Stripped screw holes don’t have to be a frustrating, time consuming, or costly repair. We’ve put together several methods to ensure a proper and effective fix. Which one works the best will vary by the severity of the damage, capability, and resources.
1) Use a Longer Screw
If the area has excess material depth, try a longer screw.
- When addressing stripped screw repair for door hinges or bi-fold door hardware the wall framing beyond the door framing should consist of at least 2 ea. 2×4’s in either arrangement listed and allow longer screws to be used. (i) 2 ea. 2×4’s in parallel, that make up 3 inches of total thickness. (ii) 1 ea. 2×4 in parallel with the door frame and one facing forward to make up a 90° wall corner (5″ total thickness)A standard 2×4 measures 1.5×3.5″
- Hardware should have a standard wood screw size of #6 – #8 – #10. The screw seat and face coincide with the screw size, so be sure to match the existing screw size or you will have fitment and seating issues with the existing hinge or bracket.
2) Use Scrap Wood or Toothpicks
Using pieces of scrap wood or wood toothpicks to repair a stripped screw hole is our preferred method when a longer screw doesn’t address the issue.
- Locate any type of scrap wood – (i) Shave a small section off a larger piece of wood with a utility knife or equivalent. (ii) Break or cut fragments from wood door shim stock (Door shim stock can be found in bundles for a cheap price at any home improvement store, in the building supply section).
- Using wood toothpicks, cut the toothpick to length for the given screw depth. (i) Add at least two toothpicks, with the tapered points facing out, if applicable. The taper allows the screw to have an easier starting point.
- IMPORTANT: Fill the hole with wood glue. (i) This step is very crucial in bonding the wood pieces together. When re-inserting the screw you will be grinding the wood filler pieces into fragments. Without the glue as a bonding agent, you will just create loose sawdust and have nothing for the screw to attach itself to. Wood glue from: Titebond (original red label is fine), Elmers, or Gorilla, will all work fine.
- Add the splinters of wood or toothpicks.
- Re-insert the screw before the glue sets up. (i) Tighten the screw by hand to avoid over tightening. (ii) Note: The glue will not adhere to the metal screw; causing it to seal into the hole. You will be able to remove the screw once the glue is dry, and the wood has adhered.
- Follow the glue manufacturers dry time instructions.
- Once the glue has dried, you may adjust the screws torque if necessary. The screw should be able to be removed, and re-installed, without issue.
3) Stripped Screw Repair Kit
I’ve seen these types of repair kits at my local Ace Hardware, even though not listed on their website. Rockler Woodworking also stocks them.
* In my experience this process can be a hit or miss. I’ve had single strips solve an issue, but I have also experienced times where it was like a day at the slot machines, you keep feeding metal strips with no success. The thin metal strips can sometimes meet resistance-and-easily fold when trying to insert if cut too wide
4) Plastic Plug Anchor
Any hardware or home improvement store should carry plastic plug wall anchors. Note: Make sure to get the plugs and not regular wall anchors, as those have a face edge on them and won’t countersink.
- Choose the proper size plug for the application.
- Cut the plug to length if necessary.
- Use the recommended drill bit size for the plug selected and bore out the existing hole. (i) Using the right drill bit size is very important. If you bore the hole out too big and slide the wall plug in freely you will be back to square one; with the plug just spinning in the hole when trying to tighten the screw. (ii) Unlike having to drill a very over-sized hole like the wood dowel or wood plug method, the plastic wall anchors come in a variety of standard screw sizes where you are barely drilling the hole much bigger than its initial size. You can most likely leave a hinge or bracket in place when drilling also.
- Using a hammer to tap the wall plug into the hole. (i) A pin punch may be needed for some instances, as to not damage the surrounding surface. These can be found at any local hardware store as well for a modest cost (e.g. Dasco Pro, Enderes Tools).
- Re-insert the screw.
5) Wood Dowel or Wood Plug
If needing to completely fill, eliminate, or conceal a hole, I would use a dowel or plug as filler and re-finish. When addressing a simple stripped screw repair, I feel like we are creating too much of an un-needed project that is time consuming and requires a lot of tools that many people may not have. If this process interests you there are plenty of articles online for more information.
- Door hardware commonly has a nickel finish, or can be made of brass or stainless steel material. This is important to establish if you need to purchase new screws and want a matching finish. Replacement screws can be found individually, or in packages (brass or nickel) at any home improvement store in the hardware section. Also try woodworking supply stores if available locally, or buy online.
- To avoid stripping the screw hole again, use a hand screwdriver for final tightening or the proper clutch setting on your driver.
- If the stripped screw doesn’t back out, follow our broken and damaged screw removal instructions. Worse case scenario you should be able to latch onto the screw head and back it out enough to grab hold with a locking pliers for final removal. If the screw head is not stripped you should be able to use a #1 extractor for most applications as there is no resistance and the smaller extractor will quickly latch onto the existing good screw head.