Before you consider this option make sure the door cannot be adjusted. See the article 'Adjusting Doors' for more information.
Door frames are usually installed in nominal sizes in increments of 2". For residential doors this would be from about 1' 6” to 3' 0”. The opening of the door frame will usually be exactly that size, 36” for a 3' 0” Door.
The door slab will be slightly undersized to allow the door to go in and out of the opening. A 3' 0” door slab will be 35 3/4” or slightly less. This would always be true, unless the door frame was improperly installed.
Check the size of the opening. Is it less than an even size? Is the door too big for the opening? Not good news and some work to fix.
Two choices at this point. Cut the door down to fit the opening or move the door jamb to the proper size. We may only be talking about an eighth or a quarter of an inch. Unfortunately, it is an important fraction of an inch.
Sanding and Planing a Door
If the door is just slightly off, you may be able to sand or plane. Keep in mind that both of these options will ruin the finish on the door. Part of the repair will be fixing the finish.
See the article 'Sanding and Planing a Door' for information on removing small amounts from a door.
If you choose to move the frame, get ready for some work.
Use a flat pry bar and carefully remove the trim on both sides of the strike side of the door frame. You will find that there is a gap between the door jamb and the framing for the wall. There are shims that keep the two spaced. Quickest easiest thing to do is use a reciprocating saw with a combination metal/wood cutting blade to cut out the shims.
With the shims gone, take a block of wood and a hammer and drive the door jamb toward the wall framing the needed distance. Make sure you take down anything that can be damaged or fall from the wall before you start pounding. Nothing worse than pounding on a wall and you hear your antique clock crashing to the floor on the opposite side.
Use the door to check your margins. With the door installed on the hinges, close it and adjust the jamb so that you have an even margin, an eighth of an inch or slightly more, along the strike side of the jamb. Use shims to hold the door the proper distance from the framing.
I like square drive trim screws for door jambs, especially repair projects. Very positive attachment and eliminates a lot of pounding. Use 2 1/4” square drive trim screws to fasten the jamb. Go easy with a battery drill and draw them up until they set.
Sometimes they will pull the jamb in too far. Back them out, move the shim in a little and try again. Check the door and make sure it closes properly before you install the trim.
Clean up the trim and install it with finish nails or trim screws. Touch up the paint or stain as needed. Big job, were you successful? Find someone to pat you on the back, you have made a rather difficult door frame repair.
Doors that do not close properly often can be fixed with some adjustment to the door. Before you can adjust a door, you need to understand how the door is supported.
If this is not your problem, see 'Door Repair' for all of the Door Repair topics.
Most doors are supported by two to four hinges, with two or three being typical in most residential homes. An exterior door will likely have three hinges.
Your front door is probably the heaviest door you have. So, if you front door has three hinges and it weighs 100 lbs, you might assume that each hinge supports 33 lbs.
That is not entirely true. The reason is that the door is a rectangular object and it is being supported from one side. Therefore, the force on the hinges is not equal.
In fact, the bottom hinge acts as a pivot point for the weight that is pulling against the top hinge. It is the loosening of the top hinge that causes doors to sag and rub against the frame.
A properly aligned or adjusted door will have an even margin between the door and the frame all the way around. When the margins are uneven, the door is out of adjustment.
It may not be sticking yet, but it will soon. The wider margins will be on the top of the door on the strike side, and along the side near the bottom on the strike side.
You will also likely have a wider margin on the hinge side near the top of the door.
Adjusting a sagging door properly, will mean tightening the top hinge. Most door manufacturers now require one or two long screws installed through the frame and into the door jambs.
A split door frame is another door frame repair you may need to make. It is possible for a door jamb to split when the wood dries out. Another way a door frame can split is when it is forced open for whatever reason.
Not sure if this is your problem? See the article 'Troubleshooting Door Problems' for more information.
What you need to do depends on how bad the split is and whether the integrity of the frame is compromised. A split that affects the hinges or the strike plates is not just cosmetic.
A minor split may be cosmetic. Use wood putty to fill the crack and paint or varnish the door as needed.
For a more serious split you may be able to glue and clamp the door. At this point you may need to decide if you will be happy with the patched up door frame when you are done.
Take the trim off the door on both sides using a flat pry bar. Add some door shims behind the damaged area to support it. Use a construction adhesive like liquid nails in the crack. Use a couple of bar clamps to draw the frame back together.
With the frame drawn back in shape, add a few 2 1/4” trim screws on either side of the split.
Check the directions for the glue to find out the drying time. Leave the clamps in place until the glue has set. Replace the trim using finish nails or trim screws. Check for objects that could fall before you start pounding on the wall. With the trim in place you can replace any hardware that needed to be removed.
You will probably still be left with some cosmetic issues. Use wood filler or putty to blend in the remaining visual issues. Touch up the paint or varnish as required. How does it look? Hopefully you are satisfied with the results and this has been a successful door frame repair or door jamb repair, depending on which term you like better.
The door stop is the raised piece of trim in the center of the jamb. It is on the top and both sides of the door. Sometimes and this is not common, the stop will need to be adjuste to get the door to close properly.
As the name implies it acts as a stop for the door, not allowing it to swing through the opening and tear out the hinges. It also conceals the gap around the door, thus keeping the privacy feature of the door intact. The door stop can loosen up or it can be damaged.
For door stop that is loosened and not aligned properly you can adjust it and nail it in place.To loosen the door stop, use a flat pry bar.
Close the door and push the stop against the door gently. You want the stop to touch the door, but not push it back. Use a pencil to mark the proper locations of the stop. A #4 or #6 finish nail is usually sufficient for door stop.
I am assuming that you do not have an air driven finish nail gun. Use a hammer and nail set to nail the stop back in place. Nail it every 12 inches or as needed. Touch up the paint or varnish and you're done. This was not such a difficult door frame repair.
Replacing damaged door stop is similar but a bit more involved. Use a flat pry bar to gently loosen the stop. It is best to replace the entire piece, either the side or top. Take a piece with you to the lumber yard and find one that matches. They usually sell 7' sections which is enough for one side of the door.
You will need to use a miter box either hand or power to cut the piece to fit. When you have the piece cut to the right size you can install it.
Mark the location as described above and nail it in place with finish nails. You may have been fortunate and found a pre-finished piece that matches what you have. Likely case is that you will have to paint or stain it to match the existing. Done with this door frame repair? Good, move on to your next project.
Knowing how to fix a door frame can save you time and money. Door repairs can be expensive and time consuming. Door frames that are installed properly in the beginning, rarely fail to perform unless somthing has damaged them.
When a door does not close properly, it is usually something else that is causing the problem. See the articles 'Adjusting Interior Doors', 'How To Adjust Exterior Doors', 'Fixing Door Locks' and 'Repairing Door Hinges' for more information and instructions on what to do.
If you are sure that it is the door frame that needs to be repaired, see the 'Troubleshooting' section below.
Door frames provide the needed support for a door. Some doors can weigh hundreds of pounds. The door is attached to the frame via the hinges. When properly installed, door frames are durable and will last a long time.
Problems with the door frame are often related to the things that are attached to it. Hardware, weatherstripping, strike plates and the door itself are attached to the frame.
Fixing the frame may mean adjusting or replacing one of these items. Other times it can involve work on the frame itself.
What Can You Save? - Doing a major overhaul on a door frame could easily be a four hour job. If you just need something adjusted it could cost as little as $50. A complete re-work of the frame could be between $150 and $300.
How Hard Could It Be? - Door frame repairs can vary in difficulty and complexity. These repairs will have a Difficulty Range of: Simple to This Is Clearly Work. These repairs require a Skill Level Range of: Job Jar Specialist to Determined Handyman. For and explanation of the terms in this section, see 'How to Use This Site'.
Check the Simple Things! - The frame is the part of the doorway that provides the structural support. A problem with the door frame is usually not a simple problem. Adjusting the strike plate or replacing the hinges are probably the simplest things that you can do with a door frame.
What Can Go Wrong? - Taking apart the door frame can be a big job and may take longer than a couple of hours. You may not get the door back together. You could be without a door if you can't get it fixed. Which door it is? This will determine the severity of the situation. Make sure you have the basic skills needed before you attempt to dismantle a door.
Most of the time getting the door properly adjusted will take care of issues related to the frame. See the articles 'Adjusting Interior Doors' and 'How To Adjust Exterior Doors' for information on getting the doors properly aligned.
When the door is adjusted properly and the lock still won't work or the door is not tight to the weatherstripping, you may need to adjust the strike. 'Adjusting Door Strikes' gives you information on this subject.
The hinges are one of the key pieces of hardware that are attached to the door frame. 'Replacing Door Hinges' talks about replacing and lubricating them.
At times, the door stop can loosen, causing the door not to close correctly. The article 'Adjusting the Door Stop' explains how you can fix it.
'Repairing a Split Door Frame' is a discussion on fixing a broken frame.
Door frame repairs are harder than other door repairs. If you take your time and are willing to develop new skills then you were successful with this repair. Remember it is the door frame that holds up the door. Should it be easy?
Tales will be told long into the future of how you were able to make your own door frame repair. Repairing a door jamb will not be something you need to do often. Usually, once the are set they don't go anywhere. The work you did should last for years.