It may not happen often, but there are occasions when you may need to replace a hinge in your home.
Before you run to your local hardware store and randomly grab a hinge off the shelves, you should take the time to consider what kind of hinge you actually need for the job.
Doing a little bit of research at the beginning can save you a lot of headache in the long run.
3 steps to choosing a new hinge
First, you’re going to need to determine what kind of cabinet, door or shutter you already have or the kind you’ll be installing. When it comes to cabinets, there are two basic types and each type has a corresponding hinge requirement:
- Frameless cabinets (or Euro-style) look like four-sided boxes. They are often comprised of 3/4″ wood. Frameless cabinet hinges will mount to the interior of the cabinet.
- Face-frame cabinets have a frame attached to their front. This frame is typically comprised of 1-1/2″ to 2″ solid wood. In the case of face-frame cabinets, the hinges are located on the face frame itself. These are the most popular style of cabinets in America.
Second, you’ll need to determine the overlay of your cabinet doors. There are three options for each type of cabinet type.
For face-frame cabinets, you can choose between:
- Overlay – The cabinet door completely covers the cabinet opening on all sides
- Inset – The cabinet door sits within the cabinet opening. This makes the door flush on the sides when closed.
- Partial inset – The cabinet has a 3/8″ lip that overlaps the cabinet opening on each side with a 3/8″ x 3/8″ machined shoulder along the edges and back. This lets some of the door’s thickness sit within the opening.
Frameless cabinets also have three options:
- Full overlay – The overlay almost completely covers the front of the cabinet. This is often used for the ends of a cabinet.
- Inset – The door will fit fully within the cabinet opening. This includes the front edges.
- Half overlay – This is the most common overlay for middle cabinets. It allows for half of the partition to be covered.
Third, you’ll need to consider whether you want your hinges visible.
If you’re going with stylized cabinets, you will want to use hinges that are invisible so as to not distract from the cabinets themselves. Likewise, you can also choose fancier hinges to bring some style to otherwise boring cabinets.
There are three major hinge types you can choose from:
- Concealed hinges (or European/cup) – This hinge is hidden from sight when the cabinet is closed.
- Semi-concealed hinges – These hinges are partially hidden from sight when the cabinet is closed. They will typically include a decorative or finial tip.
- Exposed hinge – These are fully visible when the cabinet door is closed.
Along with hinge type, you’ll also want to consider the material, finish, size and corner style.
How to install your new hinges
After deciding what type of cabinet door you want (and its corresponding hinge), it’s time to make sure you know how to properly measure for said hinges.
To make things easier, you’ll likely want to fill in the old screw holes. This is especially true of older cabinets that may not have modern screw patterns. After filling the screw holes and sanding the area, you’re free to redrill new holes.
To measure the cabinet overlay, you can put a piece of tape on the cabinet frame even with the edge of the door on the hinge side. After opening the cabinet door, measure from the piece of tape to the edge of the opening. This distance is your overlay.
The inset of the cabinet is measured with the door closed and at the edge of the door. For older cabinets, the most common measurements will be 1/2″, 5/8″ and 3/4″ and for more modern cabinets, the most common measurements include 3/8″, 1/2″, 5/8″ and 3/4″.