How to align kitchen cabinet doors


The Euro-style hinges on a reader’s kitchen cabinet doors. (Reader photo)
August 6

Question: In my ’80s kitchen, some pairs of cabinets doors line up along the bottom edge but aren’t flush vertically at the bottom. The gap is small, just 1/8 inch. I’ve tried to tighten and loosen the screws, to no avail. Perhaps I’m doing it wrong?

— Alexandria

Answer: From the picture you sent, it’s clear that your cabinets have what are known as Euro-style hinges. The part attached to the door fits into a cup-shaped hole, and the arm attached to the cabinet has screws that allow the door to move up or down, in and out. Each manufacturer’s design is a little different, but typically the screw or screws not in line with the connecting arm move the door up and down, while screws in line with the arm move the door in or out as well as sideways.

Because the bottom edges of the doors in your cabinets already line up horizontally, start by adjusting the screw that’s in line with the connecting arm and farthest into the cabinet. Some hinges are designed so the door moves in or out as you turn this screw clockwise or counterclockwise. On other hinges, you’ll need to loosen the screw and tap the door in or out, then retighten the screw. Try adjusting just the lower hinge first. If that doesn’t work, adjust the top and bottom hinges at the same time, but work with a helper who can support the door while you fiddle with the screws.

If the doors are still uneven, try adjusting the other screw that’s in line with the arm. This screw typically controls horizontal adjustment, but you can also use it to compensate for the cabinet not being plumb if you move one door a little to the right at the bottom and the mating door a little to the left. Turning the screw clockwise usually moves the door right and turning it counter-clockwise moves it left. If you thought the adjustment meant loosening and then tightening, maybe that’s where you went wrong; you might have canceled out any change you made.

If none of this works, try adding plastic bumpers (sold at home centers and hardware stores) near the bottom of the doors that fit tightest to the cabinets. If the bumpers keep these doors from closing all the way, you could get the tidy look you’re after.

Question: Someone who shall remain nameless heated up food wrapped in aluminum foil on the black glass/ceramic cooktop of my new stove. Now there are flecks of foil stuck to the cooktop. How can I remove the foil?

— Vienna

Answer: Ted Wegert, an engineering manager at Schott North America, a leading manufacturer of the glass for cooktops, suggests using a cooktop cleaner and a razor scraper, with the blade held as flat as possible to the surface. If that removes much of the foil, with time and additional cleanings, you may be able to get even more off.

Asked whether various other remedies suggested in Internet posts might work, Wegert responded by asking a crew at Schott to burn a piece of foil into a piece of cooktop glass and try other methods. Nothing attacked the foil or dissolved it better than the razor scraper and cleaner. “Probably more damage and not suggested for kitchen,” he wrote in a followup e-mail.

If the scraping technique works, count yourself lucky. Wegert said that when foil is left on a very hot cooktop, “it’s generally a catastrophic failure — a 90 percent chance it’s toast.” The soft aluminum rolled into thin foil melts, and if that molten film stays on the glass at it cools, the two materials bond. The bond is stronger than the bonds within the glass, so when you try to scrape off the foil, small pieces of the glass-ceramic come with it. “You can feel the pits with your fingers,” Wegert said. Foil stuck to a cooktop that didn’t get as hot might come off more easily, and without damaging the glass.

Once divots form, there is no way to make the glass slick again. But as long as the glass isn’t cracked, you can safely continue to use the cooktop, Wegert said. If you think it’s too ugly, call the manufacturer and ask whether it’s possible to replace just the glass. Or get a beautiful teapot and park it where it covers the damage.

Have a problem in your home?

Send questions to localliving@washpost.com. Put “How To” in the subject line, tell us where you live and try to include a photo.

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