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How to Adjust Cabinet Doors That Won’t Close

Posted by Donovan Thornhill on Feb 21st 2024

Fix Cabinet Doors That Won’t Close

In most parts of a home or office, cabinet doors get a lot of use. Imagine you open and close a cabinet door 5 times every day. After a decade, you will have swung that door more than 18,000 times. So it’s not surprising that after years of consistent use, sometimes a cabinet door won’t close as cleanly as it used to—perhaps the door sits crooked on the cabinet box or juts out from the cabinet face.

Neither of these problems is surprising or rare for a cabinet door that’s older or gets a lot of use – but all of these issues are annoying. Fortunately, all these problems are fixable with some advice from the cabinet door experts at Cabinetdoors.com. If your cabinet doors don’t stay closed, try the following adjustments and fixes.

How to Keep Cabinet Doors Closed: Diagnose the Problem

Have you found yourself feeling frustrated and thinking, “Why won’t my cabinet doors close?” If so, you need to figure out why before finding a solution. With all the use and abuse cabinet doors go through, problems can take many forms. The hinges could be rusted and bent, the wood of the cabinet doors may have warped with time or things just may have loosened up over time. To determine why your cabinet doors won’t stay closed, you should:

1. Examine the Doors and Hinges – Look over each part of the cabinet door, inside and out, opening and closing each door to see if it rubs or catches. This helps you identify why each cabinet door doesn’t close all the way and pinpoint whether there is an issue with the hinge or with the door.

2. Inspect With the Hinges – If the hinges seem to be the problem, look for any loose screws or worn hinge pins to see if that may be causing the issue. If your hinges are painted, you may just need to replace them.

3. Mark the Problem on the Doors – If the doors are overlapping, catching, or rubbing, mark the edges causing the problem. This will help you decide if it’s fixable or not.

4. Take the Doors off the Hinges – Taking the cabinet doors off the hinges will give you a closer look at areas that are rubbing or catching, resulting in the cabinet door not closing.

5. Confirm Your Diagnosis – Once the door is removed, you should see signs of why your cabinet door won’t close if you didn’t before. This also gives you a chance to inspect the inside and outside of the cabinet boxes for signs of wear and tear you may not have noticed before.

Once you have confirmed your diagnosis of the problem, it’s time to determine how to keep cabinet doors closed.

How to Adjust Cabinet Doors that Won’t Close: Find the Solution

Once you know why each cabinet door doesn’t close all the way, simply select the appropriate solution. Finding the problem first ensures you choose the right solution for how to keep cabinet doors closed:

  • How to Fix Cabinet Doors that Rub – If you have double doors that rub against each other when closed, try adjusting each of the hinges. You will see two screws on the hinge. Make small quarter turns to the screw closest to the cabinet door to adjust its position left and right. After adjusting the doors just enough to eliminate the rubbing, visually inspect that they’re still in alignment. If you live in a hot or humid climate and the doors have swollen, this should resolve the issue. In some cases, you may need to sand the edges that have been rubbing against each other, then refinish them to keep them from swelling further.
  • How to Adjust Cabinet Hinges That Won’t Close – Most hinges allow for adjustments in three directions. We covered left/right adjustments in the previous entry. To adjust up/down, slightly unscrew the base plate the hinge locks into and move the doors until they’re level at top and bottom. To bring the cabinets closer or further to the cabinet box, use the hinge screw farthest from the doors (the one not used for left/right). Keep in mind that while most hinges are adjustable, no hinge is immortal. All hinges wear down with time and use until they eventually require replacement.
  • How to Fix Cabinet Doors That Overlap – When your cabinet doors overlap when closed, it may be possible to adjust the hinges to fix the problem. However, if adjusting the hinges doesn’t resolve the overlap, it’s likely you will need to replace either the doors or the hinges. Often, when cabinet doors overlap, it implies there’s damage to one or the other. As long as that damage doesn’t extend to the cabinet boxes as well, you can simply replace the doors or hinges, fix the overlap, and get great-looking cabinets.
  • How to Fix Warped Cabinet Doors – You may be able to hide the evidence of warping by adjusting the hinges. However, there’s no way to reverse the effects of warping. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of great ways to prevent it either, especially if you live in a humid climate. Figuring out how to fix a door that sticks due to humidity is a large challenge. Having your cabinet doors professionally finished and caring for them properly throughout their life can help, but once the warping begins, you’ll just have to do your best. If hinge adjustments on cabinets fail, the only other option besides replacing the cabinets entirely is to replace only the cabinet doors using new replacement doors that are free of warping.
  • How to Fix Cabinet Doors With Damage – The fix depends entirely upon the type of damage. Ideally, fixing the damage is as easy as refinishing the door. In that case, simply remove the doors and unscrew the hinges and hardware. Then thoroughly sand the doors and inspect whatever damage is left. If necessary, fill any holes, dents, or small cracks, then sand again, focusing on any rough or uneven spots. After Sanding, apply the paint or stain of your choice. In cases of extensive damage, it may be impossible to hide the evidence or fix what’s wrong with the door, leaving cabinet door replacement as the only viable option.
  • How to Fix a Stripped Screw Hole – Get a few toothpicks. Dip a toothpick in a little white glue (Elmers works great). Stick the toothpick in the stripped hole. Continue placing glue into the hole until the hole is full. Wait a day, then replace your hinge and the screw. Now the hinge should be able to be adjusted within its design parameters.

Addressing The Potential Problem: How To Adjust Cabinet Hinges

Oftentimes, when a cabinet door won’t close, and there is no damage to the door itself, the culprit is a worn-out or damaged hinge. Hinge adjustments on cabinets are not difficult with some patience. Most cabinet hinges allow for adjustments in three directions—horizontal, vertical, and farther or closer to the cabinet box.

  • Adjust the Hinge Position – To adjust the vertical positioning, slightly unscrew the base plate the hinge locks into and move the doors until they’re level at the top and bottom before tightening the screws. As mentioned earlier, you can adjust the left and right positioning by adjusting the screw closest to the cabinet door. To bring the cabinets closer or further to the cabinet box, use the hinge screw farthest from the doors.
  • Adjust the Screws – Some hinges are easily fixable. For example, if you are wondering how to fix soft-close cabinet hinges, look for loose screws in the hinge. Soft close hinges are equipped with adjustment screws for easy alignment. A loose screw or two is often the most common issue for soft-close hinges not working properly.
  • Replace the Hinges – Keep in mind that while hinge adjustments on cabinets can be a solution, no hinge is immortal. All hinges wear down with time and use until they eventually require replacement. If the hinge is bent, rusted, damaged or not cooperating, then you likely need to replace your hinges entirely.

What Tools You Need to Adjust Cabinet Doors That Won't Close

If you find that you have cabinets that won't close all the way, there are a few tools you'll want to have on hand you can use. This includes:

  • Screwdriver
  • Wrench
  • Pencil
  • Sandpaper
  • Wood Glue

If you installed your cabinet doors yourself, you likely have most of these tools sitting around the house. These tools will help you adjust cabinet doors that won't close or fix common problems you may have. The two tools you’ll likely use the most will be a screwdriver and a wrench. You’ll need both tools to adjust the hinge and screws or make any replacements.

Cabinet Preventative Maintenance Tips

There are many reasons why your cabinet won’t close all the way. Some common issues include warping, hinge damage, loose hinges, or wear and tear. A great way to stop these issues from impacting the functionality of your cabinets is to take the right preventative measures.

- Add a Sealant or a Finish

Adding a sealant or a clear finish to cabinet doors is one of the most affordable ways to prevent your cabinets from warping or excessive damage. A clear finish will protect the wood from humidity and moisture. With a clear finish, you can also prevent scratches, scuffs, and everyday wear and tear from impacting the solid wood.

- Invest in the Right Hinges

You'll want to ensure the hinges you invest in are the proper size and weight for your cabinets. Big or bulky hinges can wear down your cabinet doors, causing a misalignment. You'll also want to ensure you invest in an option that's durable and less prone to everyday damage.

- Switch to Soft Close Hinges

Soft close hinges can extend the lifespan of your cabinets and help prevent everyday wear and tear. This type of hinge is designed to help you avoid slamming cabinet doors and maintain the integrity of your cabinet structure.

- Be Mindful of Humidity Levels

Cabinets are more susceptible to warping if you live in a humid climate. The best way to avoid warping is to maintain stable temperature and humidity levels within your home.

- Use Gentle Cleansers

When washing your cabinet doors, you'll want to avoid cleaners that have harsh chemicals and ingredients. Instead, use warm water and a gentle soap regularly. You'll want to wash your cabinet doors frequently, at least once a week, to avoid an unwanted build-up of dirt or grime.

- Be Mindful of Sunlight

While a light and airy space full of sunlight may be great, direct sunlight can lead to discoloration. If you have a kitchen or bathroom full of sunlight, consider adding a UV protective sealant or curtains over the windows for additional protection.

Can’t Fix Cabinet Doors That Won’t Close? Consider Your Alternatives

When you have cabinet doors that won’t close and adjustments or fixes don’t correct the problem, you only have a few alternative options left. Consider the following options:

  • Live With It – You could try to get used to it for the time being. Some people can learn to live with cabinets that hang crooked or jut out, but those people are rare. Additionally, you could be putting the integrity of your cabinet boxes at risk.
  • Replace the Cabinets Entirely – Replacing cabinets will fix nearly every cabinet problem you have and leaves you with the benefit of brand-new cabinets. However, it’s important to note that installing new cabinets is expensive, time-consuming, and messy.
  • Replace Your Cabinet Doors – Keep your existing cabinet boxes and replace just the cabinet doors and hinges. Homeowners typically pick this option since it provides the look of new cabinets at a fraction of the cost.

If you can’t figure out how to adjust your cabinet doors, you still have a great option. Replacing your cabinet doors is a fantastic solution when your cabinet doors won’t stay closed and they can’t be fixed. At Cabinetdoors.com, we can help you find replacement cabinet doors that fit your cabinets perfectly.

Get Replacement Cabinet Doors

You may opt to try a few things first to correct a cabinet door that doesn’t close all the way, but it is not always a simple fix. When it comes to figuring out how to keep cabinet doors closed, sometimes the best solution is to start fresh. If you prefer the convenience of replacement cabinet doors and the vision of a completely updated space, turn to CabinetDoors.com.

At CabinetDoors.com, you’ll find an extensive array of high-quality doors and styles, all at 30-50% below retail prices. Whether you want to overhaul your whole kitchen, or just replace a couple of doors and match them to your current ones, we can provide you with custom cabinet doors that meet all your specifications. We even offer hinges to replace your original ones for easy closing. Explore our entire selection of cabinet doors and hardware to see which options may work for you.

If you have any questions about how to order new doors or the replacement process, feel free to contact us online or by phone at 800-342-1010.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cabinets That Won't Close All The Way

Why are my cabinet doors crooked?

Some common reasons a cabinet may be crooked include loose hinges, worn-out hardware, or a warped door frame. This can also be caused by improper installation.

How do you fix a misaligned cabinet?

If your cabinet door is misaligned, you'll want to first check the hinges. You may need to tighten the screws or replace the hinge if there are any signs of damage.

Why won't my soft close hinges close completely?

You may need to make minor adjustments to your soft door hinges to ensure they fit. Simply tightening or loosening the screws should fix cabinets that won't close.

How long will it take to fix cabinet doors that won't close?

Before you fix the problem, you'll want to examine the cabinet door, frame, hinges, and hardware for any issues. Once you locate the problem, most cabinet door issues require minor adjustments that should take no more than 10-20 minutes. 

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