How to Adjust Cabinet Hinges: Simple Solutions You Can DIY
Use these hinge adjustment tips to realign your cabinets, make cabinet doors easier to open and close, and ensure a sleek and streamlined look.
Q: I had new kitchen cabinets installed about 4 years ago, but over the past few months, I’ve noticed that more and more of the doors seem misaligned. The doors don’t close evenly, some rub against each other, and many have small gaps that are unsightly. Do you have tips for how to adjust cabinet hinges that can help me remedy these problems?
A: Adjusting cabinet hinges is easier than you may think. Many hinges are designed with adjustment screws that allow you to realign the door by shifting it laterally, moving it up or down, or changing its depth. To make these adjustments, all you’ll need is a Phillips-head screwdriver with a #2 tip.
The tips to help you learn how to adjust cabinet hinges shared in this article primarily focus on more modern hinges that feature adjustment screws. If your cabinets have older hinges that need adjustment, there are a few helpful tips towards the end of this article.
First, ensure that the hinge mounting screws are secure.
Before adjusting kitchen cabinet hinges, begin by checking to make sure that the mounting screws are secure. There should be four mounting screws total: two on the part of the hinge attached to the door and two on the part of the hinge attached to the inside of the cabinet. The mounting screws should be the only screws on the door, so those are easy to identify.
Since there are more screws on the section attached to the cabinet, it can be a bit more challenging to identify the mounting screws. They should be the innermost screws on the mounting bracket. One is located just above the hinge, with the other located just below it.
If these four mounting screws are not secure, the hinges may move, causing the doors to not operate properly. Use a Phillips-head screwdriver to tighten any loose mounting screws so they are secure.
Related: Should You Reface or Replace Your Kitchen Cabinets?
To move cabinet doors laterally, turn the screw closest to the door on the horizontal arm of each hinge.
If your cabinet doors need to be moved sideways to ensure proper alignment, you’ll simply need to turn the screw that is located on the mounting plate closest to the door.
The process for how to adjust soft close hinges laterally is simple. To shift the door to the right, use your Phillips-head screwdriver to turn the screw clockwise. Likewise, for a lateral cabinet hinge adjustment to the left, turn the screw counterclockwise.
Work slowly, and periodically close the door to see if it is in the proper position or if more adjustment is necessary.
For door height adjustments, turn the top screw on the hinge plates mounted to the inside of the cabinet.
Cabinets often become misaligned, with the door higher or lower than it should be. This can make opening or closing the cabinets difficult and can become an eyesore, especially where there are two doors located right next to one another.
If you’re looking for how to level cabinet doors, the uppermost screw on the hinge plate found inside the cabinet can help. To move the door up, use your Phillips-head screwdriver to turn this screw clockwise. To lower the door’s height, simply turn it counterclockwise.
Again, working slowly and checking your progress can help prevent shifting the door too far in either direction.
Related: How To: Stain Cabinets
To make door depth adjustments, turn the screw closest to the cabinet on the horizontal arm of each hinge.
The steps for how to align cabinet doors where the depth is off are also quite easy thanks to adjustable hinges. If your cabinet doors are too far away from the cabinet when closed or are too close that they aren’t shutting correctly, a simple depth adjustment can clean things up.
To adjust the depth of the cabinet door, turn the screw found on the horizontal arm that is the farthest from the cabinet door. Another way to properly identify this screw is to look for the one centered between the two mounting screws.
After you identify which screw you need to turn for depth adjustments, use your Phillips-head screwdriver to turn it clockwise to move the cabinet door inward or counterclockwise to move the cabinet door outward.
Adjusting old cabinet hinges that don’t feature the additional screws is trickier, but doable.
The process for how to adjust old cabinet door hinges that don’t feature the adjustable screws found in more modern hinges will be a bit more tedious, but certainly isn’t impossible. Start by identifying the problem with the door. Is it uneven, sagging lower than it should be, or just not closing all the way?
The necessary steps for how to fix a cabinet door once the problem has been identified can vary based on the specific problem. In some cases, tightening the screws by turning them counterclockwise may be all that is needed. Tighten the screws slowly, and check the tension and alignment of the cabinet after each adjustment.
Tightening the screws won’t always solve the problem. Sometimes, longer mounting screws will be needed to cinch up to the door fully. Another possible solution may be adding a shim behind the hinges to help keep the doors aligned.
If you notice that your cabinet doors are sagging, it may mean that they are simply too heavy for the current hinges. In this case, consider replacing the hinges or even just adding an additional set of hinges to the cabinets to reduce the weight being placed on the old hinges.