Aligning New Doors

Dear NH,
I have some newly installed pre-hung doors in an old house. The doors do not align with the stops. Some touch the stop at the top before they are closed, and some touch the stop at the bottom before they latch closed. I can make them latch, but this involves a fair amount of pressure to warp the door to the stop. Yes, the walls are askew, and the installer claims that there was nothing he could do to install them so that they closed correctly. I think that is nonsense. I don't want to reinstall the doors at this point. Is there any way to adjust the door so that it meets the stops correctly? I was thinking that I just need to move the stops on the top and the latch side. Can you set me straight?
NB from Boca Raton, FL

Yes, you can move the stops and repaint. It is easier than moving the hinges, for sure! It may be possible that the door, and not the frame, is warped. Get a length of string and stretch it between opposite corners of the door on both sides, one at a time. If the string does not lie flat against the door, the door is warped.

As you close the door, watch the hinges. Do they appear to flex and move as the door reaches its closing point. Perhaps the contractor installed the hinge-side jamb slightly twisted. That would require removal of the mouldings and reshimming of the jamb. This is an easy error to make and can make the wall appear to be out of whack when it really isn't.

Unfortunately, it is indeed possible that the carpenter did the best he could. It can be extremely difficult to install a new, straight door and jamb in an older "seasoned" house. The old doors and frames have "settled" into the framing and have bent and twisted to conform with the aging of the house. New doors, however, are not very compliant. I have always warned my clients that this possibility exists so they are prepared for less than perfect results.

© 1999 G.G. ALONZY

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