Adjusting a Strike Plate: Door Latch Won’t Reach the Strike Plate

Chuck Williams

March 20, 2023

Close-up of a locksmith's hands installing a doorknob on a wooden door. The door is partially ajar, revealing the latch mechanism. The metallic hardware is secured with two screws, and the background includes a wall with leafy green patterns.

Are you experiencing the frustration of trying to close your door, only to find that the door latch won’t reach strike plate? The cause of this major inconvenience is often a misaligned strike plate, which can prevent the latch from engaging properly with the plate. Over time, the strike plate can lose its accurate alignment and require to be fixed so that the door can function properly.

Luckily, fixing this issue by adjusting the door strike plate alignment can be simple, which may be done with some DIY skills or preferably a locksmith’s services. In this article, we’ll explain what a strike plate is, why it’s important to fix a misaligned one, and provide a step—by—step guide for how to fix the problem on your own and whether you should.

What Is a Strike Plate?

A strike plate is a door hardware that is a metal plate attached to the door frame, and it’s designed to receive the latch or bolt of a locking mechanism. The latch is the part of the lock that extends from the door and engages with the strike plate when the door is closed. The strike plate provides a secure surface for the latch to engage with, keeping the door locked in place.

What Happens if a Strike Plate Is Out of Alignment?

An out—of—alignment strike plate can wreak havoc on your door. Not only can it make locking the door a hassle and cause a rubbing door, but it also disrupts your privacy if it affects your internal door. Even worse, it can put your security at risk if it is the front door. When the latch bolt can’t properly engage with the strike plate, it creates an opening that intruders can exploit to gain entry.

That’s why it’s crucial to address a misaligned strike plate as soon as possible. By fixing the issue promptly and adjusting the strike plate to correct alignment with the latch, you can ensure you have a door that functions securely and reliably. You can also extend the lifespan of your door and lock mechanism, preventing unnecessary wear and tear.

Other Causes of Misalignment Between the Strike Plate and Door Latch

It’s important to keep in mind that a misaligned strike plate may not always be the sole reason behind a door latch that won’t reach the strike plate. To ensure an optimal fix, it’s crucial to identify the root of the issue. Loose door hinges, misshaped door frame, settling home foundation and other factors can also contribute to the problem. Before adjusting a strike plate, make sure that it is indeed the source of the issue.

How to Adjust Door Strike Plate?

Step 1: Identify the Misalignment

The first step to fixing a misaligned strike plate is to determine which direction it needs to be adjusted in order to correct its alignment. This can be a bit tricky, but there’s a simple trick you can try. Bring out the latch and apply some lipstick, paint or chalk to it. Then close the door and open it again. You’ll be able to see the mark left on the strike plate, which will hint you how you should approach the adjustment.

Step 2.1: Tap the Strike Plate Into Alignment

If the misalignment is minor, the good news is that the fix is fairly simple. Loosen the strike plate screws and gently tap the strike plate in the direction it needs to be adjusted. Then hold the plate in place and tighten the screws again. Test the door to see if the latch is capable of smoothly reaching the strike plate hole now.

Step 2.2: Remove the Strike Plate

If the misalignment is more severe, you’ll need to move the strike plate to a notably different location. This adjustment is more complicated and will permanently damage the current jamb and its aesthetics. If you’re particular about aesthetics, you may want to consider getting a new jamb.

To remove the door strike plate, use a screwdriver to unscrew it from the jamb. Keep the screws in a safe place so they don’t get lost.

Step 3: Adjust and Trace the Strike Plate

If the latch bolt is hitting the strike plate too high or low, adjust the strike plate down or up accordingly. Use a pencil or marker to trace the new location of strike plate and mark it down for later.

Step 4: Chisel the Mortise

Use the strike plate or its template to mark the depth of the mortise on the door jamb. This depth should be slightly deeper than the thickness of the strike plate to ensure a snug fit. Then, using a sharp chisel, widen the mortise on the jamb following the outline to accommodate the new location of the strike plate.

Step 5: Reinstall the Strike Plate

Once you’ve chiseled the jamb as needed, make sure the new position of the strike plate aligns smoothly with the latch. Drill new holes to secure the strike plate in its new position. Before you drill the new screw holes, fill the old ones with wood filler so they don’t interfere with the new holes!

Step 6: Test the Door

Close the door and test the latch to make sure it’s now aligned properly with the strike plate. If the latch smoothly catches into the strike plate, the process was successful. If the door latch won’t reach the strike plate properly even now, it may be time to call for professional service.

Should You Hire a Locksmith to Adjust a Door Strike Plate?

Adjusting a strike plate correctly can be a tricky process and it is easy to worsen the issue. If done improperly, it can even  compromise the security of your door. T Luckily, you can hire a professional locksmith to handle the task securely and efficiently.

A professional locksmith has the expertise to quickly and easily adjust the strike plate, ensuring that your door functions smoothly and that the locking mechanism is secure. If you’re concerned about aesthetics, they can also install a new jamb to accommodate the new strike plate location without compromising the look of your door.

Additionally, they can also diagnose whether the strike plate needs to be adjusted in the first place. If there is another part that needs to be fixed, e.g. a misaligned door, then they can promptly fix that issue as well!

Close up of a hand closing a door

Call Us to Adjust the Door Strike Plate Now

Maintaining the proper alignment of the strike plate on your door is essential for ensuring the safety and security of your property. A misaligned strike plate can cause a range of issues, from difficulty closing and locking the door to compromising its security and making it easier for intruders to gain entry.

While it may be tempting to try to fix the issue by adjusting the strike plate on your own, it is important to have the proper knowledge and tools to do so correctly. If you are not confident in your ability to fix a misaligned strike plate, it is always a good idea to hire a professional locksmith who can quickly and easily adjust the strike plate and install a new jamb if necessary, as well as fix any other issue that is the root of issue.

So, don’t stress yourself trying to fix the strike plate alignment on your own. Call us now and let our professional locksmiths handle the job for you and enjoy peace of mind and convenience with a door that is secure and functioning properly!

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