Do you have a door that sticks or doesn’t close properly? You are not alone. Many factors can contribute to this problem. Let’s learn how fixing common door problems can be easy.
Fixing Common Door Problems
Do you have a door that sticks or doesn’t close properly? Or maybe your door rubs, squeaks, or is drafty. Regardless of the problem, I’m going to show you how to fix your most common door problems! But first, a big thank you to Schlage, the 100-year-old leading door hardware company, for sponsoring this article.
If you have common door problems, you are not alone. Many factors can contribute to them: house movement, humidity, dry air, improper installation, slamming doors, or kids swinging on them (true story). Without being able to control many of these factors, it’s important to know how to fix your door problems – as your door is often a main focal point of the room and/or entryway.
(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)
Door Not Latching:
A door that doesn’t latch properly is usually a simple fix. Lean down until you are at eye-level with your doorknob. Look at the gap between the door and the door frame. Is the latch centered on the strike plate?
If not, that’s why your door doesn’t latch. Here’s how to fix it. Determine the center of the latch. Remove the strike plate and move it to center on the latch. Mark the new location of the strike plate. Chisel the door frame as needed.
Reattach the strike plate and test the door. You can see in the photo below the latch is now centered with the strike plate and the latch can now slide into the strike plate properly.
(Like the knob above? It’s a Schlage Plymouth in Bright Brass, but comes in a variety of finishes.)
Door Not Closing Tight Against Stop:
If your door rattles loose in the frame and doesn’t close properly against the stop, it can be as simple as moving the strike plate closer to the stop.
Important: If this problem happens on a door between the garage and the house, it could be a potential safety issue! The door between the garage and the house must protect the residents from carbon monoxide gases potentially leaking in from a car’s exhaust. With this in mind, it’s important to fix this problem immediately!
Luckily, fixing a door that doesn’t close tightly is a simple one to remedy. But, there are two solutions depending on your type of strike plate. (Is your strike plate adjustable or non-adjustable?)
If You Have an Adjustable Strike Plate:
Look closely, does your door strike plate have a small screw holding a sliding tab to the strike plate? If this looks like your strike plate, the solution is simple.
Loosen this screw and adjust the tab closer to the door stop.
Tighten the screw and try closing your door again. Continue to adjust the tab until your door shuts properly and stays closed.
If You Have a Non-Adjustable Strike Plate:
Non-adjustable strike plates don’t have an adjustable tab, but your fix is still easy. Remove the strike plate and reposition it closer to the stop.
Sticking Doors or Doors that Won’t Close
Look at the space around the door. Is there a gap at the top or bottom? Normally, the door will stick at the top corner opposite of the hinges because over time the weight of the door will pull away from top hinges.
To fix a door that sticks or rubs in the frame, you can try one of these fixes:
- Tighten screws
- Add longer screws
- Add a shim behind a lower hinge
Let’s take a look at this french door. The door rubs at the top when trying to close it.
Open the door and look at the hinges. Do any of them need to be tightened? Well look at that! This door is missing a screw.
Try to tighten the screws. If they just spin, the wood has been stripped. You can either add longer screws or fill in the holes with toothpicks.
Replace with Longer Screws
Remove the hinge screws and use longer screws that drive through the door jamb and into the framing.
How to Fix Stripped Screw Holes:
Remove the screws from one hinge at a time. Squeeze some wood glue onto several toothpicks. Pack the hole with toothpicks.
Let the glue dry. Cut off the excess toothpick with a utility knife (or use a chisel if you don’t have your knife with you.)
Drive screws back into the hinges.
Better yet, replace the screws with longer ones that will grip into the framing behind the door jamb.
Hopefully this will fix your door. You can see below the door shuts and the spacing is even between the french doors.
Is Your Door Out of Alignment?
Door still rubbing? Occasionally a door will get out of alignment. To fix this, first, look at the door and determine where the gaps are bigger.
For the door above, try simply loosening the screws from the top hinge 1/4 turn or more. If this doesn’t work, try tightening the screws into the hinges at the bottom. If it’s still not fixed, you’ll need to try shimming the door hinge.
Shimming Door Hinges:
Sometimes a door hinge needs to be shimmed to adjust the door in the frame. If the spacing is tight behind one hinge, you can adjust it slightly to correct uneven spacing around the door.
The door above still shows a tight spot near the top right hinge. To shim it slightly, add a piece of chipboard (cereal box cardboard) behind the hinge.
If you need a thicker shim, you can use the end of a wood shim.
Replace the screws in the hinge and test your door. Is it still rubbing?
Recessing a Hinge:
Occasionally, you might need to set a hinge deeper into the door or the frame. You can use a chisel to remove a small amount of material from the jamb or the door. If you don’t have a chisel or are worried about taking out too much, use the small sanding bit on a Dremel.
Door Rubbing on Top:
Have a door that swells when the temperature or humidity changes? To fix a door that rubs along the top in different seasons, you’ll want to sand or plane the top. This doesn’t involve buying a ticket or boarding an airplane. Planing is removing material from the edge of wood. You can try using sandpaper with a coarse grit to sand it down, but if that doesn’t work, reach for a hand planer.
As you run the planer across the top of the door it literally shaves off some of the wood. Simple design, but very effective.
Door Scraping on the Floor:
A door that rubs on the floor or carpet is not only annoying, but it can scratch your floors. Time to fix this problem!
Get a helper to assist with removing the door. Close the door completely.
Position a scraper or flat pry bar just under the hinge pin head. Gently tap the end of the pry bar with a hammer to raise the hinge pin. Remove the hinge pin from the top and bottom hinges first.
Remove the middle hinge pin last but have your assistant nearby to hold the door in the frame. As the assistant opens the door, be ready to lift it off the hinges.
Lay the door on sawhorses. Tape the button of the door with painter’s tape to protect from chipping.
Use a circular saw, track saw, or power planer to remove a portion of the bottom of the door.
Replace the door and check to see if it still rubs.
Exterior Door is Hard to Open:
If your exterior door is hard to open, it might be from a loosened threshold piece. You can try to tighten the threshold screws or replace the threshold and sweep at the same time.
Also check to see if the door sweep has lowered. Unscrew the sweep and raise it on the door. Tighten the screws.
Door Latch Sticks in the Door
If the latch is sticking in the door, you can try one of three fixes:
- Loosen the screws on the doorknob. (Tightening the screws on your doorknob too much can cause the knobs to bind.)
- Remove the knobs, spray a little lubricant onto the latch inside the door. Replace the knobs and turn them to distribute the lubricant.
- Finally if all else fails, it might be time to replace the doorknobs. Believe it or not this is a quick fix and can be done in five minutes.
Save yourself the headache of doorknobs that stop working smoothly and purchase Schlage brand door hardware from the start. Schlage has been producing high-quality door hardware in a variety of types, looks, and finishes for more than a century and will continue to do so in the years to come. Whether traditional, modern, or technology, Schlage products offer a limited lifetime mechanical and finish warranty and a three-year limited electronics warranty.
Doors that squeak mean the hinges need lubrication. Simply spray a lubricant like WD-40 just under the top of the hinge pin. Be sure to have a rag handy to catch any drips.
Open and close the door several times to help the lubricant work its way down the hinge. Your door should be squeak free now.
Door Knob Hits the Wall
Door knobs that hit a wall can put dents or holes in the wall if left alone. The solution is quick. Either add a door stop behind the door at the baseboard…
…or add a hinge pin adjustable door stopper to the top door hinge.
Cold drafts wafting in around your door? The solution is as simple as installing (or adjusting) the weatherstripping. If you can see light coming in around your door, it’s guaranteed to let drafts in too!
Simply adding adhesive-backed foam weatherstripping around the door will stop those drafts in their tracks.
Look Ma, no more light, no more drafts!
Adding a door sweep to the bottom of the door will keep out drafts from the bottom of the door. In addition, a well-fitted sweep will also keep insects and spiders from making an entrance under your door.
That pretty much sums up fixing common door problems. Next time you have an issue with your door, you can fix it yourself!
Disclosure: This article has been sponsored by Schlage. If you’ve been around here for a while, you know I’m very particular about the brands I work with. I only recommend products and brands that I use myself. I was compensated for my time, but I was not told what to write. All opinions are my own.
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Door Latch Types
The drive in latch is definitely the least difficult to install. You do not have to chisel anything at all from your door, just dive the latch in to the hole (ensure that the latch is positioned in the right direction) and you can now mount the door knob or lever. In the event your door has already been prepared for a bigger faceplate, these will not work. How can you tell? In the event the side of your door is even with only a 1 inch hole for your latch, the drive in will do the job. In the event the 1 inch hole contains a rectangle-shaped indent around it where by some of your door material has been taken out, you are going to require one of the following different types of latches.
Rounded Corner Faceplate Door Latch
Rounded corner faceplate latches are quite popular. Door shops will most likely utilize a router jig to clear out the material throughout the crossbore (latch opening). Since they are utilizing router bit, the 4 corners are curved. Achieving this requires more time for the door shop, however in looks better within the door over a drive in latch. The bigger faceplate also helps to keep the latch steadily in position as it is held on by installing two fasteners, as opposed to the drive in latch can change in the crossbore if it's not tight enough.
Square Corner Faceplate Latches
Square corner faceplate latches are common on many high end door hardware manufacturers. These are typically mounted that old school way utilizing a good razor-sharp chisel and hammer. If performed correctly, a good square corner faceplate latch chiseled meticulously as well as at the optimal depth seems to be the most beneficial. In case you have rounded corner faceplates it is possible to exchange these with square corner by chiseling from the 4 corners, however they generally seem the best when you are starting from scratch, as opposed to retro-fitting.
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Door latches come in a variety of styles and types, and are probably more versatile than you might think. They’re most commonly seen on backyard fence gates, toolshed doors, and barns, but they can also be useful for other jobs, like placing at the top of door frames to prevent kids from accessing the pantry, or for securing sliding doors and gates to keep kids and pets away from a pool when unsupervised. And though these door latches won’t be appropriate as your primary security system, some can allow you to keep an extra level of security when opening the door to speak to unfamiliar visitors.
What to Look For
If you just want a latch to keep a door closed, then you probably can get away with a simple hook-and-eye latch. But if you’re interested in something a bit more robust, you probably want to go with a sturdier latch that can stand up to some moderate pushing from the other side of the door. Regardless of which type you go with, make sure to take your time when installing, otherwise you can end up having to re-position the latch and be left with unsightly screw holes.
How We Selected
We’ve used and installed a fair number of door latches in our time—on a range of door types and sizes—and after some extensive online research, have assembled this list of the best options you can buy. The high number of brands, styles and sizes available online can be overwhelming, so we narrowed down our selection to the most common types, and chose the best option for each category. We did our best to keep our options budget-friendly, without sacrificing quality, so regardless of the model or type you’re looking for, you should find one that suits your specific needs.
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Best Hook & Eye OptionRaswik 4-Inch Privacy Hook and Eye Latch
We appreciate how thick the parts of this latch are, unlike the thinner, less rugged options you might be used to seeing. It’s also covered with two layers of powder coating, which will stand up to long-term use in different weather. This look could be great for when you want to add a locking mechanism to your interior barn doors, but don’t want to ruin the styling by adding a modern lock.
Keep in mind that this type of latch wouldn’t be ideal for legitimate security purposes, and depending on installation, is fairly simple to unhook from the other side.
Best Swing Bar OptionJack N’ Drill Swing Bar Door Lock, 2-Pack
Although they shouldn’t be trusted for total security, swing-bar latches like this are useful as a supplemental lock, or for those times when you want to communicate with someone outside without fully opening the door.
Our favorite feature of this latch is the fact that it not only comes with three different sizes of screws, but also a pair of shims, allowing you to really customize the installation to your specific door. Plus, it comes in a variety of colors, including a distressed bronze option, making it simple to match the latch to your existing décor.
- Die-cast metal construction
- Comes with two in a pack
Best Low-Budget Chain LatchPrime-Line U 9852 Chain Door Guard
If you’re just looking for an option that will allow you to open the door while still having some security, this could be a great fit. The white finish makes this a good option for those with the same color doors and walls, as opposed to more industrial metallic or black options.
Its extremely low price is nice, but you’ll probably want to toss the included screws and provide your own, which will cost a buck or two if you don’t already have any on hand.
Best Locking LatchNational Hardware V6201 Lockable Gate Latch
Unlike some of the other options on our list, this latch has an integrated key lock, which makes it useful for those who want an option that can’t be opened by simply lifting the handle. A really convenient design feature is the adjustable screw hole on both latch pieces, which allow you to move them both vertical and horizontally. This movement is only a small amount, but will be enough to avoid having to re-drill screw holes in the event the mounting is a little off, which can leave unattractive holes in your fencing or door.
- Can be mounted to a variety of materials
- Includes 2 keys
Best 90-Degree OptionJQK Flip Door Latch
Unlike most latches that are positioned side by side, 90-degree models like this one are mounted on a corner, to connect two perpendicular surfaces together. Once the swiveling arm is swung into position, a small set screw locks it in place. It's also constructed of solid stainless steel, which will minimize any rusting and should extend its lifespan longer than less rugged latches.
Since it’s available in either black or brushed stainless steel, you should hopefully be able to match it to your fridge, freezer, fence or door you’re using it on. This latch will probably be a bit more complicated to mount perfectly, so keep that in mind.
- Affordable price
- Also comes in a two-pack
- Not as multifunctional as a flat latch
Best for sliding doorsDefender Security U 9847 Patio Sliding Door Loop Lock
Although this latch can certainly be used in a range of settings, its loop-style design and 2⅛-inch reach would be especially useful for securing sliding doors. We’ve seen this type of latch positioned high-up on the door, out of reach of children, and used to keep a pool area inaccessible when no adults are present.
The four screw holes on each side add to the stability of this model, unlike other competitors that sometimes only use two. That being said, if you have your own screws, they’ll probably be easier to use than the ones that come with this product.
Best Slide-Bolt OptionSanskins Slide Bolt Gate Latch
This sliding-bolt design is what you probably imagine when you think of “door latch,” and is most common on wooden fences or sheds. This model is made with heavy-duty steel, and can be installed on the left or right side, which is really convenient if you’re not sure exactly where or how you want to mount it.
It also features a convenient padlock hole, so you can use it to securely lock up your garage, workshop, or toolshed, although you’ll have to supply your own lock. We appreciate the included carriage bolts in this latch, but we’d still suggest supplying your own screws.
- Black matte finish
- Heavy-duty construction
Best for added securityBerlin Modisch Door Lock Reinforcer
This would be a great choice for those who want the convenience of a chain latch—which allows you to open the door a few inches—but are looking for something with a bit more security strength. This model flips out to prevent the door from opening completely, leaving just enough room to speak and peek through, and folds away when you don’t need it.
Even though it’s fairly strong, this latch shouldn’t be your primary door lock, and an intruder can simply disable it if the door is left unlocked. You can choose between a brushed nickel or white finish.
- Sticks out further than other latch options
Alex RennieAlex Rennie is a freelance writer who specializes in the Home Improvement, DIY, and Tool space.
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Posted by DDH Staff on 8/24/2010 to Tips
- Drive-In Latch
The drive in latch is the easiest to install. You don't have to chisel anything out of your door, just tap the latch into the hole (make sure the latch is placed in the correct direction) and you can install the knob or lever. If your door is already prepped for a larger faceplate, these won't work. How do you know? If the edge of your door is smooth with just a 1" hole for the latch, drive in will work. If the 1" hole has a rectangular indentation around it where some of the door material has been removed, you'll need one of the following types of latches.
Pros: Super easy to install. No door prep other than bore hole and cross bore.
Cons: Not quite as solid as larger faceplate styles, don't look quite as nice.
- Rounded Corner Faceplate Door Latch
Rounded corner faceplate latches are pretty common. Door shops will often use a router jig to remove the material around the crossbore (latch hole). Because they are using router bit, the corners are rounded. Doing this takes a little more time for the door shop, but in looks nicer on the door than a drive in latch does. The larger faceplate also keeps the latch solidly in place as it's position is held with 2 mounting screws, whereas the drive in latch can shift in the crossbore if it is not snug enough.
Pros: Door shop can prep the doors so the install is easy. Looks nicer. More solid than drive in.
Cons: If your doors aren't prepped, you need power tools, jigs and some experience to do it.
- Square Corner Faceplate Latches
Square corner faceplate latches are standard on most higher end door hardware brands. These are generally installed the old school way using a nice sharp chisel and hammer. If done properly, a nice square corner faceplate latch chiseled carefully and at just the right depth looks the best. If you have rounded corner faceplates you can replace them with square corner by chiseling out your corners, but they usually look the nicest if you are starting from scratch, rather than retro-fitting. I personally like this look the best because it is nice and clean and I like square corners.
Pros: Nice and Clean lock. More secure on the door than drive in. Can use these to replace rounded corner or drive in.
Cons: Take a little time, patience and skill with a chisel to prep the door.
Now that we've covered the main types of latches, lets get into the different brands and what type of latch they are packed with from the factory.
There are many other brands of hardware out there which may have different latch styles, but hopefully this give you a good overview of the main brands. Most faceplates are 1" wide and 2 1/4" tall. The most important thing is that you double check what you have before you replace it. If you have ordered locks with the incorrect backset or latch type, we can just replace the latches for you rather than returning them all.
Latch corner door
.Double Door Latch Kit
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