# How do I adjust a door so it doesn't swing on its own?

I have a normal door, and left to its own devices it will simply rest about 20-30 degrees. It won't swing shut on its own, nor stay open on its own. It hangs a bit in the middle. Convenient enough to catch you elbow when you're not looking.

I'd like the door to stay put wherever we leave it.

I've heard idea such as slipping cardboard in to the hinge to rebalance the door, etc. but no guidelines as to the thickness of that cardboard, or which hinge to change to move it in which direction.

I would hope you can appreciate how I'd rather not make this a task of trial and error and continually removing the hinge and putting it back on, etc.

I've also heard something about lightly bending one of the hinge pins, but not sure how I should go about that, or "how much" to bend it.

So, I'm looking for some tips on how to fix this (and other) door.

• How far out of plumb is the door frame and how much space do you have between the door and the frame on the side opposite of the hinges? The easy solution is a magnetic doorstop, and the proper solution is to rehang the door, but there is some work you can do with the hinges.
– BMitch
Oct 24 '11 at 10:57
• I assume the reason to bend the hinge pin is to cause friction. If that's the case, you need to bend it so it'll rub, but not so much that the door won't move or you can't get the pin back in. (ie, trial and error, most likely)
– Joe
Oct 24 '11 at 20:12

The door isn't plumb - which means either the frame or the hinges aren't set perfectly perpendicular to gravity.

There isn't a magic formula to answer your question because the answer depends on how badly the door was hung. Ie: How badly out of plumb is it? Is it at least square? Etc.

The best solution is to re-hang the door. Fiddling with the hinges will be a trial and error process and likely won't work unless you actually reposition the hinges to compensate for the non-plumb door, and that means drilling holes right by other holes which is nearly impossible to get right.

Sound as if the door only moderately moves, I typically remove either the top or bottom pin, place it on a flat hard surface, like concrete, whack it with a hammer once or twice, reinsert and door no longer moves.

Easier than rehanging a door, for sure.

• This also worked on plantation shutters without taking the shutters down and messing with the window frame. Mar 7 '16 at 16:43
• This agrees and shows how to do this: familyhandyman.com/doors/repair/…
– Ryan
Feb 20 '19 at 16:16

It's pretty intuitive once you catch the vision for why the door is coming to rest where it is. So think of it this way: Imagine your door is hanging from a vertical pole. (as in the hinges are screwed into something like a light pole) If the door always comes to rest in a certain spot, it's because that pole is leaning toward that spot. To correct that, you would remove the lean and make the pole plumb. (perfectly vertical)

So in your case, you wish to adjust the placement of the hinges in such a way as to "remove the lean from that pole." So either the top hinge needs to go towards the jamb and slightly inward, (making the hinge mortise deeper) or the lower hinge needs to move away from the jamb and slightly outward. (putting a shim between the mortise and the hinge) Or some combination of the two.

Since cutting the mortise deeper is way harder than the shimming, I'd try a bit of a shim behind the lower hinge and see if it helps. Perhaps 2 or 3 thicknesses of cardboard from a cereal box? Of course you're limited to how much shimming you can do before the door strikes the opposite or top jamb, but that's the general approach that you'll need...

Hope it helps.

take the door off turn it around and re- fix the door will lean the other way and balance out.

• How exactly would someone "turn it around"? Doors on hinges aren't exactly reversible. And this does nothing to fix the out of plumb door frame.
– BMitch
Oct 5 '13 at 11:23

The situation is that the hinge pins do not sit plumb, meaning the hinge pins do not fall along a perfectly vertical line. It is as simple as that.

Remedying the situation is simply a matter of remounting the hinges on the jamb so that the hinge barrels/pins are plumb. This is not a matter of trial and error, but does require craftsmanship, an accurate level, and a straight edge that is in fact straight.

To be clear, the condition of the door itself is irrelevant. For example, it is irrelevant whether or the door is sagging or square, whether the door is warped or flat, and whether or not the door is attached to the hinges to be plumb. What matters is how the hinges are attached to the jamb: the hinge barrels need to sit along a plumb line if the door is to be stationary.

When hinge pins are out-of-plumb, a door will swing on its own due to gravity and come to rest in the unique position where center-of-mass of the door is lowest. In some cases, intentionally bending a hinge pin (or deforming a barrel) by striking the pin with a hammer will bind up the hinge, creating enough friction to resist this gravitational force.

In some situations, out-of-plumb hinges can be desirable. It is a means to make a door swing to a particular position when released, for example to a fully closed position, or to a fully open position, or to some midpoint. This is accomplished by mounting the hinges to the jamb in such a manner that the barrels lean in the direction of the desired resting place.

If the door is severely out of plumb, fixing it is an advanced project requiring expert removal of the casing and jambs, then rehanging it, essentially from scratch with several curve balls thrown in. This answer does not cover the case of doors that are severely out of plumb.

The following outline describes the steps for a door that is not severely out of plumb.

1. Remove the door by removing the hinge pins.

2. If the door uses more than two hinges, label and remove the middle jamb-leaf(s). If the hinges are painted, use a utility knife to score heartily around their perimeters to avoid paint from peeling off the jambs.

3. Select a straight edge (1x4 or plywood ripping) that is shorter than the doorway height, but long enough to reach from the floor to the top of the top hinge.

4. Measure the "out-of-plumbness" in two directions:
Measurement A: "out-of-plumbness" within the plane of the doorway
Measurement B: "out-of-plumbness" at 90 degrees to plane of the doorway.

• Hold an accurate level against the straight edge, and the straight edge against the hinge barrels.
• Tilt the straight edge away from the top or the bottom hinge barrel until the level indicates the straight is plumb.
• Use a ruler to measure the gap between the straight edge and the barrel.
5. Label and remove the hinge leafs from their mortises

6. Adjust the depths of the mortises to a total of Measurement A in whatever manner the situation calls for. For example, if Measurement A is 1/8", then

• chisel one mortise to be 1/8" deeper
• or shim the other mortise with 1/8" thick paperboard
• or chisel one mortise 1/16" and shim the other 1/16"
• or some other combination
7. Fill and pre-drill the screw holes to new locations totaling Measurement B in which ever combination the situation calls for. For example, if Measurement B is 1/8", then

• move one set of holes away from the barrel side by 1/8" and widen the mortise accordingly
• or move the other set of holes towards the barrel side by 1/8"
• or some combination
8. Reinstall the two hinge plates

9. Verify the two barrels are plumb in both directions, refine accordingly.

10. Remount the door onto the two hinges, re-verify that the door does not move on its own. If it does move, then either the straight edge does not have parallel sides, or the level is not accurate, or the workmanship is not precise. Revise accordingly.

11. If the door no longer fully closes, adjust the door-leafs and/or plane the door's edges to fit.

12. If the door no longer closes flat against the door stops, adjust the door-leafs and/or adjust the door stops accordingly.

13. If the door uses more than two hinges, then adjust the middle mortise(s) and their drill holes such that the barrel(s) will mount inline with the top and bottom hinge barrels.

• assuming the hinge stile of the door is straight, mount the loose jamb-leafs onto the door-leafs with the hinge pins.
• chisel/shim the mortise(s) and move+predrill their screw holes so that the jamb-leafs swing freely into their mortises.
14. Screw the middle jamb-leafs into the jambs