Misaligned Deadbolt: Learn How To Fix The Issue Of Deadbolt Not Lining Up

Key Takeaway

  • If your door deadbolt doesn’t line up, look for misaligned door frames, loose door hinges, and improper weather stripping.
  • If the issue is related to the deadbolt, try adjusting the strike plate or deepening the bolt pocket.

Have you ever found yourself in a difficult scenario because the deadbolt to the door of your house won’t line up? While deadbolts are much more secure and reliable than your conventional spring locks, they are still notorious for leaving people around the world in sticky situations giving frequent headaches. 

Having a deadbolt lock that doesn’t line up can be a taxing situation as it can lead to compromised security of your space which, I am sure, you would never prefer and would want to fix at the earliest.

While maintaining doors is quite a technical task, having basic knowledge of their installation and functioning can help resolve the issues of deadbolt not aligned.’ This article will help you learn how to fix the deadbolt issue not lining up! But before that, let us throw some light on various reasons why the problem arises in the first place.

Various Causes Of Misaligned Deadbolt

Many factors can cause the issue of your door’s deadbolt not lining up and hence, the door not getting correctly locked. These factors need to be proactively taken care of to ensure the impeccable safety of your property. A few of the most observed reasons behind door deadbolts not lining up are as follows.

  1. Door Frame Misalignment 
  2. Improper Weather Stripping 
  3. Untightened Door Hinges 
  4. Strike Plate Installation Issue 
  5. Shallow Bolt Pocket 

How To Fix Misaligned Deadbolt

In this section of the article, we shall take each of the above causes one by one and discuss how the issue can be resolved. It is noteworthy that all the fixes mentioned in the article are DIY and should not take more than a few minutes.

Door Frame Misalignment

Door Frame Misalignment

For ages, doors have been known to be poor victims of extreme human emotions. Be it the feeling of overjoy or extreme anger; doors have been a common vent out for us. Bang! And all your energy and emotions get released instantly with a violent thud of the door. 

But how much can a poor wooden door take? After a long period of this mistreatment, almost all doors tend to get misaligned and shifted from their original setting. The other boring scenarios can simply be a case of poor or hasty installation or a change of weather. 

Solution: The Peanut Butter Test (Or, The Lipstick Test)

A simple test can be conducted first to see if there is a misalignment issue and the extent of it. This will also tell you the accurate alignment of the door frame and deadbolt. You only need a colored substance like paint, good old lipstick, or peanut butter. Yes, peanut butter! You can do this test following a few simple steps, as mentioned below.

Step 1: Rub the color onto the latch after completely pushing it out. You can use lipstick, white thread sealer, or even peanut butter for color tracing. 

Step 2: Fully retract the latch and completely shut the door. 

Step 3: Release the latch by slowly releasing the knob. Let the latch come in touch with the jamb. 

Step 4: Adjust the Hinges and the screws based on where the latch leaves the colored imprint. 

Step 5: Repeat the above steps until the door shuts and the deadbolt is aligned correctly. 

If you notice that the door is not misaligned, but your deadbolt still won’t line up, try the next fix. 

Faulty Or Loose Door Hinges

Faulty Or Loose Door Hinges

Door hinges often get loosened and displaced from their ideal position and hence, can cause the deadbolt not to line up and the door to not shut and lock properly. Repeated usage and inhuman treatment by humans often lead to the misalignment of the door hinges.  

Solution: Replace Or Tighten The Door Hinges

Another factor that a user must ensure is that the door’s hinges don’t need replacement. If your door hinges are rusted or worn out, make sure that you replace them with high-quality hinges. Instead of using lightweight hinges made of cardboard or other weak material, use hinges made of ABS or other more robust alternatives. 

In case the hinges don’t need to be replaced, they should be realigned and tightened correctly. One can also consider the use of shims for extra tightening. If required, the Peanut Butter test can be conducted after this for further re-alignment. 

I observe a change in my hinge settings due to weather and use the EZ Hinge Shims available on Amazon. Honestly, I have no complaints!

Improper Weather Stripping

Improper Weather Stripping

Everyone wants to be in a cozy place, which is only possible if there are no gaps around the doors and the windows. Properly sealed entrances can make your house warmer and save up to 20% on energy bills. In the case of doors, this is ensured using Weather Stripping. Proper weather stripping can also reduce the noise associated with closing and opening doors. However, if the weather stripping is too thick, it can hinder the door’s locking mechanism. This can cause the deadbolt to not line up properly and lead to the lock malfunctioning. 

Solution: Replace the Weather Stripping

Try replacing the weather stripping if you cannot adjust it for the door’s smooth closure. To ensure that the door closes just right—not too tightly or too loosely—you might try replacing the old weatherstrip with a new one. Make sure that the frame opening and the weatherstripping are properly aligned. Depending on your requirements, you may choose one of the following kinds of weather stripping.

  • Foam with a pressure-sensitive adhesive backing
  • Metal spring strips
  • Squeezable spring metal
  • Serrated metal 
  • A tubular gasket packed with foam
  • Metal interlocking

Strikeplate Installation Issues

Strikeplate Installation Issues

Like other components, Strike Plate misalignment is often the reason behind the deadbolt not lining up. It can easily get dislodged from the intended position because of repeated and unforgiving usage. Strike Plate takes the maximum brunt of the force associated with the thunderous shutting of doors and needs to be timely maintained. 

Solution: Adjust Deadbolt Strike Plate

The simplest technique to correct the strike plate misalignment is by moving the deadbolt slightly. The strike plate should be snugly seated against the weatherstrip of exterior doors. 

Strike plates can be adjustable or non-adjustable. The tabs on adjustable types allow you to change the strike plate alignment. To move adjustable strike plates, just unscrew the screws on the striking plate tab. Adjust the adjustment tab close to the door stop until the door stays closed.

In case your strike place does not have adjustment tabs, tighten the screws on the strike plate using either the Phillips screwdriver or the cordless drill. Replace the screws with 2-inch screws if they are so flimsy that they are unable to secure the door jamb.

Shallow Bolt Pocket

Shallow Bolt Pocket

Furthermore, the misalignment could be caused by a shallow bolt pocket or a deadbolt that is not fully extended. The deadbolt often gets stuck as the bolt is not able to properly go inside the pocket. To allow for full extension, the bolt pocket of your deadbolt lock must be 1 inch deep.

Solution: Deepen the Bolt Pocket

Since the bolt needs proper space to go inside completely for the lock to work normally, always check if the pocket is deep or large enough. If required, make the bolt pocket slightly deeper and wider. Chiseling can help you deepen the pocket while trimming the edges of the stroke plate metal can further enlarge the opening. The standard depth of the bolt pocket is typically 1 inch, don’t hesitate to make the hole deeper if it helps. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Why is my door not getting shut and locked properly? 

Answer – One of the most common reasons why your door might not be getting shut or locked properly is that the deadbolt is not aligned correctly. The deadbolt lining issue is primarily caused because of either door frame/hinge or strike plate misalignment. These causes and their fixes have been covered in detail above in the article. In a few cases, a change in weather or improper weather stripping can also cause the deadbolt to malfunction.  

Q2. How to fix a deadbolt lock that spins but won’t open?

Answer – Your deadbolt lock may spin if faulty, jammed, worn out,  or not installed correctly. If your deadbolt lock keeps spinning but won’t open, disassemble the lock cylinder using the correct tools and position it correctly. If the lock cylinder is worn out, you may have to replace it. In fact, I have done a full-blown article on the same that you may find useful. 

Q3. Why is my door knob not turning completely or smoothly? 

Answer – If the doorknob is not turning smoothly, it means that either bolt is not getting inserted into the pocket completely or the lock itself is faulty and needs to be replaced. In rare cases, it can also happen if the key gets stuck inside the keyhole. You may perform the Peanut Butter test to see if the bolt is hitting the right spot. In case it leaves the imprint of the colored substance at the edges of the bolt pocket, use the fixes listed above to realign the strike plate or enlarge or deepen the hole.  If the issue is still unresolved, it is most likely that the knob and the lock have gone kaput and need deeper investigation. In such cases, we suggest you take help from a lock expert and try to get it repaired and reinstalled or replaced as a last resort. 

Q4. How can I replace the strike plate of my deadbolt lock?

Answer – The following steps will help you replace your door’s existing strike plate: 

  • Step 1: Use a screwdriver to remove the screws that secure the striker plate. 
  • Step 2: Take off the faulty strike plate from the door. 
  • Step 3: Put the new strike plate into its slot. Ensure that the new strike plate holes are well aligned with the holes in the door frame. If not, drill new holes as per the new strike plate. 
  • Step 4: Put the screws into the new holes and the strike plate and tighten them firmly. 
  • Step 5: Make sure that the strike plate is firmly fixed and not moving when wiggled using your hand. If it moves, tighten the screws further. 


The problems with other door hardware and components may cause deadbolts to not line up, which may invite massive stress of having to spend a lot of money on repairs. However, understanding why your deadbolt is acting faulty will help you target the issue and fix it correctly without a hole in your pocket. Also, it is essential to make time to inspect your doors to avoid misalignment problems routinely.

If you have any more concerns regarding your deadbolt lock alignment, write to me in the comment section.

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Hey! I am Mark. Though I am not a locksmith by profession, but locks have always fascinated me since my teens. And it all started when I got locked out of my house and I had to pick the lock. Since then it has become my hobby to learn more about different kinds of locks, understand their working and methods to pick them up. In due course of time, I have also become better aware of how installing the right lock goes a long way in ensuring iron clad security. I aim to share my passion (about locks) through this blog. If you are also passionate about picking locks or are just looking to beef up the security, hop on the ride.