Door Hinge Buying Guide: How to Find The Best Hinges

Doors are, of course, amongst the most important parts of a house. They provide both safety and privacy, both from the outside and in between rooms inside. Hinges are a highly essential component in the body of most doors, and understanding how they function and what exactly they are is a must. In this way, you will be able to properly consider your options and make a good decision on the type of hinges you use, and how you use them.

This guide will help you with just that. In this article, we will go over everything you need to keep in mind when buying door hinges for whatever purpose.

What is Door Hinges?

Door hinges connect the door and the frame, and when in proper condition, they are pretty much unnoticeable. The trouble arises when they start getting old and rusty, or when they are not installed properly. The door can start to sag, they can get pretty noisy, and sometimes they might even get stuck.

What is Door Hinges

Main Parts of a Door Hinge

It is important to know the different parts of the door hinge so that when buying you can understand exactly what sort of door hinge you need.

Main Parts of a Door Hinge
  • Leaf: There are two leaves in a door hinge. These are the flat metal bits that fold onto one another. One of them attaches to the door frame, and the other to the side of the door.
  • Knuckle: At the end of each leaf there is a curved piece of metal, which encases the pin and links the two leaves together.
  • Pin: The pin sits in the middle of both the knuckles, holding the two leaves (and therefore the door and the doorframe) together. The leaves rotate around this pin, which in turn allows the door to open and close.
  • Screw Hole: The screw holes are drilled into each leaf, and they allow you to mount the hinged to the door frame and door.

Door Hinges vs Cabinet Hinges

Door Hinges vs Cabinet Hinges

There is no particular difference between the door hinge and cabinet hinges, besides that cabinet hinges are not built to hold as much weight as a door hinge does, which makes them suitable for smaller doors, such as those of cabinets, wardrobes, and closets. Door hinges, on the other side, can be built to support extremely heavy doors.

There are two types of hinges – mortise hinges and surface hinges. Cabinet/Door hinges can be either one of them, so learning about them will enable you to replace the hinges everywhere in your house – be it the door or cabinet ones.

Mortise vs Surface Hinges

Mortise vs Surface Hinges

The two terms – mortise hinges and surface hinges, will keep popping up when you go shopping for hinges. You need to understand the differences between these two, so that you can take into consideration the pros and cons they each offer, and therefore make a properly informed decision.

If you are buying hinges as replacements for an already existing door, you need to make sure you buy the same type as the old hinges, in order to avoid having to do extra work in changing the hinge type.

If your door is a new one, you have the freedom to make your choice on what hinges you want to use. In this case, you need to understand the difference between these two types of hinges and take into consideration your individual needs so that you can get hinges that will suit you. Getting the right hinges can be crucial when mounting your door so that it works exactly as you want it to.

Surface Hinges

Surface hinges are the easier option for hinges, as they are simply screwed onto the surface of the door frame and door, making for minimal work, simply drill the holes and screw the door on. However, the hinge sitting solely on the surface can lead to issues with heavier doors, which just can’t be held up by a hinge that isn’t set into the door’s surface.

Mortise Hinges

In contrast to surface hinges, mortise hinges sit slightly below the surface of the door/door frame. This means extra work during installation, which in turn provides a stronger and more durable hinge solution.

If the door is going to be frequently used, or if it is an extra heavy door, mortise hinges are a more stable, long-term choice. They also provide extra security, which is why they are most commonly used for outer doors.

Types of Door Hinge Installations

The four most common door hinge installations are as follows:

  1. Full mortise: In this case, both sides of the hinge use the mortise technique, where they are both set into a carved groove under the surface of the door and door frame respectively.
  2. Half mortise: Half mortises only have the hinge sunk in a specially carved groove under the surface of the door, while on the doorframe’s side it sits on top of the surface.
  3. Full surface: This method mounts both sides of the hinges directly onto the frame and door, without either side using the mortise method.
  4. Half surface: Half surface is pretty much the opposite of half mortise – where the door’s side of the hinge is mounted directly on the surface, while the doorframe’s side is sunk into a carved spot below the surface.

Types of Door Hinges

Before going ahead and buying hinges, you want to think about what type you need according to the type of door you’re using, how you want them to look and feel, and, of course, how much you are willing to spend. There are many different types, all with different uses and purposes. If you’re replacing an old door hinge, simply identify its type and replace it, but if you’re looking for a hinge for a new door, think about exactly what you need according to your situation.

Ball-bearing Hinges

Ball-bearing Hinges

Ball-bearing hinges are most common in exterior doors, particularly large, heavy ones. They are a type of mortise hinge, meaning that they sink into the surface of the door and doorframe, which provides a strong, durable hinge solution. Furthermore, they are designed and lubricated in such a way so that they last long, even on heavy, often used doors. You will most likely see them on thick, commercial doors in offices or corporate buildings.

Plain Bearing Hinges

Plain Bearing Hinges

Another mortise hinge, the plain bearing hinge is simple but still durable, making it a good option for both commercial and home use. The main feature is the removable pin, which makes it easier if for mounting and unmounting the door, although at the cost of security. The barrel is made of multiple pieces, which are all joined together and held in place by the pin.

Butt Hinges

Butt Hinges

Butt hinges are amongst the most well-known and commonly used plain bearing hinges, perfect for heavy doors. They are mostly used for interior doors, although they can be used for exterior ones as well. The primary feature of this hinge is that it is fully mortised on both sides, causing the leaves to butt up against one another when the door is closed. They mostly come with removable pins, making them easy to install and uninstall when needed.

Spring Hinges

Spring Hinges

Yet another mortise hinge, the spring hinge derives its name from the fact that it is fitted with a spring, intended to automatically close the door.

This special feature makes spring hinges a great solution for external doors, especially where there is air conditioning, or for any reason, the door may need to constantly sit closed, such as at a garage.

A variation of the spring hinge is the double-action spring hinge – it automatically closes the door no matter in which direction it is opened – in or out. These are mostly seen in lightweight, interior doors, at the entrance to kitchens, dining rooms, or restaurants.

Concealed / European Hinges

Concealed / European Hinges

This unique style of hinges is mounted on the door’s inside, meaning that you get a cleaner, neater look than traditional hinges since they aren’t visible from the outside. While they are most commonly seen in cabinets, lots of people do choose this style for doors as well because of their neat and modern look.

Continuous / Piano Hinges

Continuous / Piano Hinges

This special type of hinges is most known for its increased durability and security. They are called continuous because the hinge extends down the length of the entire door, allowing for lots of extra support as the entire weight of the door is equally distributed. These hinges are seen in piano lids, jewelry boxes, safes, bank vaults, and other appliances that require reinforced protection.

Flush Hinges

Flush Hinges

Flush hinges are similar to European hinges, with the difference that they aren’t mortised – they sit directly on the door and doorframe’s surface. Another difference is that, unlike European ones, flush hinges are not 100% concealed – they are still slightly visible from the outside.

Swing and Sway Hinges

Swing and Sway Hinges are most commonly used in cafes and restaurants. What’s so special about them is that they don’t touch fully when closed. The benefit of this is that when opened, the door tucks behind the doorframe, giving a few extra inches for wheelchairs to fit through without nicking the door. They are also really quiet and durable, and extremely easy to install and uninstall. A perfect solution for any public building, such as restaurants, offices, and commercial buildings.

Knuckle Hinges

Knuckle hinges rotate on a ball-bearing and are mostly used where style is most important. When the door is closed, only the knuckle is visible, giving a very unique, classy look to the door. The weight of the door is irrelevant – the hinges are built strong and can withhold almost any door.

Ornate / Designer Door Hinges

Ornate / Designer Door Hinges

Sometimes, you’re looking for something more than ‘just works’. If you want hinges that give your home class, ornate hinges are for you.

Strap hinges, one of the most commonly seen ornate hinges, feature an ornamental strap that extends down a portion of the door’s length. They are most commonly used in historic, traditional buildings, barns, and any classy rich building. The designs and materials used are most commonly picked to match the rest of the house’s architecture.

Use ornate hinges anywhere you want to show a taste for old and vintage, and where you want to show people you’ve got class.

Measure the Height and Width of the Door Hinge

Measure the Height and Width of the Door Hinge

3.5 inches and 4 inches are the most common hinge sizes, with 3.5 being mostly used for internal doors and 4 for external doors. There are varieties of other sizes, both bigger and smaller, but these are the most commonly seen and most widely used.

When changing old hinges with new ones, measure the old hinges’ height and width, so that you can buy the same size and fit it onto your door easily. 3 inch and 4.5-inch sizes are also quite popular.

Measuring the Corner Radius

Measuring the Corner Radius

The next thing you’ll want to measure is the radius of the hinges’ corner. Some hinges have a square 90-degree corner, in which case no further work is necessary. However, if your hinge has a rounded corner, you’ll need to measure it so that you buy a new hinge of the same measurements.

The easiest way to do this is with a dime and a quarter. Place the coin on top of the hinge, and if the quarter fits perfectly along the edge, it’s a 5/8” radius, whereas if the dime fits, the radius is 1/4”. Once you know your old hinges’ radius, you can go ahead and buy new hinges of the same radius.

When changing hinges, make sure you measure the height, width, and corner radius properly, so that your new hinges are properly sized and fit nicely on your door and frame.

Measure the Door Thickness & Weight

Measure the Door Thickness & Weight

According to the size and weight of your door, you may choose different sizes and types of hinges. Most hinges work for interior doors. If you have a large, bulky exterior door you may want to consider hinges of a sturdier build. When you shop you can usually see the weight capacity of the hinges – make sure your door doesn’t exceed the maximum capacity of the hinges.

You also want to check your door’s thickness. Thicker doors require wider hinges, or the hinges will very quickly start to wear down. You can find hinges as wide as six inches, or even larger, so if you have the choice, go for that over a smaller one. However, make sure your hinges aren’t longer than your door’s width, or your hinges will protrude.

Door Hinge Materials

Door hinges are usually made from either stainless steel or brass, iron or bronze. Stainless steel is a cheap, simple option that usually works just fine, doesn’t rust, and lasts long. Brass, iron, and bronze hinges are more expensive than stainless steel but also offer a much more reliable and long-lasting solution.

Finally, whatever the material, there are many finishes you can get your hinges in, so choose that according to the look you want to give your place. We will go over the various options for finishes and looks in the next section.

Door Hinge Style & Finish Options

Door Hinge Style & Finish Options

If you don’t want your hinges to stand out and want to draw more attention to your door, go for a model that won’t be seen from the outside. In that case, you don’t need to worry about the style and finish you use.

As the other extreme, you might want to use hinges that stand out and draw attention. In that case, the best pick for you would be hinges that are easily visible from the outside. As for colors, gold or silver are great picks, especially if your door is a more dull color and you want the hinges to really, really stand out. If you want to take it a step further, get hinges with decorative designs and carvings – those will stand out and catch people’s eyes nicely.

However, most of the time you will want to go for a balance. Hinges that stand out and beg for attention may be too distracting from the rest of the door, while unseen hinges may be too simple for you. The best option is when the hinges are visible but not noticeable – they only subtly support the look of your door. To get this effect, the best colors are usually those that you use through other metallic elements in your house – such as doorknobs and faucets.

FAQs

Which door hinge supports the most weight?

If you are confused to choose the perfect door hinges for your home, the very first and foremost thing to consider is, how much load capacity or weight the door hinge takes. Of course, the sellers of the door hinges will give you the full information about the product but if you just do some due diligence before buying it, that will help you.

No matter, if you want to use these door hinges for residential or commercial purposes, make sure that you are buying the right one, or else you will suffer for the mistake. Moreover, it is important to dive deeply into the product and check whether your door hinge is going to match your door or not. Buying the perfect door hinge needs some research.

Whether you have a commercial or residential house, door hinges are the most prominent part of the interior hardware. These door hinges play a major role in pairing the different objects of the door and making the rotation stable and smooth. We often call these door hinges heavy weight-bearing, anti-friction bearings.

Are ball bearing hinges better?

Generally, these ball-bearing hinges hold good quality, and stop squeaking the hinges perform better than the normal or regular bearing hinges. The hinge comes with both outlets, but for the residential zones, we prefer the ball-bearing hinges.

How is a hinge measured?

The door hinge is typically measured with a measuring tape. If you want to measure the height, just check it from top to bottom. Width, just measure it from the left’s edge to the center and then multiple it by two.

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