How to Adjust an Entry Door

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Things You'll Need

  • Drill

  • Utility knife

  • 1/8 drill bit

  • 2-1/4-inch trim screws

  • Cardboard (cereal box)

  • 8d or 10d finish nails (optional)


If you have an adjustable threshold, the bottom of the door is adjusted by turning the screws on the threshold. If your threshold in not adjustable, you may have to cut the door or install weatherstripping to adjust the gap. When doors still bind after shimming the hinges, plane the door, if it is wood, or sand the jamb. When too far out of alignment, remove the casing and reinstall the door plumb and level.

If your entry door does not close properly, adjustments can be made without removing the trim. Most often, door problems are due to improper installation, unless the building has shifted. Once a door is adjusted, it should stay that way permanently as long as there is no settling or trauma to the door. Newer doors are equipped with adjustable thresholds, which make it easy to adjust the bottom of the door. Doors that were not installed plumb and level, if not too far out of alignment, can be adjusted by shimming the hinges.


Step 1

Adjust the jambs. Drill a 1/8-inch pilot hole at the point where the door is binding about 1 inch in from the jamb. Slightly angle the hole so that the screw will hit solid wood and not split the stud. If the head of the trim screw is too big, use an 8d or 10d finish nail. Install a trim screw with your drill or nail in an 8d or 10d finish nail, and install another screw or nail about 3 inches away, if necessary.


Step 2

Loosen the hinge at the bottom of the door. Use your utility knife to cut several cardboard shims from a cereal box or other packaging that is not compressible. Make them approximately the size of a hinge

Step 3

Slip a cardboard shim behind the hinge and reattach the hinge. Shimming the bottom hinge in this manner raises the top corner of the door, pulling it away from the jamb. Whatever thickness you add to the bottom hinge, add half that thickness behind the middle hinge to keep even pressure on all the hinges. If the bottom of your door was the binding problem, shim the top hinge to bring the door down and away from the jamb.


Step 4

Loosen all the hinges. Slip in cardboard shims a quarter-inch wide on the edge of the hinges closest to the outside. This will tilt the hinges away from the door, which pulls the door closer to the hinge side and away from the latch side of the door. If the hinge side gap was larger on the top than the bottom, leave off shimming the bottom hinge or reduce the thickness of the shim. Reattach the hinges with your drill.



Doug Berthon

Doug Berthon is an enrolled agent and owns ProActive Tax & Accounting LLC. He earned his Bachelor of Science in accounting from Metropolitan University in St. Paul, Minn.