Tips for Selecting Hinges

Keep doors, cabinets and jewelry boxes opening and closing smoothly with the right hinge parts

Home Depot Associate Apron

You probably don’t give hinges too much thought until one isn’t working and you can’t open or close a door correctly. 

This guide highlights the different types of hinges, along with mounting, sizing and materials.

Hinge Types

Hinges are right- or left-handed, and can have a fixed or removable pin – the latter lets you remove doors without unscrewing the hinges.

There are specialized types of hinges, so consult the chart for details.

Hinge Type Where to Use Features

Ball bearing

  • Heavy doors
  • Permanently lubricated

Continuous / piano

  • Cabinets
  • Chests
  • Jewelry boxes
  • Lids
  • Distributes weight evenly over the entire length of the hinge

Double-action spring

  • Dining room doors
  • Kitchen doors
  • Lightweight doors
  • Self-closing tight pin hinge offers two-way access for swinging doors

Flush

  • Cabinet doors
  • Hinge is largely concealed

Knuckle

  • Decorative doors
  • Features a loose joint
  • Can hold both light and heavy doors
  • Shows only the knuckle when door is closed

Lift-joint butt

  • Areas where door must be frequently removed
  • Enables door to be easily lifted off hinges

Ornamental

  • Cabinet doors
  • Furniture
  • Decorative look

Residential / butt

  • Exterior doors
  • Interior doors
  • Lightweight doors
  • May feature a removable pin
  • Includes heavy-gauge screws

Rising butt

  • Doors installed over high, thick carpet
  • Causes door to rise as it opens, enabling it to clear thick carpet

Spring

  • Doors leading into a garage
  • Outward-swinging cabinet
    doors
  • Shuts door automatically
  • UL-approved
  • Ideal for back doors

Strap and T

  • Heavy doors
  • Wooden gates and fences
  • Features a heavy-duty tight pin
  • May be installed on left- or right-hand side

Surface

  • Bifold doors
  • Shutters
  • Small closet doors
  • Doesn't require a mortise

Swing-n-sway

  • Café-style doors
  • Provides lateral adjustment to ensure perfect alignment

Mounting

Hinges are installed in four configurations: full-mortise, half-mortise, full-surface and half- surface.

  • Full-mortise installations have one leaf mortised on the door jamb and one into the edge of the door.
  • Half-mortise installations have one leaf mortised into the edge of the door and one anchored onto the surface of the door jamb.
  • Full-surface mounting occurs when the two leaves are secured to the surface of the door.
  • Half-surface mounting occurs when one leaf is mortised into the door jamb and the other anchored to the door’s surface.

Materials, Finishes and Installation

Hinges can be made from a wide variety of materials, from steel to copper, and have an equally broad range of finishes.

  • Stainless steel, brass, bronze, pewter and copper are common hinge materials.
  • Choose a finish that complements the design of the door and surrounding décor.
  • Common finishes include primed, polished, plated, rust-resistant and more.
  • Most hinge types are available in a wide range of sizes. For example, spring joints may range from 2 to 4 inches.
  • Installation for most interior and exterior doors will require a chisel, utility knife, hammer, screwdriver and drill.