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How to Adjust Kitchen Door Hinges

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Tanya Cressey

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How to Adjust Kitchen Door Hinges
24 July 2023 Edited 15 February 2024 3 min read
How to Adjust Kitchen Door Hinges

Having kitchen cabinet doors that don't close properly or align evenly can make your kitchen look sloppy and be frustrating to use. Adjusting kitchen doors is a pretty straightforward process that you can often do yourself without having to call in a handyman. With some basic tools and these step-by-step instructions, you'll have your doors fixed and working properly in no time.

Things You'll Need:

  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • Hammer
  • Shims (small wood/plastic wedges)
  • Sandpaper (fine grit)
  • Wood glue
  • Wood putty

1) Inspect the Door and Hinges

Start by taking a close look at the door and hinges to try to identify what's causing the problem. Common issues include:

  • Doors that won't close all the way or pop open - This usually means the hinges are loose or misaligned. Tightening the hinges is often all that's needed.
  • Doors that sag and don't align with each other or the cabinet frame - Sagging often happens when hinges pull loose from the cabinet frame. You may need to reattach the hinges to the frame.
  • Stiff doors that stick or won't open smoothly - Sticking is usually caused by hinges that are too tight or misaligned. You may need to loosen the hinges.
  • Hinges that look crooked or damaged - Damaged hinges will need to be replaced.

2) Adjust Hinge Placement

If the hinges are loose or sagging, you'll need to tighten them back into the door and/or cabinets. Here are the basic steps:

  • Remove the doors by fully opening them, then lifting them up to detach the hinge pins from the cabinets.
  • Tighten any loose hinge screws going into the door. Use a screwdriver to tighten them snugly, but be careful not to strip the screw heads.
  • To reattach a sagging door, remove the screws from the hinge leaf in the cabinet frame. Place shims behind the hinges to make them sit flush against the frame again.
  • Drill pilot holes and reinsert the screws tightly into the shims/cabinet frame. Use wood glue for extra strength. Remove any protruding shims.
  • Realign and replace the doors on the hinges. Check that they now close properly without sagging.

3) Adjust Hinge Tension

If the doors are too stiff or won't close all the way, you need to loosen the hinges:

  • Remove the doors like before by detaching the hinge pins.
  • Loosen the small setscrews located on the backside of each hinge leaf just a quarter-turn at a time.
  • Rehang the doors and test the fit after each adjustment until the tension feels right. Don't over-loosen or doors may start sagging again.

4) Replace Damaged Hinges

For hinges that are crooked or broken altogether, they'll need replacement:

  • Remove the damaged hinges from the door and cabinets. You may need to chisel out old glue or wood fragments.
  • Install new hinges in the same locations. Use wood glue and screws to reinforce.
  • Drill new pilot holes if needed to realign the hinges. Fill old screw holes with wood putty.
  • Sand and repaint the repaired areas to match the existing finish. Let dry completely before rehanging the door.

5) Test Movement and Make Final Adjustments

Once you've addressed any hinge issues, rehang all the doors and test. Make any final tweaks to get the alignment just right:

  • Add shims if doors sit too low or high.
  • Sand or plane doors if they're rubbing or sticking.
  • Adjust hinge screws to fine-tune the fit if needed.
  • Add adhesive felt pads to help doors close softly and avoid slamming.

Be patient while making adjustments and allow time for glue, putty, and paint to fully dry. With some care and DIY experience, you can get wobbly kitchen doors working beautifully again. Properly aligned doors make your whole kitchen look crisper and work much more smoothly.

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