How to Hang and Adjust a Door

At Men Behaving Handy we asked a handyman from our team to reveal their tricks of the trade when it comes to hanging and adjusting a door. The following are step by step instructions on how to hang a door. If you follow each step precisely, your door will swing very smoothly while attached to its hinges.

The Tools Needed

When you want to hang a swinging door, the tools that you will need include:

  • Tape Measure
  • Sharp Pencil
  • Hammer (Use a mallet instead if your chisels do not have handles that are shatterproof).
  • Combination Square
  • Chisels that are either 18mm and 10mm or 25mm and 10mm.
  • Power plane
  • Smoothing plane
  • Marking gauge
  • Cordless drill (powerful)
  • Twist bits for wood drilling
  • Screwdriver bits
  • Saddle and block (for securing the door properly)

Knowing Which Way to Hang a Door

When you go to hang a door, you might wonder which way up it is supposed to go. If you have a door with six or four panels, then check which end has the tallest stile. This will be the bottom of the door.

As for the direction, there is typically just one way the door can open. This will be a lot easier to figure out. Just have an idea in your mind about which direction you’ll want the door to swing. In many cases, you will want the door to swing in the direction of the room itself. Just focus on where the light switch is located and have the door swing that way, so the door is covering the switch when opened.


Below are the steps to hanging a door.

Step # 1 – Lining Preparation

The door lining is another way of saying the door frame. This lining must be prepared first before the door can be hung. If you are installing a door into an existing frame, then the lining is likely installed the right way already. Check to make sure it is leveled and squared. But if you have fresh plaster on the walls, there may be big lumps of it on the lining. Just take a chisel and use it to scrape away these lumps. Once that is done, clean the lining even more with an orbital sander.

If doorstops don’t currently exist in your frame, then take your combination square and set it to the same thickness as the edge of your door. This will likely be either 44mm or 35mm thick. Once the combination square is set, place it to the lining of the corner and draw a line there. The line should be around 3 inches from the top of the frame. Repeat this process on the bottom edge by going 3 inches up from the floor. Make sure the hinges are not in the way.

Hammer a nail into each line about 50% of the way. If you have a ply flush or lightweight door, use 75mm lost head nails or 45mm oval nails.

Step # 2 – Place the Door in the Frame

There is something crucial that you need to remember about hanging a door with a hollow or flush core. On the top edge of it, you should see some writing which indicates the side of the door that has the lock block inside of it. A hollow door will have a solid wooden block inside of it, which is the lock block. This is what you will be drilling to install the handle and latch. If you were to drill the wrong side of the door that doesn’t have the lock block, then your door is ruined.

After you have successfully located the lock block side, place the door in the frame properly so that the lock block side is facing where the handle will go. Again, check to ensure that you are hanging the door up the right way. A lot of newbies will hang their door upside down during their first couple of installations. If you want to avoid this from happening to you, just make sure the taller horizontal rail is on the bottom end. If you are using a ply flush door, then you should see markings about the lock block on the top edge.

Place a wooden wedge in the opening of the door to raise it up. You’ll want there to be a gap that is just 0.66mm on top. If you are hanging multiple doors, cut a piece of cardboard or a spacer of the same size to maintain consistency.

If you haven’t installed the flooring or carpeting yet, you will need to ensure there is extra space in the gap below for the additional floor covering that you will eventually install. If there is not enough space, you will need to measure and mark the additional amount that needs to be cut off. A floor covering like a carpet will usually fill about 18 to 20mm of space.

Step # 3 – Place Markings on the Hinges

When hanging doors, you should use a sharp pencil to mark a visible line on the door and the lining. From the top of the upper hinge, you should go down approximately 150mm. From the bottom of the lower hinge, you should go up approximately 230mm. Find the side where the hinge is going to go on the door and frame, and then mark an “X” next to the line. If your doors are hardwood, fire check, or cupboard airing doors, a third hinge will need to go in the middle of the frame and door. So, mark a cross and line in this area with your pencil.

Take out the door and install the saddle with the hinge side facing up, and then wedge it. The pencil lines should be all square throughout it. These lines should be easy to see, but faint enough to remove with a sander afterward. Just make marks where they are needed. You don’t need to make big lines that take up the entire door’s width.

Put the hinge on the edge of the door and mark its length. The hinge needs the slid all the way to the line so that the “X” marking is covered. The opposite hinge end gets marked now. Make sure the marking gauge is facing upward. Mark the hinge’s width into the edge of the door.

For every other hinge position, do the same thing. To save time, it may be best to use 2 marking gauges if you are hanging several doors.

When I originally learned the process of hanging a door, I made sure the hinge was screwed very carefully to the frame and door. The positioning had to be exact and I would use a Stanley knife with a sharp blade to mark it completely all the way around. These days, gauges and squares are the best things to use for these tasks because they are better for maintaining consistency and accuracy. This ensures the hinge is parallel to the edge of the door and that the position in the lining is identical too.

Step # 4 – Chopping Out the Hinges

You will first want to chisel the hinge’s top and bottom areas. You should chop in at intervals of roughly 10mm in conjunction with the gauge’s set depth. Clip the waste away but make sure you step within the lines. If there are pencil lines which remain, sand them out. Then you can drill pilot holes and screw the hinges’ leaf side to the door. You will need a battery drill to accomplish this task.

If you have loose pin hinges that are being fitted, you should take out the pin and place it in the other end. That way, it will stay in after the door is hung.

Step # 5 – Trim Away the Bottom of the Door

You will need a circular saw or electric plane for this. A saw will be necessary if there is a lot that must be removed. If you decide that a circular saw is needed, use a Stanley knife with a sharp blade and a straight edge to score the door. This must be done prior to cutting the bottom because it will reduce the chances of a tear out. Let the line be slightly in because you can use the plane to clean it afterward. If there are any pencil lines still there, you can sand them off.

Step # 6 – A Leading Edge Can Be Applied

A leading edge may need to be applied to the door to prevent it from hitting the frame.

Step # 7 – The Door Must Be Screwed to the Lining

The internal door needs to be lifted out from the clamp. Now the hinges will get screwed to the lining. The hinge shouldn’t be filled with screws just yet because there may be adjustments that have to be made. The one exception to this is if you have a heavy fire check door to hang.

If you want to simplify this task, you can always use a board & door lifter tool. If there is a good enough fit, you can then place all the other screws into the hinges.

Adjusting the Door

Adjusting a door is necessary if it does not latch, open, or close the right way.  There are various methods you can use to adjust a door so that it is hung properly. You won’t usually see perfectly aligned doors anyway. As doors continue to age, they will need to be adjusted eventually. This article will show you all the best ways to fix a door and adjust it properly. These methods will work on doors that are old, new, bi-fold, single, UPVC, or timber.

Usually, when you first go to hang a door, it won’t open and close as perfectly as you would want it to. This is due to the uneven margins which exist. The gap that is between the frame and door needs to be even everywhere. The first time you hang a door, do not expect a completely perfect fit. Do not worry, though, because there are solutions to this problem.

Old Doors

Doors that are old will drop after a while. This will cause many problems and symptoms which are noticeable. For instance, on the door’s handle side, the top of it will touch the top of the frame. This will prevent the door from being closed. On the bottom of the door’s handle side, it may start touching the carpet and flooring too.

Why does this happen? It could be that the screws in the hinges have gotten loose after consistently opening and closing your door for several years. All the stress put on the hinge screws over the years has caused them to pull from the frame.

If you try to tighten the screws back into the hinges, they may just spin into the hole without having a firm grip in there. This happens because the threads of the screws had pulled away on the wood inside the holes. Now there is nothing for the screws to grip, which explains why the screws were loose in the first place.

When you are faced with this circumstance, you will need longer wood screws. Either that or you can use several matchsticks to plug the holes. Apply a little bit of wood glue into the holes and then place all the matchsticks that you can into them. The ends need to be snapped or cut off. Use a sharp knife or chisel to flush them.

Wait for the glue to be completely dry. Now try winding the screws into these holes once again. Since there is solid wood in them, the screws should be able to grip this time. Alternatively, you could also try the red Rawl plug instead of the matchsticks. But, in my experience, the matchsticks will allow the screws to hold longer.


Using the Hinges to Adjust a Door

If your door just opens fast without applying any force to it, then your hinges may be deeply chopped in. Then, as you close the door, you will notice binding between the edge of the frame and door. Since a gap does not exist in this area, the door forces itself open. In other cases, your door may be the appropriate size and it may swing fine, but it won’t appear to sit in the frame properly. All these problems can be resolved by using the hinges to adjust the door.

What you will aim to do is adjust the door to fit centrally inside the frame. That way, it can move right or left without any problems. You will know if hinges are good quality or not because they will be thicker. If you can install hinges like these, your problem may be solved. Another thing you could do is unscrew the hinge and place a thin piece of cardboard behind it. This will enlarge the gap on the side of the hinge.

If the hinge side of your door and frame have a big gap between them, then you will need to chop the hinge area so that it goes deeper into the frame. This will allow you to close it.

I try to have my door linings be a little bit wide. If you hang your door and notice the linings are too wide, then your screws need to be loosened and you also need to bang the wedges between the wall and lining. For this reason, the architraves should be installed at the end of this process because you will be able to square off the frame and gap with the door beforehand.

The wedges will either be covered or removed if you install the architraves.


Adjusting a Wide Door

If your door is very wide and there is tight lining, then you will need to remove it. Use a planer to trim the edge. To mark the area of the door which makes contact with the frame, use a saddle and block to assist you. Put the mark and saddle on the edge of the door.

When you close the door, does it only clip the frame? If so, you could probably just apply a leading edge rather than adjust the door. The leading edge will make the gap tighter as the door is closed.

Fixing a Swinging Door

If your door has a habit of swinging open and closed without being touched by anyone, then its frame or lining is misaligned. To adjust a door like this, check to see if there are any loose pin hinges. If you do, use a nail punch to knock out the pin. Use a hammer to slightly bend it as this will boost the friction. Place the pin back into the hinge.

Another thing you can do is unscrew the frame and then align it vertically. Do this for both sides of the lining. This could require extra effort when the architraves need fitting because you’ll need an electric plane to cut the back of them.

If your door is decorated and finished already, do not move the frame. The hinge is what must be moved in this case. If your door is swinging open without any help from you, the bottom hinge needs to be unscrewed. If there is a middle hinge, unscrew that too. The bottom hinge must be moved farther from the doorstop. Once you have done this, screw the hinge back on. A small gap will exist in the area that the hinge had been chopped in. Make sure the door remains open and that you can close it all the way. If you cannot, you might need to adjust the doorstop.

In some instances, the top of the door will make contact with the doorstop when you try to close the door. It may feel like you closed it, but you won’t hear a click from the latch. You’ll end up having to push hard on the handle to successfully close the door and keep it shut. To see if this is happening with your door, try to close it slowly while standing in the room. When the door comes to the doorstop and touches it, stop the door there. If the gap is tapering, this means the door stop, door, and frame are not parallel. It could also mean that you have a twisted door. If you do, you won’t be able to untwist it. However, the door can be adjusted so that you can close it properly. Below are three ways to adjust a door like this:

– The Frame is Moved

If your door has not been decorated, you can move the frame successfully. Just unscrew the frame first. On the upper area of the hinge side, move it out to make the leg parallel to the opposite one. You may have trouble with this at first, but you will eventually learn from experience.

– The Doorstops Need to Be Moved

Moving the doorstop may work better in some cases. Just remove the doorstop, take out the nails, and shut the door. Repair the stops while the door is closed. Make sure a 1 to 2mm gap remains all around it so that you can apply paint later. If you don’t need to decorate it, tighten them back up.


– Throw the Hinges

If there is no need to redecorate, you can modify the hinges to adjust the door. Find the top hinge and unscrew it from the frame. Put matchsticks in the screw holes. Separate the hinge a little bit from the doorstop. Place the screws back in. There should be a small gap between the frame and hinge. As a result, the edge of the door will stick out when it is shut. This should make it easier to close the door and you won’t even hurt the paintwork in the process. This seems to be the easiest and fastest way to adjust a door if you have a misaligned frame.

– Adjusting Bi-Fold Doors

It can be very hard to set up bi-fold doors properly. They are always going to give people problems if you don’t purchase a high-quality track for them. They require a pivot at the top and bottom edges. There is usually a bracket placed on the floor which allows various positions for pivot placement. By adjusting the pivot point, the bottom and top of the door will be moved closer or farther from the frame. The upper area of the frame will contain a track. The top of the door will contain a guide which slides on the track. There are two spanners to adjust the guide by lowering or lifting the edge of the door. The track may have a cover on it, which is also covering its nuts. You need to take off the cover to loosen or tighten the nuts if necessary.

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