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Patio Door Won’t Latch – What To Do?

Your patio might be one of the most treasured spaces in your home. But it can be worrisome when your patio door won’t close properly. Why won’t it latch? We have addressed this issue by consulting with experts to provide solutions.

Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

The first step to fixing your patio door latch is to find out what is causing the problem. Then, try some of the solutions below:

  • Remove any obstructions
  • Lubricate the latch
  • Replace a warped door
  • Re-install the latch properly

Keep reading as we cover various reasons your patio door isn't latching and how to fix the problem. Included are ways to maintain your patio door and the cost of repairs if it won't latch. 

seen opened leading to a wet patio area at the back of a house, Patio Door Won't Latch - What To Do?

How To Fix Patio Door That Won’t Latch?

The patio is an excellent venue for family gatherings and entertaining your guests. What's more, it’s an area where you can relax as you enjoy the fresh air outside.

But when it won’t latch, it could jeopardize your security. Also, cold drafts could enter your home because of an open space because it can’t close properly. Below, we have discussed how to figure out the problem and provided solutions:

French doors open to back yard and patio area

Remove Any Obstructions

Sometimes, the reason your door won't latch is that there are obstructions preventing it from closing. Check around the edges of the door, and the door frame. Remove the obstructions or clean the debris to allow the door to move smoothly.  

Lubricate The Latch

Owing to normal wear and tear, the mechanism of your door latch may have interference. The latch assembly has parts that move and rotate, which degrade with time, causing the latch to get stuck.

Before calling a professional, thinking it’s a big problem, try lubricating it. You can use the WD-40 lubricant like the one shown below and lubricate it in minutes.

It removes any rust that could have caused it to jam, enabling it to move smoothly. If your latch starts to operate normally, you have solved your problem.

Check out this lubricant on Amazon.

Replace Warped Door

If your patio door has a wooden frame, it could warp. This is usually happens because of high humidity levels, which cause moisture to soak into the wood. In most cases, replace the door with a new one. This is a complicated job, and most suitable for a professional. 

Re-Install Latch Properly

You may need to re-install your latch again by doing the following:

Tighten Loose Hinges

female hands, with screwdriver, tightening door hinge

A door can be out of alignment if the hinges are loose, causing the latch to miss the hole in the strike plate. But first, you need to know what is causing the latch to miss the hole by carrying out a small test

Cover the striking plate with masking or painter’s tape, and then mark the latch with chalk, paint, or even lipstick. Close and open the door. If the mark is under the strike plate hole, it's most likely because of sagging hinges.

However, if the mark is above the hole, then it is highly likely the strike plate is out of position. After identifying hinges as the exact problem, use a screwdriver to tighten the screws on the door hinges.

By doing this, the frame will firmly support the door, re-aligning it so that it latches without issues. 

Re-position The Strike Plate

As mentioned in the previous paragraph, test the position of the latch. If the latch is out of alignment from the strike plate hole, you need to re-adjust the plate into a new position. 

Before you go ahead, ensure the hinges are tight and the door is well-balanced. Afterward, remove the strike plate. Mark the new position of the plate.

Depending on your markings, enlarge the strike plate mortise upwards or downwards, using a hammer and sharp chisel.

When done, confirm that the new position will allow the door to latch properly. After validating that the position is perfect, drill two small holes and screw the plate securely into its new position. Finally, test your door to establish that it latches and closes well.

Check out the video below that explains how to re-position the strike plate:

Enlarge The Strike Plate Hole

You may have tightened the hinge screws and re-positioned the strike plate, but the door will still not latch. The culprit is most likely the strike plate hole.

To know if this is true, find out if the latch hits the strike plate above or below the hole. If it misaligns by over 1/8 inch up or down, you may need to move the strike plate hole.

And, if it misaligns by 1/8 inch or less, try enlarging the hole. Remove the strike plate and make the hole bigger using a half-round metal file like the one shown below.

Rub the file through the hole on the side you want to enlarge. This should fix the problem; so that the door latches perfectly.

Have a look at this half-round metal file on Amazon.

How To Maintain Your Patio Door In Good Condition?

pen White French Doors Without Curtains

Other than fixing your latch when it stops working, it's important to maintain your patio door. Keep it in good condition to last longer. The following are tips on how to go about it:

Clean The Door Frames

Most patio door frames are PVC or aluminum, which is easy to clean. Dip a clean cloth in lukewarm water and mild detergent and wipe the frames and hinges.

This method of cleaning is also suitable for metal or fiberglass patio door frames. If your patio door has a wooden frame, consider varnishing it often. Use a varnish that protects it from UV light, mold, and water. 

Clean The Glass

This is a window cleaning agent you can find on Amazon.

Clean the glass to remove debris, finger marks, and splattered food or drink. You can use a homemade vinegar and water solution, or a commercial window cleaning agent like the one shown above. 

Clean The Track

If you have a sliding patio door, the track is likely to have all kinds of debris, such as pet hairs, food crumbs, dust from dirty shoes, etc. Clean the tracks at least once a month by first vacuuming to remove loose debris.

Afterward, use warm soapy water and a clean cloth to wipe off the dirt. Don’t forget to clean the hard-to-reach spaces by using a butter knife. You could also use an old toothbrush to loosen stuck dirt. 

Check out the video below that shows you how to clean and lubricate the tracks of a sliding patio door:

Lubricate The Door Frames And Tracks

After cleaning the track, lubricate it to allow the door to open and close smoothly. Don’t forget to lubricate the hinges on the doors that open outwards.

And, remember, a silicone-based lubricant is the best to use because it does not hold dirt. However, do not use any lubricant if your door track is aluminum because they do not rust. Simply clean with warm soapy water. 

Replace Old Or Worn Weather-Stripping

Be sure to clean the weathering strips frequently. Replace them when they are brittle and don’t hold firmly any more. 

Clean And Replace Damaged Rollers

Clean and lubricate the rollers frequently, and replace them when damaged. 

Re-Align The Door Frame Or Door Panels

As discussed earlier, if your door cannot latch or close properly, find out what the problem is and have it repaired immediately. The earlier you handle the repairs, the higher the chance for your door to the last longer. 

Also, repair any sliding door panels out of alignment. A professional can do this for you and will adjust the roller screws and/or remove the door and re-align.

What's The Cost Of Repairing Your Patio Door Latch?

Open space kitchen with sliding doors and rooftop patio zone

Patio doors can get damaged and may need repairs or replacing. It might be cheap and easy to repair or expensive and more complicated depending on the part that is damaged. The costs therefore vary.

Repairing a latch can cost between $50 and $125, including labor. To repair the rollers of a sliding patio door would cost between $50 and $100, plus the charges for the door technician.

Expect to pay between $100 and $250 to fix a door frame, including labor costs. Sometimes, these parts have too much damage and will need replacing. The costs may be higher.

For example, the price of replacing a latch ranges from $75 to $150, and a door frame from $150 to $400.

In Closing

seen opened leading to a wet patio area at the back of a house

There are various reasons a door doesn't latch well, which may be minor or very complicated. Repairs can be a DIY task if the job is simple, like lubricating the latch. But, if the problem is complex, like a door that is warping of a door, you are better off calling a professional.

You are welcome to read more of our previous posts by clicking the links below:

Types Of Patio Doors

Thickness Concrete Patio