The little things in a home are the easiest to overlook. Investors and homeowners get so wrapped up in the details of sound siding, curb appeal, fresh paint and new carpeting that they can overlook some of the most fundamental things that make a home seem perfect.
Few things can give the impression of age or neglect quite as effectively as poorly cared-for hinges on the doors and, sometimes, windows in a home. Hinges may eventually become loose, sag or even rust, and few people think to check them. Pay close attention to doors in little-used areas, basements or cellars, and outbuildings as these are likely to show neglect first.
Have you ever felt a sense of annoyance at the squeaks and groans emanating from some doors? You’re not the only one, and chances are potential buyers won’t like it either. Start by checking all of the hinges in your home for noise or stiffness. Oil wherever necessary with a non-toxic lubricant, wiping excess oil off the outside of the hinge. Some may require liberal lubrication, but when you’re finished all hinges should swing easily and be noise-free.
Next, check that each hinge is attached securely to both the door or window and the frame. Years of use can slowly work screws out of their beds or even strip the wood their fastened into. A quick check with a screwdriver can also make a big difference in how well the door or window hangs. Check that all hinge pins are firmly in place.
Doors and windows that sag or hang crooked in their frame even after hinges have been tightened up may have been mounted incorrectly to begin with. Alternatively, the house may have experienced some settling or sagging since it was built, affecting the fit and hang of the doors. These will likely need to be re-hung, a process that should be done by a professional.
Finally, inspect the outside of each hinge for rust, dirt, or splashes of paint. These all detract from the overall look of a room and are easily fixed. Paint can be scraped off or scrubbed off with paint thinner. Rust can be scoured off with steel wool; rust-busting cleaners or other solutions can help with this process. Most dirt is easy to wipe off or wash off with soap. Always re-apply lubricant to any areas that have been cleaned to ensure the hinge is still well-protected.