Thursday, September 9, 2010

Door Hinges 101

First, I'd like to preface this with an apology for being absent. New computer, new photo editing, it's been pretty busy around The Hut, and of course summertime with vacations and such. But, I'm back in full swing so let's get started......

SGS Black Door Hinge
You don't usually give much thought to door hinges until you go to replace them. Hinges come in a variety of sizes. The typical size for an interior door is 3 1/2" high by 3 1/2" wide. This is not a rule but fairly typical. For an exterior door you usually will have a 4" by 4" although, depending on your door size the hinges can be larger than this. Door hinges will usually go up or down in 1/2" increments. For example, door hinges usually start at 3 1/2"x3 1/2" and go to 4"x4", 4 1/2"x4 1/2", and 5"x5". Occasionally you'll have a 4 1/2"x4" or a 5"x4 1/2" but it doesn't seem to be as common.

PBB Ball Bearing Hinge
Door hinges come in either plain bearing or ball bearing. This refers to the pin or as some people call it, the barrel and how it's put together. Most interior hinges are a plain bearing, meaning the two leaves of the hinge are interlocked around a straight pin and pivot directly onto the pin. A ball bearing hinge is put together the same way but in between pin and the interlocking leaves are ball bearings. The bearings give the hinge a smoother action and they disburse the weight of the door so they can withstand heaver doors and more use.

SGS Antique Brass Door Hinge
On a 3 1/2" hinge there will be three screw holes on each leaf, on a 4" or higher there will be four screw holes on each leaf. The hinges that have four screw holes get a little tricky. The hole pattern can be different, so it's wise to double check your holes and measure their placement as well. There is what's called the architectural pattern which is the shape of an arch or what I call a half moon shape. The hole placement for this pattern is pretty consistent from brand to brand. The other pattern is called Staggered. The holes are in a zig-zag pattern, and these can vary. On some hinges the top hole starts closest to the pin, the next hole is closer to the outside edge, third hole is closer to pin, and last hole is closer to the outside. This pattern can be reversed on the other leaf or it can be the same on both leaves. It can also be the exact opposite where the top hole starts on the outside and zig-zags from there.

Lastly, there are the hinge corners. There are three types; a square corner, a 1/4" radius, and a 5/8" radius. Square corners are obvious but the radius isn't so easy to spot. You're geometry might be a little rusty, so most likely you don't remember how to measure a radius. The simplest way to find out which radius you have is to use coins. A quarter or .25 cents when held up the the corner of the hinge is very close to a 5/8" radius. A dime is very close to a 1/4" radius.

Examples of Door Hinge Corners

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  1. A pleasant holiday shopping season to you and your readers. Thanks for continuing these posts on your blog.

  2. Thanks, I have a question - considering a wooden door hinge of SS304 grade with a dimension of 4*3*3mm, could you kindly tell what will be the major differnce of using a semi circular or a zig zag type, does it really plays an important role technically ? if yes kindly tell me that reasonably.

    1. Typically the semi circular hole pattern, also known as template pattern is used on commercial grade hinges. The Zig Zag or staggered hole pattern is typically used on residential hinges. If your door is 1-3/8" the staggered hole pattern is a better fit. In most cases a door jamb is already prepped with predrilled holes.