Things I use to get stuck windows and doors open

Stuck Windows and Doors: My Easy Go-To Fixes

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Got a window that just won’t budge or a door that seems glued shut? If you’re living in an older home like mine, you’ve probably encountered this. Rather than calling the handyman, here are my go-to fixes for stuck windows and doors.

When Windows Aren’t Really Stuck

When we first bought our home, I wanted to do a move-in cleaning but couldn’t get the windows open. So, I called a handyman who showed me that it was nailed shut and charged me $35. I didn’t resent the charge—his time is valuable, too—but I sure didn’t feel very bright.

So, first things first, make sure your window isn’t locked or, as in my comical yet frustrating experience, nailed shut.

Windows Painted Shut

Paint can seal a window closed, especially if it’s slapped on carelessly. The “Landlord Special,” we call that. But opening your windows to let in fresh air is important, so don’t put up with letting them stay stuck shut.

To open a window stuck shut by paint, gently run a utility knife around the edges of the window frame to cut through the paint. If it’s stubborn, lightly tap the corners of frame (not the glass!) with a cloth-wrapped hammer to loosen things up and then slide it open.

Warped or Swollen Frames

Our home has wood windows that swell shut during heavy Spring storms and vinyl ones that warp and stick closed during the summer. My solution for both is the same: my blowdryer.

To use a blowdryer on stuck windows, turn it to the hottest setting and aim it at the gap around the edge of the window frame for a few minutes. Test the window and keep at it until the window glides open smoothly.

A Door Stuck Due to Sagging

The older our home gets, the more the doors sag and stick. The one to our garage got so bad that I had to hip-check it to get into the house sometimes. Not fun with arms full of groceries!

A sagging door is usually caused by hinge screws loosening up over time. This presses the weight of the door on one end into the frame, making the door stick. Tightening the hinge screws can solve a lot of problems. A dash of silicone lubricant can work wonders, too.

Paint Buildup on the Door Edge

Sometimes, thick “landlord special” paint jobs build up and make the door stick shut or keep it from closing easily. When too much paint is the problem, it’s easiest to take the door off to sand and repaint it.

Removing a door from its hinges sounds like a big deal, but it’s as simple as prying out the hinge pin with a screwdriver or tapping it out from beneath with a hammer and Allen wrench.

Tips to Keep Windows and Doors from Sticking

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, right? Here’s how to keep those windows and doors moving freely:

  1. Keep them clean: Vacuum your window tracks with the dust brush and use a toothbrush with hot, soapy water to tackle the grime.
  2. Reduce friction: Run a candle stub or bar of soap along window tracks and door jambs. This creates a waxy layer that helps everything slide smoothly.
  3. Silicone lubricant: For vinyl windows and sliding doors, a bit of silicone lubricant does the trick. Use window cleaner to remove it immediately if it gets on the glass.
  4. Control humidity: Run a dehumidifier in humid rooms and make sure to use exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens.

I make a point of doing the preventative steps once a season. Now we don’t have problems with things sticking shut anymore. What’s your favorite trick to getting doors and windows unstuck?

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6 Comments

  1. Marcia in TX says:

    We have had vinyl windows for several years and no problems with the ones that open sideways. It is only the one that is in the kitchen that opens upwards that is really hard to open. I will try the silicon spray. Thank you for this.

  2. I painted a interior door & frame, the door was closed while the paint was drying, left unnoticed for 2 days, now the door is sealed shut.
    Question: HELP! What can I do? Replace the door & frame all is one-piece? Any suggestions?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Try to slice through the paint with a box cutter, then sand and repaint any areas as needed.

  3. Layza Velasquez says:

    One of my family members has a tendency to shut the door too hard. And now it’s stuck. How can I fix this?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Have you tried removing the hinge pins and lifting the door out of the frame?

  4. Wendy Cartright says:

    Thank you for sharing these remedies. I have vinyl windows that I never open because it’s so hard to get them closed again. I’ll try a silicon lubricant and see if it makes a difference. I’m hoping this will be an easy fix.

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