Annoyed by scraping, bumping, misaligned kitchen or bathroom cabinet doors? Cabinet hinge adjustment is one of the easiest, cheapest fixes you can make to your kitchen and bathroom. Even homeowners who shrink at the sight of a screwdriver and hammer can quickly take care of this frustrating daily problem.
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Before You Begin
Check your hinge type before you begin. Most modern cabinets have fully adjustable hinges with three directional adjustments: up and down, side to side, and in and out (or depth). Most hinges have mechanisms for side to side and depth adjustments, while some are adjusted up and down using the screws that mount the hinges to the cabinet. Others have a mechanism for this, too, and you don’t have to loosen the mounting screws.
In decades past, you found this kind of adjustment only on “European-style” or frameless cabinets, but now almost all cabinets have adjustable hinges. If each of your hinges has two or more screws in addition to the mounting screws, you have fully adjustable hinges.
At the other end of the spectrum are very old and very basic hinges that have no adjustment capability. This is the case with most surface-mount hinges that mount to the front of the cabinet instead of the inside edge of the cabinet face frame, or to the inside of the cabinet box. Some basic hinges have up-and-down adjustment provided by elongated screw holes for the mounting screws. Otherwise, non-adjustable hinges must be moved to reposition the doors.
When adjusting cabinet doors, your main goal (aside from keeping doors from rubbing or hanging loose) is to make them look right. But this doesn’t mean the doors must be perfectly vertical or level or otherwise returned to a factory-new position. It means they look right with the surrounding cabinet elements, particularly neighboring doors and drawer fronts. Often, you end up tweaking doors a bit off-kilter so they work well together and show consistent spacing. This may require a compromise between aligning the outside door edge with the outside of the cabinet and aligning the inside edge with the neighboring door.
The visible gap along any edge of a door or drawer front is called a reveal. When you’re checking a door for proper alignment, you’re usually checking the reveals, since they form the dark, noticeable lines between cabinet elements. If desired, you can ask someone to be a second set of eyes on the cabinets (like when you’re straightening a picture), but there’s no reason this can’t be a one-person job.
The only tool you need for adjusting cabinet doors is a standard Phillips-head screwdriver with a #2 screw tip (there are different sizes). Don’t use a power drill with a screwdriver bit because the force of the drill can easily strip screw heads or strip out the cabinet wood.
Source: The Spruce