How to Fix a Door That Won’t Shut

Posted by John on January 25th, 2015

Since we just wrapped up the biggest home improvement project we’ve had in years, we decided to keep the next few jobs more low key.  There’s a laundry list of little things I need to fix around the house.  The most annoying one by far involves a couple of our interior doors.

**But if you like our furniture builds, you’ll be happy to hear we’re starting another smaller build later this week.**

But let’s get back to the doors.  We have two interior doors that have a problem.  They don’t stay shut.  One of them is our first floor powder room door.  So when we have company, somebody invariably gets a door opened on them by accident.  No fun.

To get the door to close you have to lift the door by the handle to get the lock to engage the strike plate.  It’s gotten pretty annoying.

Now if you’ve been a reader for a while, you may remember we fixed this problem before on one of our closet doors.  I’ll reuse one of the images from that post to explain how this works.  We’re going to fix it differently this time around though.

door sag

Basically, the weight of the door over time can cause a gap at the top hinge to open up and will also close the gap at the bottom most hinge.  When this shift happens, the lock no longer lines up with the strike plate.  So to fix it, you need to lift the door back up.

So how do we fix it?

Well, the first time we wrote about this we used a piece of cardboard and stuffed it behind the hinge.  That worked for a little while, but over time the door sag returned.

Here’s how we fixed it this time and for good.

How to Fix a Door that Won’t Shut

We’ll start by taking a quick look at our bathroom door jamb.  You can see the gap between the door and the jamb is pretty tight at the bottom.  It’s pretty much touching at the bottom of the door.

door jamb bottom

The gap at the top is pretty wide open.

jamb top

Alright.  So, the goal is to open up the gap at the bottom and close the gap at the top.  We can do that by taking off the bottom hinge from the door jamb and shimming it out.

Here’s the bottom hinge.

door hinge before

We’ll remove the three screws on the jamb side.

hinge removed

Then I’m going to take some stainless steel washers and set one over each of the screw holes.  If they won’t stay put for you, you’ll have to rest them on the screws.

washers behind hinge

Now I’m going to use some 1″ long stainless steel screws that I bought separately and I’ll reattach the hinge to the jamb.  I’m not reusing the original screws since now they’re probably not long enough anymore.

longer hinge screws

With the hinge back in place, I’m all done.  The door closes and latches normally.  Success!

door jamb fixed


You can even see the bottom gap has opened up, which is why the door lock has lifted.  We actually had to use two washers behind each hinge screw for our upstairs closet door.

I hope this post will help you fix any sagging door issues in your home!  If you think this post is helpful, please share it!


Posted in Repairs. Tagged in ,,

Fix a Sagging Door

Posted by John on April 25th, 2013

Do you have something around your home that’s been sorta broken but not quite broken enough to fix it yet?  For us, that forever broken item has been the closet door in our master bedroom.  Since our home is still fairly new (built in 2010) it’s subject to some degree of settling and movement.  Usually when people say their homes are settling, they’re talking about their foundations… but doors can sag over time too.

What are the symptoms of door sag?

– The door latch doesn’t fully engage the strike plate, so it shuts but doesn’t engage
– To get the door to latch, you have to lift it up by the knob
– To open the door, you have to lift it by the knob

Needless to say, it’s pretty annoying.  We had all the symptoms.  Here’s what’s going on with the door.

door sag

When the door drops, the latch mechanism becomes misaligned with the strike plate.  Instead of sitting in the center of the plate opening, the latch mechanism sits too low.

misaligned door knob

As annoying as this little problem can be, fixing it is fairly simple.  Now, your first instinct may be to just lower the strike plate a touch.  You certainly COULD do that if you want, but lowering the strike plate means chiseling the door jamb, possibly mucking up the screw holes and the strike plate hole.  Instead, you can just add a shim or two to the bottom hinge.

Here’s how to fix a sagging door…

interior door hinge

I remove the three screws that hold the hinge to the door jamb.  You don’t need to remove the hinge from the door, just the jamb.  Then I hold a piece of cardboard behind the hinge plate and trace the outline of the hinge and mark the hole locations.

door hinge shim

With the hinge traced, I cut out the shape from the cardboard and punch the holes with a pen tip.

door hinge shim 2

Then I place the shim into the area where the hinge sits and trim off any excess cardboard with a box cutter or scissors.

door hinge shim 3

With the cardboard shim in place, I reinstall the hinge back over the shim.  That’s it!  Now try opening and closing the door.  This worked the first time for me, but you may need to add a second cardboard shim over the first to get a satisfactory result.  The shim will compress some.

Not too hard right?  I can’t take credit for this tip.  I saw it on an episode of This Old House several years ago.  I don’t remember what Tom Silva used for a shim, but cardboard seems to work fine.

Any minor annoyances hanging out at your home?


Posted in DIY Projects,Fixes. Tagged in ,,

The Other Side of Our Front Door

Posted by John on August 27th, 2012

Hope everyone is enjoying the last few weeks of summer.  While I love the fall, I’m hanging on to the warm weather like it’s my job.  I’m sure I’ll get into it once it’s here, but for now it’s going to stay summer around here until the leaves change color.  Last weekend we knocked out a bunch of projects and posted about two of them: the dining room wainscoting and the outside portion of the front door.  Today we’re going to show you what we did to the inside of the front door…

Lisa has been looking to add some character to our vestibule and had seen other people paint their front entry door.  She thought it would look pretty slick if we painted ours black.  We picked up some black no-VOC paint from Sherwin Williams and knocked out both the exterior side and the interior.

Lisa was excited about this if you couldn’t tell.

We wrapped the door frame in painter’s tape and I scuffed up the existing paint with some 220 grit sandpaper.

It took us around 4 or 5 coats of the semi-gloss black to completely hide all the white.  Now the door is a wood/foam core, but the outer layer is vinyl.  To get the look of a solid wood door, we applied the paint with a small roller and then used a dry brush to even it out.  If you brush the wet paint in certain directions, you can give the appearance of wood grain.  I drew up a guide if you’re not familiar with the basic process.

Just smooth out the wet paint with a dry brush in the arrow directions shown above and you’ll get a clean, professional look.

We’re very happy with how it came out.  Definitely breaks up the white trim.  Amazingly difficult to take a quality photo of this door though in broad daylight.

I took a few pictures in the evening.. came out a little better.

One downside we’ve noticed is at night, whenever we glance at it, it seems like it’s open.  We’ve been doing double takes.

Any door improvements you’re working on?



Posted in Home Decor,Staining and Painting. Tagged in ,, , ,

Front Door Improvements

Posted by John on August 22nd, 2012

You could say this past weekend was somewhat productive. In addition to finally knocking out our dining room wainscoting, we did a couple other projects around the house that have been nagging us. One little improvement that Lisa and I are quite fond of is the front door. We spruced it up a little. Sometime last fall, we attempted to paint the side lights to our entrance door. The only problem was we didn’t have any paint left over from the builder, so we tried asking a local paint shop to match the paint based on their records. How did it go? Well, meh, just okay. The color was nice, but it was way off from the original. Didn’t match the shutters at all. We knew we were going to take another whack at this.

To get the color right this time around, I popped off one of the shutters from the front windows and took it to Sherwin Williams for them to match it with a laser tool or something. Whatever it is it works great.

The tricky part about painting the outside part of the front door is keeping it open for four hours. To keep every house fly in New Jersey from stopping by, we taped a table cloth from the dollar store over the opening. Worked well, although we opened a couple windows nearby to keep the air balanced.


After the paint dried, we dressed up the door with new hardware including a new door knob set, a kick plate and a knocker. To help line up the kick plate with the door, we used painter’s tape and marked all our holes.

Notice that Lisa captured my thinning hair. She pretty much does that on purpose in nearly every photo for fun. I usually end up tossing them all and using different ones. This is why I need to turn and smile into the camera next time.

Using a cordless drill to install the kick plate makes it a lot easier.

Here’s our finished product. We’re big fans of the additional gear on the door. We still have yet to paint the side lights. They are on our radar though. The reason we didn’t paint them was because we were busy with some other fun indoor projects that we’ll share with you soon!

Got any door upgrades planned?

Posted in Home Decor. Tagged in ,, , ,

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