Select the Proper Type of Hinges

Dear James: I bought an old house that needs a lot of work. It looks like most of the doors and cabinets will need new hinges. There are many types of hinges to choose from. What is the best type of hinge? — Larry N.

Dear Larry: Contrary to popular belief, hinges do wear out over time. Heavier items, like entry doors, tend to wear them out faster than lighter cabinet doors. Once you install all the new hinges, it would not be a bad idea to lubricate them every year to increase their life dramatically.

It can be confusing when visiting the hinge aisle at your home center store. There are many designs, materials and styles to choose from. Particularly for your cabinets, selecting decorative hinges can turn ordinary cabinets into eye-catching accents in your kitchen and bathrooms.

Butt hinges are commonly used on doors. Although most hinges are reversible (any end can be upward), most loose-pin hinges, like on doors, have an up and down end. This requires that you buy either right-hand or left-hand hinges depending on how the door is hung and whether it opens inward or outward.

It can get a little tricky. If the hinges are on the left side, as you view the door, and the door opens outward away from you, you need left-hand hinges. If the door opens inward toward you, you need right-hand hinges. Take an inventory of how many of each type of hinge you will need.

You can buy butt hinges with fixed pins that are reversible. Fixed-pin hinges function as well as loose-pin hinges, but to remove a door, you have to unscrew all the hinges. With a loose-pin hinge, you just have to tap out the pin with a screwdriver and hammer to remove a door.

Since you are redoing an older house, you will probably be adding some wall-to-wall carpeting. This may interfere with free movement of the doors over the carpets. One option is to trim off the bottom of the door. A better option is to install a rising-butt hinge. As the door starts to open, the hinge lifts the door slightly to clear the carpets.

If you have an old large wooden front door that is very heavy, consider installing ball bearing hinges. They will allow the door to operate very smoothly and they are permanently lubricated. They can be used on an interior door, but they are a bit pricey, so they may stretch your budget.

An offset blind hinge is most often used on screen and storm doors. This type of hinge is designed to swing away from the doorframe so that you have full access to the width of the door opening.

For interior doors or on cabinets, knuckle hinges are very decorative. They can actually carry quite a considerable amount of weight. The hinge in recessed in the edge of the door and the doorframe so that only the decorative knuckle shows when the door is closed. It is a loose hinge so that the door can be lifted off the hinge.

For lightweight doors and cabinets, a flush hinge is acceptable. Every part of the hinge, other than the barrel, is hidden from view when the door is closed. It is an easy hinge to install and line up properly.

If you want an interior door to your kitchen, a double-acting hinge is a good choice. It operates in both directions so that you can push the door open from either side even with your hands full. Another option for a kitchen is a gravity pivot hinge, especially with bi-fold doors. After you push through them, they slowing swing close themselves.

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