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Aligning the Bolt and Strike Plate

Project Overview

Aligning the Bolt and Strike Plate

When a door fails to latch properly, it usually means the door is out of alignment. Often, the latch bolt is not dropping smoothly into the centre of the strike plate. If the latch bolt is too low or too high, the problem usually can be corrected by shimming a hinge to realign the door. If the alignment is fine but the door still won't shut, the door may be warped. Suspending the door between two sawhorses and weighing down the centre may counteract the warp, but you should think about buying a replacement door.

3 Steps

  1. Fix and Tighten Loose Hinges
  2. Check Door for Square Fit
  3. Raise Position of Latch Bolt
Fix and Tighten Loose Hinges

Step 1

Fix and Tighten Loose Hinges

Fix and tighten any loose hinges and test the door. If the latch bolt still doesn't catch, you can fix any minor alignment problems by filing the strike plate until the latch bolt fits

Check Door for Square Fit

Step 2

Check Door for Square Fit

Check the door for a square fit. If the door is badly tilted, remove the door and shim either the top or bottom hinge to correct the problem.

Raise Position of Latch Bolt

Step 3

Raise Position of Latch Bolt

If necessary, you can raise the position of the latch bolt by inserting a thin cardboard shim behind the bottom hinge. To lower the latch bolt, shim behind the top hinge.

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Project Details

Skill Level: Beginner

Time: 1 hour

Before you start, read this »

Due to differing conditions, tools, and individual skills, The Home Depot® assumes no responsibility for any damages, injuries suffered, or losses incurred as a result of attempting to replicate any of the home improvement ideas portrayed in this website Before beginning any home improvement project, review it thoroughly to ensure you or your contractor can finish the project and if any doubts or questions remain, consult local experts or authorities. Because codes and regulations vary greatly, you always should check with authorities to ensure that your project complies with all applicable local codes and regulations. Always read and observe all of the safety precautions provided by any tool or equipment manufacturer, and follow all accepted safety procedures.


  • Cardboard shims
  • Penetrating oil


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