Shed Door Won’t Open – How To Adjust, Fix Dropping & Sticking

This is a common problem with shed doors. They aren’t built to the same standards as exterior garages and homes. Their walls are thin and there is a degree of settling in that takes place, as well as the contracting and expansion caused by seasonal changes. 

Most often it requires a degree of adjustment, maybe a little cleaning in the shed door tracks (if you have that kind of door) or the hinges. Lubrication may help as well, depending on where the problem is and what it is. 

Sometimes, the best bet is to just completely remove the door and reinstall it altogether. Though some people may prefer the old-school method of bashing the door in with a sledgehammer, you will probably accomplish more by discovering the problem and fixing it. 

Shed door won't open

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How Do You Unstick a Shed Door?

There are two types of shed doors—the sliding kind and the kind that opens on hinges. Sliding doors are becoming pretty rare these days but a lot of people still have ancient holdovers, you’ll most commonly see old sliding barn doors

If your door is “sticking,” it’s a problem with the track, corrosion in the hinges (or the hinge pin), or something stuck between the frame and the part of the door that butts up against the frame when it swings open. 

If you have sliding tracks, you know what you have to do. It’s time to get down on your hands and knees and scrub the years of accumulated dirt and debris out of the tracks. When you’re all done and it’s shiny, new, and clean, douse the track with WD-40. 

If you have wheels on the sliding door, hit them up with some lubrication as well. WD-40 works great with hinges without having to remove them. However, you can always remove them and scrub them clean with a good wire brush. Lube it up and reinstall it. If there are obstructions in the door, remove them too.

Last but not least, your door may no longer be square with the frame, which is usually an indication of a hinge problem. The hinge is either rusty and warped or it’s coming unmoored from its anchor point on the frame. You can either trim the bottom of the door or replace the frame and hinges for the best results. 

Why Has My Shed Door Dropped?

For the same reason, we indicated above. However, it could be a matter of the framework swelling and contracting in the heat of the summer and the cold of the winter.

As the shed gets much older, the hinges rust and lose their strength, possibly warping under the weight of the door. 

It could also be the frame rotting out where the hinges are bolted in. 

How Do You Adjust a Shed Door?

Worst case scenario, you’ll have to pull out the old framework and replace it with a new one. If you have to do that, it’s best to go ahead and replace the original hinges as well. If it’s off just the tiniest bit, you can trim the bottom of the door

If it’s wood, you can use a sander to eat away just enough wood to regain the proper clearance. It’s best to mark your line for where the door needs to be cut or smoothed down, that way you don’t take it too far. 

If everything looks clean—no damage to the framework and the hinges are solid—yet the door is still too low, you’re dealing with swelling and warping. Oftentimes it can be so subtle that the frame looks nice and clean and you can’t tell. 

Old shed door

How to Stop a Shed Door from Warping

You have to varnish the heck out of it and you can’t wait for a while before you do it. Warping in the frame and door is caused by moisture inside the wood, freezing and evaporating, placing pressure on the wood grain around it. 

Varnish effectively seals much of that moisture out, permanently. But you don’t want to wait because that will give the door frame time to absorb moisture.

The warping is called “twisting” and “cupping.” Both can be avoided, at least for the most part. 

A polyurethane-based varnish is your best friend if you want to keep the door or frame from warping. Go with a varnish that requires a paintbrush to apply and completely remove the door so you have full access to the frame. 

Cover everything that’s wood. If the door is wood, you should do that as well. 

Bottom Line

Sheds are going to move, settle, expand, and contract over time.

Metal sheds will rust and corrode and wood sheds will expand and contract. Both will settle over time. These things affect the smooth operations of the doors, whether yours is sitting on a sliding track or it opens on hinges. 

The best way to handle it is the same method you should use for anything that’s valuable to you—preventative maintenance. In this case, polyurethane is your best bet.