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How To Fix A Door That Wont Latch


Does a door bother you because it won’t latch or stay closed? Don’t worry; many house owners suffer because of such situations, and such problems usually occur due to misalignment between striker plate and latch. Door latches often get loose and suffer misalignment, mostly in old houses.   

If you are planning on dumping your lock hardware, you must stop now. In this article, we have mentioned step-by-step details on fixing a door that won’t latch easily.

Tools Required:

  • Hand Drill   
  • Glove   
  • Utility Knife  
  • Putty Knife  
  • Chisel  
  • Hammer  
  • Screw Drive  

Materials Required: 

  • Wood Filler  
  • Toothpick   
  • Superglue   
  • Lipstick  

One can follow these instructions to fix a door with loose latches. This guide will help you assess the situation, help figure out the main problem behind the door alignment, and finally, correct those issues so that all your doors can function smoothly.   

Step 1: Determine The Root Problem

Everything from elevated or sagging plates, loose hinges to a latch that sits low on door strike plates can prevent your house doors from being shut.   

The very first step is to look for the alignment, as mentioned earlier, by slowly opening and closing the door. While doing so, make sure you closely review the door latches and strike plate. If your door latch sits too low, you will need to adjust your strike plated a bit higher.   

Step 2: Evaluate The Hinges 

Loose hinges can also be the reason behind door sagging and its spoiled locking mechanism. If your door latch sits too high, one can fix it by removing a screw from the bottom hinge to shift the latch downwards. In contrast, you can remove a screw from the top hinge to lift the latch upwards.   

At the same time, you can also use a screwdriver to tighten up all the loose screws in your door latch and strike plates. Ensure you do not fit the screws tightly as that can affect the door.   

If, even after adjusting the screws, your door won’t shut close, then replace one of your hinge screws with a three times longer screw. This method can improve door jambs caused by door hinges, making the latch fit perfectly in the plate hole.    

Step 3: Push The Strike Plate Downwards  

One of the most common problems in door lock occurs when the latch is too low on the striker plate. If you see such a problem with your door, you have to shift down your striker plate for your door latch to fit in perfectly.    

Instead of shifting your striker plate downwards, you can also place a chisel on the top of the striker plate and hammer it down. This method would shift the striker plate 1/8 inches downward to make a perfect fit for your latch.   

Step 4: Enlarge Your Striker Hole

Even if by tightening and shifting the striker plate, your door latch still feels loose and doesn’t keep your door locked. Try this method of removing the striker plate from its jamb and readjust its size according to the door latch.    

Firstly, unfasten all the screws that are holding your striker plate to the door jamb. Then, insert a metal file through the striker hole and start moving the file back and forth at a rapid pace.    

Keep on repeating the above process until you get the desired amount of metal out from the striker plate for the perfect latch fit. The primary goal is to make enough space in the striker hole to accommodate the door latch.    

Finally, after making space for the door latch, reinstall the strike plate back to the door jamb.    

Step 5: Reposition The Striker Plate 

Even after trying the above steps, your door still doesn’t shut close, and you can try this final step. This step considers replacing the striker plate itself. This might be pretty demanding, but it can completely resolve your problem.   

Firstly, remove the striker plate from its door jamb. With the help of a screwdriver, remove the screws holding the strike plate to the jamb.   

Remember to reposition the new striker plate so that its latch hole doesn’t overlap old screw holes. You can do that by holding the striker plate against the new position and marking the exact suitable spot for installation.     

Use the screw holes on the new striker plate to mark the position on the door jamb. This step will later prove to be very beneficial during drilling and installations of the hardware.    

With the help of a wood filler and glued toothpick, you can fill in the old screw holes. Later, start drilling in the new screw holes with the use of marked positions.   

After successful drilling in new screw holes, it’s time to create a lower edge for your new striker plate. Now, with the help of a utility knife, cut slowly along the marked lines. The only purpose of this step is to cut off a small amount of wood to create space for the striker plate.    

Lastly, insert the strike plate by slowly fastening all the screws into the new screw holes with the help of a screwdriver. Now, slowly close the door to check whether the door latch.       


The steps above will hopefully help you fix your door latch and save you money. Ensure you take the time in the beginning to determine the root cause of the problem. Continue to check the alignment of the door while going through this process. After a bit of time, your door will be as good as new!