How to rehang a door and realign hinges
Rehanging a door can be a daunting prospect if you’re never worked with one before.
With that said, there’s nothing quite as infuriating as a door that sticks.
Over time a door’s hinges and level can slacken, leading to sticking at the floor or at corners. Scuffs and scrapes are the typical result. Although some might suggest cutting down the door in general, we find this to be generally unnecessary. Most door issues like this can be fixed with a simple realignment of hinges.
With that said, the first step is to diagnose what part of the door is causing the issue. There are a few possibilities here. The three general problem areas for doors are the hinge screws, the strike plate (i.e. where the door latches), or frame warping.
Equipment You’ll Need
- Credit card or shim (hinge)
- Pliers (hinge)
- Wood chisel (hinge)
- Carpenter’s glue (hinge)
- Wood dowel (hinge)
- Screwdriver matched to the screw type – typically Phillips (all)
- Hammer (all)
- Cordless drill with bits to speed installation along (all)
- Pencil (all)
- 2-inch or 2 ½ inch replacement screws – if replacing visible screws, we suggest using brass for a nicer finish (all)
- Paint matching the color of the door (frame warping)
As always, we strongly recommend having all of your tools assembled at the start of a job. The expression measure twice and cut once applies to pre-work as well. Once you have everything we can get started.
Installation Guide – Hinge Issue
- Check the tightness of the hinge screws. Even a few quarter turns can pull the door square.
- Are the hinge screws loose? Most hinge screws are only 1-inch or so long. Consider replacing existing screws with 2-inch variations.
- Note: If the screws turn freely then you’re dealing with a stripped hole. This can be partially remedied through installing 2-inch screws, but you can also use wood fill to re-prime the holes. You can also use plastic plug with a fresh thread, although these can sometimes not sit flush with the frame.
- If the above steps don’t work make sure to check the alignment of the central chamber that the door pin goes through. This cylindrical chamber can sometimes become seriously misaligned over time. If so, shim the space between the hinge and jamb with a credit card.
- Set your screwdriver at the end of the pin and carefully knock it out using your hammer.
- Use your pliers to re-align the hinge. The credit card or shim will act as a guide for a flush hang.
- Re-insert the pin and test the door for scrapping or scuffing.
Installation Guide – Strike Plate
- Check the screw tightness on the strike plate. If the plate is protruding it may be causing the door to catch.
- If the screws turn freely we suggest installing new 2-inch brass screws, as the strike plate will occasionally be visible when the door is open.
- Check the alignment of the strike plate with the latch. If the latch is slightly lower than the plate you can loosen the screws and use a screwdriver plus hammer to drop the plate slightly lower. Note that this tends to be a very incremental adjustment.
- If you need to move the strike plate further than (3) you’ll need to re-drill the holes. To do so we recommend filling the previous screw holes with either a wood fill or dowel (typically 1/8 of an inch) cut to fit.
- If the door is still sticking at the strike plate your final, and most labor-intensive option, is to remove the strike plate entirely.
- From here use a sharp wood chisel to chip out a layer of wood. Be careful here as if you go too deep the door will no longer be able to latch.
- Before reinstalling the strike plate make sure to sand down the chiseled surface. This is also a good moment to fill the existing screw holes as preventative maintenance.
Installation Guide – Frame Warping
- If you’re at your wits end then your last resort is to sand the door to create a flush fit.
- Uninstall the door from the hinges and set upright on a soft surface to avoid scratching – a sheet or towels will do fine.
- Use an electric sander to sand down the latch side only. Work in increments and check the fit regularly. Additionally, be aware of the door’s material. Hollow core doors in particular need to be managed carefully as the frame is generally made of MDF, which is more difficult to sand and can create a soft surface that’s difficult to repaint.
- Brush away any debris from sanding with a dry cloth.
- Repaint the sanded section to match the door’s color.
Tips, Tricks, and Conclusion
As you can tell, the first step to fixing something is correctly diagnosing the root problem. When it comes to anything with multiple components working together this preliminary diagnostic work is essential.