How to repair my front door.
March 22, 2012 7:05 AM   Subscribe

My front door is not closing correctly and is scraping against the marble threshold/saddle. If I lift the door up using the door handle as I close it, the door clears the threshold and shuts just fine. I have been given two conflicting solutions. What to do?

When I lift the door up while closing it, it does close correctly, as I mentioned, but I notice the lower hinge moves out a bit from the framing. Because of this, one contractor suggested shimming out the hinge at the door frame, thereby leaving it at the same position it is when I pull up at the handle . He said this will push the door over and up. And since it works when I do it manually, this would be a solution. Another contractor advised that I not do that, but that I reattach the lower hinge to the door frame very tightly so that the hinge will not move out from the wall when lifted. He then suggested inserting a thin flathead screwdriver into the top hinge in order to adjust the hinge spring, which he claims will fix the door.

I can see how shimming might work but it seems like a quick and dirty fix that might not last. I do not understand how or where to tighten the spring or why that would rectify this issue.

My other options are to:

replace the saddle with one thinner or lower = tedious, $
remove the door and it down slightly = tedious, tools I don't own

Any help is appreciated.
posted by mizrachi to Home & Garden (14 answers total)
* and shave it down slightly = tedious, tools I don't own *
posted by mizrachi at 7:07 AM on March 22, 2012

Shim it.
It should last years and years and does no permanent damage. And, if it does eventually fail, you can either re-shim it or move on to plans 2 and 3.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:09 AM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

What's the best way to shim?

Remove the hinge from the wall completely, insert a shim into the area, drive screws through shim and back into the door frame? Or just loosen the hinge screws, shim spaces around screws, and then re-tighten screws without having them go through the shim?
posted by mizrachi at 7:16 AM on March 22, 2012

There are shims (made of linoleum, no less!) in my front door that are from the 50s, at least. Shim it.
posted by notsnot at 7:17 AM on March 22, 2012

You want as much bearing area as possible, so remove the hinge. You might even make a shim that has holes in it already before reinstallation.
posted by notsnot at 7:18 AM on March 22, 2012

First, tightening the bottom hinge is the exact opposite of what you need to do; that will only pull the door down.

There is always more stress on the top hinge as it carries more torque load. If it is a springe hinge, the springe will loosen or stretch over time.


1.Readjust the spring if possible.

2. Replace the hinges.

3. Tighten down the top hinge, if it's loose. A quick fix if the screw holes have enlarged and loosened is to remove the hinge, jam wooden
toothpicks in the existing hole and snap them off roughly flush with door jamb. (you don't have to be rel neat) Then reinstall the hinge. The toothpicks will provide more than enough grip to tigten the hinge down good and tight.

4. Shim the bottom hinge. As long as the shim doesn't make the door too out-of-square in the jamb, this is a perfectly acceptable fix. Not down-and-dirty in any way.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:26 AM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

First, check to make sure that all screws on the top hinge are securely fastened to both the jamb and the door. At least one screw should be long enough to go through the jamb and sink into the underlying framing. If any of the screw holes on the jamb are striped out, replace with a longer screw into framing. If screw holes on the door are stripped, drill out the hole, glue in a wood dowel, and re-screw.

If that's not the problem, then yeah, just shim the bottom hinge -- I do it all the time. Use a piece of cardboard, cut to the size hinge mortise, underneath the hinge on either the door or the jamb. It may take a few pieces to get the thickness right.
posted by lost_cause at 8:40 AM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also, on pretty much every spring hinge I've seen, the springs only serve to close the door, not to hold the door plumb.
posted by lost_cause at 8:42 AM on March 22, 2012

thin cardboard, or several layers of card stock cut to size on the jamb side of the bottom hinge.
posted by Gungho at 9:34 AM on March 22, 2012

Shimming the bottom hinge will push the door toward the jam, but it will not lift the door. The bottom hinge is a symptom, not a cause.

Unless the house is settling in some way, your problem is the top hinge. Because that's the hinge that the weight of the door pulls down on. Figure out why the top hinge is letting the door sag, and you will find your solution.

Assuming the door worked correctly at one point, your goal is to restore it back to that state. Adding more stuff to a problem will not fix a problem that did not previously exist without that stuff.
posted by gjc at 8:02 PM on March 22, 2012

Nthing: Check the top hinge, make sure it's tight, and shim the bottom.
Also nthing: shimming is commonly necessary; rarely is a (sturdy/heavy) door or frame so straight, flat, and even that it works perfectly with no shimming adjustment (at least in my limited experience, I'm not a professional door hanger, just a maintenance man).
posted by attercoppe at 7:40 AM on March 23, 2012

Early morning late thoughts: if the top hinge is loose, and tightening it fixes the issue, you may not need to shim the bottom, just tighten it back up as well.
posted by attercoppe at 7:42 AM on March 23, 2012

You might also want to check whether the door's own weight has gradually dragged it into a parallelogram shape. That happened to me, had to lift it by the handle (like you) to close/open without scraping. Shimming and planing the bottom surface helped out for a few weeks, and then it was back to scraping. When I finally realised what was going on (a friend looked at it and said, "That door's a parallelogram!") I fixed it by having the local smith weld me up a sturdy frame which we bolted onto the door while it was being held in a square configuration.

This may not be your problem at all, but maybe just worth checking.
posted by aqsakal at 11:04 AM on March 23, 2012

Perhaps Lifehacker reads AskMe
posted by caddis at 8:44 PM on March 23, 2012

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