Most often used for mood lighting, candles can do double duty keeping stubborn doors and windows from sticking and sliding doors gliding.
Photo by oskay.
While a sticky door or a window that just won’t open smothly isn’t as frequent of a problem in newer construction, older homes are much more susceptible to such issues. Wooden door and window frames expand and contract with the changes in humidity and temperature throughout the year causing a higher level of friction. Combine that with generations of paint that may or may not have been properly stripped down, a mixture of newer latex paint over stiffer oil paint, and/or a house that has settled with age shifting the dimensions of the frames ever so slightly, and you’ve got a recipe for doors that don’t close properly during the height of summer humidity and high temperatures. Permanent solutions are often a pain in the neck and require special care, such as removing the door and either stripping the decades of old paint off or even using a plane to shave down the edges of the offending door slice by careful slice to mate it properly to the frame. A few minutes with a candle and a little elbow grease can provide just the right amount of give to a stubborn door or window.
Wax is an excellent and cheap solid lubricant. Paraffin wax, the most common wax used in candles the world over, is also used in a variety of applications such as surfboard, ski and snowbaord wax to help reduce friction. Any chunk of wax will do for your project, but two particular shapes are best suited for particular tasks. Tea light candles are a perfect little size for doors and window frames, and taper candles work great for windows and doors with tracks like a sliding glass door. A white candle is best, even if the surface is a dark wood, you don’t want to add any colour into the mix and the white wax will be spread so thin it won’t be noticeable.
Start off by holding the candle in your hand for a few minutes to slightly soften it. Gently rub the candle over the surface—the puck shape of the tealight is great for briskly rubbing over the wide frame of a door or window and the pencil like shape of the tapered candle is great for pressing into the grooves of a sliding glass door track. After about 30 seconds, test the door or window out and continue to rub in some wax if it still sticks a little.
If a door frame has settled so much that the door itself smacks the frame, a candle wax rub down won’t save you from some weekend handyman work. For most sticky and squeaky old doors and windows however, it gets the job done for mere pennies. If you have handy trick of your own for home repairs, sound off in the comments.