How to Fix Sagging French Doors – Part 4

This project is continued from How to Fix Sagging French Doors – Part 3.

Having cut the mortises for the new Hager BB1279 ball bearing door hinges, I’m ready to attach the new hinges to the door. A long aluminum channel that doubles as a rip fence to cut plywood with my circular saw is used to align the hinges.

Aligning the New Door Hinges

Aligning the New Door Hinges

Install the New Hinges

Before you continue, take a moment and double check the hinge is properly oriented with the door. It helps to tilt your head sideways and imagine opening and closing the door while moving the hinge. If you’re not careful, you can install the hinge backward or upside down and the door won’t close.

The new hinges are installed by first attaching each hinge to the door using only one (1) screw in the corner of the hinge. This allows the hinge to pivot slightly around the screw. I was able to use a existing hole from the old hinge for this purpose.

The aluminum channel is held against the back of the hinges. The hinges are tapped gently to align the back of the hinge with the channel so that all hinges are straight and true with the channel. Is is critical for the hinges to be in perfect alignment or the door will bind on the hinges.

Here I’ve set two screws in the door hinge to fix the door hinge in place to keep the alignment. A sharp nail with a symmetrical point is used to center punch the screw holes. I could have used a center punch tool instead of a nail, but the nail was plenty accurate for this purpose.

Center Punching the Door Hinge Screw Holes

Center Punching the Door Hinge Screw Holes

Center punches to accurately drill pilot holes for the new hinge screws.

Center Punches for the Hinge Screws

Center Punches for the Hinge Screws

Pilot holes are drilled using a drill bit that is slightly smaller than the threads of the screw to avoid splitting the door frame when the screws are attached. Take care drill a hole that’s straight and not canted to one side. Use a drill bit long enough such that you don’t contact the hinge with the drill chuck and mar the finish. If you don’t trust yourself, remove the hinge before drilling the pilot holes.

Drilling Pilot Holes for the Door Hinge Screws

Drilling Pilot Holes for the Door Hinge Screws

Install the hinge screws after drilling pilot holes. Go slowly and stop when the screw if seated in the hinge leaf. Do not over tighten the screws or you will tear out the wood and the screw will not hold. Repeat for the remaining door hinges.

Installing the Hinge Screws

Installing the Hinge Screws

Hinge fastened to the door.

Hager BB1279 Hinge Installed on the Door

Hager BB1279 Hinge Installed on the Door

How to Rehang the Door

This part is a little tricky and requires attention to detail.

  • Stand the door up in the closed position in the door way.
  • Support the door on small blocks or wedges to align the hinge leaves with the mortises in the door jamb.
    Always keep two hands on door such that it can’t fall – a helper is essential.
  • Check that the hinge leaves fit snugly in the door jamb – a flashlight helps to see inside the crack.
  • Check the door latch and dead bolt operates without binding.
  • Verify the door is plumb with a carpenter’s level.
  • Mark the hinge positions on the door jamb with a pencil.

If the hinges aren’t seated properly in the mortise, use the wood chisel to make small adjustments. Since I was only refitting the hinges, the mortises were fine.

  • Open the door 90 degrees such that the hinge leaves are flat.
  • Support the door on small blocks and wedges. Make small adjustments to align the hinges in the mortise and with your marks on the door jamb.
  • Mark, center punch and drill one (1) pilot hole only for the upper most screw in the top door hinge.
  • Insert one (1) #12 x 3 inch brass wood screw into the hole just drilled in the top hinge.
  • Mark, drill and install one 3 inch wood screw in the middle and bottom hinges, checking the alignment with your marks on the door jamb.
  • While supporting the door, remove the blocks and wedges.
  • Gently close the door to check for fit and alignment. Operate the door latch and deadbolt.
  • Is everything good? Great! Gently open the door, support it with blocks / wedges, and install the remaining 3″ wood screws.
  • If the door isn’t perfectly aligned, figure out what adjustment(s) are needed. You might possibly need to adjust the hinge position in the door jamb – which is why only one screw was fastened in each hinge, place a shim between the door jamb and bottom hinge leaf, or deepen the mortise for the top hinge. Take your time and study the problem.

This is the newly installed top door hinge. (BTW – That small chip in the door edge wasn’t my doing.)

Hinge Attached to Door and Jamb

Hinge Attached to Door and Jamb

This is the new hinge and rehung door.

Hager BB1279 Door Hinge

Hager BB1279 Door Hinge

No More Sagging Patio Door

The new Hager BB1279 ball bearing hinges can be seen on the left in the photo below. The French door is now true and no longer sags.

Sagging French Door Repaired with Hager BB1279 Door Hinges

Sagging French Door Repaired with Hager BB1279 Door Hinges

The difference a ball bearing door hinge makes is amazing! The door glides smoothly and opens effortlessly like the door on German luxury sedan. It’s too easy now to slam the door and I have to remind the kids to watch it.

Notice the black weatherstrip on the left door bottom? I describe how I replaced the torn weatherstrip and repaired the door bottom in this project.

Thanks for reading,

Bob Jackson

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3 Responses to How to Fix Sagging French Doors – Part 4

  1. Chelle January 24, 2011 at 2:38 pm #

    This article was very helpful. I decided to try using the old hinges first before instaling heavier hinges. During the process I discovered that one side of the door frame was loose. I tightened the frame and installed the longer screws to support the weight of the door. I immediately saw a big change of how the door were aligned. After tightening the frame screws also, the door now hangs straight and closes tighter which of course eliminated the gaps. Thanks for all your information/instructions, it was a great help.

    Thanks

  2. Ephraim May 10, 2012 at 3:46 am #

    Wonder if you can help, I have French doors in my house and I have noticed that the actual door has sagged not the hinges.

    It seems that the joints that hold the door together have sagged under the weight of the door. How can I fix is?

    • Bob Jackson May 11, 2012 at 6:29 pm #

      A reader from South Africa! Isn’t the Internet great?!

      I’m guessing the door body is solid wood with finger joints or something similar? Then the glue joints have probably failed. If so, you could take down the door, square it up with a carpenter’s square and bar clamps to hold it true, then inject a quality wood glue into the finger joints with a needle and syringe to get into the small cracks. Add addition clamps on the corners faces of the door with wood blocks to evenly distribute the clamping pressure and let it cure.

      If I’ve got this incorrect, please send photos of the door to bob (at) handymanhowto.com. Replace the (at) with the @ character in the e-mail address.

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