How To Trim The Bottom Of A Door Without Taking It Off

The main reason people want to trim their door is when it doesn’t swing smoothly when opening and closing and gets stuck or caught.

When a door is correctly installed, there is typically only a fraction of an inch between the door and frame. This gives a tight seal while allowing the door to swing freely on its hinges with little resistance.

Removing some of the door’s height is one way to fix a door that doesn’t swing smoothly. There are several ways to go about this problem but many people want to find out how they can trim the door without taking it off.

You can plane or shave the door very carefully to do this. However, it is usually a better idea to take the door off.

In this article, we will be sharing a step-by-step guide on how to trim a door without taking it off. And we will also talk about alternative methods you can choose from. Keep reading!

Why You Might Need to Trim Your Door

There can be several reasons you may want to trim a door. For instance, if you have a door frame in a non-standard size and finding a perfectly fitting door is difficult.

Or, if you wrongly estimate the size of your tape measure. Making such mistakes is possible and sometimes you can only correct them by trimming down the door later. 

Another possibility is having to resize an old door. Maybe you just installed a new carpet and you notice your door catching the carpet from the bottom.

If the carpet is thick, it will require some clearance. In this case, buying a new door may be too expensive an option. So, your best bet would be to trim the door. 

How To Trim The Bottom Of The Door Without Taking It Off

If your door is rubbing ever so slightly with the floor when you open and close it, you might want to shave it as minimally as possible. Removing the whole door can seem like a hassle in this case. 

So, what can you do?

You can use rough sandpaper and an old magazine to carry out this task. 60 or 80 grit sandpaper is usually suitable.

First, open around a dozen of magazine or newspaper pages and lay your sandpaper on them. This step is important if you don’t want to damage your floor.

Now, with the grit side up, place the sandpaper at a point where the door swings. Pull the door back and forth across the sandpaper.

As the door is shaved, you can keep adding more magazine pages underneath and keep going until it is fixed.

Keep testing the door periodically to ensure you don’t shave too much. In just a few minutes, you can expect to trim down at least a millimeter or two from the door’s bottom. Now it should be swinging freely.

Important: Before you try this method, you should make sure not to pull off the strips of veneer that cover the door’s surface.

You can avoid this from happening by first sanding the trailing edge i.e. the side which hits the sandpaper last. This ensures that this side won’t get caught and pulled while you slam the door into the sandpaper.

Another tip is to use finer grit sandpaper. Although this will add a few more minutes of work, you will be less likely to cause damage as you will be opening and closing the door with less force.

How To Trim A Door From The Top Without Taking It Off

Important: You should never use this technique to trim a door built from metal or fiberglass.

Another important precaution is to make sure you don’t over trim the door. Most interior doors are solid for a maximum of an inch around their edges. If you take off more than that, you might end up ruining your door.

1. Place a tarp so the door opens over it. You should check that the door is moving freely with the tarp underneath.

2. Now, place a chair against the wall, so it stands between the door and the wall when the door is opened. 

3. Open the door so it touches the chair. Then, put a ladder on the other side of the door. This will give you space to work while bracing the door.

Climb the ladder and stop at the point when your chest is level with the top of the door. Alternatively, you can just position yourself on the floor and trim it from the bottom. 

4. Draw a straight line across the door to guide you on how much to plane it. Start planing the door until you can’t see the line. 

5. Try shutting the door and check if it is working properly now. If it still isn’t smooth, then plane some more. 

6. To get a smooth and even finish, sand the door.

Why You Should Use A Power Planer To Trim The Door

If you want to shave down your door just a little bit, a power planer is a very handy tool. It can trim the door with ease.

It also has useful features to make the process simpler. If you’re in the market for a power planer, we really like this one.

An edge guide on the planer helps you move the planer smoothly across the door. It also makes it easier to apply pressure evenly so you can plane in a straight line.  

A chamfering groove is another cool feature in most power planers. This groove is located in the center of its base and helps in easing the door edges so the door closes and opens better.

Final Words

We hope you found this article useful and informative and that you have learned the safest and easiest ways to trim your door without removing it. 

You should note that many experts actually recommend taking the door off when doing this job as it is can give better results and has fewer chances of mistakes. All you have to do is remove the hinges first.

Remember, every door is different and the solution can vary according to your door. If there is any confusion, it is best to consult a professional carpenter to assess your door and suggest the best possible route. 

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