If your door hinges are off, the door won’t work as it should, which can be annoying and cause damage to your flooring and the door itself. Therefore, you should try to address the issue and fix the hinges as soon as possible.
You can adjust door hinges by tightening the screws or replacing the middle screw. However, if this doesn’t work, you can try adding cardboard to the back of the hinge and tightening the strike plate. By taking these steps, you can fix a misaligned door.
This process can be complicated if you’ve never adjusted door hinges before. The rest of this article will give a more thorough explanation of how to adjust your door hinges, how to tell if your hinges need adjusting, and why door hinges become misaligned in the first place. Let’s get started.
1. Tighten the Screws
Luckily, adjusting door hinges is a straightforward process that almost anyone can do with simple tools. For this step, all you’ll need is a screwdriver.
A simple screwdriver will work, but I highly recommend the SUNHZMCKP Magnetic Screwdriver Set (available on Amazon.com) because the screwdrivers are made with high-quality alloy steel with high torque and hardness so that they can handle almost any job. The set comes with almost everything you’ll ever need, including a portable plastic case that’s easily storable.
Follow these easy steps to tighten the screws on your door hinges:
- Insert the screwdriver into the screws, and twist to the right to pull the door back toward the hinges in the jamb.
- Tighten the screws on all of the hinges. However, pay extra attention to the top hinge, which bears the most weight from the door.
- Twist the screws as much as possible, then attempt to close the door to see if it closes properly. Usually, this simple step is enough to fix the issue, but if it isn’t, go on to step two.
However, it’s possible that the screws won’t loosen with just a screwdriver. In this situation, you’ll need to use a drill. I like the Avid Power MAX Lithium-Ion Cordless Drill Set from Amazon.com because the various settings provide precise control to prevent stripping. I also appreciate the compact, lightweight design and superior motor, which minimizes fatigue in daily screwing and drilling tasks.
Additionally, if you’re using a drill, I highly recommend using safety goggles to prevent debris from flying into your eyes.
2. Replace the Middle Screw in the Hinges
If simply tightening the hinges doesn’t work, I recommend adjusting the hinges by replacing the middle screw in each hinge with a longer screw, at least 3 inches (7.62 cm). Many doors come with hinges that only have shorter screws; usually, these screws are enough to keep the door in place. However, if your door keeps getting misaligned, you probably need a replacement.
You can replace all the screws if you choose, but this usually isn’t necessary. You should be able to fix a misalignment by replacing the middle screw in each hinge, which pulls the door back to the frame. By only replacing the center screw, you can avoid extra work and hassle and still get the same result.
To replace the middle screw, follow these steps:
- Remove the old screw by inserting the screwdriver in the screw and twisting to the left until the screw comes completely loose.
- Place the new, longer screw in the hole left behind.
- Twist that screw to the right until it’s completely tight.
- Open the door several times to see if you’ve resolved the issue.
I recommend using the Hinge Outlet Store Statin Nickel Wood Screws from Amazon.com. I like these screws because they’re specifically designed for door hinges and are made of high-quality steel that’s long-lasting and can support the door’s weight. They’re also Phillips screws, so they’ll likely be compatible with your home screwdriver.
3. Add Cardboard to the Back of the Hinges
Sometimes, the mortise (or the hole where the hinge fits) will get too deep for the hinge, which can throw the door out of alignment and cause sagging. To fix this issue, follow these steps:
- Loosen the screws on the hinge so you can pull the hinge out of the mortise.
- Place some pieces of cardboard into the mortise.
- Check the door to see if the additions have changed the way the door hangs at all.
- Keep adding more and more cardboard until the door appears in place.
- Use your screwdriver to screw the screws through the cardboard cutouts and tighten the hinge.
While adding the cardboard to the back of the hinge isn’t too challenging, getting the right-sized cardboard pieces can be. However, you can do this more easily by removing the hinge completely and laying it on the surface of the cardboard.
Then, trace the hinge using a box cutter, and try to get the cuts as precise as possible so the cardboard fits properly behind the hinge and doesn’t slide out. If you’ve cut your cardboard properly, you shouldn’t be able to see it after replacing the hinge.
I like this DIYSELF Store Utility Knife Box Cutter from Amazon.com because it has a comfortable grip and a wide, retractable blade that’s ideal for thicker cuts, so you don’t have to worry about the knife being unable to get through the cardboard. I also like that this pack comes with two knives, so if you accidentally misplace one, you have a backup option.
4. Tighten or Replace the Strike Plate
The strike plate is the metal plate on the door jamb that holds the screws and everything else in place. Sometimes the problem with your door isn’t that the hinge isn’t working properly, but that the strike plate itself is too loose.
When this happens, the plate starts to scrape against the door, which causes damage and unnecessary headache. To fix this, simply tighten the screws.
However, if the strike plate seems to be getting loose regularly, I recommend replacing the screws holding the plate in place with longer ones. If you’re still having problems, you may need to replace the strike plate entirely. In this case, research your door to see what size strike plate you need, or take your old plate to a hardware store as a reference.
How To Tell if Your Hinges Need Adjusting
You most likely have already determined that your door hinges need adjusting. However, if you’re still unsure, it can be helpful to know the signs of hinges that need some attention and tending to.
Here are some symptoms of a door with misaligned hinges:
- The door isn’t closing properly. A misaligned door either won’t close or won’t stay closed. This issue is usually because the door’s corner continues to bump into the frame, therefore, blocking the door from closing completely.
- The door scrapes along the floor. Doors should be able to move without scraping the floor underneath, so if part of the door brushes the floor, something is wrong. Not only does this indicate that something is wrong with the door, but it can also cause serious damage to your floor that you’ll have to deal with later.
- The door sticks. If you try to open the door and it won’t budge, this is another sign that the alignment is off. If a door is aligned properly, it won’t take much effort to open or close it, so you shouldn’t need to push or pull too hard.
- There are marks on the door itself. When the hinge isn’t properly aligned, you may notice tread marks on the frame or the door as a result of the door scraping against the frame every time someone opens or closes it. Not only is this unsightly, but it’s also an indication of misalignment.
- When you open or close the door, there’s a scratching or rubbing sound. Another surefire sign that something is wrong is if you notice a peculiar sound when you open and close the door. If the door is scraping on the frame, you’ll probably be able to hear it happening.
If you notice one or multiple of these symptoms, it’s probably time to grab your toolbox and work on adjusting the door hinges.
Do You Have To Adjust Your Door Hinges?
You may think the steps above are too overwhelming or too much work, so why bother? If the scraping sound doesn’t bother you, and you don’t mind the door sticking or being difficult to open and close, can you just leave it misaligned and go about your days?
I don’t recommend leaving a misaligned door unfixed. Even if the damage on the door itself doesn’t bother you, it can easily damage your flooring if the door is sagging and scraping on the floor. Flooring repairs can be extremely expensive, so it’s best to avoid this unnecessary expense and fix your hinges.
A misaligned door can also cause significant damage to the trim. The trim is extremely fragile, so it’ll break easily if the door scrapes against it.
Ultimately, it’s far better to address a misaligned door, and misaligned door hinges sooner rather than later. By taking the time and the energy to address the issue now, you’ll save yourself a lot of money and stress later.
Why Do Door Hinges Becomes Misaligned?
Misaligned door hinges are an annoying issue, and you may be wondering what causes the misalignment in the first place. Here are the contributing factors:
- You use the door often. Hinge screws can get knocked loose due to consistent use, so if the door gets a lot of traffic, the screws start to loosen over time.
- You slam the door often. Hinges often get damaged because the door swings too quickly and aggressively, which puts a lot of strain on the screws and the hinge itself. Because of this issue, you should think twice before slamming the door in an argument!
- The screws are rusty. Rusty screws aren’t as effective, so if the screws or the hinge itself develop rust, you’ll probably end up with a misaligned door. People who live in moist, humid climates should be especially wary of this potential problem.
- The door is old. Everything starts to get weaker with age, so if you’ve had the door for a long time, the hinge may just be too old to stay intact and effective. You should be especially careful with old doors for this reason.
From the above causes of misaligned hinges, you can glean some advice on how to avoid the problem altogether. For example, it’s best to avoid slamming your doors and take action against rust as soon as you notice the symptoms.
One way to combat rust is to spray the hinges with rust preventative spray, such as the Cosmoline RP-342 Heavy Rust Preventative Spray from Amazon.com. I like this spray because it protects indoor and outdoor metal and steel surfaces from rust and doesn’t crack or wash off. I also appreciate that the drying time is only twenty-five minutes, so you don’t have to wait too long to start using your door again after using the spray.
If you take proper care of your door and tend to it when it needs aligning or other work, it should last a long time. If not, you may need to adjust the door hinges or replace them more regularly than what’s convenient or desired. However, there’s only so much you can do, and eventually, all door hinges will get misaligned because of age and use.
Adjusting door hinges isn’t a glamorous task, but it is necessary, especially if you want to avoid damage to your door, trim, and flooring. You can adjust door hinges by:
- Tightening the screws.
- Replacing the middle screw in the hinge with a longer screw.
- Adding pieces of cardboard to the back of the hinge to fill up the mortise.
- Tightening the strike plate.
Additionally, practicing regular maintenance and mindfulness when using your door can prevent hinge misalignment.