How to Remove Stuck Screws From a Door Hinge

Updated on February 21, 2020
eugbug profile image

Eugene has a keen interest in DIY and gardening. Over a 30 year period he has also become self taught in garden power tool maintenance.


Stuck Screws and How to Remove Them

You need to remove a door to replace it or lay flooring. You try to undo the screws from the hinges but nope, they won't budge!

Over time, the slots in screw heads get filled with old paint as multiple coats build up. Screws can also rust up in damp environments. The result? Almost impossible to remove screws. Read on to find out how you can sort out the problem.

Most woodscrews now have Phillips heads, but older screws were slotted.
Most woodscrews now have Phillips heads, but older screws were slotted. | Source

Tools Required

  1. Screwdriver
  2. Light hammer


  1. Hacksaw
  2. Drill bits
  3. Countersink bit
  4. Centre punch
  5. Dremel rotary tool
  6. Vice grips (locking pliers)
  7. Impact screwdriver

The paint on the heads of these screws needs to be removed.
The paint on the heads of these screws needs to be removed. | Source

Step 1: Clear the Paint From the Top of the Screw

Use the tip of a flat blade screwdriver to clear all the paint off the top of the screw heads, exposing the slots. Tip: If you're right handed, hold the handle of the screwdriver with your right hand hand and the blade with your left hand. Your left hand acts as a restraint, so the screwdriver is less likely to slip, damaging paintwork.

Paint removed from heads, now the slots need to be cleared.
Paint removed from heads, now the slots need to be cleared. | Source

Step 2: Clean the Slots in the Screw Heads

It's often older type wood screws that get seized in timber. Generally these have a slotted head, unlike a Phillips or posidriv head screw.

  • You can use a hammer and flat blade screwdriver as a chisel to clear paint.
  • The blade should ideally be as wide as the slot to clear all the paint. This allows you to use a proper sized screwdriver blade to attempt screw removal.
  • Hammer the screwdriver at a 45 degree angle to push paint sideways out of the slots.

Clear the paint from the slots with a hammer and screwdriver.
Clear the paint from the slots with a hammer and screwdriver. | Source
Clear the slots with a screwdriver.
Clear the slots with a screwdriver. | Source

Use the Proper Sized Screwdriver!

Before you attempt to remove screws, it's important that you have the proper sized screwdriver!

Step 3: Try Tightening the Screws First

The blade width should be approximately the same diameter as the head of the screw and the blade thickness should be roughly the same width as the slot. If you use a blade that doesn't fit, it's easy to damage the tip of the blade or round the edge of the slot, making removal even more difficult.

Try tightening the screws first. Sometimes this helps to break a screw's grip on the timber.

Push the Screwdriver Blade Tight Into the Screw Head

If a screwdriver is worn, or a screw head is damaged, pushing as hard as possible while twisting is best.

Step 4: Put Lots of Pressure on the Screwdriver While Unscrewing

The slot in a screw head is rectangular. If you don't use enough pressure behind the screwdriver, pushing into the head, the tip of the blade will likely rise out of the slot and slip, rounding off the edge. This is more likely if the slots were damaged when the screws were removed a couple of times before.

If you're removing the screws from a door hinge, it's a little easier to produce a lot of force on the screwdriver by getting your back against the opposite door jamb. Get down on your hunkers and use your two hands to push as tight as you on the screwdriver, while turning it.

Put your back against the door frame. This enables you to push hard on the screwdriver.
Put your back against the door frame. This enables you to push hard on the screwdriver. | Source

Step 5: If the Screws Still Won't Undo, Try Hammering the Edges

Often the reason screws are difficult to remove is because they've rusted up, roughening the threads and increasing their hold on the timber. If you still have difficulty removing them, sometimes it helps to hit the edge of the slot, near the perimeter, with a screwdriver or punch and hammer. The impact can release their grip on the timber.

Hammer at right angles to the slot, near the perimeter. This may help to un-stick the screw.
Hammer at right angles to the slot, near the perimeter. This may help to un-stick the screw. | Source

Cut a New Slot in the Head

If the screw has a round head, you can deepen the slot or square it up with a hacksaw. If it's a Phillips screw and the head is damaged, try cutting a new slot with a hacksaw or cutting disk on a Dremel type tool.

Use Vice Grips to Grip the Screw Head

As an alternative to using a screwdriver, you can use a vice grips (locking pliers) to undo screws. The advantage of this tool is that it gives a lot of leverage (also called torque or turning force), much greater than a screwdriver can achieve. To use a vice grips, you first need to undo the screw so that it's a little proud of the timber surface. Use a steel file to make parallel flats on opposite edges of the screw head. This makes it less likely for the grips to turn on the head.

Use an Impact Screwdriver

This tool, available from Amazon is a screwdriver which is fitted with replaceable bits. As you hit the back of the screwdriver with a hammer, the impact pushes the bit hard into the slot so it doesn't climb out on any worn slot edges. The bit is also simultaneously twisted. The twisting force is much greater than what you could produce by hand.


If You Can't Remove the Screws, It's Time to Remove the Head

Sometimes it's just plain impossible to remove a screw, so what are the alternatives?

  1. Drill out the head. Use a bit about 1/2 the diameter of the head. If you have a centre punch or even a hard nail, try to make a dent first, which helps to centre the bit. Drill down through the head and eventually you'll reach the shaft of the screw, detaching the head.
  2. Use a countersink bit. Sometimes it's difficult to keep a drill bit centred on a head, especially if it's damaged. You can use a countersink bit as a sort of milling tool to grind away the head. Apply pressure and you may be able to get the point of the bit to penetrate the head, helping to stop it sliding.

How to Remove Phillips Screws

  • Don't try using a worn screwdriver. The four edges on the screwdriver tip should be square. Over time, these edges become rounded, so when twisted, the tip will just slip in a screw head.
  • Newer chipboard type screws may be made from very hard steel, so it can be difficult to cut a slot in the head with a hacksaw. This is where a Dremel tool with a small abrasive cutting disk comes in useful for making new slots.

Posidriv screws, similar to  Phillips head types.
Posidriv screws, similar to Phillips head types. | Source

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2019 Eugene Brennan


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image

      rosina matruglio 

      5 days ago

      excellent..very well written

    • hubber8893 profile image

      Sourav Rana 

      2 months ago

      Very articulate method of representing information about the subject. One doesn't need to stress the mind in order decipher the subject line in your hub. Just a single review is required to understand everything. I am trying to learn writing this and will seek helpful tips from you Sir.

      Finally I can say one thing: Splendid!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)