A misaligned door is a headache because it’s one of those simple, everyday things that you don’t expect to be damaged or that you let go of until it becomes a bigger problem. That’s why knowing how to fix a misaligned door in time will save you a headache.

There are several simple and inexpensive methods to fix misaligned doors, you won’t have to buy a new door or will have to resort to reducing the size of the door when there are no more options (only applicable to wood doors). Some of the methods can be as simple as lubricating the hinges or aligning the knobs. Additionally, this should take about 30 minutes to an hour out of your day, so don’t let it pass you by!

What causes a door to be misaligned?

doorknob and key

There are many reasons why a door may become misaligned, but these are the 3 most common, in addition to the passage of time and the natural wear and tear of the elements.

Misaligned latch

If the door sag is not too noticeable, the problem may simply be that the strike and latch are not properly aligned. This is a relatively easy fix, as it happens when doors are repeatedly struck too hard.

Worn hinges

If the hinges become uneven or the doors rattle when closing, it is likely that the pins are worn or not lubricated.

Forcing the doors

Opening and closing a door is a recurring and daily activity, the fact that it is uneven and not noticeable makes it difficult to fit, so it tends to be forced open and closed.

The formation of rust due to humidity and moisture can also weaken the door hinges, resulting in misalignment and sagging of doors. Also, age can also take a toll on the door hinges, especially if the door has been installed for a long time and hasn’t been replaced ever since.

How do you fix an uneven door?

unlocking bathroom door

Make sure you have all the equipment and supplies needed before beginning the repair to ensure the restoration procedure will go smoothly. A screwdriver, cordless drill, hammer, 2-inch screws, wood dowels, wood glue, a wood chisel, sandpaper, and a pencil are among the pieces of equipment.

Tighten the hinge screws

Start by trying to open and close the door so that if you see the top of the door rubbing against the side of the door jamb, you need to tighten the hinge screws.

With a hand or cordless screwdriver, check the head type of the screw, look for a tip and tighten the screws.

In case the screws are isolated (no way to grab threads anymore) replace the screws. This is usually caused by the passage of time. Other times it happens that the door comes with a set of screws and they are usually smaller or shorter than the ones you really need.

Tighten the door jamb

Try tightening the door jamb on the latch side. Since the screws will be exposed, it is recommended that you take a few extra steps so that the screws are not visible.

Identify the points on the jamb that conflict with the door. Mark with a pencil. Start with a pilot hole. Then switch to the fluted countersink bit. Be careful with this step to avoid breaking the hole.

The ultimate goal is to have the screw head flush with the door jamb. Finally, drive the screw into the pilot hole.

Tighten the strike plate

Sometimes the strike plate (the metal plate on the door jamb) loosens over time. As long as the strike plate is protruding, it will rub against the door latch.

Using a Phillips hand screwdriver or cordless drill, tighten the striker screws. If the screws are so loose that they will not hold to the door jamb, replace them with 2-inch screws.

Sand Down Door

To shave down part of the door, first, remove the door from the hinges. Set it upright on soft materials like towels to avoid damaging the side of the door.

An electric sander, rather than a plane or saw, is your best bet for slimming down doors because it is easier to control. Sand down the latch side only, not the side with the hinges.

Assess the type of material. Soft finger-jointed fine found on interior hollow core doors can sand down. However, go easy to avoid removing too much wood.

Some hollow core doors use composite MDF for the frame. MDF is more difficult than pine to sand down and can create more of a soft, velvety surface that is difficult to paint than a smooth, hard paintable surface.

Inset strike plate deeper into a jamb

If the strike plate scrapes against the door or the door latch and other fixes have not worked, you can set the strike plate deeper into the door jamb.

Remove the strike plate entirely. With a sharp wood chisel, chip away wood from the jamb inset. Do not chip out too much wood. Replace the strike plate and test out the door.

Sanding the door

To sand the door you only have to lower it from the hinges, being very careful not to hit it, as well as you are going to position it on towels, foam rubber, and soft materials, that way it will not lose its verticality (when it gets horizontal it can warp). As a manual or electric sander, medium grit, start sanding. This is the safest way to do it, do not use saws or brushes. Sand only on the latch side, never on the jamb or hinges.

Check to see if the door is hollow because it may be made of MDF material that is harder to sand than pine, which creates a soft, velvety surface that makes it difficult to remove or sand.

Insert the strike plate deeper into the jamb.

If none of the above options has worked for you, try inserting the strike plate even deeper into the jamb. Remove the strike plate completely. Using a chisel, chip the wood out of the jamb,

Try reinstalling the strike plate, open and close. If all is well, just fill in the old holes. To do this you will need to follow this procedure:

  • A small piece of wood that is similar in diameter to the screw holes will do or buy a 1/8″ dowel.
  • Remove the striker.
  • Cut two pieces of dowel, each about one inch long.
  • Apply wood glue to one end of each of the dowels.
  • Gently tap the dowels into the holes.
  • Let the glue dry for about four hours.
  • Cut the dowels flush.
  • Sand the surface so that everything is flush.
  • Place the striker in the new position.

How to fix a misaligned door strike plate

If the door is still out of level, try fixing the move the strike plate

Move the strike a little at a time

It may look like the door is out of level, but it is actually a problem with the strike plate not meeting the deadbolt because it is too high. Moving this small piece cannot always happen, but you can raise the striker with a hammer and screwdriver up to 1/32 inch.

First, loosen the striker screws. Next, place the screwdriver blade in the strike hole. Tap the top of the screwdriver with the hammer to force the striker down.

Moving the striker

Before moving the strike plate, you should plug the old holes of the existing screw as previously explained to avoid confusion between the new and old holes and to have a smooth surface to work on.

It is very easy to fix a crooked door that won’t close, it only takes a few minutes if it is not a big damage.

Read more: Change door to open the other way

How do you realign a door frame?

slab door

Having a frame aligned is the last of the options you have for fixing a misaligned door, as these frames can become warped, interfering with the door. A simple change in humidity or weather can cause the wood to expand and contract, causing the frame to become uneven or loosen from the siding.

Adjusting the door frame, which requires patience, is done with shims, usually by trial and error until the door closes and opens smoothly. This type of adjustment is also a routine procedure when installing new doors.

Removing the frame

With a chisel set behind the door casing and wall. Hammer it until it comes off. Do it in parts. The door frame is made up of three pieces attached to the door jamb. They usually mitered at 45 degrees at the top corners.

Remove the siding

From the door frame. It should come off without too much pressure, it is nailed to the frame. When the nails start to loosen when you pry, lift and twist the casing until it pops out of the jambs. Pull the nails out with diagonal pliers.

Close the door

Inspect the gap between the frame and the side of the door. The gap is likely to be closer at the top or bottom, leaning down or up until the gap closes and touches the side of the door. This is where the door is binding.

Read more: Unlock a bedroom door without key

Pull the cedar wedges out from behind the door frame

The cedar wedges are used to center the door inside the frame. Use a hammer to tap the wedges out directly in front of the area where the door is binding. This will relieve the pressure on the frame and open the gap where the door is touching. If the wedge does not come out the other side, pull it out with pliers.

Pull out another set of wedges

They may be above or below the first one if the door continues to touch or jam against the frame. Tap the frame with a rubber mallet to push it back in the direction needed. Try and tap again until the door closes without touching the frame.

Replace the wedges where you removed them

Do not apply excessive force. Insert them just enough to fit snugly and hold the frame.

Insert a wedge behind the frame

If the gap is excessive at the top or bottom equalize the vertical gap between the door and frame. Check frame alignment from top to bottom. Insert shims where necessary to balance and adjust the frame.

Break off the ends of the shims with a hammer

Flush the side of the frame and re-nail the frame where it was before using 1 1/4-inch finish nails. Fill in the holes with a matching colored pencil.

If a door does not close, it can turn into a headache, but if you let it go, it can turn into a migraine. That’s why this guide will help you fix a misaligned door, you just need to have the tools and a little patience.

How to fix a misaligned door: Full process explained was last modified: February 13th, 2023 by Vanessa Gallanti
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