There are several possible reasons why a cabinet door won't stay closed or is stuck open. A latch that is broken or out of adjustment might be the reason the door won't open or close. An issue with a door hinge can cause a cabinet door to be stuck. And if a cabinet door is open and won't close or is stuck closed and won't open, it may be the result of a temperature change or moisture in the air causing the cabinet material to expand.
Cabinet Door Stuck
Most of today's cabinets have latches that hold the cabinet doors closed. Some cabinet latches have roller catches located at the opening of the cabinet, while others have magnetic catches. If your cabinet door won't stay closed, the most likely reason is a broken catch or a catch that is out of adjustment. Because a catch is mounted inside the cabinet with two accessible screws, it can be easily removed and replaced if broken.
Adjust the Latch
If you have new cabinet latches and the door won't close, the latches will need to be adjusted. Latches that are out of adjustment can be the cause of the problem if your cabinet door is open and won't stay closed, but they can also cause a door to become stuck closed. Particularly with magnetic latches, if they are lined up too closely the door will become stuck and require some force to open. Adjusting the catch correctly may take a couple of tries before it lines up right.
Lubricate the Cabinet Hinges
Like most moving parts, over time wear and tear can result in friction in door hinges. This friction will usually result in a squeaking or creaking sound when you open or close the cabinet doors, but if left unattended you might eventually find the door is stuck. This issue can be annoying, to say the least, but the solution is simple and easy. Lubricating the hinge will usually get rid of the friction causing a squeaky or stuck hinge.
The best way to lubricate a cabinet door hinge is with WD-40 or a similar type of lubricating oil. Just be sure to hold a paper towel underneath the hinges while you spray to prevent the oil from getting on your counter and appliances. After lubricating the hinge, open and close it a few times to work the lubricant in. If you don't have any lubricating oil handy, you can also use household items like olive oil, petroleum jelly and even butter to lubricate the hinges, according to Trends Wood Finishing.
Use a Dehumidifier
Wooden cabinets can expand due to temperature changes or excessive moisture in the air. You may notice that doors in your home tend to open or close hard sometimes, particularly during the summer. It's because the door has expanded against the door frame. It's the same thing with wooden cabinet doors — changes in temperature and humidity can cause expansion, making it difficult to get a cabinet door open.
If the cabinet door is stuck due to expansion, you can try prying it open with a flat-head screwdriver. The danger with this is that you may damage the door or the cabinet. You can also remove the hinges if you can't get the cabinet door open. The easiest and often most efficient thing to do is run a dehumidifier to pull the moisture from the air. If stuck cabinet doors are a common issue in your home, you may want to invest in a dehumidifier.
Gary Sprague is a retired master plumber who now works as a writer. He lives with his family in Maine.