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Can Pull-up Bars Damage Door Frames

Can Pull Up Bars Damage Door Frames | Are They Unsafe?

If you’re looking to build upper body strength, you’ll be hard-pressed to find an exercise as effective as the humbling pull-up. Providing an extremely efficient workout for your arms, shoulders, back and even your core strength, pull-ups require nothing except your bodyweight and a bar, making them a perfect addition for home workouts.

When you’re looking at what pull-up bar to get for your home gym setup, it’s important to remember that homes are not designed to function as a gym, and exercise equipment, in general, is heavy-duty and usually requires commercial-grade flooring and/or structures.

Therefore, with the popularity of versatile pull-up bars cementing themselves as a home gym staple, some questions will first need to be considered before you purchase one. The most important question is can pull up bars damage door frames?

Pull-up bars can damage door frames if you don’t stay within the weight limit for the bar. You’ll also need to ensure you secure it correctly as the recommended installation and position will ensure an even distribution of weight to reduce the chance of the bar breaking the door frame.

No home gym can be complete without some form of a pull-up bar, so in this article, we’ll be going through the best ways to minimize the damage to your door frame, so you can maximize the upper body gains.

Can Pull Up Bars Damage Door Frames

Safety does not have to be sacrificed when using a pull-up bar at home, as long as you don’t skip the basics. 

Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is that every product is different. Below are the essential specifications to look out for when researching which bar to buy for your home gym:

  • Weight limit – every pull-up bar has a different weight limit, so make sure you’re buying a product that’s right for you to avoid damage to your door frame and yourself. The weight limit will depend on the type of pull-up bar you are planning to get so make sure you factor this is right from the start, especially if you want to progress and start to add additional weight to your pull-ups.
  • Size – make sure the bar you’re buying will fit in your door frame. While most doors are uniform in size, the frame size and shape can often differ so make sure this is sure your frame is able to support a pull-up bar.

Above all, make sure you follow the instructions for the specific pull-up bar you purchase, not just to avoid damaging your door frames, but for your own safety too.

What Type of Pull Up Bar Can I Put on My Door Frame

Although there are 2 types of pull-up bars you can install in your door frames at home, it is important to know the differences before you decide to make a purchase.

Telescopic pull-up bars are about as simple as it gets, however they are much more likely to cause damage to your door frames. These bars stay in place by pushing on either side of your door frame, which means that over time superficial damage to the paint is almost guaranteed.

The damage caused by telescopic pull-up bars can eventually become much more severe, denting the structure and, depending on the door frame in your house, cause much more lasting damage to the frame.

The nature of telescopic pull-up bars means that the more damage they cause to the door frame,  the less safe they become to use, so it is crucial not to exceed the weight limit specified in the instructions.

The second type of pull-up bar that can be installed in your door frame hangs or hooks onto the top of your door frame. This bar is much safer as it distributes the weight more evenly, and rests on top of the door frame, however, over time will still cause damage both to the paint and the wood from wear and tear.

These pull-up bars can come in many shapes and sizes, and can offer a very versatile piece of equipment for more than just pull-ups. As they can be so varied it is even more important to make sure that you are measuring your door frame before buying one, this is not only to make sure they will fit your door frame but also to minimize any potential damage from using an unsuitable bar. 

What Can I Do to Protect My Door Frame

Prolonged use of a pull-up bar at home will always result in some form of damage to your door frame – being able to do the perfect upper body workout from the comfort of your own home does come with a cost,  but minimizing this damage isn’t as difficult as you might think.

Padding your pull-up bar is probably the easiest way to protect your door frame from the metal bar hanging from it, as you can use just about anything you’ve got at home. 

Cloths, towels, or even socks can be wrapped around the part which is pressing down or against the door frame, providing a barrier to cushion the frame from potential damage. If you’re finding the padding isn’t staying in place no worries, just tape it in place!

You should also make sure the bar is secured in place before every use. When using a pull-up bar in a door frame, a locked in and “immovable” bar will not move around, evenly distribute weight throughout the door frame and minimize scratching or chipping. A good position is like the image below:

Is It Safe to Do Pull Ups on a Door

If unlike the above scenario you do not lock the bar into a secure position, the bar will not distribute your weight and direction of force evenly meaning more weight will be placed centrally on the door frame which will increase the likelihood of the frame breaking. 

It will also be less secure which could lead to the bar slipping and causing injury. The below image shows how you should not set these bars up:

Providing you are ensuring the bar is locked into position before each set, pull-ups are completely safe to do on a door frame and the current products are well designed to keep them as secure as possible during use. A telescoping pull-up bar is a little less secure in my opinion though. 

If you want a pull-up bar that is secure, won’t damage your door frame, and also makes it safe to do pull-ups on a door then I’d recommend getting a solid in-door pull-up bar like the basic Iron Gym Bar (check price here) or the more functional Iron Age Smart Hook Bar (check price here).

What Other Pull Up Bars Can You Use in a Home Gym

Pull-up bars that fit in your door frame have a number of benefits: they are budget-friendly and take up very little space, but if you are looking to invest a little more for a safer, more robust piece of equipment that won’t risk damage to your door frames, there are alternatives. 

Below are some of the options available:

  • Wall-mounted – these pull-up bars are screwed securely into the wall, and provide a very secure but much more permanent piece of equipment for your upper body workouts at home. Whilst this kind of kit comes with a higher weight limit and increased sturdiness for the safety of you and your property, they will cost a little bit more and you do lose the convenience of a removable pull-up bar.
  • Free-standing – these workout towers are extremely versatile and can be used for much more than just pull-ups: in fact, you can probably get a full-body workout done with just this piece of equipment. Although they are about as safe as it gets for doing pull-ups at home, they take up much more space than your regular pull-up bar and are often the most expensive option.

Final Thoughts

Since late-night fitness commercials became a thing in the 1980s/1990s (you know the ones I mean with a fitness model selling the “ab blaster 5000”), home pull-up bars have become a well-designed piece of gym equipment. 

With improved technology and designs, most door pull-up bars are now secure enough to attach to a range of different door frames without risking damage or unsafe use, provided you follow the manufacturer’s instructions. 

So, can pull-up bars damage door frames? There is still a likelihood for general wear and tear with scuffs, scratches, or marks on the door frames wood, or paint but even these can be minimized by using a cloth or similar material mentioned earlier. In general, though, pull-up bars will not damage door frames provided you use them safely and correctly.