The front door of your home takes a lot of abuse. Years of being battered by rain, wind, and hot sun, not to mention the human impact of slamming and banging – entry doors can suffer from a lot of wear-and-tear through the years. If your door is structurally sound overall, there are some DIY projects you can tackle to attempt to repair years of minor damage.
Over time, a house typically settles a bit. With changes in weather, the wood expands and contracts. These issues can cause your front door not to be fully square and plumb within its frame. Signs of this include a door that sticks, creaks, and doesn’t open or close as well as it once did.
Air leaks are also a common problem, especially with older doors. Often this is due to an improper seal or worn weatherstripping. Entry doors can allow cold air inside during the winter months, and air conditioned air to escape in the summer. This energy loss will show up in the form of increased utility bills.
You want to make sure your door is sealed and energy efficient. Inspect the caulk around the door frame. If any of it is cracked or peeling away, scrape the area clean and apply a new bead of caulk. The top and sides of your front door should have weatherstripping, so look at the condition and replace if necessary. Home improvement stores sell various weatherstripping kits, including foam, felt, and silicone products.
While weatherstripping protects the top and sides of your front door from air leakage, it’s the sweep that prevents air infiltration along the bottom of the door. If you can feel air or see daylight coming from under the door, you need to add or replace the sweep. Your local improvement store will have various types of replacement sweeps. The easiest and effective type to install is a face-mounted sweep with a vinyl flap. They attach to the door in various ways – L-shaped, slide on, staple on, or wrap around.
Besides air leaks, entry doors may have other issues that need repair. Squeaky hinges can by quieted easily. Remove the hinge pin and use steel wool to gently clean it along with the barrel section mounted to the door frame. Then coat the hinges’ moving parts with a light coat of silicone spray.
Older doors tend to show heavy use in the form of dents and dings. If your door is made of steel, you can try to repair a dent using auto filler. After sanding the area down to the metal, several thin layers of auto filler should be applied until the area is smooth. After sanding and priming, you can paint the door. For wood doors, minor scratches can be sanded out. For deeper gouges use wood putty or epoxy to repair.
There may be cases where you need to decide if your entry door should be replaced. For example, if the door or frame show signs of wood rot that aren’t small enough to be repaired, it’s often best to remove the entire door and have a new pre-hung entry door installed. This way you are sure that there is no additional wood rot that will continue to spread. A new entry door will start saving you money right away in the form of improved energy efficiency over your old drafty door. In addition to efficiency, a new entry door will increase the curb appeal of your home.