How to Fix a Door

Four Methods:A Door That Won't Close or LatchA Door That Swings ClosedA Door That SqueaksA Door with a Hole

Doors are one of the most used objects in a building. As time passes and doors experience various temperatures and seasons, a door's material tends to warp and swell. Even door frames and hinges may gradually change shape, causing creaks and squeaks or preventing a door from closing properly. This article will teach you how to fix a door on your own. Just see the sections listed above to find the solution for your problem.

Method 1
A Door That Won't Close or Latch

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    Check your strike plate. The strike plate, or metal piece on the jam where the door latches, might be placed too low or too high. This should always be the first thing you check when identifying a door that's not closing correctly. Look for marks on the strike plate that show the latch going above or below the hole. If you see these marks, use a metal file to file down the hole of the strike plate to make it lower or higher so that the latch can go in.
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    Check the hinges. If that wasn't your problem, then the problem is probably with your hinges. They are probably uneven, with one being too far in or out from the jam. Close the door as much as possible and look for uneven lines. The gaps all around the door should be the same all the way across (along the hinge line, at the top of the door, bottom of the door, and on the side of the door with the latch).
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    Adjust the hinge. The easiest option is the just adjust the center hinge, but you'll probably want to adjust either the top or the bottom hinge depending on the situation, since this should have the most impact. No matter which hinge you need to fix, the process is the same. Unscrew that hinge so that you can access the jam behind it. Cut a piece of milk carton or thin cardboard to the shape of the hinge recess and place it there. Return the hinge flap and screw it into place.
    • Usually, if there's a gap on the top latch side, you'll need to adjust the bottom hinge. If the door is bumping up against the top latch side of the jam, you'll need to adjust the top hinge.

Method 2
A Door That Swings Closed

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    Gather your tools. You'll need a hammer, a screwdriver, and a strip of paper.
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    Remove the center hinge pin. Place the screwdriver at the bottom of the hinge pin and use the hammer to tap the bottom of the hinge pin until it comes up out of the hinge.
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    Place your paper. Fold your strip of paper until it is about .5-1 cm wide, and just a bit longer than the hinge. Place the paper in the hinge pinhole and fold the top down just a bit so that the paper stays in place.
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    Reinsert the pin. Put the pin back in the hinge. This may take some hammer tapping.
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    Test the door. Test to see if the door now stays open when you open it. The paper should make the hinge tighter, keeping the door where you place it.
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    Adjust as necessary. If one piece of paper doesn't work, you might need two. You may also need to put paper in the other hinges as well. Experiment until you get your door working the way you want.

Method 3
A Door That Squeaks

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    Get some gun oil. You can use other greases and oils too, but those are not usually intended for metal and result in the metal of the hinge degrading over time. Gun oil is best, since it is designed for use on metal.
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    Remove the hinge pins one at a time. You want to avoid having to take the door completely off the hinges, so just remove one hinge pin at a time and don't remove it the whole way. You just need access to the first inch or two. Do this by tapping the bottom of the pin with a screwdriver and hammer until the pin pops up.
    • You may need a helper or something to prop up the door with if it becomes unstable with the hinges partway out.
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    Apply the oil. With part of the hinge pin exposed, brush on a little of the gun oil with an old paintbrush or a cloth. It doesn't take much, so don't make a mess!
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    Replace the pin. Tap the hinge pin back into place and work the door back and forth so that the oil works its way down. Clean up any extra with a piece of tissue.
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    Continue until all the hinges are oiled. Do each of the hinges in turn until they're all fixed.

Method 4
A Door with a Hole

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    Cut the edges. These instructions are for a hollow core door, although you can adjust them to patch solid wood doors with small chips. For a hollow door, use a sharp utility knife to cut the rough edges of the hole so that it has a clean edge which is beveled towards you.
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    Add a support. Crumple some paper or place another supporting material just below the hole of the door. This will keep the filler material from dripping down the inside of the door.
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    Fill with spray foam insulation. Purchase some aerosol foam insulation. Only one can should be needed. Fill the hole completely and continue until there is a bubble of foam extending out of the hole as well. When it's dry, use the utility knife to cut off the material outside the door by placing the blade flush with the door's surface and cutting downward.
    • The low-expansion foam will work best for this purpose but it's possible to use another kind if your choices are limited.
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    Spackle the remaining hole. Generously apply Spackle to the remaining hole area. Once it's applied, use a putty knife wider than the hold itself to remove the excess.
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    Sand the surface. Once it's dry, sand down the surface until it's smooth using 100 grit sandpaper.
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    Paint the surface. Paint the surface of the door and it should look brand new! Giving the whole thing a base coat and then single top coat will create the most uniform appearance but it's necessary.


  • A mortise is simply the area of the door frame that has been notched out to create a bed for the door hinge. This allows the hinge to remain flush with the rest of the door frame.
  • The recommended spacing between a door and a jamb to prevent sticking is between 1/8 and 3/16 inches (0.3 to 0.5 cm), which is approximately the width of a nickel.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Replacement screws or dowels
  • Door shim
  • Wood chisel and hammer

Article Info

Categories: Housekeeping