How to Level a Door

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An uneven door can be unsightly and annoying, especially if it keeps catching and sticking to the door frame. Luckily, there are a few ways you can fix the issue and make your door level again. If the door itself is uneven, you can shim the hinges to adjust it. You can also add shims to a door frame if it’s uneven or warped. If you’ve got a problem with your door sticking, there are a few things you can try to solve the problem.


[Edit]Shimming the Hinges

  1. Close the door and look for uneven spacing. Shut your door all of the way and take a look at the crack between the door and the frame. Look for places where the spacing is uneven, such as near the top or the bottom of the door to figure out which hinge needs to be shimmed.[1]
    • For instance, if the space between the door and the frame is smaller at the top of the door, then you’ll need to add shims to the bottom hinge to correct the imbalance.
  2. Open the door and remove the hinge that needs to be shimmed. Open the door to expose the screws in the hinges. Use a screwdriver to remove the screws from the hinge you’re removing. Set the screws aside so you can replace them later and pull the hinge off of the door and frame.[2]
    Level a Door Step 2 Version 4.jpg
    • If you need to shim multiple hinges, remove 1 at a time so you don’t have to take the whole door off.
  3. Place the hinge on cardboard and cut out outlines with a utility knife. Take a clean sheet of cardboard and lay it on a flat working surface such as a table or the ground. Fold the hinge closed and place it on top of the cardboard. Use a utility knife to cut out an outline from the cardboard. Then, move the hinge to another spot on the cardboard and cut out another outline. Cut out at least 2-3 cardboard shims.[3]
    Level a Door Step 3 Version 4.jpg
    • If your door is really uneven, cut out 5-6 cardboard shims, just in case.
  4. Reinstall the hinge with 2-3 cardboard shims behind it. 2 shims will be enough for a door that’s slightly uneven, but if part of the door is touching the frame when you checked the spacing, use 3 shims. Hold the cardboard shims on the backside of the hinge and place the hinge back against the door frame, in the spot where you removed it from. Use a screwdriver to drive the screws through the cardboard and into the door frame. Then, replace the screws that attach the hinge to the door itself.[4]
    Level a Door Step 4 Version 4.jpg
    • You could use a power drill to drive the screws in as well.
  5. Check the door spacing and add more shims if necessary. Close the door again and look at the spacing between the door and the frame. If it’s still uneven, remove the hinge, add another cardboard shim to the backside, reinstall the hinge, and check the spacing again. Add as many shims as it takes to make the spacing between the door and frame even.[5]
    Level a Door Step 5 Version 4.jpg

[Edit]Adding Shims to the Door Frame

  1. Pry off the doorstop and molding with a hammer and chisel. Use a screwdriver to remove any screws attached to the door and molding around the frame. Insert the flat end of a chisel into the crack of the molding and tap it lightly with a hammer. Carefully pry off the molding and set it aside. Then, pry off the doorstop strip and set it aside as well.[6]
    Level a Door Step 6 Version 4.jpg
    • Carefully remove the doorstop and molding so you don’t damage it and can replace it easily.
  2. Insert 2 cedar shingles in the space between the studs and the door jamb. Cedar shingles are wooden roof shingles that work great to help fill the gap as a shim. About from the floor, insert 1 shingle vertically and 1 horizontally in the space between the studs and door jamb. Adjust them so they fit snugly in the space.[7]
    Level a Door Step 7 Version 5.jpg
    • Use your hammer to lightly tap the shims into place if you’re having trouble inserting them.
  3. Add cedar shims to the top, center, and bottom of the frame. Add a pair of cedar shingles as shims to the space between the studs and jamb. Place them at the top, center, and bottom so it’s balanced and even.[8]
    Level a Door Step 8 Version 4.jpg
  4. Use a level to check that the frame is even. Place the level against the frame to see if it’s level, which will help level the door. If it isn’t even, add more shims to adjust it further until it is perfectly level.[9]
    Level a Door Step 9 Version 4.jpg
    • Make small adjustments with your shims and use your level often to find the perfect balance.
  5. Replace the doorstop and molding. Replace the molding and screws and then put the doorstop back into place. Close the door to test that its level. If it’s still uneven, you may need to adjust the hinges on the door.[10]
    Level a Door Step 10 Version 4.jpg
    • It’s possible the foundation of your home needs to be professionally repaired as well. You may want to contact a building inspector to make sure there aren’t structural issues making your door uneven.

[Edit]Fixing a Door That Sticks

  1. Place a dehumidifier in the room if your humidity levels are above 80%. Humidity in the air of your home can cause the wood in your door and door frame to swell and expand, which can cause it to stick. Plug in a dehumidifier in the room to keep the humidity levels low and constant.[11]
    Level a Door Step 11 Version 4.jpg
    • You can find dehumidifiers at your local department store, home improvement store, or by ordering them online.
  2. Apply lubricant to the hinges if they’re squeaky or stiff. Open and close your door a few times while you look at the hinges. If they’re rusty, squeaky, or feel stiff while you move the door, you may be causing your door to stick. Spread petroleum jelly or spray a lubricant like WD-40 into the hinges of your door. Open and close your door a few times to work the lubricant into the hinges and see if that fixes the problem.[12]
    Level a Door Step 12 Version 4.jpg
    • If your door continues to stick, the problem likely isn’t in the hinges.
  3. Tighten the hinge screws if they’re loose. Loose screws can cause the door to be uneven, which can make it stick. Open up your door all of the way and take a look at the screws on the hinges. If any of them are loose or sticking out of the frame or door, use a screwdriver to tighten them and try opening and closing your door to see if it still sticks.[13]
    Level a Door Step 13 Version 4.jpg
    • If your screws keep coming loose, try installing longer ones with a drill.
  4. Shave the sticking area of the door with a block plane as a last resort. A block plane is a sharp blade that you push by hand to shave off small slivers of wood. If you’ve tried multiple solutions, but your door still sticks in a specific location, use a block plane to shave off a small layer. Then, open and close the door to test it. Keep shaving off 1 layer at a time until it’s level and doesn’t stick.[14]
    Level a Door Step 14 Version 4.jpg
    • You can find block planes at your local hardware store or by ordering them online.
    • Shaving off pieces of the door makes it uneven and can weaken its structural integrity, so only do it as a last resort.


  • Make small adjustments at a time and test the door so you don’t over-adjust and make it uneven.


  • Block planes are very sharp, so be careful when you’re using one.

[Edit]Things You’ll Need

[Edit]Shimming the Hinges

  • Screwdriver
  • Sheet of cardboard
  • Utility knife
  • Screwdriver

[Edit]Adding Shims to the Door Frame

  • Hammer
  • Chisel
  • Cedar shingles
  • Level
  • Screwdriver



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