How to Fix a Stripped Screw Hole – 12 Ways to Try!

Don’t throw in the towel just yet. Knowing how to fix a stripped screw hole can save you money and a whole lot of frustration. As a matter of fact, repairing a stripped screw hole is an easy DIY fix. And most of the materials you will need are readily available in your cupboard. If not, you can just stop by at your nearest grocery or hardware shop. 

Here are 12 ways to fix a stripped screw hole:  

Toothpicks or Matches

Toothpicks on a wooden table.

Yes, you can use toothpicks and matches to fix a screw hole, especially if you have an MDF (medium-density fiberboard) cabinetry. The type of toothpick or match you use isn’t as important as the process or the hole you need to repair. 

How to Use Toothpicks or Match Sticks to Fix a Stripped Screw Hole

  1. Insert several toothpicks or match sticks into the hole. Don’t overstuff the size of the hole! 
  2. Squirt some drops of wood glue onto the ends of the toothpicks or match sticks sticking out of the hole. If you use match sticks, ensure the strike heads are facing out of the hole. 
  3. Wait until the glue has thoroughly dried.
  4. Snap or cut the ends off the toothpicks such that the bundle of sticks is now flush with the hole’s opening. 
  5. Pre-drill a hole smaller than the screw you want to put back into this hole.
  6. Screw the hole through the bundled toothpicks or matchsticks. 

Tip: If the hole is bigger than the diameter of a matchstick, you can use wooden chopsticks instead. The process is the same.

Wood Dowel or Hardwood Plug

picture of wood dowels to fix a stripped screw hole

If you’ve already tried the toothpick or matchstick and it didn’t work, you can try wood dowels or hardwood plugs. Although you will also need to cut them to length, they are sturdier and don’t require glue. 

Tip: For this method to work, you should, as much as possible, use wood dowels that have the same diameter as the stripped screw hole. 

How to Use Hardwood Plugs to Fix a Stripped Screw Hole

  1. Find a wooden dowel or wood plug that is small enough to fit into the stripped screw hole. 
  2. Insert the dowel or wood plug into the hole.
  3. Use a rotary tool to cut the dowel flush with the hole opening.
  4. Pre-drill a hole in the center of your wood plug or dowel in the hole.
  5. Drive the screw through the pre-drilled hole. 

Tip: If you want better stability, you can coat the end of the dowel or wood plug with a bit of wood glue or multipurpose glue. However, you must let it dry overnight before continuing the repair.

Drywall Anchor

Picture of drywall anchors in different sizes

A drywall anchor has gripping structures on its plastic or metal exterior, allowing you to insert a screw even when the hole is already stripped.  Some of these anchors will also “fold” outward behind the hole, making it impossible for the screw to pull loose again.

How to Use Drywall Anchors to Fix a Stripped Screw Hole

  1. Gently tap the metal or plastic anchor into the hole. The lip of the anchor should be flush with the surface around the hole.
  2. Insert the screw into the opening of the anchor. 

Golf Tee

picture of three wood golf tees

A golf tee’s broad, flat head is the anchor against the surface where you are trying to screw something. It also works well if you try to anchor something flat to a surface and the old screw hole is stripped.

How to Use a Golf Tee to Fix a Stripped Screw Hole

There are two ways to use a golf tee: 

Method#1 – Screw Substitution

  1. Tap the golf tee’s pointed end into the hole.
  2. Hammer the head of the tee until it is flat with the surface around the hole. 

Method#2 – As A Drywall Anchor 

  1. Tap the golf tee’s pointed end into the hole.
  2. Hammer the head of the tee until it is flat with the surface around the hole. 
  3. Pre-drill a hole in the center of the tee.
  4. Slowly drive the screw through the center of the tee so you don’t cause the tee to splinter and make a bigger hole.

Tip: The best thing about using a golf tee is that you can use a wooden version for stripped wood screw holes and a plastic tee to fix plastic holes. 

Joint Compound

If the stripped screw hole is smaller than a half-inch, you can use a joint compound. However, you may need to reinforce it with a mesh patch. 

How to Use Joint Compound to Fix a Stripped Screw Hole

  1. Put a small amount of joint compound on the end of a putty knife.
  2. Smear and push the joint compound into the screw hole.
  3. Use the putty knife to scrape away excess compound. The compound needs to be flat and level with the top edge of the hole around it.
  4. Wait overnight for the compound to dry.

Epoxy Resin and Hardener

gallon of epoxy resin and hardener

Epoxy resin is excellent for fixing stripped screw holes, especially when it is made from plastic. You will want to add the hardener to the epoxy resin to make it durable and prevent it from cracking under the pressure of driving the screw.

How to Use Resin and Hardener to Fix a Stripped Screw Hole

  1. In a small disposable container, combine resin and hardener. Stir quickly to avoid solidifying the two ingredients.
  2. Using a disposable applicator tool, scoop up the mixed resin and hardener.
  3. Push the mix into the hole. Ensure it is completely filled. 
  4. Sand over the top after the resin and hardener have dried and hardened.
  5. Let the mix cure for at least a day. 
  6. Sand over the top if there is any excess resin on the surface. 
  7. Drive the screw through the hole. 

Tip: An alternative option is to coat the screw with the mixture and drive the screw through the hole while the mix is still wet. The hardener and resin solidify and act as the anchor for the screw.

Screw Repair Kit

ZZem Screw Door Repair - Door Hinge Repair Kit for Easy Stripped Screw Hole Repair - Wood Screw Anchor to Reinforce Door Hinges, Strike Plates and Door Jamb Repair - Repair Stripped Screw Holes 8 pk

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What if you are dealing with a stripped door hinge? A screw repair kit is more suitable. The instructions are simple; moreover, it can carry a heavier load, unlike toothpicks and golf tees. 

Tip: Most people use the screw repair kit for door hinges, but as long as you have three inches of space behind the stripped screw hole, you can use this kit for any hole.

How to Use a Screw Repair Kit to Fix a Stripped Screw Hole

  1. Use a drill to drive the threaded screw holders into the stripped screw holes and the driver heads. Ensure the screw holders sit flush with the hinge’s cut-out in the door frame. 
  2. Place the hinge back over the holes and match up the heads of the screw holders with the holes in the hinges.
  3. Power-drive the screws through the holes of the hinges into the screw holders. 

Longer Screws

If you have extra space behind the stripped screw hole, consider using a longer screw. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a wider screw than the hole, but it should be longer by at least 3/8 of an inch. Also, it should have fewer threads per inch (TPI) and courser than the threads from the original screw.

Why is it effective? The longer screw’s rougher threads and length Twill hold in the hole better because it creates a tighter grip. 

How to Use a Longer Screw to Fix a Stripped Screw Hole

  1. Choose a longer screw than the screw previously in the hole. For example, a 1/4″ screw should be followed up by a 1/2″ or 3/4″ screw. It should have fewer threads per inch too.
  2. Drill the screw through the same hole until the head of the screw is flush with the surface.

Auto Body Filler

person mixing a an auto body filler

Auto body filler is not only for car repairs; you can also use it to fix a metal stripped screw hole. You can pick one up from your local hardware store. 

How to Use Auto Body Filler to Fix a Stripped Screw Hole

  1. Drill a bigger hole in the existing hole.
  2. Mix the filler compounds according to the package directions.
  3. Fill the hole with the auto-body filler. Scrape away any excess to create a flattened surface.
  4. Lubricate the screw.
  5. Drive the screw through the wet filler in the hole. Leave the screw in for five minutes
  6. Remove the screw from the filler by unscrewing the screw. The threads will be imprinted in the filler.
  7. Let the filler dry overnight.
  8. Drive the screw back in again. The threads created in the filler from the previous day will act like a nut for the screw.

Metal Repair Epoxy Putty

If you want to know how to fix a stripped screw hole in metal, metal repair epoxy is the best option. This putty is reinforced with bits of steel that adhere to the hole and the screw, much-like small metal finger grips.

How to Use Metal Repair Epoxy Putty to Fix a Stripped Screw Hole in Metal

  1. Squeeze out a little of the putty and knead it until the color is uniform.
  2. Mold or shape the putty into a plug shape.
  3. Push the putty plug into the hole.
  4. Drill the screw through the putty plug. 

Tip: This putty cures in about 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the thickness and amount used.

Self-Tapping Screws

picture of self-tapping screws

Self-tapping screws don’t need any pre-drilled holes. However, when the hole already exists but the screw keeps falling out, you can use a self-tapping screw to fix the problem. 

Tip: Choose a self-tapping screw that is wider in diameter than the existing hole before you begin this repair. If you are screwing through plastic, use thread-forming self-tapping screws. For all other materials, use thread-cutting self-tapping screws.

How to Use Self-Tapping Screws to Fix a Stripped Screw Hole

1. Insert the larger self-tapping screw into the hole. 
2. Drive the self-tapping screw in. The threads of the self-tapping screw will create its hole threads. 

Drill and Tap

Last on our list is the drill and tap, which is commonly used in repairing stripped metal screws. This method involves drilling the existing hole and tapping the hole to create new threads. 

How to Drill and Tap a Stripped Screw Hole

  1. Figure out what size and thread count the original screw had.
  2. Select a drill bit that is slightly larger in thread count than the original screw. Then, drill a clean hole.
  3. Use a “tap” through the hole. This bit of metal is pushed and turned ever so slightly to create new threads in the hole.
  4. Insert and screw in the new screw.

Stripped Screw Holes Are Easy Fixes 

Now that you know practically every method to repair a stripped screw hole, you can fix that hole in the entry door, cabinet, and anywhere else.

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