Using 6' and 2' levels I checked that the floor is level and opening is plumb and level which as far as I can tell they are. I used a laser to line up the hinge side and got the jamb nice and straight.

However, I can't seem to figure out why the top of the door is just about touching the top of the jamb on the hinge side but not on the strike plate side. I'm a bit confused on how I can get the gap bigger on that upper hinge side corner. Any idea what is causing this?

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  • Is there room at the top of the door for the jamb to go up the 1/16th" it needs?
    – Jack
    Commented Apr 11 at 1:26

3 Answers 3


This is how I have done for a while now....

  1. I check the floor for level and cut the jamb to account for the slope if it is over 1/16th or more.

  2. 1 check the plumb of the rough opening (RO) and if the RO is fairly plumb, I shim the door at the top corners to lock it in that postion with shims. The shims are driven in tight enough to keep the top of the door from toppling out when the door is opened.

  3. With the door now open, I set a nail in the very top corner through the shims to keep it in place during the rest of the install. Many times I will place a nail near the bottom hinge, just to insure it does not swing out at the bottom.

  4. Eyeball everything flush with the drywall for now. The clamp block you are using work great, but don't let them have the final say. The single nail here and there to hold the door for now may still need to be adjusted later. I only use the blocks for heavy exterior doors, if they drop, it is usually bad. All other shims on the hinge side should be only at the hinges. I remove the middle screw of each hinge since the screws sometimes poke through and interfere with the install of the shims.

  5. After the top is locked in and the bottom is stabilized, set a shim at the bottom hinge and get your door plumb. I use a 4ft level on slam side of the door, the laser work well too.

  6. You may notice a wider gap at the top of some doors, from the top hinge to the top corner, this is where the next shim goes. I use 2 or 2 1/2" long screws through the middle hole color matched to the hinge, so I can run the screw in or back out to adjust the hinge so the gap is uniform with the rest of the jamb/door. This should have the gap set on the hinge side. One thing to keep a check on as each step progresses is how the door is contacting th door stop on the other side. Some walls are built wonky, and the jamb may need to favor one side of the wall or the other. If the slam/latch side is too "dancy" set a nail to make it behave.

  7. to shim the middle hinge, which I usually do last, but that is only my preference, remove the hinge pin, the 2 halve may misalign when the pin is removed. Take note which way it needs to go to get back aligned. Using a shim drive it in if they are separated to get them to line back up. If the are too close, set the shim loosely and run the screw in to draw in line. A nail gun work for this too, but I prefer to use screws. That should have the hinge side one, except for the gap at the top you mentioned. Now that the hinge side is set, place the heel of you pa Ism in the corner and push up to raise the head of the jamb to the gap needed. I have used drive blocks when it is tougher than me but the block needs to be tight in the corner and rap it sharply. If the block is not tight in the corner the staple holding the jamb together may crack the jamb.

  8. On the latch side, I start with the shim at the bottom, anywhere from 4" to 8" above the floor. Set the gap and nail it with an extra nail, if you have one in there already to make it behave.

  9. I set the gap at the strike and use a screw in the upper corner lower corner is ok too, of the strike recess so it will be hidden by the strike and the screw will not interfere with the screws holding the strike. I pilot this screw, so there is no chace of splitting here.

  10. Lastly I set the gap at the mid way point above the latch and nail it there. Again, always checking how the door meets the door stop every time I set a fastener.

General notes: I always use 2 nails or screws at each location. If I have a screw on one side, I use a nail on the other. I use 2 1/2"X 16 gauge nails for all jamb nailing or 2 1/2" hand bangs. If the gap grows or shrinks between shims, add another shim and correct the gap and nail enter image description here


Assume that the door is perfectly square and that you laser isn't.

Get the hinge jamb vertical and in the position you want. use spacers above the door to get the top jamb parallel to the top of the door. fix it in place, and then finally get the banging jamb parallel to the door edge.


Jack's answer is very good. To lend some insight into the why...

I've seen this many times with many doors. It's simply a matter of manufacturing tolerances. The hinge mortises are out of position a bit to the upward. It can't really be an install error because nothing can be bent or shifted to create this situation.

To actually fix the problem you could shim the head jamb off its perch a bit to raise it. If you use a side-cut shim the grain will run across the jamb and you'll avoid end grain, which would remain conspicuous even after paint. With care it'll be almost invisible (after paint).

Otherwise, run a long screw through the head jamb a few inches from the corner (behind the weather stripping, where all your screws should be), creating a bend to give clearance. From there, across the rest of the door top, maintain a parallel gap when you install casing. Don't use any more screws into the head jamb, per best practice, in case of settling.

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