How to Fix an Interior Door That Won’t Stay Open (or Shut)

Replace door hinge screws

I know this isn’t exactly front page news, but my bathroom door won’t stay open. In the grand scheme of the universe I suppose it’s not a huge problem, but every morning when I brush my teeth, my hind end has a door bumping into it. I reach around to shove the door back open and my elbow finds it, sending a pain like that of a taser jolt (just guessing, of course) from my elbow to the tip of my pinky finger. And I should, in theory, be able to walk into my bathroom without having to push the door open every time.

I’m guessing if you’ve done a Google search and found yourself reading this post, you’ve got the same issue, and you’re well aware of how irritating this can be. I’ve given up using a door stop, because every time I need to do my ‘thang’ in the bathroom, I have to remove the door stop to close the door. Then I have to put it back again when my mission is complete. I tried that for a while, but it’s just as irritating as hitting my funny bone first thing in the morning.

Here’s a picture of the door from hell. This is my door’s favorite resting spot. It’s only resting spot.

 How to Fix a Door That Won't Stay Open (or Shut) /

The reason a door won’t stay put is because the hinges aren’t aligned properly. That is, all three hinges should form a perfectly plumb (vertical) line, and they don’t. Either the door jamb has shifted, the screws are working themselves out allowing the hinge to move or the house is simply falling apart. (Joking on the last one.)

In a situation where a door won’t stay open, it’s because the top hinge sits on the outside of the other two. In the above photo of the door for example, the top hinge sits to the left of the bottom two. Visually it’s impossible to recognize, but if you understand physics, it makes sense. (I paid attention in class.) To make the door stay open, I had to realign the hinges so that the top hinge sat directly above the other two.

My original grand idea was to bring the bottom and center hinges out by sliding some cardboard underneath them like so.

 How to Fix a Door That Won't Stay Open (or Shut) /

It worked!! The door stayed open. Unfortunately, when I went to shut the door, the addition of the cardboard pushed the bottom of the door over enough that the door wouldn’t shut. It hit the jamb. This may be a good solution in some situations, however, if there is sufficient space between the edge of the door and the jamb when the door closes.

But since this idea didn’t work on my door, I went to Plan B. Since I couldn’t move the bottom hinge out (to the left as you look at the photo), I needed to take the top hinge in (to the right as you look at the photo). In order to do that, I was going to need some heavy artillery.

I got some long screws from my stash to pull the hinge and the jamb tighter to the wall, thus pulling the top hinge, and the door, to the right. Notice the difference in the screw length. The original hinge screws are on the left in the photo. The monster screws on the right are the replacements.

How to Fix a Door That Won't Stay Open (or Shut)/

Unfortunately, I only had two of these screws on hand, so that’s what I had to go with. The reason this idea worked is because the screws were long enough to reach the stud that’s behind the door jamb trim pieces, and they had enough oomph to pull the door in tighter.

 How to Fix a Door That Won't Stay Open (or Shut)/

In this case, since my hinges and screws were oil-rubbed bronze, I used a sharpie to disguise them well enough to blend in with the hinge.

 How to Fix a Door That Won't Stay Open (or Shut) /

If you have brass or brushed nickel hinges and screws, and can’t find long screws to match, you can purchase two ounce bottles of acrylic craft paint in a matching color (or something close), and dab it on the screw heads with a Q-tip if you don’t own any brushes. The paints only run around $2.00 at your local craft store. That’s the least expensive option.

If you can’t find a color match there, you can stick the screws in a piece of cardboard or styrofoam and spray the heads with matching spray paint. (More expensive, but oh well.) If someone comes to your house and points out that your hinge screws aren’t an exact match, you have my permission to escort them from your home.

Here are my screws after I Sharpie-fied them. They blended in just fine. Mission accomplished!

 How to Fix a Door That Won't Stay Open (or Shut)/

If you have the opposite issue, and have a door that won’t stay in the shut position when it’s not latched, tightening the screws on the bottom hinge should do the trick. That’s all there is to it!

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner and Journeyman Painter servicing the Central Illinois area. Feel free to visit her website at to view her portfolio for more before and after pictures of her projects. And if you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.


2 thoughts on “How to Fix an Interior Door That Won’t Stay Open (or Shut)

  1. Bob says:

    I tried your ideas with the card board on both middle and bottom, no change, I got longer screws, no change, any other ideas


    • Tracy Evans says:

      Oh no! Unfortunately, I don’t have any other ideas as the longer screws have always worked for me. My doors are the hollow core type. I don’t know if your doors are solid wood or hollow core doors, but I’m sorry I’m out of ideas.


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