Adjusting Cabinet Hinges: A Step-by-Step Guide

Do you have a cabinet door that won’t close properly? Are your cabinet doors overlapping? Do you need a proper alignment? If so, adjusting cabinet hinges may be the solution. This step-by-step guide will show you how to adjust cabinet hinges and hinge screws quickly and easily. With a few simple adjustments, your modern cabinets will be closing like new!

1. Know Your Cabinet Doors’ Hinge Type

Adjusting cabinet hinges is a quick and easy repair. And, believe it or not, fixing door alignment can be a one-person job! But before you start adjusting, it’s essential to know what type of hinge your cabinet doors have. Is it soft close hinges? Does it have mounting hinges? The most common types of hinges are:

  • European-Style Hinges: These are the most common types of hinges used in cabinets today. They are easy to adjust and allow for a wide range of motion.
  • Mortise Hinges: These hinges require a little more work to adjust. They are often found on older cabinets.
  • Butt Hinges: These hinges are not as common as the other two types but are often used on heavy doors.

2. Check and Secure Loose Cabinet Doors’ Mounting Screws

If your cabinet doors are loose, the first thing you should do is check the screws that hold the hinges in place. Over time, these screws can become loose and cause the door to sag. To tighten loose screws, you can use a screwdriver or a drill with a compatible screw bit. If the screws are stripped or broken, you will need to replace them.

Once you have checked and tightened (or replaced) the screws, it’s time to move on to the next step of adjusting cabinet hinges.

3. Identify the Alignment Issue of Your Cabinet Doors

Picturing showing a misaligned and uneven door

You can adjust three things on a hinge: the horizontal, the vertical, and the depth. And you need to identify which one needs to be adjusted. To do this, open your cabinet doors and look at how they line up. Is the door hanging too low or too high? Is the door level with the rest of the cabinets? Does the door sit flush with the cabinet frame?

Gap Between the Cabinet Doors

If there is a noticeable gap between the cabinet doors, you will need to make a side or horizontal adjustment. This repair is also applicable if the doors do not sit flush on the edge of the frame.

Gap Between the Doors and Cabinet Frame

Having a gap between the cabinet doors and frame will let dust and dirt enter and collect inside. Plus, it’s the most common reason why doors can’t completely close or sit flush to the frame.

Doors Are Too High or Too Low

When doors are not aligned with the cabinet frame, you have a misaligned vertical screw. Depending on the severity of the misalignment, loosening and then tightening the top and bottom screws will do the trick.

3. Understand How Hinge Screws Work

Once you have identified the alignment issues, don’t start the repair immediately! All the four screws of an adjustable cabinet hinge impact how the doors operate.

Picture showing how hinge adjustment screws work
  • The top and bottom screws are responsible for vertical adjustments.
  • Adjust the left hinge screw for horizontal / side adjustments.
  • Lastly, the right screw is for depth adjustments.

4. Get the Right Tools Before Making Any Adjustments

Adjusting cabinet hinges may seem like a difficult task, but you can fix your cabinet with the right tool and a little bit of patience. In general, the only tool you need is a Phillips screwdriver. However, we suggest having multiple screw heads within reach (unless you are 100% certain what screw size you have to make directional adjustments).

Having a power drill and extra set of hinges are also practical, especially if the existing hardware on your old cabinet door hinges is already threaded or rusted.

4. Tighten the Hinge Adjustment Screws

Once you’ve identified the issue, understood how the screws work and have the recommended tools on hand, it’s time to fix the cabinet hinges!

Side Adjustments

A person adjusting the side or horizontal position of a cabinet door.

If there is a horizontal gap between your cabinet doors or doesn’t sit flush on the framing edge, you’ll need to make a side adjustment. Luckily, this repair is relatively easy. You can do this by:

  1. Locate the left screw
  2. Turn it in a clockwise direction. This will make your door sit closer to the edge of the frame.

Vertical Adjustments

A person using an electric screwdriver to adjust the cabinet door's height.

The height adjustment or vertical adjustments moves the door up or down. To adjust the height:

  1. Locate the top and bottom screws
  2. Put your hand underneath the cabinet door while you loosen the screws
  3. Align the cabinet door in its correct placement.
  4. As you hold the door, grab your screwdriver and tighten the screws.

Note: Loosening the top and bottom screws will cause the door to drop slightly. Never remove screws unless unnecessary.

Depth Adjustments

A person using a screwdriver for adjusting the cabinet's depth

The depth adjustment moves the door closer to or further away from the cabinet frame. To adjust the depth:

  1. Locate the right-most hinge adjustment screw
  2. Loosen the screw
  3. Push back the cabinet door
  4. Hold the correct position of the cabinet door
  5. As you hold the door, grab your screwdriver and tighten the screws.

Note: If the gap is too small, this will cause the cabinet door to hit and damage the frame, and you won’t be able to close it properly.

5. Check if the Cabinet Doors Are Leveled

Once you have made all of your adjustments, it is essential to check that all of the screws are tight. Then, test out your doors by opening and closing them several times. Please make sure they are easy to open and close and stay in place when closed. If they do not, you may need to readjust the screws.

6. Adjusting Cabinet Hinges Is Easy!

By following these simple steps, you can easily adjust your cabinet doors to be level, flush, and easy to open and close! You don’t need to spend a lot of money to hire a professional for simple adjustments of hinges.

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