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Looking to square up an existing front door

kalats's picture

This past week, I noticed a 1/4" gap along the top left side of my front door (viewed from inside).  After further investigation, I noticed the frame is out of square.  Now, I'm not sure what happened here since my framers installed the door, and it was square during installation.  I'm assuming settlement/drying lumber must be the problem here. 

But my question to you is how to I square it up??  The actual door is level, but the frame isnt...

To make this even more complicated, the door is trimmed out and it has two sidelights on it...fully finished & stained...

The gap isnt really noticeable until you come down the stairs when you see actual daylight..

Any suggestions on how I can fix this?  I'm attaching a photo to give you some reference.  The circle shows the area where I'm able to see daylight.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.



K (post #197036, reply #1 of 9)

Is there sag in the door (more gap at the top hinge side v. the bottom hinge side?

Is there warp at that corner of the door?


If uneven reveal at the hinge side you could use a longer screw in place of one of the top hinge screws to hit the framing...................however, with the sidelightes, that's not gonna happen.  I have had marginal luck with a longer screw (but not too long) going into the sidelight jamb/frame.

Perhaps you have enough room at the bottom latch side to be able to shim the middle and bottom hinge out just a bit, thus raising the upper corner of the door and closing up the gap.


A Great Place for Information, Comraderie, and a Sucker Punch.

Remodeling Contractor just outside the Glass City.


Addtl details (post #197036, reply #2 of 9)

Hey Calvin,
Here are some addtl details

- no warp at the corner of the door

-No sag either

-No room on the latch side..

BTW..thought about the longer screw...but then I saw how thin of a frame I have at the sidelights..>:(

Do you think I can pull the whole thing over if I use longer screws at the sidelights?  Or am I asking for trouble, (e.g. pull apart the door/sidelight frame)


K (post #197036, reply #3 of 9)

I think you'd just end up burying the screw in the sidelight jamb...................

Depending on how it was installed, shim locations etc you probably cannot move all that with just a screw in the sidelight jamb/framing.

How complicated is it going to be to pull trim, cut exterior casing nails (into that door/sidelt. jambs, release any fasteners on the thresholds,bottom you can shim up the hinge side (and shim sidelt. frame up too)?

in the winter?

Another alternative in conjunction with kicking out the bottom hinge-deepen the upper two hinge mortises, effectively un plumbing the door, yet not having to make it all up at the bottom hinge.


You know, I've seen this happen b/4-but at the bottom hinge side-snow buildup/turns to ice and kicks the bottom hinge side out (not your problem location, but is something up in there behind the top hinge? 

Too easy I know.

If the house is new and the builder a stand up guy-have you called them?  They just might play santa claus in this endeavor.

A Great Place for Information, Comraderie, and a Sucker Punch.

Remodeling Contractor just outside the Glass City.


Is the outside painted or (post #197036, reply #4 of 9)

Is the outside painted or stained?  Can you just shim the stop down by taking it loose shim it until you get it to match the door and then caulk the resulting gap between the frame and the stop (and repaint).  Very few people will ever notice that the stop is thicker on one side than the other.  If nothing else, it would be a way to deal with it until spring when you could take the whole thing apart and reset it.

loose stop? (post #197036, reply #5 of 9)

Most entry doors I run into here are rabbited jamb/stop-no moving that. 

A Great Place for Information, Comraderie, and a Sucker Punch.

Remodeling Contractor just outside the Glass City.


It's a problem with (post #197036, reply #6 of 9)

It's a problem with sidelights.  With a standard door frame you can run long screws from (or behind) the top hinge into the framing, to keep the door frame from racking, but not possible with a sidelight on the hinge side.  About all you can do is attempt to over-correct the problem and then run a few screws upward through the top of the frame, angled slightly to pull against the racking force.  And of course you can shim/bend the hinges to a degree to partly correct things.

Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

Square check tech (post #197036, reply #7 of 9)

I love door problems; but hands on is more fun than diagnostics on a forum. How did you check it for square? You said the door is level; on which plane, plumb is level vertically (sorry if you already know that).

Hands on I assume proper shims so long screws won't do much; tap the outer most jambs to look for solid sound returned by shims.

If the thing is opening and closing nicely, latches nicely too....

Just before T-day I did an R&R on one of these; head and side jambs out of level/plumb but square, door swang and latched nice. I walked away saying done.


Good Advice (post #197036, reply #8 of 9)

Thank u everyone for the advice.  I'll try to shim up the bottom hinge first, and see how it plays out.  I'll also add a slightly longer screw at the top hinge to see if it helps.

additional things to consider:

-the door is fully trimmed & stained.

-when I said level, I meant plumb..(sorry about that)

thanks again guys.


Another way... (post #197036, reply #9 of 9)

Check out the top hinge and see if it's got space between the leaves. Check the bottom hinge, if it's tight, and the top is sprung (open), you can carefully tweak the knuckles to close the gap. Better hinges might be the best long term option.


When we install doors w/ sidelite side hinges, we run some toe screws through the sidelight stile, thru the jamb, and into the framing. The screws get covered by the stop. Then we run screws thru the hinge jamb into the sidelight, then thru the head and sill into framing. Anything to keep those corrugated clipped together, wonky pieces, from moving at all when the door is used. I am a big fan of separate sidelites.

Square doesn't really have a lot to do with pre-hung doors, it ain't gonna happen!


Good luck!

The Village Woodworks, Inc

Chapel Hill, NC


We'll have a kid Or maybe we'll rent one He's got to be straight We don't want a bent one He'll drink his baby brew From a big brass cup Someday he may be president If things loosen up