How to Fix a Squeaky Door (Repairing Loud Hinges and Sliding Tracks)
When it comes to soundproofing, doors and windows are the weakest spots in your home. I’ve said it time and again — soundproofing these areas is crucial in the battle against unwanted noise. However, no amount of soundproof blankets, weatherstripping tape, and door sweeps will help you if the door itself is noisy! Fortunately, I happen to be an expert in getting rid of noise — so today, I’m coming to you with a guide to fixing squeaky doors.
Trust me, I know how annoying it is to live with a door that squeaks every time the wind shifts it. In fact, up until a few months ago, I had no less than three squeaky doors in my house. Every time I came home, I was greeted by the grating screech of the yard gate. What’s more, I also had problems with the laundry room door as well as my sliding backyard door.
I kept delaying fixing these issues, and I had a score of excuses to back up my procrastination. For one, the squeaks were coming from three different kinds of doors. So I figured the process of solving the problem probably wouldn’t be the same for all of them. However, after doing my research, I realized that the underlying cause of the noise is almost always the same.
Ultimately, the tips that are effective are applicable to all kinds of doors. However, before we can dive into them, we ought to know what could be causing the noise. With that in mind, let’s talk about the parts that make up a door.
Doors come in all shapes and sizes — and all kinds of materials, too. Still, most of them have all the same parts. So it should be easy to diagnose what’s causing the noise just by looking at a door.
For example, if you see that the door is slightly crooked, the noise is probably the result of the door dragging against the floor or rubbing against the door frame. Over time, any door can start to sag if the hinges become loose.
But not all doors have the same parts. Usually, the doors in our homes are wooden with metal hinges and handles. Actually, the material a door is made of can worsen the amount of the noise it is producing.
Generally, the metal parts are the ones that cause all the ruckus because they show signs of wear fairly quickly. Rust can worsen the friction and, in turn, the noise. Usually, yard gates are the worst offenders since they’re exposed to the elements and tend to rust more quickly.
But regular hinge doors aren’t the only kind of door that can start making noise. As I’ve previously mentioned, one of the doors that were squeaking in my home was the sliding door that leads out into the back yard. Depending on whether the sliding door has tracks or rollers, you may have to approach solving your noise problem in different ways. In fact, there are plenty of reasons why doors might start squeaking, whether they’re hinge doors or sliding ones.
Why Do Doors Squeak?
So we’ve already mentioned a few of the reasons why your doors might make squeaking sounds. No matter what kind of door we’re dealing with or the materials it’s made of, it all boils down to the following causes:
- Signs of wear include rusted hinges, tilting doors, and any changes in the shape of the door caused by age or conditions like humidity. All of these things can cause the door to rub against the surrounding surfaces and make noise.
- Dirt is another possible reason for the noise and arguably the easiest one to fix. If you have a sliding door, chances are you’ll only need to clean the debris from the tracks to get rid of any noises.
- Improper manufacturing or installation of the door could have left it misaligned with the door frame or crooked. In those cases, all you can do is correct the installation by taking the door out and putting it back in correctly.
- Finally, the squeaking could also be the result of added accessories. For example, if you install a solid rubber door sweep, you should expect the occasional squeak. Fortunately, your problem should resolve if you switch to a nylon brush style sweep or one that automatically lifts when you move the door.
Now that you know the most likely causes of the noise your door is making, it should be easy to identify the problem with your door. Is it slightly crooked? Are there signs of wear on the hinges? Is the sliding track filled with dust and debris? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, don’t worry. Here’s everything you need to know to eliminate the issue.
How to Fix a Squeaky Door with Hinges
Now, if you want to go about fixing your squeaky door, you have to get a good start. As always when you want to do a project, you have to start with a clean slate. So that’s exactly what we’re going to do here.
Clean Up the Surroundings
As I have mentioned, in some cases your noise problem can resolve itself if you simply clean up around the door. Specifically, sliding doors tend to make noise when there are foreign objects in the sliding tracks below and above the door panel. But cleaning this space is easy:
- Use a broom to push all the debris toward one area of the track
- Pick up the biggest objects — my backyard door had pieces of leaves and even pebbles stuck in the tracks
- Vacuum up the dust
- Use a clean damp rag to pick up the rest
- If there are any more serious stains, you can also use dish soap
Just make sure to move the sliding panel so you can clean both sides of the track — check out the video below for a demonstration. Obviously, regular old hinge doors won’t stop squeaking if you sweep the threshold. However, you can still benefit from cleaning certain areas of the door, especially if they’re rusty.
Remove the Rust or Replace the Parts
If you happen to spot those suspicious red specks anywhere on your door, whether it’s a sliding one or one with hinges, it’s best to get rid of it quickly. If you suspect that there’s more to rust than meets the eye, you can also take the hinges off.
Some doors have hinges you can take off with a screwdriver, while others are a part of the door frame. If you have to clean them thoroughly, you may have to lift the whole door leaf off the hinges. Alternately, you might have to deal with a pin hinge, which means that you’ll need to hammer a nail upwards into the hinge. That will push the pin out, allowing you to separate the hinges — in that case, you’ll want to clean the pin as well.
Whether you separate the hinges from the door or not, you’ll need some supplies to remove the rust. Steel wool will help you get rid of most of the rust in the easily accessible areas. However, you may have to go in with a smaller tool, like a toothbrush, to remove the rust in places that are hard to reach.
If possible, you can also submerge the hinges in a carbonated beverage for a few hours to etch the rust away. Of course, you’ll want to clean the hinges with dish soap afterward to avoid having a sticky mess on your hands. Before reattaching the door, make sure to thoroughly dry everything. Finally, applying a lubricant is always a good final step.
Lubricate the Hinges
Whether your hinges were rusty or not, the next step will always involve a lubricant of some sort. You can apply it to the hinges while you have them off the door, focusing on the insides of the hinges where the different parts rub together.
There are plenty of products you might use. For one, motor oil and WD-40 will also protect your hinges from rust. Those would be the ideal lubricants for this particular project.
In the absence of those products, you can use white grease or even cooking oil. And if you don’t have any of those, melted paraffin candle wax or soap will do in a pinch. Feel free to be pretty liberal with your application, but make sure that you wipe the excess off the wood to protect it from staining.
Lubricate a Sliding Door’s Track
Older sliding door models have actual wheels, or rollers, on the bottom. So if that’s the model you’re working with, you’ll need to use a screwdriver. Remove the roller caps at the bottom of the door panel with a screwdriver and spray the rollers with a lubricant.
Alternately, if you have one of the more modern sliding door models, you’ll simply have to clean the tracks well and insert the lubricant. As usual, WD-40 should do the trick. After application, return the adjustment caps if you’re working on an older model and slide the door back and forth to distribute the product.
Reinstall the Door
Now, what do you do if your door is making squeaking sounds because of improper installation or manufacturing? Unfortunately, I’m afraid that’ll require some extra work. Your only option would be to attempt to disassemble and reinstall the door properly.
That would be your last ditch effort to salvage the operation. However, if the door still isn’t silent after reinstalling it — there is one final step to consider.
As I was saying, the steps above should be all you need to get your doors opening and closing smoothly. However, if none of them work, you may just have to give in and purchase a new one. Just remember to have the workers install the new door carefully. A properly installed, brand new door should remain silent for decades. You’ll only have to check it for rust and occasionally lubricate the hinges and the tracks.