How to align a door with hinge shims

Updated February 21, 2017

Whether the edge of your door has begun to scrape the jamb or you notice the latch does not engage correctly, its likely the door only needs a minor adjustment that can be accomplished by adding thin shims to the hinges to realign the door and restore the door to proper operation.

Close the door and inspect the gap between the vertical edge of the door and the jamb on the strike side to determine which hinge requires shimming. If the gap is tighter at the top, the bottom hinge needs shims. If the gap is smaller at the bottom, the top hinge needs shimming.

Open the door and place a pry bar under the bottom corner on the strike side, parallel with the door, to support the door during hinge shimming.

Loosen the screws in the jamb-side of the hinge leaf being shimmed until they are approximately 1/4 inch out and the hinge leaf can be moved away from the jamb mortise (the routed depression the hinge leaf sits in).

Slide a hinge shim behind the jamb-side hinge leaf until the shim edge is flush with the edge of the jamb.

Retighten the hinge leaf screws until snug, remove the pry bar support from the door and close the door to recheck the gap on the strike side. The gap should be equal and consistent from top to bottom.

Repeat Steps 2 through 5 to add an additional hinge shim if the door needs further adjustment.


Carpenter’s have also been using thin pieces of cardboard, such as found on the back of legal pads or cereal boxes, as simple, readily available hinge shims.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Pry bar
  • Hinge shims
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About the Author

Paul Massey has been writing since 2009, drawing on a 35-year career in the construction industry. His experience includes 15 years as a general building contractor specializing in architectural design, custom homes, commercial development and historic renovations.