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Lock Blog

A resource for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals

3 Pro Tips To Adjust Your Door Strike Plate

by Ralph January 12, 2022

Looking for how to adjust a door strike plate? There are a few different methods you should be aware of. But before you adjust a strike plate, you should know some general information and make sure there is not a better solution to your problem.

Once you know you need to adjust your door strike plate, here are some tips:

  1. Widen The Catch
  2. Move The Plate
  3. Use Adjustable Strikes


Can you adjust a door strike plate?

You can adjust strike plates by moving them up, down, forward, and back to better align with a lock’s latch bolt. If the strike plate only needs to be moved slightly, the catch hole of the strike plate can be filed or cut, so it is expanded along the proper dimension.

When do you need to adjust a door strike plate?

You can adjust a door strike plate whenever it is misaligned with your door’s lock. However, you do not need to adjust a door strike plate in every one of these instances. Realigning a door and strike plate may be possible through adjusting the hinges or the door itself.

Does adjusting a door strike plate ruin the door frame?

Repeated or extreme adjustments to a door strike plate can weaken the door frame to the point where the lock’s effectiveness is compromised. If screw holes have been re-drilled or the catch hole has been widened over and over, there may not be enough material for the latch bolt to secure into.

How many times can you adjust a door strike plate?

It is a good idea to know how to adjust a door strike plate several different ways, so you do not repeat the same process again and again. Varying how you adjust a door strike plate will allow you to solve several misalignments. You can also purchase an adjustable strike plate.

What can I do if I cannot adjust a door strike plate?

If you are concerned that the screw holes have been stripped or the catch hole cannot be expanded without undermining security, adjust the hinges or door. These may be more effective changes, and in some cases, should be attempted before you adjust a door strike plate.

Before You Adjust A Door Strike Plate

Do not jump straight to how to adjust a door strike plate until you have checked a few key things about your situation. First, pick out the best door lock lubricant you have on hand and see if spraying this on your latch bolt solves the problem. If not, there are a few other things to try.

1. Measure Misalignment

If your door won’t close, or your deadbolt does lock the door, you have to measure the distance the latch or bolt is off from the strike plate’s catch hole. Open the door and watch as it closes. See if the latch bolt is resting too far up, down, back, or forward.

The exact misalignment measurement is less important than the orientation of the alignment at this point. If the misalignment is slight, you can adjust a door strike plate easier. In this case, simplicity is referring to the amount of material removed or the severity of the adjustment.

Underlying causes that require door strike plate adjustment will often cause the misalignment to return. For front door security or emergency exit safety, error on the side of giving space in your catch so compounding wood expansion or a shifting foundation.

2. Address Hinges

Depending on your issue, you may not need the specifics of how to adjust a door strike plate. Look at the hinges on the doors and make sure the set screws are tight. Loose hinge screws can cause the door to hang awkwardly, so its lock misaligns with the strike plate.

Because door hinges are often neglected during standard lock maintenance, they can sometimes be too damaged to adjust properly. If the screw holes have been widened by sagging hinges, the door frame may need to be repaired first.

When your hinges are untarnished and screwed tight, you can still adjust them rather than adjust your door strike plate. The only material you will need is paper. Simply remove your hinges, fit the stacked or folded paper between the door frame and hinge, and reinstall the hinge.

If you need to lift your door, pack the paper in the bottom hinge. If the door is resting too high, pack the top hinge. This will only make minor adjustments, but the severity of the adjustment will depend on the thickness of the paper you have placed.

3. Reshape Door

Check the gap between the door and the frame to see if the door is grinding at any point. Whether you have solid core doors or hollow core doors, your lifting foundation or the expanding wood may be keeping your door from closing more than the misalignment of the strike plate.

In these instances, if you only adjust your door strike plate, the door is still going to have trouble opening and closing. Adjusting the door via the hinges may not lift or lower the door appropriately, which means the door will have to be reshaped via sanding or cutting.

With the door still installed, use a pencil to mark where the door is hitting and how much material will need to be removed to solve your issue. Remove the door and trim the door as marked. Reinstall, and double-check that this solved your issue.

Be careful if you are attempting to fix sliding door locks this way, as these doors need to retain a certain shape to slide along their track. Also, glass sliding doors have a higher risk of breaking while being worked on or removed, so proceed with caution.

How To Adjust A Door Strike Plate

There are three main ways to adjust a strike plate. It is important to know them all, so you do not have to repeatedly use one and damage the door or frame. You can increase the longevity of your locks, door, and door frame if you use a variety of ways to adjust a strike plate.

1. Widen The Catch Hole

Using a metal file, you can widen the hole at the center of your strike plate. Often the catch hole in the door frame is slightly wider than the catch on the strike plate. You may also need to chisel out or sand the hole on the frame.

Be careful not to widen the catch hole as this can decrease your physical security. The widening of a hole on the top or bottom is preferable to front or back. The reason for this is there is more material above and below on a frame that is much taller than it is thick.

During a home invasion or burglary, a locked door is kicked, which exerts pressure from the latch bolt of the lock to catch hole of the strike plate. A successfully kicked-in door causes the latch bolt to rip through the door frame using the catch hole.

2. Move The Strike Plate

To adjust a door strike plate that is severely misaligned, you will want to move the strike plate rather than grind out a sizable amount of metal. In this case, severe misalignment means the strike plate needs to be moved so the set screws do not overlap with the old screw holes.

This is preferred if the strike plate needs to be realigned along two axes. For example, if you need to adjust a door strike plate up and back, the screw holes are not going to be on top of each other. For better home security, never adjust a door strike plate if the new screws are too close.

If the new screw holes closely touch the old holes, you can still use longer screws. 3-inch set screws will bite into the stud, which is much more secure than the usual 1-inch screws you are given when replacing interior door knobs or most front door lock hardware.

3. Adjustable Strike Plates

If you invest in an adjustable strike plate, you can adjust a door strike plate without drilling new screw holes or widening the catch hole. This strike plate often has a standard-looking strike plate with ovular screw holes rather circular and a C-shaped part that acts as a washer.

With this device, you can adjust a door strike plate by backing out the screws, then sliding the other part as needed. If the catch hole carved in the door frame is not large enough, you may still need to do a bit of widening via chisel to fix a stuck door latch or bolt.

When you adjust a door strike plate designed to be adjustable, you are still stripping the screw hole every time you adjust it. Over time this will weaken the connection between the strike plate and the door frame, so adjust your door strike plate sparingly.

Closing Words 

Your door will continue to expand or shift as the property ages. You should know how to adjust a door strike plate in a variety of ways. You can only adjust your hinges, move your strike plate, or widen the catch hole so many times before the door is weakened irrevocably. 

A locksmith can help adjust a door strike plate and find the best solution for your situation. If you would like some assistance, see if there is a United Locksmith near you. You can also share your thoughts in the comments below.

Category: Commercial, How To's, Residential

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