How-To Videos

Repairing a Door that Won’t Stay Closed

By: Danny Lipford

A door that won’t close properly can be very annoying. Usually the solution is adjusting the alignment of the strike plate in relation to the door latch.

Start by tapping the metal tab in the strike plate with a screwdriver and hammer to bend the tab slightly. If that doesn’t fix it, loosen the screws on the strike plate and tap the entire plate toward the door opening.

Watch this video to find out more.

Further Information

Video Transcript

When a door won’t stay closed, the problem is usually with the strike plate and not the door itself. Begin by tapping the small metal tab inside the plate toward the door with a hammer and screwdriver. This will open up the hole in the plate so the bolt can drop in more easily.

If this doesn’t do the trick you may need to loosen the screws holding the plate and tap the whole unit toward the door or possibly remove it altogether and remount it closer to the edge of the casing.


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11 Comments on “Repairing a Door that Won’t Stay Closed”

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  • Official Comment:

    Thomas Boni Says:
    May 23rd, 2019 at 4:56 pm

    Hi, Denny,
    Screen doors and their designs vary, so we’d recommend contacting the door’s manufacturer for the best step-by-step instructions.
    Good luck!

  • Denny Says:
    May 22nd, 2019 at 3:46 pm

    Need help replacing lock in sliding screen door

  • Mick Says:
    September 11th, 2018 at 2:27 pm

    The only problem with bending that tab in, is it will allow the dead in to fully extend into the latch hole, which means the door lock is susceptible to being bypassed by slipping the latch (think of the old credit card trick). If it’s an interior door this isn’t likely to be an issue, and the latches for interior doors don’t have dead pins anyway, so definitely try it in that case.

  • Mick Says:
    September 11th, 2018 at 2:23 pm

    “JLI Says:
    December 8th, 2014 at 10:45 pm
    Every single article I’ve found assumes the problem is with the strike plate but in my case it isn’t. The door latch simple does not extend from the door, even when it’s open. Something is wrong in the knob.”

    I know this is an old post, and I imagine JLI has resolved this issue one way or another by now, but I see this issue a fair bit. Very often, the latch will either be gummed up, have foreign objects stuck in it on the inside, or both. Try spraying the latch with a degreaser (LA Awesome works well and can be had at many dollar stores, although it smells horrible Super Clean or Purple Power works very well, smells better, but costs more (auto parts store or the automotive section at Walmart). Tap the latch gently with a hammer and spray it more. You’re trying to get the latch to come out enough so you can grab it with pliers and pull it out all the way. If you’re able to do this, spray the latch more, and scrub it with a sacrificial toothbrush. Once you’re satisfied you’ve gotten rid of all the gunk, dry the latch well, and hit it with your lubricant of choice. I would recommend 3-in-1 Lock Lube (tool section, Walmart). Push the latch in and (hopefully) let it spring back out on it’s own. Lube it again, and repeat. The goal is to work the lubricant into the interior of the latch slide. If this doesn’t work, or if you can’t pull the latch bolt out manually, remove the knobset from the door. Before you remove the latch portion from the door, look inside to make sure the screws that hold the latch in place on the edge of the door haven’t poked through and are interfering with the operation of the latch. If you don’t see anything obvious, remove the latch assembly, inspect it for any debris, clean it thoroughly with a toothbrush to free it up, lube it well, including the internals (you may wish you use a spray can of white lithium grease for this), and, provided the latch is moving freely, reinstall.

    If none of the above resolves the issue, the latch has most likely failed and will need to be replaced, or (let’s hope not) the holes that were bored for the knob set to be installed may have been done crooked, and are putting pressure on the latch, causing it to bind. If this is the cause, it is possible to repair the door, but that’s beyond the scope of a comment to explain. Good luck!

  • Official Comment:

    Thomas Boni Says:
    August 31st, 2018 at 3:07 pm

    Hi, Carolyn!
    You have a number of options (based on different budgets) to fix this issue.
    Here’s more information on this topic:
    Good luck!

  • Carolyn Milton Beckwith Says:
    August 25th, 2018 at 4:45 am

    My home shifts although I have had foundation repairs, how do I fix a crack where the wall meet the ceiling.

  • Official Comment:

    Thomas Boni Says:
    April 27th, 2018 at 11:03 am

    Hi, Wayne!

    We are so happy to hear that you enjoy “Today’s Homeowner!”
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  • wayne perry Says:
    April 25th, 2018 at 2:13 am

    Thanks for the tip. Love your show!

  • Mike Says:
    May 27th, 2017 at 8:10 pm

    Just what I needed! Fixed the front door and the bathroom door with this method!

  • Tiffany Says:
    May 19th, 2017 at 10:20 pm

    This was such an easy fix to what I believed to be a much bigger problem! I took the metal plate off because it was easier to hammer that way. A few taps and I put it back on. The door now solidly stays closed even if I tug on it. Thank you for this article!!

  • JLI Says:
    December 8th, 2014 at 10:45 pm

    Every single article I’ve found assumes the problem is with the strike plate but in my case it isn’t. The door latch simple does not extend from the door, even when it’s open. Something is wrong in the knob.

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Repairing a Door that Won’t Stay Closed