinges 1/8 of a inch will require repairing the old screw holes first.

To repair the old holes you will need to fill them with suitable filler that will hold the screws. My preference is to wood dowels and wood glue. With a thin layer of glue o the dowel, tap it in the old screw hole. Let cure (look on glue bottle for cure time, usually 24 hours). Once cured, use a chisel to flush the dowel to the door jam. Taper and mark the dowel to minimize chances of splitting the wood:

Dowel tapered to fill old screw hole

Once the old screw holes are filled, you can now remount the hinge. Hold the hinge up to the jam where it will go back, shift it 1/8 of a inch and mark the new hole positions. Pre drill the holes since a screw will not go in cleanly with the repairs.

  • How do I ensure the new hinges are the in right place relative to the stop molding? Since I only need 1/8" is there any way to cheat? – Bryce Sep 25 '14 at 21:40
  • I've updated my answer to make it a little clearer. – diceless Sep 25 '14 at 22:22

In almost all cases its better to move or adjust the strike plate, the stop, or both rather than move the hinges. Here's a series of diagrams that demonstrate why (dimensions are exaggerated for effect) : enter image description here

This is an ideal door set up. The gap between the door and the stop is an even 1/32 to 1/16 all the way around. It is not supposed to be tight to the stop. I use a credit card to space my stop off the door when setting a new door. Note that the door is held in its position relative to the stop on the swing side by the opening of the strike plate. In newer strike plates there is a tab inside the opening that can be adjusted without moving the plate itself but older hardware typically does not have this feature. enter image description here This shows how if you only move the hinges as you're suggesting, it will not fix the problem on the swing side if the stop and/or strike are not moved as well. enter image description here This shows moving the strike but not the hinges. It will only open the hinge side reveal a small amount but that may be all you need. The down side is, as you can see, you can only move the strike plate a small amount (which is all it takes in most cases) before it brings the face of the door out alignment. enter image description here This shows moving the stop which solves the problem without having to move either the strike plate or the hinges but it will require you to disturb the paint. I understand your reticence in tackling lead paint mitigation but it's not insurmountable. Here is a thorough homeowners guide to properly handling lead base paint posted by the state of New York's health department. Take the precautions specified, and you should be able to safely relocate the stop and get the results you're after without too much risk. If you do absolutely need to move the hinges, follow the instructions Diceless posted, they're right on. I'll only add that you might want to place a shim the width you're trying to offset the door in the back of the hinge mortise to keep the hinge from settling back into its original position before resetting your doors and to fill the void that will be left behind.

  • The strike plate is in the perfect place. The stop is encrusted in many layers of paint, I'd have to move at least two of the three stop moldings, and deal with lead paint chips. @paperstreet – Bryce Sep 25 '14 at 21:50
  • Okay.. let's try this again. See amended answer. – user23534 Sep 26 '14 at 4:09
  • With appreciation for the diagrams, I think the conclusion is wrong. Since paint was added the door edge plus all three stops, everything is pushed out from the historic condition. Pushing the hinge out corrects all three edges. In the end that's what I did: worked perfectly. – Bryce Oct 1 '14 at 6:24
  • I've checked with my coworkers for due diligence and we are in unanimous agreement that adjusting the strike or moving the stop is the proper method to fix this problem. The three of us have a cumulative 65 years of experience setting and adjusting literally hundreds of so doors so I feel confident that my answer is going to be the right one for most people. That you were able to get the results you wanted doing it your way is proof that there is always more than one way to skin a cat. I'm not saying you're wrong, I'm just saying its not how we would do it. – user23534 Oct 2 '14 at 18:50
  • Paperstreet: note your second photo the one with "not increased" does not represent the original posting. Both sides of the door were painted, thus both the strike side and the hinge side were increased compared to the original hang. Moving the hinges restores the door position relative to the hinge side stop molding, and may (not in my case) require a matching adjustment on the strike. If the door had been perfect I'd have needed to move both hinges and strike out by the same amount (two credit card thicknesses is what I used). – Bryce Oct 3 '14 at 4:48

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