Hinge Buying Guide
Installing or replacing a hinge is any easy project for any skill level, but finding the right hinge can be a bit tricky. Learn how to pick the hinge required for the job to save time and money.
Hinge Type and Application
Where the hinge goes determines what type you’ll need.
- Door hinges support interior and exterior doors.
- Strap or T-strap hinges are typically for large swinging doors or gates.
- Spring hinges are for self-closing doors, such as garages and screen doors.
- Specialty hinges serve a variety of functions. For example, pivot doors require special hinges on the top and bottom of the door rather than on the side. This allows them to rotate on a vertical axis. Shutters, chests, cabinets and folding shelves also require specialty hinges.
- A piano or continuous hinge runs the entire length of the two joined pieces.
- Barrel hinges are common in cabinets and open a full 180 degrees. They’re one of several types of concealed hinges.
- Commercial-grade hinges are generally thicker gauge metal for heavy-use applications, particularly mortise hinges.
Most hinges are mortise hinges, meaning they’re inserted into a part of the door frame that’s carved or cut out, allowing you to mount the hinge flush with the jamb. Nonmortise hinges are surface-mounted hinges that are thin and used mostly in smaller applications. Requiring no cutout to the jamb of the two surfaces, nonmortise hinges are quick and easy to install. If you need added door security, a nonremovable pin is useful. Removable pins make it easy to take off a door if you’re moving furniture or appliances.
Door thickness and height determine the safe work load or how many hinges are needed for your application. The chart below indicates what type of hinge doors require.
As a rule, use one hinge per every 30 inches of door:
1. Doors up to 60 inches need two hinges.
2. Doors over 60 inches, but not over 90 inches, need three hinges.
3. Doors over 90 inches, but not over 120 inches, need four hinges.
Hinge Radius: 5/8 Inch
If a 25-cent coin (a quarter) matches the outside curve of the hinge corner, it has a 5/8-inch radius.
Hinge Radius: 1/4 Inch
If a 10-cent coin (a dime) matches the outside curve of the hinge corner, it has a 1/4-inch radius.
Hinge Material and Finish
After determining the type of hinge needed for your next project, decide how you want it to look. While some hinges are widely invisible, the style of the hinge can either enhance a cohesive style in your home or simply draw attention. It’s important that you choose the right finish and material for your hinge to create a clean look overall.
While a plain white door can seem standard at first, adding a bright brass or shiny chrome hinge can really help it stand out and look like a new door. Contrarily, a bright, vibrant bathroom cabinet would be better enhanced with a subtle, subdued finish that works seamlessly alongside the door.
Material and finish options include steel, stainless steel, brass, oil-rubbed bronze, chrome, nickel, prime coat, white and zinc.