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Interior Door Repair: Interior Doors That Won’t Stay Closed

Cardboard shims to the rescue

FH06NOV_DOOCLO_01-2Family Handyman
Adjusting a door that doesn't hang correctly is a frustrating experience, but there are a few tricks of the trade that can achieve miracles. Here's one of them.

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Fixing a door gap problem

Photo 1: Loosen hinges

Loosen the hinge screws in the jamb and insert a 1/16-in.-thick x 3/8-in.-wide piece of cardboard behind the hinge leaf. Push it against the screws and retighten them.

Photo 2: Insert shims

Follow the same procedure for each hinge. The gap along the hinge side should open about 1/16 in. and narrow the gap on the latch side.

If you have a door that just barely catches the latch because the gap between the door and frame is too big, it’s likely that the doors were installed poorly. Your doors were prehung in their frames at the factory and installed as a unit. The installer should have adjusted the frame with shims to leave about a 1/8-in. gap along the latch side, about the thickness of two quarters. If shims were forgotten or were not big enough, it results in a gap that’s too wide.

To readjust the door frame, you have to remove the trim along the latch side to get at the shims. This job can be a hassle, especially if you have painted trim. So try this trick first. Slip a 1/16-in.-thick cardboard strip behind each hinge (Photos 1 and 2). This will widen the gap along the hinge side and narrow the gap along the latch side. Hopefully, it’ll be enough to make the latch solid.

Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • 4-in-1 screwdriver
  • Utility knife

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here’s a list.

  • Cardboard shims