How to Adjust Cabinet Doors

Kitchen and bathroom cabinets with doors that hang crooked or don’t close properly are an eyesore and annoyance. Fortunately, adjusting cabinet doors is usually a quick and easy process that can be done by almost anyone with basic DIY skills. Properly aligned doors transform the look of your cabinets and make them fully functional again.

Gather the Necessary Materials

Adjusting cabinet doors requires just a few simple tools:

  • Phillips screwdriver – to remove and tighten door hinges
  • Hammer – to tap hinges into proper position
  • Pencil – for marking hinge locations
  • Tape measure – for ensuring doors are evenly spaced and level
  • Shim – thin piece of wood or plastic to adjust door position
  • Sandpaper (optional) – to smooth rough edges on doors or cabinets

Any other materials like a drill, level, or utility knife may help for more extensive adjustments. Make sure you have all the tools you need before getting started.

Evaluate the Doors and Prepare the Workspace

Take a careful look at all of the cabinet doors before making any adjustments. Pay attention to:

  • Which doors are crooked or out of alignment
  • Where the doors are making contact with each other or the cabinet frame
  • Any obstacles around the cabinets like countertops or appliances

Make notes so you know which hinges and doors need adjusting. Remove any items stored in the cabinets so you can freely access the door hinges. Clear the countertops to give yourself ample workspace.

Cover nearby surfaces with cloths or towels in case you need to remove doors. Have a vacuum ready to clean up any dust or debris. Proper preparation makes your repair work easier and cleaner.

Adjust European-Style Concealed Cabinet Hinges

Many modern kitchen cabinets use concealed European-style hinges. Adjusting these is a little different than traditional exposed hinges.

Remove the Door

European hinges have a clip, screw, or lever release so the door can be lifted off easily. Simply detach from the cabinet frame and set the door aside somewhere safe.

Adjust the Hinge Placement

With the door detached, you can slightly loosen the hinge screws and bump the hinge left, right, inward, or outward on the cabinet frame. Tap gently with a hammer until aligned properly.

Use a pencil to mark the new hinge position. Tighten the screws after getting the hinge placement right where you want it.

Re-hang the Door

Lift the door back onto the adjusted hinges. Check that it now fits squarely in the cabinet frame and aligns with adjacent doors. Make minor tweaks until it hangs just right.

Adjust Traditional Cabinet Hinges

Exposed cabinet hinges with two leaves joined by a pin are very common. Aligning these involves adjusting each leaf separately.

Loosen the Hinge Screws

Use a Phillips screwdriver to partially loosen the screws on both leaves of the hinge. Usually two or three turns is enough to allow movement.

Adjust the Door Leaf

Have someone hold the door in the proper position or place a shim underneath. Tap the door leaf side of the hinge until aligned. Tighten the screws on this leaf.

Adjust the Frame Leaf

With the door leaf tightened, now tap the frame side of the hinge until it also aligns. Tighten the frame leaf screws once in the correct spot.

Test Door Movement

Open and close the door a few times to check that alignment is correct on both leaves. Make additional minor hinge adjustments if the door hangs crooked still.

Use Shims for Quick Adjustments

Small shims placed beneath cabinet door hinges are a quick and easy way to make minor position adjustments:

  • Insert shims under the low side of a hinge to raise the door.
  • Stack multiple shims if more height is needed.
  • Use thicker shims or sand down thinner ones to get the ideal thickness.
  • Make sure shims are firmly in place so door weight doesn’t dislodge them.
  • Check that shims don’t stick out where they might interfere with door operation.

Shimming hinges is only recommended for small cabinet alignment jobs. For major adjustments, fully loosening the hinges is better.

Adjust Bi-Fold Cabinet Doors

Cabinets with bi-fold doors need parallel alignment for smooth operation. Follow these steps:

Release the Pivot Pins

Locate the threaded pins at the top and bottom of each door that hold it in the frame. Loosen the nuts 3-4 turns counterclockwise.

Square the Doors

Have someone hold the inner door while you adjust the outer door until both are perfectly aligned. You may need to gently tap the hinges with a hammer.

Tighten the Pivot Nuts

With the doors correctly aligned, tighten the nuts on the pivot pins by turning clockwise. Open and close the doors to test for smooth movement.

Adjust Door Catch Placement

If needed, loosen the catch plate on the cabinet frame and move it inward or outward so the door magnets engage securely when closed.

Troubleshoot Tricky Cabinet Door Issues

Beyond basic alignment, some cabinet doors have more complicated problems:

Uneven door margins: Hinges may need shimming or removing material from door or cabinet edges

Warped doors: May require replacing warped door or using deeper hinges

Loose hinges: Fill old screw holes with wood filler and use longer screws in new pilot holes

Damaged hinges/frames: Patch or replace parts as needed – fill any stripped screw holes

Sagging doors: Add more hinges for support or use heavy-duty hinges

Rubbing doors: File down high spots, or add thin spacers/washers between problem doors

Don’t take chances if you’re unsure how to address any underlying issues. Call in an experienced cabinetmaker or carpenter to safely handle major repairs.

Finish Up the Job

Once all the doors are moving smoothly, your last steps are to:

  • Open and close doors multiple times to double-check alignment. Make any final adjustments needed.
  • Clean up the hinges, cabinets, and work area thoroughly to remove dust.
  • Test that doors open fully and don’t contact each other. Sand or file any spots where doors rub.
  • Replace any doors, hardware, or molding that was removed during the process.
  • Store your tools until the next home improvement project!

Properly adjusted cabinet doors give your kitchen or bath a fresh upgraded look. Just a little time and effort goes a long way.

Frequently Asked Questions About Adjusting Cabinet Doors

Adjusting crooked, misaligned cabinet doors is usually straightforward. But questions often come up around specific adjustment challenges and solutions. Here are some of the most common FAQs.

How can I tell if my cabinet doors need adjustment?

Doors that are visibly crooked, don’t close properly, rub against each other, or have large gaps usually need hinge adjustments. Sticking doors that don’t open smoothly are another sign of poor alignment.

What tools do I need to adjust cabinet hinges?

A Phillips screwdriver is the only tool absolutely necessary. A hammer, shims, tape measure, drill, sandpaper, and utility knife can also help for adjustments.

Should I remove the doors before adjusting hinges?

With European-style concealed hinges, removing doors is recommended. For traditional exposed hinges, adjusting can usually be done with doors still attached.

How much do I loosen the screws before adjusting hinges?

Around 2-3 full turns with a screwdriver is typically enough to allow the hinge to move without detaching. Be careful not to loosen too much.

Which way do I adjust the hinges if the door is too high/low?

If a door is too low, shim under the hinges or tap the frame leaf downward. If too high, tap the frame leaf up or shim under the door leaf.

How can I stop doors from hitting each other when closed?

Carefully shimming hinges or sanding door edges can help prevent contact. Allowing proper clearance between doors is crucial.

Why does my cabinet door tilt to one side?

If one corner is lower, the hinge on that side likely needs adjusting. Shim below the opposite side to even out the door tilt.

How do I adjust cabinet doors that sag over time?

Adding a third hinge equally spaced between existing ones will help support sagging doors. Choose heavy-duty hinges for very large or weighted doors.

What if my cabinet doors still don’t align after adjusting hinges?

The door or cabinet frame itself may be warped and need replacement. Old cabinets can settle unevenly and throw off door alignment over time.

How can I fill old holes after removing cabinet hinges?

Use wood filler or toothpicks in the holes, let dry, and sand smooth. Drill new pilot holes for hinge screws in the desired position.


Fixing misaligned cabinet doors is one of the easiest ways to upgrade your kitchen or bathroom. With some basic DIY skills and the right tools, you can adjust the hinges on crooked doors to get them sitting just right.

Carefully evaluate all the doors and plan the adjustments needed before getting started. Release door leaf screws, then make precise realignments. Use shims for quick tweaks. Re-tighten hinges and test door movement until satisfactory.

Beyond simple hinge placement, look at the underlying door or frame for any warping or damage. Seek professional help for major cabinet repairs. Take your time and don’t get frustrated. Adjusting cabinet doors takes patience but pays off in the improved aesthetics and functionality of your space.