Archive for Saturday, February 18, 2017

Fix-It Chick: Tips for making a door latch properly

February 18, 2017


If you live in an older home with wooden doors, chances are one or more of those doors no longer latches when it shuts. Older homes tend to shift with the seasons. Moving the strike plate to accommodate the door latch’s new position should solve the problem.

Step 1: Use a screwdriver to remove the strike plate from the door jamb. Sometimes just unscrewing the strike plate, removing it and then screwing it right back into place, using the same screw holes, will do the trick.

Step 2: If that does not work, remove the strike plate again and shut the door. If the door catches and stays shut, reposition the plate over the hole in the jamb and screw the strike plate into place.

Step 3: If the door does not catch after the strike plate has been removed, the hole in the door jamb will need to be enlarged. Shut the door and use a pencil to mark the jamb where the edge of the door latch rests.

Step 4: Open the door and use a wood chisel to remove the excess wood near the pencil mark. Test the door to see if it latches and continue to chisel away until the door latch catches.

Step 5: Hold the strike plate in position and mark the new screw holes. If the new holes will be too close to the old screw holes, fill the existing holes with two-part epoxy putty. Epoxy putty that comes in a stick works best. Cut off a chunk of the putty and mix it together with your fingers. Be sure to wear gloves when doing this and work in a well-ventilated area if possible.

Step 6: Once the epoxy is mixed together, roll the putty into a snake and insert it into the old screw holes. Use a putty knife to press the epoxy into place and scrape away the excess putty.

Step 7: Allow the putty to dry and then screw the strike plate into place. If the screws will be going into the area filled with epoxy putty, it may be necessary to drill a pilot hole first.

Step 8: Test the door to make sure the latch catches, pick up your tools, put them away and shut the door on another project well done.

— Have a home improvement question for Fix-It Chick? Email it to Linda Cottin at


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